Training your dog is a life-long process. Often people expect me to use my experience and knowledge to instantly teach a dog to sit or heel correctly. Generally, this is not the case. A good trainer can have your dog obeying basic commands in a relatively short period of time but the “secret” ingredient to having a reliability trained dog is owner consistency. Consistency requires a life-long commitment.
As an example, my trained dog reliably waits on a down/stay outside our local Starbuck’s while my wife and I have coffee. Every morning we walk our dog and every morning we place her in the same spot on the grass by the side door. Motorcycles can roar into the parking lot, dogs can walk by, children can go up and pet her and my dog does not break her stay. To the casual observer this seems like an amazing feat. Often strangers will remark how their dog would never remain in a down/stay off leash without leaving their spot. But it’s not amazing. In fact, most of the seemingly amazing things that you see professionally trained dogs do is simply the result of consistency on the part of the owner.
In training my clients, I always emphasize that you are always training your dog. If you give a command you must enforce it consistently and always. If you give a command and don’t enforce it, you are in fact training your dog that your commands are whimsical matters to be obeyed as only one of many options.
You are the food provider, leader and center of your dog’s universe. Much of his life is spent observing you and your behaviors. Your dog can pick you out of a crowd merely by observing your posture. He is the most dedicated student of your mannerisms and habits that you’ll ever have. If you give commands and enforce them rigorously one day and ignore his disobedience the next, depending upon your mood, you will not have a reliably trained or happy dog.
Your dog will never totally understand this world that we inhabit. Why does the microwave beep? Why does the fan turn without warning? There is an endless list of things that our dog will never comprehend. However, we can provide a safe cocoon of comfort for our dog by simply being consistent in our commands, routines and actions.
Think of dog training like an investment. The greatest rewards are gained by continual attention to adding small sums.Planning for retirement or even becoming wealthy is a process not a trick. So it is with training your dog. Each time you give and enforce a command it adds up to the dog’s understanding of what is expected. Over time, like any good investment, the return will be rewarding.
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