Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Training Tips Tuesday - On Being Consistent

How many times have you heard someone say, "but I've tried everything!!!" If you frequent forums and other dog events you've probably heard someone say that. Maybe you've said it.

A lot of times I hear this kind of stuff from people who are just starting out using positive reinforcement and force free methods. They've tried all the pr methods and none of it "works" so it makes them feel better about choosing an aversive training tool. In reality they are just not being consistent or they don't really understand how to train what they are wanting properly. Even worse are the people who just want a quick fix and not have to do any work but that's a topic for another blog. :D

Remember, using punishment is reinforcing to the punisher!

So my training tip for Tuesday is to stop trying everything. Try one (or two) method(s) and stick with it. Dogs need us to be consistent with them so they can learn.

A training example: there are tons of ways to teach loose leash walking. Often I hear people say, "but I've tried everything!!" to teach it.. Sure they have.. They are trying everything at once. "Be a Tree", "Change directions", "Call the dog back to you", "feed in position", "silky leash" the list goes on and on. The poor dog is getting some sort of whiplash from it's owner and not ever really understanding exactly what it is they are trying to do. The owners are frustrated because nothing is working the dogs are frustrated because they have no idea what their owner is doing. Even better, the dog is too excited to learn on a walk because people also think that walking is exercise time. A leash walk is not exercise for most dogs. If you do have an excitable dog I highly recommend burning some of their energy off before you work on loose leash walking. Playing fetch and using a flirt pole are two of my favorite ways to do that.

I would also recommend having a clear idea of what your are expecting. If you don't know what you want your dog to do then how are they supposed to know, either? Decide what is going to happen during a training session before that session happens.

Make sure your entire family is on board with the training and that they know exactly what your dog is supposed to do, too. I highly recommend keeping a list of cues that the dog knows on the fridge. 

Be consistent, be clear in what you are expecting, keep your training sessions short and burn off your dog's excess energy before training. It really is that easy. If you have any questions feel free to ask!


  1. Replies
    1. I think we've all been there, Kelley! ~hugs~

  2. Awesome post, and spot on! The one area I struggle with constancy is cue names. I'm pretty good about formal stuff (sit, down, come, heel, fronts, ect), but things like move out of the way? Could be anything from "back up", "Scoot", "Room", "Space", "Watch it", "Move your ass!", ect. :p

    1. LOL! I do that sometimes, too! That's why I decided to make a list and stick it on the fridge. :D

  3. So incredibly true about the loose leash walking. Mort knows exactly what I want with a loose leash walk, but of course is a high-drive Kelpie. I can ask him to return to my side, and he will. He knows that I want him to walk by my side, you can see him thinking this with his little pained slow leg walk. But then you can see the slow speed up because oh.my.goodness.we're.almost.at.the.park.I.naturally.walk.fast.lets.get.there...! As soon as we burn off that energy with frisbee or ball fetch, he walks loose leash for the rest of the walk (I would do this before the walk, but we don't have a yard! This is a big problem for the urban dog owners). So it's not always about learning, it also has to do with energy level and motivations -- I bet this is so frustrating at times for everyone. And personally I believe it also has to do with natural walking speed too (I feel almost insane walking with a sauntering person - I figure that's what Mort thinks when walking with me!!)


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