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4 Steps to Dog Training Success

Sep 7, 2023

Are you not making the progress you want to with your dog?

 

It’s probably NOT because you don’t have the knowledge or skills. In fact, the number one reason that people don’t reach their goals in dog training is that they don’t stick to training regularly for long enough to see changes.

I know this from personal experience. I used to be the QUEEN of starting a sport or activity, then swapping to something else. There wasn’t a problem with my instructors, my dog or even my own skills.
The real problem? I didn’t stick to regular training long enough because I couldn’t get myself into the right habits.

 

Dog training is a habit

We see this all the time with our clients, too. They might turn up to classes or 1 to 1 training sessions, but they aren’t in the habit of practicing regularly. This often leads people to feel guilty.

You want to do better by your dog, and you get frustrated by yourself for not putting the time in, but for some reason you just don’t. This just adds to the likelihood of you not sticking to the habits.

However, the fact is, if we learn a bit more about how both bad and good habits are formed then we can train ourselves to train our dogs in the time we already spend with them. All that guilt can be put to one side and you can concentrate on what’s important to you.
According to Wikipedia, a habit is “a routine of behaviour which is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously”.

 

You need better dog training habits for your dog to have better habits!

If training does not become a strong habit for the owner, then the dog’s behaviour won’t progress. This is important because the habits you are in when you are not face to face with your dog trainer are where the majority of the progress is made.
If we can work out how to help ourselves stick to training and make it a habit which is hard to break, we will see better results in our dogs. After all, we are training them to have good habits, so it’s only fair we train ourselves too! Let’s find out how…

So how do habits form?

The author of the bestselling book “Atomic Habits”, James Clear, describes the four stages of habit formation as:
Cue > Craving > Response > Reward


Using the example of someone who scrolls through social media too much, the Cue is the sound or visual of the notification. This notification cues your brain to release dopamine, which creates a craving. The Craving is the feeling of needing to scroll through your news feed, and the Response is to open the Facebook App. The Reward is the feeling of being “in the loop”, or part of a social group (albeit a virtual one). This Reward is over time linked to the Cue, so it becomes an endless loop and that’s why it’s so hard to break habits.


When we look at habits we DO want to form, the process is exactly the same.
Therefore, we can use this knowledge to train ourselves to train our dogs!

 

How can we build desirable habits?

James Clear links each stage in the habit loop above with one of the “Four Laws of Behaviour Change” which are as follows:

1. Make it obvious (Cue yourself to do the behaviour)
2. Make it attractive (give yourself that Craving)
3. Make it easy (maximise chances of performing the Response)
4. Make it satisfying (ensure it has a Reward)

Dog training as a HABIT

When we look at dog training as a habit, as an example, we may therefore:

1. Set a reminder on your phone to do 5 minutes of dog training at lunchtime
2. Choose to train something you and your dog actually look forward to
3. Join an online club which gives you training plans every week
4. Reinforce your dog training session with validation from your peers

Two dogs, a cockapoo and a golden retriever are doing dog tricks.

 

How can Urban Freestyle Help?

We created UF to make it as easy as possible to stick to good dog training habits. It’s at the core of how the membership was built, because we know it’s the biggest stumbling block for people.
When you’re an Urban Freestyle member, the dog training habit loop is much harder to break so you are more likely to succeed. Let’s have a deeper dive into how UF has got your back for every stage!

1. Cue – how can we make training your dog a more obvious thing to do?

You can play Urban Freestyle anywhere you walk your dog, and it incorporates obstacles you come across on your daily walks. Before long, every bench becomes a cue to you to ask your dog to run under it, or put their paws up – the world will become your playground!

2. Craving – how can we make training your dog a more attractive prospect?

When we train things we really enjoy, training become less of a chore, and more of a game! You start to look forward to playing the game and begin to crave the feeling of seeing your dog succeed at the tasks. We both love to see our dogs figure things out and enjoy themselves so much that we crave training as much as our high drive dogs do!

3. How can we make it easy to train your dog consistently?

With its easy-to-digest Weekly Challenges, which can be accessed super quickly in the App, Urban Freestyle means you never have to think about a plan. You always know what to train, how to train it and where to get help. That feeling of being “stuck” is no longer an issue, you always know what to do, making getting out and training so much easier!

4. How can we make consistent training satisfying?

As trainers we know all about reinforcement, and it’s just as important for the human as it is for the dog. That’s why we award badges for completed Routines, but there are a whole plethora of other satisfying aspects to Urban Freestyle! Everyone loves watching videos of their own dogs, and watching your videos back is really rewarding, especially when you see your dog progressing and figuring things out! Our community is also extremely supportive so you will also gain validation from your peers!

Conclusion

For better dog training results, you need better dog training habits! Learning a little about the psychology of habits can really help you to put those habits into place and maintain them. Urban Freestyle has been specifically designed to help you do this! Join us by signing up here for just £29 pm!