train for the moment

When athletes train for the big game, they run drills and condition on their home court or field; they don’t learn how to shoot the ball during the heat of the game. Sometimes, if a child is having a hard time socially, their family might sign them up for rock climbing lessons, or have them join the debate team, in order to boost their confidence and self-assurance. A runner with a leg injury might see a rehabilitation specialist to condition and strengthen the muscles around the injury, while the runner takes time off from their sport. A person with depression might see a therapist who has them practice role playing scenarios, journal, or work through past trauma, rather than pushing them into stressful situations while they are already struggling.

All these examples of how to improve and continue the process of growing into our best selves seem obvious to us, and effective.

So why then does so much dog training focus on putting our dogs into the situations in which they struggle, and THEN trying to change their behavior?

Real, transformative, lasting behavior change- for reactive dogs, fearful dogs, aggressive dogs, and so many others- comes from building foundation skills away from the environments in which they exhibit challenging behaviors. It comes from teaching our dogs to self-regulate, investing in our relationships and trust, and boosting skills like confidence, calmness, and optimism. It does NOT come from putting our dogs in the situations where they react aggressively or fearfully, and then punishing them, or even using food to try and distract them. When the dog is already stressed, learning isn’t taking place. Coping, however, is- and often the coping strategies our dogs choose are not the ones we like.

This is why lots of people think positive reinforcement training “doesn’t work” for these dogs. People get fixated on the problem situation, and by trying to train in the moment, they set their dogs up for failure. Learning doesn’t happen when an organism is afraid for its life.

At Synergy, we train FOR the moment. We help humans and animals learn to self-regulate, to make empowered, confident choices, and to cope appropriately and safely during stressful situations. And when we train for the moment, we get incredible results.

Ditch the walks.
Stop scaring your dog.
Stop setting them up for failure.
Remove them from the stressful situation.

Instead, play training games when your dog is enthusiastic, happy, engaged, and able to build new neural connections. Help your dog learn alternative behaviors and how to make choices when they are eventually faced with a difficult situation. Enjoy the dog that can make choices on their own and become a better version of themselves over time.

Train FOR the moment, and you will see the results IN the moment.


Synergy Can Help!

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