Consistency is Everything

Dogs usually respond well to familiarity and consistency. That is why the first time I see a new client, I prefer to work with all the people in the household. It can be extremely helpful in understanding the concerns. For example, Mom, who takes Rover out in the morning is having issues with pulling. She does everything a trainer might ask her to do. Treat Rover when he walks well, change directions unpredictably to keep Rover on his toes, and freeze when the dog pulls. But Rover never improves. At that first meeting with the whole family, I might find out that although Mom is doing the right things in the morning, her son Johnny is not bringing the treats and is letting Rover pull him. Many times family members don’t know what the other is doing with the dog. As their trainer, I would come up with a training plan that would put all family members on the same page. Here is another example.  Joan likes to cue Zippy to go into her crate before bedtime. Zippy happily complies because Joan uses a happy uplifting voice to coax Zippy into the crate. “Zippy, go to your bed!” But her husband, Harold, gets frustrated when Zippy doesn’t do the same thing for him. As a trainer and a little bit of prying, I might find out Harold is just saying, “Go to bed” in a lazy voice or just saying “Bed.” Dogs memorize sounds, not words or the meaning of words. So, the couple must say the cue, “Zippy, go to your bed!” in relatively with the same tone and pattern for Zippy to comply. If you are having issues with your dog and you feel you are doing the right things to train him, don’t forget to look at the other members of the household to see what they are doing that might be working against good, consistent training.