Building a house begins with the strong foundation we lay first. When training dogs, one of the most important things to understand is consistency. When we teach a behavior, we do it repeatedly with positive reinforcement each time the dog performs the requested behavior. One thing we consider when working with every dog in our A to Z Day Training Program is that with consistency comes trust.
When asking a dog for a behavior, often we are asking for some sort of impulse control that dogs need to be taught. They must trust that when they perform the behavior there will always be a positive outcome. By making it positive and being consistent they learn to trust you, and it builds a strong bond between you and your canine buddy. Through each phase of a dog’s life comes different and sometimes frustrating challenges. We get it, as pet care professionals we have felt the same frustrations with our own dogs.
When my sweet girl Pinot is acting like she does not know any behaviors at all and wants to make her own decisions, I revert to where our relationship started and the basic commands of behavioral foundation. Something as simple as “sit” or “look” is enough to get her to refocus on me and understand I need her attention. Pinot loves to train, and I have worked hard to make her a well-balanced, confident, and social dog. She helps in my classes with puppies, is a mentor dog at Playful Pups Retreat and works with reactive dogs in my private training business. Consistency and trust are the two components that enable her to be the amazing dog she is today. We practice consistent rules and commands, and she continues to learn and thrive. Pinot has shown me that dogs want to please their owner more than anything else.
There are times when consistency is hard and we tend to reward an “almost” behavior. Pet parents need to be careful not to reinforce a behavior your dog “almost” gives you. It is confusing for your pup and unknowingly teaches the dog that they can get away with “kind of” doing things. During our A to Z Day Training Program, we work with each dog to get the complete behavior through encouraging the behavior from start to finish and celebrating when they finally do it completely. It’s a big party and the dog receives lots of treats and praise!
The benefit of consistency is that practice makes perfect. Our training philosophy at Playful Pups Retreat is that pet parents can achieve amazing results by training 10 minutes a day consistently, rather than training 30 minutes one day a week. Every interaction with your dog is a training opportunity. You are either training your dog or they are training you. Which one do you want? We believe in the power of consistency!