Dog Training Fail – A Comedy of Errors

Ignoring Good Advice

Golden Retriever playing mini golf

I’m such a good girl. Why do you keep saying you’re going to keep Cherie and send me to the SPCA?

Do you ever fail to listen to those little voices in your head?

Not the voices that say the government is reading your thoughts and you need to protect yourself with an aluminum foil hat (although substitute Google for the government—I don’t think they’re smart enough to pull it off—and they might be right).

No, I’m talking about the voice that says, “Pam, you’re running a little late and have to walk Cherie and Honey by yourself. Wouldn’t it be smart to change your route and avoid all the excitement around the elementary school?”

But did I listen to that rational and helpful voice in my head? No, I did not.

Nothing Worse Than a Friendly Person

Let me tell you about our crossing guard.

He is a loud, cheerful fellow who knows the names of all the kids who walk by. He hands out candy for Halloween and Christmas. He keeps dog treats in his pockets.

Honey loves him.

Last week, I watched my dog, who normally has excellent loose leash walking skills, drag my husband (who outweighs her by nearly 4 to 1) into the middle of the street to greet her favorite crossing guard.

When I’m practicing impulse control with Honey, I use the crossing guard as my distraction. But I’ve never done any practice sessions closer than 20 feet to the intersection.

So what was I thinking?

Epic Dog Training Fail

Picture Pam, Honey, and Cherie standing at the intersection. Now see the friendly crossing guard come rushing over with his booming voice and big gestures asking if he can give the dogs treats. Imagine Honey pulling toward the crossing guard, wrapping the leash tightly around my hand. And see Cherie pulling away from the crossing guard while barking loudly as if to say, “Who is this guy and why can’t I get away from him?”

Golden Retriever and hound mix foster dog

How’s this for good behavior?

Oh, and to top it all off? The clicker was in the hand getting crushed by Honey pulling toward the crossing guard. Every time she pulled, the clicker clicked.

And that, my friends, is how you pull off an epic dog training fail.

Go ahead. Laugh at my pain. But share a story of your own and make me feel just a little bit better.

I know I’m not the only one with a Dog Training Fail Story.

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  1. OOOOOH the old stretch the peoples trick. Leah and Me did that to my peoples once. The clicker addition to it seems just perfect though! (Glad you didn’t get hurt though!)

  2. Good Morning, Pam! I am sitting here chuckling at your little story because I can see the same thing happening to me. BUT add a 2nd Golden Retriever — both of them around the age of 8 years — and a 7-month-old mixed breed puppy just adopted from the shelter on Monday afternoon.

    Thankfully, we have a nice BIG yard. I let the old girls go out the door ahead of me so I can control the puppy on her leash. According to all I’ve read, letting the two older dogs go out ahead of me is a “no-no” in the world of pack leadership. But, I don’t really have much choice — they need to go outside, too, and want to get away from the puppy who is at the nipping stage. Besides, they already know who their leader is.

    I just wanted to let you know it’s not that a big deal when you make “an epic dog training fail”, especially if you normally do it “right”. The dogs will still learn what you expect from them on a regular basis. Besides, Golden Retrievers are just “equal opportunity lovers” when it comes to people in general. And Cherie has come along way under your tutelage, so be proud of her and yourself. Let go of the mistakes and move forward.

    Have a great, tail-wagging day!


  3. How bout bringing your new, virtually untrained, needy, drama king of a Rescue Vizsla to your Basic Manners Orientation. You know…the class where we talk about proper management to prevent behavior problems and the use of positive reinforcement…being proactive rather than reactive…not rewarding inappropriate behavior with attention…
    Then proceeding to let him out of his crate cuz he’s barking his fool head off…leaving treats on top of crate which he proceeds to then steal…threatening (kiddingly) to throttle him if he doesn’t stop whining constantly during my lecture…
    Lesson of that Orientation? Do as I say, not as I do! Ay yi yi! Whoopsie!

