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Consistency…. it’s my favourite word and I love to remind my clients about it all the time.  No matter what training method you are using when training your dog you need to be consistent.  Behaviours don’t just change unless you are consistently reinforcing your dog about the behaviours you are wanting from them.

I believe dogs are opportunistic and live in the moment, they take each and every opportunity at that exact time as an opportunity to behave a certain way so if you are consistently sending mixed messages to your dog they’ll decide how they want to behave when they want to.  Take for example a jumping dog.  If when you get home your dog jumps on you and you do what you normally do to teach them to behave appropriately that is fantastic, they will learn quickly the behaviour you want and will begin to offer that behaviour in return for their reward. However, if in 2 days time you come home and your dog jumps on you and you do nothing about it and allow them to continue with this behaviour they will try it again as there is nothing stopping them.  It’s important to consistently teach our dogs how to behave and reward the behaviours you want from your dog.

Another example is rewarding the dog when they look like they are performing/behaving appropriately but really they are showing you they don’t care. For example when I adopted Harlow her sit was what I refer to as a lazy sit, she would sit on her hip instead of sitting with her legs tucked nice and neatly underneath her. Her previous owners allowed this, and that was fine for them, but for me I wanted more and I also wanted Harlow to engage her core muscles a little more, I want her to ready for the next behaviour/command I ask of her. Now the only sit she is allowed to offer is a sit with her legs tucked in, she of course can relax if she is in a sit step away/stay for a length of time, but when I ask her to sit she knows the correct position and this position is the only one she is rewarded for (as shown in the photo to the left).

Whenever you are interacting with your dog, taking every opportunity to train your dog, teaching them how you want them to behave, be consistent.  Decide how you want them to behave and perform exercises, and from then on it’s the only way they will be rewarded for their efforts and improvements with their training will move forward a lot quicker.

Consistency…. it’s the key to dog training!!!