Often I have observed handlers focused on mastering a task that has gone on for far too long where a Border Collie has become sour.
When a human has a strong desire to master something they will persist until they do.
Regretfully the desire to win or to master a task often overshadows the innate abilities of your Border Collies learning ability because regarding any task their goal and motivation can be vastly different from the owner.
Your Border Collie wants to please you but your communication abilities may be hindering the desired result.
Watch your Border Collie’s body language for signs that its attention span is beginning to wane. The last thing you want as a responsible owner is to turn your Border Collie sour.
When training is more of a chore or task for either of you. Stop and rest. Don't do it if there is no enjoyment in it for either of you.
How long then can a Border Collie concentrate on set task? For example in obedience they may leave their Border Collies on a “long stay”. This may be for about 10 minutes, with the handlers out of sight of their Border Collie. Most Border Collies who are trained to this level will do a 10 minute “long stay”. What may cause a Border Collie to break the “long stay” is a lack of attention to the task which may be caused by the breed type factor.
Training a Border Collie to master a set task for long periods is the big mistake most people make when training their Border Collie. The mentality being “we will keep on doing this until you get this right!”
The average Border Collies’ attention span may last at most for around 15 minutes. In this period you will find that the Border Collie is more open to learning and less resistant to control. Beyond this a Border Collie may become mentally tired and may even resist the handler by switching off.
For training to play it safe for young puppies, older Border Collies and anxious Border Collies stick to 5 minute intervals at most during a training session. Train, rest or pressure on, pressure off or switch on, switch off. Train in 5 minute intervals, work with your Border Collies focus and attention span. Set your Border Collie and yourself up for success.
Finishing on a good note confirms to the Border Collie that it is doing the task to expectations. So next time you do a set task the Border Collie will know what is expected.
In contrast a human’s optimum attentive period is 20 minutes.
Here are a couple of things that may motivate your Border Collie to endure longer periods of training when it is motivated by the reward like food drive or toy or being on sheep. Help your Border Collie by breaking a complex task into lots of simple tasks. Bite sized tasks are easier to master.
Environmental factors will affect your training. Cold weather increases your training time and hot weather reduces your training time. When you can avoid training in an environment that has lots of distractions. For example barking Border Collies watching you train.
Success is not just in the win but more so the satisfaction of having trained your Border Collie to be successful with the task at hand.
Overall to set both of you up for success and progress keep your training periods short and fun.