Some dogs seem like they can train forever without losing enthusiasm, but this seems more like a rarity. Most dogs struggle with repetition during training and some seem to get bored or distracted more quickly. Dogs aren’t robots, so taking their emotional wellbeing and feelings into account when training is essential.
To improve your dog’s mood and performance, it’s important to make sure to keep your training sessions fun and engaging. This will also help prevent burnout.
What Is Dog Burnout
Dogs can shut down or get burned out during training for a variety of reasons. Dogs who are trained using harsh and aversive techniques that involve punishing a dog while training can quickly become shut down or burned out. These dogs fear making the wrong decision and so will learn to not be overly engaged or enthusiastic while learning and working. This is why positive reinforcement techniques are preferred.
Burnout can occur to dogs while training when they become bored with training exercises. In addition, dogs can get frustrated because they don’t understand what is being asked or they can’t do what is being asked. Being too tired or working too hard can also lead to exhaustion in training.
Symptoms of Burnout
If your dog is burning out with training in a session, there are some telltale signs that it might be time to take a break or work them less.
- Being frustrated or disinterested in the training sessions
- Being distracted during training sessions, such as sniffing
- Having zoomies
- Wandering off while training
If your dog seems more distracted than usual or is struggling to focus on your training session, they may be experiencing training fatigue or burnout.
Respect Your Dog’s Feelings
There’s an old saying that you shouldn’t train when you’re mad. If you’re feeling frustrated with your dog’s training progress or if your personal stress is keeping you from being positive while training your dog it’s important to take a break and come back to training at another time. If your dog starts to seem burned out, it’s a good time to switch up your training routine to make it more fun and engaging for your dog.
Your dog’s emotional wellness is just as important as any success you could have while training. If your dog is burning out, they aren’t being stubborn or trying to be difficult. Rather it’s a sign to make your training sessions more fun to help your dog have a different experience and shift their feelings about training.
Be Thoughtful About Repetition
Too much repetition can burn a dog out, regardless of if they are successful or not. When training your dog, it’s important to be thoughtful about how much reputation you are incorporating into your training routines. Whether you’re working on more complicated sport skills or teaching basic obedience, you’ll want to be cautious about too much repetition in an individual training session.
Be careful to avoid getting caught up in the “one more time mentality.” Some owners try to keep drilling a behavior in an attempt to get it perfect. Unfortunately, this can be an easy way to frustrate and mentally exhaust your dog, which can lead to them shutting down. Although some dogs are happy to keep working on a skill, most dogs are going to produce diminishing returns if you push too many times.
Frequent and short training sessions are more effective for most dogs compared to longer training sessions in
order to avoid burnout. Whenever possible keep your training sessions short, sweet, and successful. For those who lose track of time when training, it can be helpful to plan the length of the training session and set a timer to stick to it. You should be training when your dog is excited and engaged instead of working for as long as possible.
Have a Positive Attitude
No matter what you and your dog are working on, it’s important to bring a positive attitude to the training session. Your enthusiasm and positivity are infectious and can help keep your dog excited and engaged in the training session. If your dog is frustrated and struggling with training, that’s an indication that it’s a good time to take a break. But if you’re feeling frustrated or discouraged with a training session, your dog can sense your attitude, getting discouraged, shut down, and burned out from it.
Add Some Variety Into Training
To help your dog avoid burnout while training is to add variety to your training routine. For example, if you’re teaching your dog basic obedience don’t just practice “sit” on repeat and instead vary with sit, down, and shake.
You can also mix up the activities that you do with your dog. If your dog seems to be getting frustrated in a particular sport, it can be helpful to take a bit of a break from that specific activity or to add a new sport to your dog’s training routine. This can help energize your training routine and decrease the likelihood that they will get bored or burned out.