The secret to successful dog training can be distilled down to a single word.
You might guess “patience,” “praise,” “discipline” – or maybe “no!” – but, even though a few of those are important, they aren’t quite the answer we’re looking for.
Professional trainers know that, no matter how competent they are, no matter how intelligent the dog is, no matter what technique they use, no dog’s training will ever be successful without… consistency.
The Role of Consistency in Dog Training
Dogs thrive with clear, consistent training because it helps them understand what you expect of them. Your pet wants to please you; all you have to do is show him how.
The theory that underlies dog training is known as conditioning. If you’re familiar with the psychologist Ivan Pavlov, he conditioned his dogs to salivate when he rang a bell. And, although you will be teaching your pet actual commands and valuable skills (as opposed to salivating on cue), you will use the same concepts to do so.
In its simplest form, conditioning means encouraging your pet through positive reinforcement (usually treats but also praise) to repeat a desired behavior. Over time, when Fido learns he will get his favorite treat by obeying your command, he will become conditioned to obey every time.
With dogs, conditioning requires regular repetition – consistency – to set and maintain the desired behaviors.
If you only work with your pet every few days, if you don’t always use the same commands or you don’t reinforce the desired behaviors with rewards, the conditioning will never truly occur.
Consistency Is a Family Matter in Dog Training
“But, wait,” you might argue. “I am consistent with my dog training efforts!”
Maybe you are, but what about the other members of your family? Perhaps you require Fido to sit each time before putting on a leash or before getting a treat. But what about other family members?
If someone other than you takes the dog for a walk or gives him secret treats – but they don’t make him follow the rules – they will undermine the work you’re doing and they will confuse poor Fido.
If your pet isn’t allowed to sleep in bed with you, your kids can’t allow him to sleep with them either. Fido doesn’t know one bed from another.
Or maybe you hope, through dog training, to stop your pet from jumping up on visitors to your home. If you set a double standard, like allowing him to jump up on the kids when they come home from school, you will continue to struggle in your efforts to keep him off Aunt Ethel when she comes for Thanksgiving.
Dogs can’t process complex or arbitrary rules the way humans can. Everyone must use the same training principles and commands, and the rules must apply across the board – consistently.
Professional Dog Training Can Help
Dog training is not for every one.
If you are not comfortable trying to train Fido, don’t give up hope. A professional trainer can do most of the heavy lifting for you, by establishing the foundations of your pet’s behavioral conditioning.
The Innovative K9 Academy trainers can assist with this task. Once we establish the desired behaviors, we can work with you and teach you a few simple tips and tricks for reinforcing your pet’s new skills.
Then, all you and your family have to do is reinforce his training – with consistency.
In Salt Lake City, Innovative K9 Academy offers puppy and dog training boot camps, group classes and individualized assistance based on your needs. Contact us today for help you with all of your dog training needs.