Mistakes and New Beginnings

Lately, I have become overwhelmed with training advice. Lots of people like to tell me how to train my dog and, given that I am a total newbie training the first dog I have ever owned, I tend to be easily swayed by information that sounds good from people whose dogs are better behaved than I could ever dream Pearl would be. However, I sometimes allow people who I think know more than me to convince me to try things that my gut tells me are wrong. From the beginning, I wanted to train Pearl using positive training techniques. But when progress is slow and I feel like everyone around me is telling me that I am wrong and I am afraid my dog might really be as out of control as my neighbors think she is, my resolve weakens and I begin to think that maybe I should try another way. My husband and I were convinced by a new trainer we started going to that we should try using a pinch collar on Pearl, and we listened. Over the past week we worked with her using the pinch collar, ignoring that guilty feeling in the back of our minds and issuing leash corrections the way we had been shown. When we got back from our walk last night, Pearl had a tiny red cut on her neck where the collar had pinched her. I am ashamed to admit it, that I yanked my dog on the neck with a pinch collar hard enough to make her bleed. But I am taking responsibility for what I now see was a mistake. I am going to go back to clicker training, to positive reinforcement, and try to make it up to Pearl and move forward trusting my gut. The most important thing I have learned so far is that when Pearl does something “wrong” it is most likely a result of something I did. Although I do get frustrated sometimes I try to remember that I am not frustrated with Pearl, but just frustrated with my inability to communicate effectively with her. I will keep track of my training efforts here and I hope that I will be able to look back and be proud of how far Pearl and I have come and of the partnership that we have built.

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About Pearl the Puppy

Pearl is just over 40 lbs of energy mixed with a pinch of crazy. We adopted her in March 2011 from a St. Louis rescue organization called Impact for Animals (now Pet Rescue Network). We are unsure about her age, but we are guessing she was born in Fall 2010. Her background is anybody's guess, but we are pretty sure that she has at least some sighthound in her. She's a whole lot of trouble but a whole lot of fun.

One thought on “Mistakes and New Beginnings

  1. Don’t beat yourself up over it. You were taking the advice of a professional trainer and you stopped using the collar once you realized how much it hurts Pearl. At least this experience helped you realized that you’re frustrated about communication with Pearl, not actually Pearl herself. Keep trying!

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