Consistency Is Key
I often get compliments on Blitz’s cooperation, which to me is one of the nicest compliments I could get. She certainly loves to work, but it is also a product of clear expectations. As a dog trainer, I see that many of the issues people have with their dog is due to a lack on consistency that leads to blurred expectations. Consistency shows up in a variety of ways, but each of them is important for successful training.
How often do we start something with high ambitions only to fizzle out over time? Just like with any new skill you want to learn, training your dog takes practice. The more regular training sessions you can provide, the faster your dog is going to pick up on what you’re asking. If you work on something daily or even every few days, you can expect quicker results than weekly or monthly training. Keep in mind, only perfect practice makes perfect. Keep things short, sweet and successful but often.
Just like “come” and “complete” have two different meanings to us; the same can be said for dogs. When you teach your dog “sit,” it can be confusing to suddenly say things like “can you sit,” “sit down,” “sit up,” and so on. Don't make them hunt for the one word with meaning within the phrase; keep things short and precise in order to get the most reliable result. If you use “come” for your recall, be cautious to not suddenly change it out for things like “come here,” “come on,” “here” which may not have any meaning to your dog.
It can be difficult enough for our dogs to understand our language as it is, but inconsistent meaning to our language can really make matters worse. A common form of this I see is when people ask their dog to “come.” Sometimes they expect their dog to come all the way to them, sometimes they just want them to come in their general direction, sometimes they mean walk with me, and so on. The more black and white you can make your commands, the easier it’s going to be for your dog to understand exactly what you mean and what your expectations are. If every time you ask your dog to come and it means come all the way to you, there are no blurred lines as to what’s expected in that given situation. Try to paint a clear picture for both you and your dog of exactly what you mean each time you communicate with them.
Dog training can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are consistent in your repetitions, language and meaning, you can create clear communication that will set you and your dog up for success.