Number One Best Dog Training Tip

Michigan Dog Training, all dog breeds, large dog breeds, small dog breeds

What is the number one or best dog training tip that a dog trainer can offer? That can be a hard question to answer as there are a lot of things that go into training a dog to have the relationship you desire. However, if you pressed me to answer that question, the answer would be hands down – “consistency.”

Dogs are quick visual learners. They are keen observers and remember your routines. They jump for joy when you pick up their leash telegraphing them it’s time for a walk, they become anxious when you pick up your car keys signaling you’re going to work, etc. One of my clever clients told me that their dog got anxious when she washed her morning water glass as she always did that just prior to putting on her coat and leaving for the day. So sometimes it’s not just picking up the keys or coat that can trigger a response. A dog can recognize an earlier part of the chain of events, especially if you’re consistent in your routine.

When you think your dog has learned an obedience cue via a hand signal or a verbal cue, is that the only thing that triggered them to perform or do other subtle cues prompt them to act? Some examples may include; reaching into your treat pouch before giving a command, learning forward into the dog prior to giving a command to lay down, turning away from them as you want them to exit a vehicle instead of waiting for a command to do so, etc.

Michigan Dog Training, Police K9

K9 Simone

Before I worked on the street as a law enforcement officer, I did an internship in the county jail. That experience taught me I never wanted to work in the jail but it was an interesting social observation. Because the inmates have nothing but time on their hands, they are keen observers of the Correctional Officers’ (COs) routines. And, COs just like all humans are creatures of habits despite trying not to be so. Many of the inmates would purposely try to frustrate the COs for entertainment purposes. Some of the COs recognized it was all a game and were able to not take the inmates’ antics personally. Whereas, many others took it personally and sequentially caused themselves a lot of undue stress that would probably result in elevated blood pressures and other medical conditions.

Similarly, I see many dog owners who are stressed out and struggling with the undesired antics of their dogs. It doesn’t have to be that way. Just like one hires a professional to help them with their taxes, legal matters, and health issues; one should seek help from a professional dog trainer or dog behaviorist. The main thing that separates a pet owner from a dog trainer is consistency. Pet owners can learn how to train a dog but their success level will be dependent upon their consistent follow through.

Years ago, my college roommate was studying abnormal psychology. One of his homework assignments was to have his friends take a 500 question survey. When he scored my results, he told me that I was “abnormal”. I asked jokingly, “what do you mean I’m abnormal!?” He said I was considered abnormal because the test measured consistency and I scored a 100%. We had a good laugh about that and I told him I wasn’t surprised because I recognized many of the questions were the same questions with the same results, they were simply asked in a different manner. He said, well it’s not normal to score 100%. As a dog trainer, this analogy shows me how important it is that we be consistent in our physical cues (intended and unintended), verbal cues, and inflections with our dogs. They are keen observers of our behavior.

To be consistent with your dog:

  • Look how you might be giving unintended cues,
  • Understand your dog is always learning (desired or undesired behaviors)
  • Seek out a professional dog trainer/behaviorist to learn how to train your dog
  • Follow through with the instruction with deep practice
  • Realize your dog is a keen observer of your behavior and
  • Understand your dog’s antics are not personal but rather shows you what your dog still needs to learn.

Michigan dog training, teacherA dear client of mine was struggling to get her dog to go to and remain at “place” (a dedicated location such as a dog bed) while she prepared lesson plans on her computer for her school children. Her dog would do the command during a training session but not when she needed it otherwise. Her dog knew what the command meant so that wasn’t the problem. The problem was consistency. While my client was preoccupied, the dog was no longer receiving reinforcement for staying nor a fair correction for leaving the place.

She became increasingly frustrated with her dog leaving the dedicated place and thus gave up, allowing her dog to come off the place during “non-training sessions” (all moments of time are training sessions). So I asked her a question, “would you ask one of your students to do something that they understood but then take no action when the student simply walked away?” Her response with a smile of passionate enlightenment was, “nooo wayyyy!”

My suggestion was to either be mindful of her dog and be able to respond if her dog stepped off the dog bed or not to give the cue in the first place. It seems like a simple solution and it is. However, many times without a coach (dog trainer) to guide us, we can’t see the obvious because we are stuck in the mind.

Bart Bellon, an internationally known dog trainer coaches dog handlers to know what the rewards for doing are and consequences for not doing. Thus,

1. Teach your dog what to do,

2. Reward your dog for doing,

3. Use fair corrections for not doing, and

4. Above all else be consistent in your approach and response.

Please comment below how you will become more consistent with your dog. And, if you need help, contact Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan at 734-634-4152. We can help you!

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