7 Important Dog Training Tips: Tip 2 –Consistency

7 Important Dog Training Tips: Tip 2 –Consistency

Welcome back to my series of 7 Important Dog Training Tips! Last post  I discussed the importance of keeping things very clear through “no grey areas” in my blog, 10 Important Dog Training Tips: Week 1 – No Grey Areas, This week covers the rule of consistency which can be interchanged with, and is quite similar too, that topic.

*Remember, all of these are discussed for the important time of the training phase of any new command, trick, sport, etc.

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Similar to the notion of maintaining clear distinctions, consistency plays a pivotal role in your dog’s success. It stands out as a crucial tool in dog training, irrespective of the specific activity. Failing to uphold consistency in your communication with your dog introduces numerous “grey areas,” causing confusion and potentially leading to more errors in your dog’s decision-making process.

 

In addition to maintaining consistency in our expectations of our dogs, it is crucial to be uniform in our words and actions to foster success. Consider the potential issue when commands like “sit,” “down,” “off,” and “sitdown!” are used interchangeably. Let’s explore this further: if you instruct your dog  to “sit” and “down” with distinct expectations for each behavior, and then one day he fails to respond to “sit,” prompting your frustration, leading you to sternly say “sitdown!,” it’s unreasonable  to be upset if it  chooses to “down” instead, as this aligns with the command you just issued.

 

Many dog owners commonly use the command “down” to instruct their dogs to lie down. However, I often observe them employing the same command when the dog is jumping on them, guests, or furniture. While we intend for the dog to lie down in any of these situations when we say “down,” our mental image is often focused on preventing the dog from engaging in undesirable behavior. Consequently, we settle for the dog ceasing the unwanted action rather than insisting on the intended behavior of lying down. This inconsistency in our commands and expectations is evident. In such scenarios, it is advisable to introduce distinct commands, like using “off” to deter pawing at objects.

Another commonly mishandled aspect of consistency by owners is the rate of reward or punishment. For instance, in training a dog to “shake,” if I neglect frequent rewards during the training phase, his interest may wane, and progress in understanding the new behavior may stall. Similarly, if I fail to employ a form of punishment (be it verbal correction, leash correction, time-out, etc.) consistently when warranted, the dog won’t learn that there are potential consequences for making incorrect choices.