"Pretty much everybody is familiar with the concept of consistency as it relates to dog training”
I wrote in my first book, "Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer" about the Three Keys to Successful Behavior Modification: Timing, Consistency and Motivation.
Last week I covered Timing and next week I will cover Motivation.
Pretty much everybody is familiar with the concept of consistency as it relates to dog training. But frequently, dog owners don't keep it clear in their own head. Consistency means that your dog perceives the same outcome to a behavior-- every time he does that behavior-- until you've burned it into his brain as a conditioned response. And this is especially important to the RVer who travels with their dog as the very nature of RVing means we're constantly exposing our dog to new and exciting environments.
And that's why consistency matters.
Example: While you're getting ready to leave the RV with your dog , your dog gets excited and jumps up on you. And so you use one of my techniques to correct this behavior.
Later in the day, you're talking with another RVer about the benefits of a C Class vs. a Travel Trailer, while your dog is running around your picnic table. But you're so engrossed in your conversation that you don't realize your dog has now come over to you, jumped up with his front paws on your pants... and now you're scratching behind his ears. (All the while still engrossed in your conversation).
Unfortunately, your dog will never extinguish this unwanted behavior, because he's not receiving clear communication from you. One time, he's getting corrected for jumping up. Another time, he's getting his ears scratched for jumping up. Your dog can't tell the difference! In his mind, he's willing to give it "the old college try" because he figures there's at least a 50% chance you'll rub his ears if he jumps up.
Now, you may be asking, "But Adam... what if I want my dog to jump up on me at certain times?"
Well, the answer to that question is: First we need to teach your dog that an unwanted behavior is always unwanted.
Unless, of course, we tell him it's okay, first. But we need to be consistent about only letting the dog jump up when we first tell him it's okay-- and with a command that is the same, every time.
If your command is "Jump up,"-- then you will need to be consistent about correcting your dog for jumping up on you if you say any other phrase or if you make any body movement. Even if you say the words, "Jelly Bean!" - You're still going to consistently correct your dog every time he jumps up... because you haven't given your "jump up" command, first.
Copyright 2011 By Adam G. Katz and DogProblems.com. All Rights Reserved.