Learning From Our Mistakes

Every single person makes mistakes. I decided to film some of Zero’s tricks, not only so my YouTube isn’t just him being a goof, but so that I could see what, if any, mistakes I make. I noticed some right away. Before I get into all the gritty details though, I think it might be beneficial for you to watch the video. 

During this training session I made a few mistakes, mostly involving consistency. Right off the bat, I asked Zero to catch a piece of kibble, and missed the shot. To ensure he doesn't start to think “catch” means “grab this food off the floor,” I asked him again, aimed, and tossed another piece.

I also didn't use my clicker for this training session. Instead of using the “click” to let Zero know he’s done a good job, I would say “good boy.” I’m not terribly good at staying consistent though. Sometimes it’s a matter of me asking him multiple times to do something instead of waiting. Watching the video I also noticed that my hand gestures aren't always the same; which they definitely should be. Keeping things the same ensures your dog knows what you want. Another thing to keep consistent is the name of tricks. If your dog knows “come” for recall, then you need to ensure that’s the only word you use for it. That way they will, hopefully, never get confused, and will always come when asked. Similarly, if you use a certain whistle for recall you need to keep the pitch, length, and tune the same each time.


Zero is extremely food motivated, and this session all I used was his breakfast: one cup of boring kibble. For easy tricks like “sit” and “lay down” I only give him one piece, but for harder commands like “stay” and “this way” I give him anywhere from two to five. If I want Zero to listen to me while we’re outside I need to bring food. Now he’ll even stay, off leash, while dogs are walking by. If you have a picky dog, grab some pure liver treats and break them into smaller pieces. Or if your dog doesn't respond to food, try playing with them when they've done something or even just pet them. Find something they love and will work towards.

Training tip: Stay consistent! Keep names and gestures the same to avoid confusion. 

Kimberly Ward

Kimberly Ward is an aspiring Young Adult author. When she’s not playing with her dog, she is usually reading YA novels (for research and obviously not pleasure), playing video games, browsing social media, and photographing the world around her. If she cannot be found she is most likely in her meticulously placed hammock on her balcony.

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