Training

3 minutes reading time (627 words)

The importance of consistency when training your pet

When you add a dog to your family there needs to be some accord within the ranks. You've got some work ahead of you, acclimating your new pet to his new home and beginning his training and a family dog needs to have the family involved.

Consistency is the foundation of a dog's life. Dogs don't like it when things keep changing around, so it makes it easier on you and on your new dog, whether you've brought home a new puppy, an adolescent or an adult dog, when everyone in the house is on the same page, whether it's as simple as sticking to a feeding schedule -- and what to feed -- or something more complicated, like teaching him what you want him to do, or not do, when someone is at the door.

First on the list is getting the family's new dog used to his new name. It's natural for different people to tend to use different nicknames, but that main name needs to get firmly lodged in his mind before the individual pet names start kicking in. It may not seem like a big deal, but trying to teach a dog to come reliably to hearing his name kind

of requires that he knows what his primary name is. Of course, it may not be just nicknames that have the potential to cause the confusion; make sure everyone is in agreement on what the name is going to be. Permanently.

Ideally, one of you will be the primary trainer. You'll do most of the work with the new dog, and also teach the other members of the family to train consistently with you, using the same commands, intonation, time allowed for completion of the task. It even helps to be consistent with the treats given as rewards. If you're using a clicker, make sure everyone understands how many clicks it takes to mark the desired behavior.

If everyone can't or won't work together, better that only one person trains the dog, at least until your dog has a chance to get a good feel for what you want and learns the basics. Once your dog has an understanding of what you want, he'll learn what other family members want him to do, provided they work with him enough.

One thing you can't compromise on, though, is technique. Don't let anyone confuse the new dog by coming in behind you and undoing all your hard work by using harsh corrections and scolding. That's confusing and counterproductive and can even result in a fearful dog, and that gives you a whole new set of stuff to work on.

Now, that simple feeding schedule . . . Sounds silly to think about, doesn't it? But dogs are opportunistic feeders by nature and if everyone isn't aware of when and who fed the

dog, there's a good chance he'll manage to get fed several times more than he's supposed to in one day. That's a good way to end up with a fat, unhealthy dog, not to mention you'll wonder why you're running out of dog food so fast -- and having to clean up after him so much.

When you're working on house training, having everyone either work together or keep their hands off completely is going to make things go much faster and result in fewer accidents. You should be able to get better cooperation on that task as well, since no one wants to clean up a mess in the house.

You may find it harder to train your family than to train the dog, but with kindness and consistency, firm guidance and reasonable persuasion, you should be able to get acceptable behaviors from them. And don't forget to click/treat to mark those correct behaviors.

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