By Patricia Brewer

Training a dog is easy if the dog is motivated to learn!

Yet we make it difficult by making these 3 common mistakes I’m sharing today.

In the story above, the store attendant was not trying to train, she is just playing a game the dog wants to play… and look at the result!  It makes you smile. 

So what holds us back?  What causes the dog to stop listening and become reluctant to respond?

HACK # 1 - Causing a negative consequence.

No matter how frustrated you feel,  punishment is not the best solution.  

Not even what may seem harmless corrections or punishment.  Like squirting a dog in the face with water because he is barking.  Or the intimidating ‘No!’ that is said in frustration.

Every time you resort to punishment or corrections, you erode the dog’s confidence and trust.  

This can lead to behaviours like the dog purposely evading, being difficult to catch or put a leash on creeping in.  

You will never share a Powerful Connection if your dog does not fully trust you.  This lack of connection will cause the dog to focus on distractions and ignore you at the worst possible times… or be reluctant to respond and evade you.

So what do you do instead?  

Well dogs like very clear messages that they can comprehend easily. 

You must make it easy for the dog to understand the undesirable behaviour, will not be reinforced.  

This should be done in a visual way, not by telling the dog they are incorrect or causing discomfort. 

The chance of earning reinforcement must disappear.

This is the easiest and quickest way to end undesired behaviours.


HACK # 2 - Adding a verbal cue way too early.

Verbal cues applied during the training phase will create confusion for your dog.

If your dog is not responding to your verbal cues, there is a high chance your dog has no clear understanding of what it means.

This occurs when a verbal cue is added while a new behaviour is being taught. The dog has no idea what you are saying.  It is just sound to them.  

This sound will come to have no meaning as it will be paired with too many variables. 

For instance… If you are training a dog to lay down.  By saying the word ‘down’ while teaching, the dog might start to lay down and he receives a treat for starting to lay down.  So ‘down’ means start to move down.  

The next try, the dog starts to lay down but you are slower with giving the treat, and the dog receives it as he sits back up.  

Now ‘down’ has two meanings.  1. Start to move down or… 2. start to lay down and then sit!  The dog gets to pick.

The dog will never learn what ‘down’ really means.  

From your dogs perspective it has a meaning of try all sorts of things and you might receive a treat.

So what do you do instead?

The correct approach is to first train your dog to lay down without using any verbal cues at all.  

When you are confident your dog will perform the behaviour, and you would bet good money on it, then you can start adding your verbal cue.

You give the verbal cue just before your dog performs the action of dropping down. 

It will not take long and this verbal cue will have a nice clear meaning to your dog.

HACK # 3 - Causing training to be frustrating for you and your dog.

When you and your dog are together, your dog is learning how to behave based on your body language, responses and actions.

If you think about this, you realise that most of your training is done unconsciously.

Yet when we purposely plan to train a behaviour, we suddenly expect the dog to perform brilliantly before we will reinforce.

This leads to frustration.  Frustration causes anger, learned helplessness and shutting down.  

So what do you do instead. 

Break the behaviour down and make it easy for the dog to be successful.  

This will maintain a high rate of reinforcement

Which will cause the dog to be willing to keep trying

And builds the dogs confidence.

The dog is successful.  You feel successful.

It is a ‘Win-Win’ situation.

These three common mistakes will hold you back.  However, don’t be too concerned if you have made any or all of these mistakes in the past. 

I said ‘common’ for a reason.  I think at some point in our life, we all are guilty of having made these mistakes.  

Luckily for us, dogs are super forgiving.  They live in the moment and if we change, they change.  They will accept the new you without question.  

It might take a little bit to build your dogs confidence, but I am talking short period of time not years!

In fact if you embrace a completely new approach in the way you train, you will see a confident dog displaying wanted behaviours in days not weeks.  

You will be on the correct path to forge a ‘Powerful Connection’ with your dog, enjoying the freedom of a dog you can fully trust will be focused and responsive everywhere.

This is the ultimate goal.  The freedom to have fun doing what you and your dog love together.  It is the freedom that brings happiness and joy.  


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Focus on Fun Pathway.

Hi, I’m Patricia Brewer the creator of the Focus on Fun PATHWAY and my goal is to help motivated dog owners forge a Powerful Connection quickly to enjoy  Freedom with a dog they can 100% Trust will Listen, Focus and Respond with Enthusiasm in all Environments.

This is achieved in a few minutes per day of having a bit of fun together while training, without resorting to force or fear of failing.   

I’ve been helping 100’s of owners and their dogs for close on twenty years.  

Due to frustrations that I have experienced when training dogs, I saw a need for an approach that would ensure owners get all the information they need in one place without constantly searching for solutions for each individual problem.

With this in mind, I developed a clear Pathway, to take people from frustration to freedom in three simple steps.  Not only does the Pathway have the solutions for most unwanted behaviours… It gives the principles and techniques that can be applied to any training challenge.

This truly is a course that gives you the fishing rod, the bait and best fishing spot, rather than the fish.  You still have to do the fishing of course, but you have everything you need to be successful at your finger tips.

The training techniques live up to the name of Focus on the Fun, with owners and their dogs experiencing real Joy when interacting.   

I love showing people how easy training a dog can be when the primary focus is on forging a Powerful Connection.  I offer simple solutions to complex problems and gain great pleasure helping people achieve their goals so they can fully enjoy sharing their life with their dogs.

Patricia Brewer- Author

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