Consistency is key!
by Rose Clark // February 2018
Dogs thrive on consistency and routine, it helps them to understand the world around them and allows them to make safe decisions on how to behave in different situations. So, we need to get in there early to ensure they’re making the right decisions!
Our four-legged friends are persistent gamblers!
If dogs were humans, they would play the lottery every week. In doggy terms; if one person in a hundred gives them attention when they jump up, that’s enough to keep them trying with everyone they meet. Therefore, we need to ensure that our behaviour around them is as consistent as possible and never accidentally rewarding the dog for things that we don’t want them to keep doing!
Just remember to always reward a better alternative!
Equally, if a dog receives a different response each time he performs a behaviour the dog may begin to become confused and not know how to behave in a certain context. For example, if sometimes I let my dog jump up and give him lots of fuss, at other times I completely ignore him and at other times (for example when I am dressed up ready to go out) I get cross with him, he will start to get confused about what he’s supposed to do. As a result, he may instead display a range of behaviours or he may not want to approach me at all which is the last thing we want, we want our dogs to be confident and comfortable around us and being predictable and consistent is the best way to achieve this.
Consistency should be applied to all parts of dog training, but particularly when we need to stop the dog from doing something they really want to do. For example, when we teach loose lead walking we need to make sure that the dog is consistently rewarded for walking next to us (e.g. by dropping treats at your foot) but never rewarded for pulling, this can be hard because often pulling is very rewarding for our pooches – pulling means parks, play time and sniffs. If they pull and we follow they’ve got everything they could possibly want, why would they stop pulling? Always stop and stand still if your dog pulls on the lead, wait for them to be back with you before carrying on.
Another way dogs like us to be consistent is with our house rules. While it doesn’t mean they’re plotting world domination, our dogs usually love to be up on the sofa or bed with us, and when they’re cute baby puppies that’s fine! But when that cute little puppy becomes a full-grown Labrador with muddy paws cuddles on the sofa might not be so cute anymore… all the dog has done is grow, how are they supposed to know they’re not allowed on the sofa anymore? A good way around this is to teach the dog from an early age that he’s only allowed on the sofa when there’s a special blanket present… or come to Dog School and we can teach you how to train your dog an ‘on/off’ cue!