​The one essential thing to do when training your dog

How well dogs adopt the behaviours you want them to comes down to one thing: consistency. It may seem simple enough in theory but in practice, it requires ongoing commitment and dedication. Here are some ways you’ll need to be consistent if you want your pup to be well behaved.

1. Consistent cues

There are two types of cues you’ll use to train your pooch: verbal and non-verbal. It’s important to be consistent with both if you expect your dog to learn what’s required of him. For example, when training your dog to lie down, you might opt to use the word “down.” If so, you must then use this exact word every single time you want your canine companion to perform the corresponding behaviour. If you trade the term “down” with “lie down” or just “lie,” you dog will become confused and not understand what action you want him to perform.

2. Consistent rituals
If you want your dog to consistently perform the same behaviour in a specific type of situation, it’s crucial to keep the rituals around it consistent. For example, if you want your dog to sit down prior to being fed, you must ensure she does so every single time. If you forget one time and mistakenly feed her before she sits down, your pup may believe that it’s okay, or even preferable, to eat without performing the desired action.

3. Consistency among family members
Not only is it key for you to be consistent when training your dog, but it’s also important for the other members of your household to follow suit. Both your kids and your spouse must use the same cues, rewards, punishments and other training methods to ensure your pooch understands what’s expected of him.

4. Consistency in varying environments
Dogs don’t generalize. For them, different environments require different sets of behaviours. For instance, if you train your pup to follow the command “sit” in the living room, you must also teach the command “sit” in the kitchen, in your backyard, at the park, at the animal hospital and in many other types of locations.

5. Consistent rewards and punishments

When training your dog, it’s a good idea to deliver rewards (treats, verbal affirmations, pets, etc.) for desired behaviours, and punishments (verbal corrections, leash corrections, time-outs, etc.) for undesired behaviours. But be sure to be consistent with these, as delivering rewards and punishments sporadically will give your dog mixed messages about how to behave.

For more information about dog training
Have a question about training your pooch that wasn’t answered here? Then feel free to stop by Brimley-Lawrence Animal Clinic. The veterinarians and staff at our walk-in animal hospital are available to answer your questions. And of course, we’ll be happy to give your dog a checkup to boot.Visit us today, or any day from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays).

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