Are you looking for ways to make your dog understand what you expect from him? There are a lot of dog trainers with a lot of methods, but they all boil down to one core principle: CONSISTENCY.
Chances are, you have a family dog who gets walked by multiple members of the household (if you’re lucky), and trained by more than just you. Even if you’re the only one doing the training, other members of your family will want the dog to behave and listen to their commands as well.
Always Use the Same Commands
You can your begin your new training technique by making sure that Dad says “Down”, Mom says “Down”, and little brother Joey says “Down”. The words don’t matter, you could train your dog to sit on the command “Banana” if you really want to, but the key is that everyone uses the same word to mean the same thing.
Dogs are confused by family members using different commands for the same behavior, and it could slow down the learning process. Using multiple commands for the same behavior can also place undue stress on your new companion, who is always willing to please but doesn’t know quite what you’re asking. Make sure that “Sit means Sit” and not “Sit There” or “Sit Sit Sit” or “Boy Sit Down Now!”
Make a List of Commands
Place them on your fridge with a cute magnet. Email them to the family. Doesn’t matter what you do, just make sure that everyone in the family is using the same list of commands. Even spending five minutes after dinner talking about your last training session with Fluffy and what words she may have learned will be beneficial for everyone. Here are some simple and common commands that are popular with many obedience trainers. Remember, keep them short, simple, and don’t repeat yourself:
- Leave It
- Drop It
- Uh-uh (or “No”)
- Place (or “Spot”)
- Go Kennel
- Wait (note: this can be different from Stay. Article coming soon)
Conduct a Family Training Session
This is an easy way to make sure that everyone is on the same training path and your dog is working happily and obediently for you. The family can make sure everyone is being consistent in both praise and correction, and share tips about the best way to elicit the desired behavior. Another fun thing to do is have a mini-obedience competition between the family. Nothing stressful, and don’t spend more than a few minutes on it. Bring lots of treats, and give every member of the family a turn on asking your dog certain commands. See who can make your dog respond the fastest, especially who can get your dog to sit or heel with the happiest attitude. Make it fun for your dog as well as the rest of the family.
Dog training doesn’t have to be difficult. Sometimes all of the books, DVD’s, and training programs for sale can be confusing. In the end, just remember that Consistency is Key. Use the same commands, share them with your family, and praise, praise, praise your dog for correct behavior!