Frustration Tolerance Level – Why it is Important to Know
Frustration is a part of everyday life and the learning process. It can further education or obstruct it. We can use frustration to build behaviors, or on the other hand, a severely frustrated dog might not be able to process incoming information.
While working with your puppy, you can observe him and estimate his frustration tolerance level. Past this threshold, the dog will not learn well, if at all. When being frustrated, he might start:
- Spinning and jumping
- Grabbing everything in his sight
- Show redirected aggression
- Will not calm down quickly or even accept reinforcer
If this happens very frequently and your sessions are very brief – the threshold might be low. Dogs with lower threshold might require shorter training sessions, fewer distractions, and higher reinforcement. Dogs with a higher threshold might be more resilient to distractions, handler errors and better cope with conflict.
We need to know when the dog is so frustrated that he mentally checks out and becomes reactive.
Sometimes, the dog’s frustration might be a sign of:
- Trainer’s criterion is not consistent day-to-day
- Not enough repetitions for the dog to truly learn
- Unclear verbal commands or signals
- Increasing distractions too soon
- Expecting solid performance without reducing dependency on reinforcer
- Dog’s genetic predisposition to being sensitive or having “thin nerves”
Observe when your puppy or dog becomes frustrated enough that you had to stop your training session and then plan your next one accordingly.
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