What leads to frustration is setting goals that are perhaps a bit too high for you or your animal – and pushing it, even when it’s not working out.

I sometimes find myself in that position. That moment where I start to feel even a tiny bit frustrated, and the animal doesn’t even know what I’m asking for. So how could I expect them to do it? The important thing to keep in mind at that point, is to simplify what you’re asking for. Set it up so that the animal might do what you ask, and reward when they suggest even the slightest sign of doing so.

Let’s look at just one step. Literally, a step that you take when you walk. When we’re feeling ambitious and confident, it’s easy for us to keep pushing our animal and take away their natural lightness. To avoid this, take a look at the many movements that take part in taking one, single step. If your dog or horse, etc isn’t going where you want them to go, slow down and observe.

First they might look in that direction. Then, perhaps lean some weight that way, move one foot, move another foot somewhere else to support the weight to move the foot, lift the foot, and land it in the right direction. That’s one step. If you’re having trouble with them doing a trick or a behavior and so on, take a look at these little movements. Are they even looking in the right direction? If not, reward them just for looking there.

Then, you might reward them for just leaning in that direction. Set up a situation, wait, and release!

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