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Consistency is the Key to Dog Training

When it comes to dog training, there are many aspects that contribute to the success of working with your dog.  Things such as supervision, practice and providing leadership are all necessary in order to obtain your goals.

However, another factor which is perhaps the most important is consistency. This means doing the same things and enforcing the same rules all the time. While this may seem like a simple concept, in real life it can be a bit more challenging.

For example, let’s assume your dog used to be permitted to go on the sofa whenever he wants and now you no longer want him to go on there. The way to accomplish this is by being consistent all the time. (Telling your dog “no,” followed by redirecting him to a new spot such as a dog bed, placing in a “down/stay” and then praising him.) This needs to be done not most of the time or some of the time, but every single solitary time he goes on the sofa.

While this sounds like a simple concept, consistency is perhaps one of the most difficult things for humans to do… well… consistently. While we all know what needs to be done, actually doing it every single time can be a daunting task when “real life” gets in the way. Sure, it’s easy to redirect the dog when you’re just sitting there watching television. But what about the times when dinner’s cooking, the phone is ringing, the kids are asking for help with homework and the cat just knocked over a glass of milk? Those are the times when it’s easy to pretend that you don’t notice the dog on the couch.

However, don’t fool yourself. Your dog saw you see him. And he knows that you saw him but are not saying anything about it. So, why not try it again later? And tomorrow morning? And he knows he can definitely plan on lounging on the sofa each evening during the crazy time.

This is just one example of how much we humans must diligently apply ourselves when working on changing a pet’s habit. It can be very difficult to be 100% consistent all of the time. However, by taking that extra 15 seconds to redirect the dog no matter how busy you are, the entire project of teaching him to stay off the couch can be reduced by weeks and months. In fact, with total consistency, a dog can learn to change a habit in just a few days!

By the way, this applies not only to the furniture example. Being consistent also holds true for every behaviour you work on with your dog, whether it’s jumping, digging, barking, chewing or any other issue. Consistency is also the reason why most dogs will never do “the behaviour” with their trainer after the first or second lesson. Why? Because their entire relationship with us has always been 100% consistent. (Every time they jump on us they get corrected. We don’t overlook it when dog-loving Uncle Pete comes over.) And we also are not there during “witching hour” to pretend we don’t see!