Learning new things can feel awkward, and that’s a good thing. Feeling a bit uncoordinated means you’re in the process of learning to keep track. This is what happens right before you become fluid and coordinated, so celebrate!
Many of my clients feel awkward during their first session. I’m asking for them to watch their dog’s body language, speak at the appropriate time, modify their body movements, and count the number of repetitions their dog has accomplished. This is hard when most humans are unaware of how to do the simplest of things such as interpret dog body language. The big displays are easy to get, it’s the subtler signs that humans miss: lip licking, tense posture, head direction, weight distribution, etc.
Just the other day I was welcomed into the home of a couple with a leash reactive dog. I showed them how to lay the foundations of a loose leash walk, starting indoors. One spouse was able to watch and apply the steps almost flawlessly. The other spouse was easily flustered and often scolded themselves for producing the incorrect step (without me even saying anything!). They looked like they were on the verge of giving up. I had to prevent that and prevent it quickly, so I intervened.
I calmed my client down, took away the carrots (He really likes carrots), and broke the steps down so small it would be impossible for my client to fail. This built their confidence up so high, that at the end of the session they wanted to keep going! This was the perfect place to stop, as it left everyone in a great mood.
The next time you feel awkward know that it’s ok. Pause for a minute to clear your head, shake it off, and try a smaller, simpler step. You’re almost there!
(c) Caitlin’s Animal Training Services 2018