Consistency is the key to your dogs success

Consistency is the hardest part of dog training. A dog that has good obedience doesn’t always have good household manners unless you teach them. And you need to teach them daily to build successful muscle memory.

Dogs that can place, stay, wait and just relax are less likely to jump on visitors, on the counter, dig in the trash or chew inappropriate objects. It takes enforcing rules, adding structure and continued effort on your part to teach your dog what to do and what not to do. This requires supervision, crating, tethering, getting up and putting them back if they break multiple times, etc. Most people consider this mean and want their dog to like them so they don’t want to follow through with these rules and structure.

Dog trainers hear excuses all the time…busy work week, sickness, kids sports, bad weather, vacation, construction, etc, etc, etc. So, I am here to help your create a schedule for your dog and help you to be successful.

Pick a date to reset your habits and put dog training first on your list. I encourage owners to make it part of your daily routine.

For puppies, it is easier since they should be getting 18-20 hours of sleep each day. We recommend 1 hour out of the crate and then 2 hours in the crate.

In that one hour you can potty them, train them, feed them, play with them, cuddle with them, potty them one more time and then back in the crate for another 2 hour rest period.

For adult dogs, every interaction you have with your dog is a teaching moment, so consistency is important. Making them wait before feeding, coming out of the crate, going out the door, etc. Being calm when putting the leash on and getting in and out of the car.

Utilize feeding times as training times to work on focus, commands and working through distractions. I will even feed my dog their meal in a parking lot at a pet store while working with me. We can do this a few times each week and then going to pet friendly places or the park isn’t such a novelty anymore.

Practice commands in different parts of the house and yard and add in distractions as your dog is ready. Practicing daily is important in this process. Holding your dog accountable is critical and usually the toughest part for owners to implement. Practicing duration is helpful as you teach your dog what behaviors are acceptable.

We hear all the time that the dogs do wonderful at home but when they come to class or go out in public, they forgot everything they learned… There is a solution to this problem. Practice more often in public so your dog can learn to generalize the commands to various locations. Start with sitting in the car and people watching with your dog at pet friendly stores. Then work on getting in and out of the car in public. Then work on walking to and from the store calmly. If your dog gets excited, turn around and walk back to your vehicle. Start walking parallel to the front door or past another dog. This takes time and ideally DAILY practice. The more you take your dog on field trips the easier it is for that event to become boring so there is no need to pull, whine, bark or lunge at the end of the leash.

If you are only practicing once a week at class, you won’t make much progress. You need to take your dog out more often so it becomes a non event.  Barking, lunging and pulling on the leash is not acceptable. If the dog is doing that when you practice, turn around, go back to your vehicle, or walk to the back of the parking lot and start there. I often start with getting in and out of the vehicle someplace new calmly.

The same applies when you have guests over. I often hear excuses that people don’t have much company so when they do, their dogs go crazy. So, I am going to encourage you to call your friends, family, neighbors and enlist their help so your dog has good experiences with people coming over. Remember, you have to change your habits and lifestyle a little to help your dog become more successful. They don’t have to stay long and usually you can find someone who can stop over for 5-10 minutes to assist you.

If you want better behavior when people come over, you need to invite people over to practice. It’s actually even better if they don’t like dogs because you need them to ignore your dog. No look, no talk, no touch!

Your dogs will never get better if you don’t practice often. The goal of this post is CONSISTENCY. If you only have someone over once a month or less, your dog will never get better with visitors since they can’t learn the muscle memory needed to be successful.

In addition to collaborating with people, utilize training aids. Your leash is the easiest. Teaching your dog to place while you practice knocking and coming in and out of the door is another. Utilize corrective tools if needed to stop the jumping and/or barking. Reward good behavior when your dog greets politely and stays quiet.

The bottom line is that you have to change your habits if you want to set your dog up for success. But your training habits need to be consistent. Create a schedule and plan how you will work with your dog each day. Put that training time on your schedule so it happens every day.

The more time, patience and consistency you invest in your dog early, the easier it will be as they get older. In addition to obedience, you also want to work on your relationship with your dog.  If you act angry, frustrated and impatient, your dog will sense that and your training time will be wasted. Dogs gravitate to calm, confident and positive energy. You want to make sure you are emitting a positive, neutral frequency to your dog.

Try it for 30 days and share your results with us.