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Frustration happens

Yesterday I decided that Stanley's nails were due - he gets them done at least weekly as we are trying to get the blood vessel to shorten. So I get the treats in my pocket, pick up the dremel and ask him to lie down on the sofa for his regular pedicure - normal routine. However, for some reason, he kept on sitting back up or snatching his paws away. With each time I had to ask him to settle, my frustration was gradually increasing. It was getting to the point that I was close to shouting at him as he just would not co-operate. This is something we do very regularly without any issues whatsoever. Why wouldn't he co-operate like normal?

I could feel myself getting frustrated so what did I do? I gave Stanley a couple of treats, put the dremel down and went upstairs to do something completely different. After about half an hour, he had his tea and evening chew, I had a drink. Disheartened from the earlier attempt, I set up to have another go. This time Stanley was back to his usual self - lying down calmly while I did his nails and waiting expectantly for his treats. The reason I am sharing this is because it important to remember that getting frustrated happens to everyone. Becoming frustrated with an animal can mean that you unintentionally do things that might negatively affect your relationship with them (such as shouting at them), it can reduce the speed at which the dogs learn as you won't be able to ask them properly and can then confuse them. I could have shouted at Stanley and made him lie down while I did his nails, but what could have happened if I did that? I would have got his nails done quicker, but:

- My relationship with Stanley would have been negatively affected, which then could have an impact on his recall and time off the lead.

- I could have hurt him by catching his blood vessel as he moved his paws around. - I would have poisoned all the positive training he's had with having his nails done and then would have a long haul of getting him comfortable with it again. Remember to always ask yourself "Am I becoming frustrated?". If you are, then stop the activity you are doing and come back to it later. There is always a reason why an animal isn't behaving the way you expect. They might be confused by what you are asking them to do, especially if it is a new trick (or a trick they know but in a different environment!). They could even be in pain and what you are asking is sore for them (such as if a dog has arthritis, so going into a sit is painful). In Stanley's case, it was because he usually has his nails done after his tea and chew, and I haven't worked on doing them at any other time. On going in the future now I can either continue to only do his nails at a certain time of day as he is used to, or work on getting Stanley used to having them done earlier in the day. What to do if you start to feel frustrated: Take a deep breath and stop the activity you're doing. After a break, have a think about what might have caused your animal to not do as you expected - now you're at a point where you can change what you're doing to help your animal understand what you're asking of them, or change what you ask them (a standing stay, instead of a sit-stay if sitting is uncomfortable for your dog).

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