Incremental success equals stacking! This is a key component in dog training that gets overlooked. Of course everyone wants results quickly. Who wouldn’t want that? The problem is even though you can make a big difference quickly, the true long-term consistent success comes from stacking!
The key is to start with small expectations, build the muscle memory of completing a new routine, and then add more tasks once you’re consistent. Want to know something interesting? The above sentence was originally from an excerpt about self-improvement, with me paraphrasing it a bit. It’s from an article on developinggoodhabits.com. It rings equally true for dog training. Incremental success is everything! This means teaching a down stay. Then working on that down stay with low level distractions.
Eventually building up to larger distractions like someone knocking on the door. Teaching a dog to heel next to you in your driveway before trying to walk your block, then around your block, then the neighborhood, then the park, etc. Do you see a pattern?
We often really rush the expectations of proofing basic obedience with our dogs. Proofing means teaching our dogs how to do their basic obedience with different distractions. It takes weeks and even months to tackle different scenarios with your dog and get to know them in these new scenarios. I know everyone doesn’t have all the time in the world. That’s why not giving up and focusing on incremental success is so important. Think of each small success as a piece of paper. Now think about the stack of paper you buy for your printer. Each incremental success is stacking a new habit, creating new muscle memory and is going to end up like those stacks of paper before you know it. Take some pressure off of yourself and focus on incremental success. Live in each moment with your dog and stack up more and more good habits.