  4. I would say go with the flow, enjoy the moment, laugh, and as Tales and Tails said today “don’t take things too seriously” :)

  5. That’s actually a pretty funny story. I’m sure things will go better next time around.

  6. Gosh Pamela, it seems like every training session I have is epic fail. LOL This is the most recent one that springs to mind.

    On Monday’s walk Delilah had left a deposit in the field, I bagged it up and tossed it to the side to pick up on our way out of the park. As I approached the field I heard our neighbor, her kids and the two dogs out there. I thought, I can put the dogs in a stay and pop down into the field, grab the bag and be gone.

    I put them in their stays and started down, when Delilah moved. I brought her back, stayed her again and started down.

    She broke the stay and tore past me into the field, with Sampson hot on her heels.

    Epic training fail.

    BTW, I’m constantly getting tangled when I have both dogs on leash. It seems like destiny to me. :-)

  7. I’m pretty sure for every training success we have, I also experience one of those epic training failures. Hurley was having a relatively bad week in the store this week. He would be fine with a dog entering the store, I would walk to his kennel as soon as they entered and give him a few treats and some praise for not barking. Then I would walk over to my customer to help them, because you know, that’s my job, and Hurley would then bark. For several days, my thought process was “why is he reacting to the dog after they’ve been in the store for 1 minute” when I should have realized “Hurley’s barking to get my attention and those noms back in front of his face.” Dude is so much smarter than I am most of the time.

  8. Yes, I laughed. Who could help but laugh at the thought of that clicker clicking away? You can obviously see the funny side of it! The clicker is the icing on the cake!

  9. I have to agree with Clowie! Too funny and too cute! I hope you’ve been able to step back and at least smile. :) Mine involved Brut and I, no one else. All of the sudden I thought I needed to teach Brut everything I wanted all at once. I took the leash out in backyard to start training him to walk better on leash. Rest of the back dogs were out as well. So after a couple of minutes he’s like what the heck are we doing leash=walk. Then he started getting upset. So I took him in the garage and he’s jumping up and down about going for a walk. I open garage door, he goes running out like usual. So all of the sudden I decide we are going to work on that. And I barely lift the garage door up and down about five times, while he’s trying to get his nose under and get out. We were both quite frustrated. Finally trying to end on a good note I threw up my hands, told him to sit, gave a treat and left it at that. Talk about a confused boy. :) I went inside and cried. I never could get around to posting it because it hurt too much, but now when I think about it cracks me up!!

  10. Hee hee. I am laughing. Sorry. I do feel your pain. How long does it take to untrain successful clicker training? 😀

  11. Sorry, and I did laugh as I pictured the situation.
    Since you can’t do anything at time, just laugh. It will give you a good start for the day.

  12. I showed my fiance the clicker once (I normally keep them hidden from the household. I don’t need other training cues/methods poisoned by them, thank you), and he took it and of course clicked it. Elka had been sitting by the door, waiting very patiently for me to open it so we could leave on our walk. She heard the click and whipped her head around to him, for the treat of course…..but instead connected that pointy Dober-skull right with a *cough* sensitive area. He said “great, now I taught her to…” I was all “no, you didn’t. The click means a treat. You clicked her for sitting at the door.”

    Maybe I should train the people in my house better?

    Elka is suspicious of crossing guards, perhaps because of the signs they hold, and is not interested in their milkbones.

  13. I *roared* with laughter when I go to the “Nothing worse than a friendly stranger”?. That’s amazing! Oh what a dirty rotten day. Why oh why do we not listen to that voice in our head? I don’t think I have a story quite as EPIC as yours. I love the visual of Honey pulling you one way, Cherie the other and you just clicking along! LOL!

  14. Oh my goodness – what a sight that must have been! I totally feel your pain – with two dogs with different issues training them on a walk together is nearly impossible. What’s right for one is always wrong for the other and I’m sure they come home more confused than ever.