When training a dog there are many things that one must keep in mind. The tone of voice that is being used, the praise or correction that is required to mark a particular behavior (as wanted or unwanted), the correct command word, etc. However, nothing is more crucial in training than consistency. Consistency is the key to effectively communicating with your dog.
Dogs are not native to our human world. They cannot comprehend the rules we expect them to live by on their own. They look to us for guidance and instruction. As a result a dog is always watching his family. He is constantly trying to figure out what he should be doing, what he is allowed to do, and what is forbidden. The best way to teach him the house rules and set boundaries is for everyone involved to be as consistent as possible.
This may seem easy, but most owners will soon learn that remaining consistent is no walk in the park. Here are some guidelines to follow when attempting to establish consistency in your dog’s life:
- Have a family meeting to establish the rules – write them down and post them where everyone can see them
- Be clear and keep things simple – this goes for both dogs and humans; avoid convoluted and complex rules that will only create confusion and havoc.
- Make sure everyone is on the same page – a single person deviating from the set rules can set training back and cause confusion for the dog.
- Do the same thing all the time – if your dog is required to sit before entering/exiting a door then make him sit every time.
- Expect visitors to follow your rules – your dog is watching everyone all the time, even guests in your home.
- No exceptions – once a rule is established be sure to enforce it regardless of the situation or environment (pet stores, parks, family gatherings, holidays, backyard barbecues, etc).
By remaining consistent a family can greatly reduce the chance that their dog will develop bad behaviors. It is important to keep in mind that consistency is not just a short term phase though. Instead, it is a way of life and may require permanent changes in the family’s life style. This doesn’t mean that your dog will be incarcerated in your home. Rather, consistency makes things easier for your dog. The rules will be clear to him, his behavior will be pleasurable, and you may even find that he is happier with rules than he ever would be without them.