When I first started to train my working dog I was rubbish. There, I said it. I was a motivated idiot, all excited but no clue what I was doing. Most sessions ended in disaster with me upset and my dog confused. 

There used to be a moment in training that felt like an eternity to me every time. It was when I gave a command. I’d wait….and pray….that my dog would listen. Sometimes she would, and I’d breathe a sigh of relief, and other times she wouldn’t, and I would feel like the biggest loser. 

I’d take it personally, that she didn’t like me,  or that I was a crap trainer, and I’d be so upset. I’d shout out another command trying to correct the problem but the chaos would just continue. It would get so bad that many times I have thought about giving up.

 

My Dad with two young Springer spaniel bitches

Then one day I realised something huge was missing from my dog training - CONFIDENCE!

Training with Dad

I was watching Dad with his dogs and he was doing an awesome job as always. It hit me that he just expected the dog to listen. He was confident that once he gave the command, his dog would obey. Even when training a pup that still had lots to learn he would still be calm, he’d give the command, and then it would go to plan. Even if it didn’t, he’d just correct the dog and go through it again. 

I, on the other hand would be convinced that it was all going to go wrong even before the poor dog had moved. Instead of being calm and assertive, my voice would be all over the place. My emotions would affect my command delivery,  and then my dog didn’t listen because she was either confused by me,or would take advantage of the fact I had no belief in myself.  I lacked confidence in my ability and this was coming across in my behaviour. 

I thought about school, remember when you had a nervous supply teacher. They would be all sweaty and mumble. Within a few minutes they would have lost control of the class, not because they couldn’t teach, but because their lack of confidence meant we never gave them a chance to. 

Once I realised this, I decided going forward I would need to always start with the expectation my dog would listen and have confidence in myself.

So here’s a few ways you can build your confidence :  
  • Ignore your self doubt - not every day will go perfectly but don't bring your past failures into your present session.
  • Be kind to yourself - everyone gets it wrong in the beginning, that's how you learn to get it right.
  • Look for a role model - when your feeling anxious ask yourself 'what would my role model do?'
  • Plan your session - spend some time beforehand getting clear on what you want to achieve and how you are going to train your dog to carry it out.
  • Think about whats gone well - if you're having a bad session, take a moment to think about whats gone well before. Give yourself a positivity boost and remind yourself you can do this.
  • Always finish your session on a high note.
Be Confident Your Dog Will Listen - Summary

We have been able to read dogs for thousands of years, and they can do the same with us. Go into each session with confidence that you can both learn to communicate with each other. Enjoy the journey, and if your ever feeling stuck head over to the Members Club – LWDG where we are all there to help you. Don’t forget you are amazing and you can do this. 

Question of The Week:

Have you recognised you have a lack of confidence that’s affecting your dog training?

Share in the comments section below. I would love to know!

Hope you enjoyed this training on being more confident.🙂

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If you feel like your dogs progress is slower than it could be,  and that you are always struggling to find time to train your dog, then I’ve created this for you.

This Challenge is super simple,but if you follow the actions within it you will have a magic month – get refocused, organised and back on track. Join today as a free member to get immediate access to your free downloadable PDF Magic Month Planner 

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  • Thank you for this article. I am guilty of not always expecting my dog succeed at a task when in reality if she fails to do what I expect, 90%+ of the time it is me that has failed to communicate effectively . I must try harder!

    • We are all guilty of this at times Carol. As your confidence grows, this will decrease 🙂

  • Great article, I could have written these words about myself, a bad experience with a bad trainer early doors didn’t help. Finding the right trainer mad all the difference, although I still have a tendency to sabotage myself when training.

  • Really good write up and certainly something to think about.
    I usually start an exercise, especially when in a group by saying “she’ll never do that” or “ not a chance” and nine times out of ten I’m right. I think I work on the theory that if I say my dog can’t or won’t do something then anything she does do right is a bonus and if it goes wrong I can just say I told you so.
    My dog is much more capable than I give her credit for and I let her down by not being confident in her ability.
    I actually got told by a trainer last week to shut up and think about what I want my dog to do and then tell her what I want her instead of asking her and stop being so defeatist.