Mark Vette – Internationally renowned Animal Behaviourist, Educator, Author and TV personality

Consistency is the key to communicating with your Fido.

This month I’m focusing on consistent training with your dog; it’s easy to miscommunicate with them and give them confusing signals. Sometimes we don’t even know we’re doing it and then we wonder why our pals don’t do what we want them to. Have a read below of my top tips and share any comments you have at the end. 

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Tips to keep training consistent

1) Remember that repetition helps your dog learn quickly. When you want a certain behaviour, repeat it as often as you can until you’re getting a consistent result. 

2) Make sure everyone in your family knows the rules and follows them. If you don’t want your dog to whine or jump on people, make sure nobody in the house rewards them for that behaviour.

3) Another tip to remember is a reward doesn’t just have to be food. If you’re using a friendly tone or patting your dog, these can see as rewards too. For example, if your dog is whining and you give them a pat thinking it’ll stop them, you’re actually rewarding the behaviour. So, if your dog wants more attention and pats, they’ll whine some more until you pat them again, and that’s how the communication gets confused.

4) Your tone of voice. If your dog jumps up on you, laughing and saying “No Patch, don’t do that” in a high, happy tone this confuses the message you’re trying to give your pal. Make sure how your saying your commands matches what you’re actually saying. 

5) You have to have the same rules in all situations. If you don’t want your dog to sit on the couch when you have guests, then unfortunately you can’t allow your dog to sit on the couch at any time, even if it’s with you when you’re relaxing. The same goes for jumping up on strangers. If you don’t want your dog jumping up on others, you can’t let your dog jump up on you. Another behaviour you have to be firm with is begging. If you want to avoid your dog begging when guests are over, you mustn’t ever feed them causally from your plate or the table. It’s easy to fall into the habit of being relaxed with the rules, but it just creates greater frustration down the track.

6) Always use the same command and/or hand signal to elicit the same behaviours. If you want your dog to come to you, always use a “come” command, rather than variations such as, “come here” or simply calling their name. Same goes for “sit” vs “sit down” or “wait” vs “stay”. Pick one word and one hand gesture to use, then make sure everyone in the family uses the same ones.

Dogs are often blamed for these sorts of behaviours, when in fact they are being rewarded for those same behaviours in a different setting. This can be very confusing and frustrating for the dog. Getting used to being consistent in all situations will help you and your dog be happy and relaxed in all situations. So, make sure you only reward the behaviours you want.

I hope these tips will help you with your training!

Best of luck,

Mark.

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