Consistency is the key that will help to keep your dog from becoming confused. So this means that you and everyone in the family have to be on the same page in order for your dog to understand what is expected of her. Everyone has to use the same cues and commands when training. Remember, your dog speaks a different language so you have to be very clear, concise and consistent with commands. For example if you want your dog to lie down and your command is “down”, make sure everyone uses the word “down”. You can’t have one person say “down” and another say “lie down”. Your dog may eventually get the message, but it’ll take longer for her to learn, which may create a bit of frustration for both you and your dog. When this happens, you may incorrectly perceive your dog as being behavioural, impossible and not willing to learn. What happens when behavioural issues arise? You have a dog that starts to rule the house.
As I mentioned in my previous tip, you must be patient and understand the value and benefits of taking the time to train your dog. One thing I have seen a lot of is owners taking their dogs to a 10 week training class and then when the 10 weeks are over, so is the training! I question, why would you spend that time and money and not continue with the training? We still practice everything that we learned with Sophie in her puppy classes, and she’s now 4 years old.
Always be consistent on how you train your dog. Will you use treats, or praise, or both? That may depend on your dog. My Sophie is not treat motivated at all, but she LOVES praise!
Always train using a leash or a long line, depending on what you’re trying to teach your dog. This tells her that you are in control, not her. If you are going to leave your dog in the care of someone else, for example your dog walker, family member or friend, it’s important that you teach them the same commands to use with your dog. Otherwise, they will get frustrated and assume that your dog doesn’t listen, when in actuality she is listening, she just doesn’t understand.
Training is not limited to the 20 to 30 minutes a day. It’s an ongoing process as there are many opportunities to teach your dog. For example, the sit command. I make Sophie sit for everything! I make her sit before she is fed any food. I make her sit at the curb before we cross the street. I make her sit when both leaving from and returning to the house. I make her sit before I put on her leash. To be honest, for the most part I don’t even have to tell her to sit. She just does it because she knows what’s expected of her.
So again, be consistent and present yourself as a strong leader for your dog. She needs you to make rules, set boundaries and create expectations. The end result will be a wonderful relationship between you and your well-behaved dog.
Stay tuned next week for tip #3- Be Confident
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