Consistency, or lack there-of, is what will either bring you success or failure in working with your dog. I don't care what method or tools that you use, if you are consistent, you will see results, and if you are inconsistent, you will be disappointed.
Consistency is where most owners "fall off the wagon" so-to-speak. It isn't easy to remain consistent, especially when you have a family, a job, and other life events that get in the way, however, in order to be fair to our dogs, and really gain an understanding, consistency in rules, consistency in habits and consistency in practice is where you will make or break the relationship. And you want to make sure that the consistency provides positive results and not negative. It seems that negative habits are much easier to stay consistent with then positive ones, but it's the positive ones that will gain you success, not the negative ones.
As I said, it's not easy. We all "fall of the wagon" at times. I do, you do, the best of us does, but the quicker you get back on track, the better. The more consistent you are, the more clear you are being to your dog, and the more clear that you are, the better they are able to understand your rules, limits and training.
A large factor in consistency for dogs is also getting everyone who handles and lives with the dog, on the same page. This is another area where I see a lot of struggles, as each person in the household will have slightly different rules, limits and practices then the other.
Want to try and make it easier? Here's where to start:
- Sit down with your family, or whomever handles and deals with your dog on a daily basis, and create a list of very clear rules that you want to impliment with your dog. They don't have to be my rules, but they do have to be rules that everyone is comfortable living with. Post this list up, and require that everyone follow it to the best of their ability.
- Sit down with your family and have everyone note what negative
behaviours they might be inadvertently rewarding with attention. Make
everyone aware of this, and help each other consistenty stop these
- Start small. If it's exercise that your dog needs more of, or training/practice time, reside to getting up a half hour earlier in the morning, and with that extra, quiet half hour, take some time to practice with or walk your dog.
- Start easy. Threshold work with doorways and crates. Self control
work with crate, food and place. Building self-value with ignoring and
requiring work from your dog.
- Be clear! Dogs don't do well with grey - they absolutely need black and white, just as young children do. Get on board with being consistent in over all handling, not just the rules. There should be no grey areas. Grey areas cause the dog to make the wrong choice and you are setting them up for failure, not success.
- Be consistent in your feed-back, both positive and negative. Reward the good, correct or ignore the bad, consistently, every time.
- Make a schedule. Set out some specific walking and training times, and stick to it. This isn't just to benefit the dog, this is also to benefit your relationship with the dog and your health. Get everyone on board.
- Change your mind. If you are a negative thinker, a consistently glass-empty-all-the-time type, you absolutely need to change this in order to see the success with your dog. There are lots of ideas on YouTube to help change negative thoughts, patterns etc. that if you impliment and remain consistent with, will translate down to not only your dog, but to the rest of your life, family, job etc. If you are consistent with negativity, you will breed negativity. If you can change that to being more consistently positive in your training outlooks, you will gain more positive results.
These are just a few ideas to start to move you forward in a more positive and consistent direction. It's not rocket science, nor is it overly difficult work, but it can be a challenge if you are not used to consistency in new, more positive habits. But I absolutely know you can do it with a bit of effort.
It should also be noted that consistency shouldn't just be implimented for a week and then dropped. If you try this, your dog will fall right back to square one. It's building a new foundation and sticking to it. It's building a new system of communication and being clear about it. It's clarity in your new rules so there is no confusion, and making sure to remain black and white. It's adding a more positive balance to the relationship and enjoying the benefits of it.