One of the things that I get, as a Los Angeles dog trainer, more than anything is… “my dog acts so much better with you.” When people say that, I can hear a little bit of sadness in their voice. More often than not, It’s not that I’m doing anything magical, its more a matter of consistency.
I’ll proceed to explain: Your dog looks better with me because he knows when he sees me it means training. If I ask him to do something, then I expect him to do just that… nothing more nothing less. My requirements are consistent.
Here’s an example of how you may be inconsistent with your training. Let’s say you ask your dog to SIT-STAY, you back up a few steps, and the dog slides into a DOWN. You don’t correct it, but instead walk back and pay the dog for staying. Then later that day you’re trying to put on your dog’s leash and you say SIT-STAY. The dog starts to slide into a DOWN and you get upset because you asked him to SIT. You’re not being clear. In fact, when the dog slid into the DOWN earlier, you rewarded it, but now you’re mad at him for doing the same thing he did earlier. There’s no grey area in dog training. A SIT is a SIT is a SIT. (Say that three times fast)
To be honest, it’s easier for me though… I see your dog once a week. I don’t have the same amount of face time which gives me less opportunities to be inconsistent. You on the other hand have multiple hours in the day. Thing is, outside of your more formal training sessions you’re always training your dog whether it’s intentional or not. It’s better if you are intentional, and because of the amount of consistency required, you need all the help you can get. I always encourage my clients to use a training tab (Here’s one I like). A training tab is a short leash that is long enough to grab, but not long enough to get the dog tangled on anything in the house.
In the very early stages of training, your dog should have the tab on pretty much all the time in the house. The reason is, as your dog is learning simple behaviors like SIT, DOWN, or STAY you will unavoidably give say those commands. However, if the dog decides not to comply or offer the wrong behavior, with no leash, you have no way of helping them get it right and reinforcing the desired behavior. The training tab allows you to use the leash pressure to help the dog get the correct behavior. The more reps they get doing the desired behavior, the more reliable their obedience becomes.
Here are a few examples of when a training tab helps with staying consistent.
- Making sure your dog does not jump on the furniture is definitely a matter of consistency. If you want to enforce this, most people will yell OFF (or DOWN, which is worse) a bunch of times and then grab the dog or try to scare the dog off of the furniture. If you have a tab, you should wait until you get your hand on the leash, then tell the dog OFF as you’re leading the dog off of the couch. Once the dog has all four paws on the ground, mark it with GOOD.
- Say your dog is really good on leash, but when you need to put their leash on for a walk they won’t sit still for you to get it on. This is the perfect opportunity to use the tab. If the dog tries to get up before you add your walking leash, you can use the tab to make them hold their sit.
- Let’s say your dog is rummaging through the trash. Most of the time people will yell at the dog, clap their hands or rush the dog to get them to stop. A better way to teach your dog that you don’t want them going through the trash is to calmly walk up to them grab the tab, give it a light pop and say LEAVE IT. The moment the dog looks away, say GOOD. Drop the tab, and if they try to go for the trash again, repeat the process as needed until the dog stops trying to go in the trash.
The training tab is a great tool… use it to your advantage. Never rush your dog or grab your dog in an attempt to try and get them to stop doing something. Always go for the tab and not the dog. It makes it less personal, and gives you the opportunity to teach vs. punish. As I said… good training is a matter of consistency. The more you can reinforce the things you’d like your dog to do, the better they will get at doing it. If your dog learns that they only have to respond to commands when on leash or when they feel like it, you’ll never have the reliability you really want. If you need help with training and you’re in Los Angeles, give us a shout. We’d be happy to help. (Los Angeles Dog Trainer – iWorkDogs)