Monday, July 15, 2013
I can never emphasize enough that the key to training your dog is consistency. Of course, this isn't the only factor involved, but it is such an important one, and one that owners tend to slide on, that I must reiterate over and over again.
If you are consistent in how you handle and train your dog, you are giving them a clear direction and communicating effectively and fairly. If you lack consistency in your training and handling, at best, you are confusing your dog, at worst, you are potentially reinforcing bad habits and possibly causing behavioural issues.
I will give the example of typical demanding type, attention seeking behaviours. If you give your dog attention for whining or barking at you one day, then get mad at it the next, then offer attention the next, correct the next, and so on, you are putting your dog on a variable schedule of reinforcement, which actually increases the likelihood of the behaviour your are reinforcing (however unintentionally), thus causing a bad (and annoying) habit in your dog.
This is one that I find a lot of owners have trouble with on their own, without proper direction. We approach this with ignoring the demands (unless they are over-the-top), which typically extinguishes the behaviour as the dog realizes it doesn't work. When you are inconsistent in dealing with this type of situation, and allow or give in to it some days, the dog figures "I'll keep trying because it works sometimes" - kind of like the slot machine theory (I'll keep gambling because I get a payout every-now-and-then). Owners do struggle at ignoring their dogs because it's second nature to put a hand on the dogs head for a scratch when they whine at you, or throw the toy for them when they are pushing it into your lap during dinner - this leads to inconsistency, and an increase in the behaviour that you are giving attention to.
This inconsistent handling also affects obedience training. If you ask your dog to sit/stay, he does, but then get's up when he feels like it, and you don't address the incorrect response, you are being inconsistent (and unclear) in teaching him first, what the command means, and second, what your expectations are of him performing this command.
Bottom line, to be fair to your dog, no matter how you train, consistency in how you handle him will always result in better response and behaviour.
If you are struggling with your dog and need help to become a better handler, please feel free to contact us and we can guide you on how to become more consistent with your dog email@example.com.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
I am often asked the question "Do you allow other people to handle the dog during training, or do you prefer having only one person do the training?"
It always baffles me when I hear that other instructors would prefer only one person to handle a dog during training. This is something that makes no sense to me, especially when there is more than one person invovled in the dogs care and well being at home.
I want everyone who shares their life with a dog, to be able to properly handle that dog and learn the correct training techniques. Of course, when we are talking young children, there is an age limit, and if the dog has severe behavioural issues, we make an exception. However, it is for the benefit of both the family and the dog, that everyone learn how to properly handle and care for their pet.
Of course, in group classes, I don't want to see a family of five trailing the dog around during heeling exercises, but I am more than happy to allow a switch of handlers during the class, so that everyone has a chance to learn hands, on under direct instruction. And I am more than happy to have the family come out and watch so that they too can learn the proper techniques.
Getting the whole family on the same page and being consistent with training is absolutely key in order to get the dog to understand his/her role, reduce confusion on the dogs part, and become reliable with his/her behaviour.
If you are looking for a class or private training that involves everyone in your dogs life, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will set you on the road to success with your canine companion.
Monday, July 1, 2013
Just want to wish everyone a Happy Canada Day and a safe, sunny, fun-filled holiday weekend!