Patience and consistency

The path to training a dog effectively has no shortcuts

by Anthony Rodriguez, CPDT-KA, Love Them Train Them

In the world of dog training, when using humane, science-based training to produce long term results, there are no shortcuts. This is where the art of patience comes into play. Every dog is unique, and every situation is different, so we must keep that in mind when first meeting and working with them. For example, if we meet a dog who is fearful of new people and the only progress we make in our first session is the dog eating food on the ground 10 feet away from us, that is OK. In fact, we should only work as his/her pace and celebrate the bravery that dog has shown. One mantra I find myself using time and time again is, “Progress not Perfection.”

The other crucial aspect of working with dogs is practicing consistency. Being consistent means practicing the same way between different people or circumstances. Say a dog is struggling with greeting family members by jumping on them. Mom handles the situation appropriately by turning and removing attention until the dog has all four paws on the ground or even better sitting, but Dad loves to rub his face and pet his body when he jumps up exuberantly. This is not a consistent practice; in fact, the dog is getting mixed signals from his family. It is not the dog’s fault for jumping, it is due to the family’s lack of consistency.

If I could give pet owners or aspiring dog trainers any advice, it would be that dog training comes down to practicing patience & consistency. Utilizing positive reinforcement and ending short training sessions on good successful reps will set you and your dog up for success. Lastly, if you and/or your dog ever feel stressed when training, take a breath, take a break, pet them, and tell them how much you love them. After all, if the training is not fun for both parties, then what’s the point?


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