Being consistent in your dogs behaviour training has lots of benefits, but the biggest and most important one is that it will speed up your dogs learning. It’s not easy being consistent, but here are my best tips for easily becoming more consistent in your dogs training!
1. Control your environment
Getting surprised with distractions when you are mid session will significantly affect your ability to be consistent. Being in control of your environment (as much as possible) will eliminate this problem for you. So, choose places where you can see all around you, including the exits and entrances. And definitely don’t try to train your dog in alley ways and tight pathways. Also choose places that better suit your needs. For example, if you need your dog to be calm and pay attention then don’t go to places where there are plenty of off lead dogs. Likewise, if you want to practise focus near cyclists and joggers, head to a commonly used cycle path!
Also, try to set up opportunities. For example, if your dog is triggered by bikes, have a volunteer bring a bike to the park for you to work beside. You’ll have much more success when you can tell your volunteer how fast to go and which direction. Same goes for doorbell training, if you wait for a knock at the door to practise, you’ll never be ready, and you’ll never make any progress.
Check out this video for more good reasons why you shouldn’t wait for training opportunities to come to you.
2. Focus on training ONLY
Consistency is very much impacted by your own patience. So it’ll help if you set aside time just for training and only training. For example, if you are working on loose lead training, don’t do it on the way to pick the kids up from school. Likewise, don’t test your dogs recall training right before you have to head home for an important meeting. The same goes for behaviour when you are on the phone or a work zoom, why not record one in advance, so you can practise on that without feeling the pressure!
When you set aside special time to work on a particular aspect of your dogs training you’ll take your time. This means he’ll be more likely to achieve what you want, and you’ll both be winners. This is important for almost all aspects of behaviour training, but in particular any techniques that needs you to go slow and give it your full attention!
3. Know what you want
Seems obvious, but often consistency fails because we are unclear what we want our dogs to actually do. So before you start, take a few minutes to list out all the steps and remind yourself what your dog has to achieve to earn their markers/clicks and rewards.
When we are clear in our own minds, it will be much easier to consistently offer rewards and markers, or respond quickly to the incorrect behaviour. When we do this well, it gives clarity to our dogs, which means they will figure out the rules much, much faster.
4. Be ready
Dogs only know they have done the right thing when they get some kind of recognition. This could be a treat or a “good boy.” But, if we are slow, or miss the moment completely, they won’t get the right reinforcement. Imagine trying to recall train a dog, and instead of giving the dog the treat the second they arrive in front of us, we make them wait while we fumble through our pockets for a treat. Or even worse, ask them to sit before they get their reward.
Without well timed recognition, they will be confused as to what the reward was actually for. And in turn, they will be confused as to what you want when you ask them to come back. This is more likely to work against your training, than improve it. This is one reason I love clickers. They are brilliant at marking the exact behaviour you want, at the exact moment it happens.
How can I help you with your dogs behaviour training?
Private Dog Behaviour Consultations are currently available in the Dundee area and beyond. If you are looking for help solving your dogs behaviour and training problems, then please get in touch!