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Consistency is Key in Dog Training

Learning skills and behaviors requires the teacher to be consistent with their feedback and instruction. This is essential in order for the learner to understand what they are doing right so that they are more likely to repeat it in the future.

So many of my clients hear "consistent" and THINK "constant". Let's be honest, being in a state of constant teaching/training with your dog just is not realistic (or fun, for that matter)! So, how do we manage the time constraints of every day life and teaching and maintaining our dog's training?

For me, consistency is about communicating with my dogs throughout the day, not just during "training time". I reinforce the behaviors I want to see more when I see them, and yes, I do make an effort to pay attention. Of course, there are "training sessions", but much of the teaching I do is outside those times. I consistently reinforce my dog's good choices based on my house rules.

But, some days are crazier than others...THAT is a time for management, NOT training. Again, I see this as part of being consistent. If I know that there is a situation in which my dog will make an undesirable choice and I don't have the ability or bandwidth to put on my trainer hat, I make sure that my dog is not put in a position that they are not prepared to handle without my support. I don't want them practicing behaviors I don't want repeated. If they struggle when dealing with company and I can't help them because I am preoccupied with guests, they are much better off tucked away in a quiet room with something to keep them calm and entertained.

Consistency is about being fair, keeping the rules the same over time, and gradually building up proficiency. It is not about inflexibility. I consistently make adjustments to training plans based on my clients' and their dogs' needs. This enables them to continue to make progress because I meet them where they are at and move them forward at a pace that works for them.

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