Embracing Imperfection in Dog Training: Learning from Zig Ziglar

Anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly until you can learn to do it well - Zig Ziglar

May 22, 2024


In the world of dog training, perfection is often seen as the ultimate goal. We strive for flawless obedience, impeccable manners, and seamless communication with our furry companions. However, what if I told you that embracing imperfection could actually be the key to success? Inspired by a timeless quote from Zig Ziglar, let’s explore the concept that “anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you can learn to do it well” and how it applies to our journey as dog owners and trainers.


Zig Ziglar’s wisdom resonates deeply in the realm of dog training. Often, we’re so focused on achieving perfection from the get-go that we forget the importance of patience, persistence, and the inevitable process of learning. Just like any skill worth mastering, dog training requires practice, trial, and error. It’s about understanding that it’s okay to stumble along the way as long as we’re committed to improving and growing alongside our canine companions.


For me I have countless lessons and skills that I had to learn along the way, but recently it is the art of shaping that has been boiling my blood. I realised I did do an element of shaping in a lot of my training, but it was mostly a form of shaping, called capturing. I would lure my dog to do something for a few reps, and in each session, I would wait for the dog to give me that action to get the reward – thus creating a dog that thought they made me reward them by doing a certain behaviour. Now, I am learning more about shaping, which is capturing any small step towards the ultimate behaviour I want without any luring techniques involved. I can’t tell you how I had to learn about my own weaknesses with this training technique – and four years late, I have improved but still have so much to learn.


When we embrace the idea of doing something “poorly” initially, we free ourselves from the pressure of immediate success. Instead, we adopt a mindset of curiosity, exploration, and gradual improvement. Whether it’s teaching a new trick, addressing behavioral issues, or simply building a stronger bond with our dogs, every step forward, no matter how small, is a victory worth celebrating. I enjoy being ‘bad’ at something new, because it also reminds me how it feels like to be the learner, and thus I can be compassionate and encouraging with my clients, who are my students.


As you embark on your dog training journey, remember Zig Ziglar’s timeless advice: “anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you can learn to do it well.” Embrace imperfection as part of the process, and don’t be afraid to stumble along the way. With dedication, patience, and a willingness to learn, you and your canine companion can achieve remarkable things together. So, let’s embrace the journey, one imperfect step at a time.

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