I want to remind all of you to take a moment to process and breathe!
In the “animal training world”, we can get these goals in our head, or start comparing ourselves to others, and we just want to train as much as possible. It’s my job to work with animals, so I do it everyday. But, especially with my own animals, my subconscious is always telling me, “You didn’t work enough with him today! You have to keep moving forward!”
Besides the fact that this can be a very frustrating state of mind to be in, I generally don’t move forward when I think like this. The times when I move forward with an animal is, ironically, when I don’t train with them. Giving them time to soak and taking a day off has brought me such amazing results.
I mean it makes sense – a human training everyday (without breaks) won’t have a clear mind to work or perform properly… that’s why we have holidays, vacations, weekends – that sort of thing. Just recently I was teaching a dog something that she didn’t seem to get at all. Even after a week, nope, not getting it. Then she ended up having a bit of diarrhea and I didn’t work with her for a day. The day after that she did everything amazingly! It actually felt like I was working with a new dog. These sort of “unintended” breaks from training always get my animals and I back on track and moving fast.
This is also why I keep sessions, especially when I’m starting or taming horses, very short. I will usually have a short morning and evening session, or just one short one. With this method I’ve accomplished much more than drilling them for multiple hours! I’ve mentioned in previous posts the importance of letting animals “soak” in information – don’t underestimate it!
So don’t be afraid to take a day off. Don’t worry that you’re wasting time or not “getting anywhere”, because there is a lot being processed in not only your animal’s brain, but yours, as well!