Updated: Feb 12
A repeating issue most dog owners have is when your dog KNOWS what they are supposed to do and yet refuse to do it, or they do ANYTHING other than what you just told them to do. Your dog is pushing back. He’s ‘refusing’ to obey a command which could be for several reasons.
Is your dog misbehaving because they are being mischievous, stubborn, rebellious, or perhaps they are confused or overly distracted by managing too much energy.
Dogs and their ability to obey commands is more involved than simply teaching them a new command and after several successful repetitions, calling it good. In fact, that approach typically leads to what we call the “Good Enough” command. The dog does it good enough, means they usually obey when you ask but their dependability in obeying the command is adversely affected by distractions, their current environment and ultimately their willingness to obey every time.
If you want your dog to transition from “good enough” to consistency with dependability it takes repetitions and LOTS and lots of repetitions. But not all repetitions are created equal.
Repeating sit or stay 200 times in your living room will improve your dog’s ability to sit IN YOUR LIVING room. Just do not expect the same level of performance in your front yard, at the park or at a restaurant patio because you have not reinforced this behavior in those environments. In fact, it is not fair to your dog to train in only a couple environments but expect them to be able to perform at the same level in all environments. That would be like training to be a long-distance runner and expecting you can perform to the same level at high elevations. You have not trained your lungs to perform at this change in altitude, or environment, therefore your performance will not be as dependable as you would be running at sea level.
This is why good dog training requires hundreds upon hundreds of repetitions in many different environments with several different distractions. If they are not dependable in a new environment, then this is the area you and your dog need work with. You do not run from where they are struggling, you run to it, embrace it, and help them understand that a change of location and intensity of distractions are irrelevant.
Unfortunately, many dog trainers rely on corrections to improve the dog’s performance and dependability. This is a lazy way to train. Is it faster? Sometimes, but only in the short-term for they skipped over a foundational element in your dog’s training, which is Impulse Control. The only way to correct a dog into impulse control is to make them fearful of making a mistake. Fear is not training; it is being a bully. And a fearful dog is not a happy dog.
Thousands of little things; from repetitions, to distractions, to engagement all work together for your dog to transition from associating what a command IS to be able to generalize what a command MEANS. Association is like a dog that sits and looks to you for the treat they KNOW they are about to get, they associate that IF they do what you ask, you will give them a treat. This leads to treat dependent dogs. Generalization is where a dog no longer associates a behavior with a specific outcome, they now understand the command IS that action. It is like water IS wet, it just IS and there is no ambiguity about it.
Are you doing 700 plus repetitions for each and every command you expect your dog to know and be able to perform? If not, then you are being unfair if you expect your dog to be consistent and dependable in environmental changes when you give them a command. Repetition creates understanding, but again, not all repetitions are created equal.
Dog training is time consuming and often times monotonous which is why it is the trainer’s responsibility to make it engaging and fun for your dog. When a dog enjoys training, they want more of it, when they dread it, they avoid it just as you do.
If you are struggling with consistency in commands with your dog, K9 Culture Dog Training in Carrollton, TX can help. We train with dogs of all types, all breeds, all ages, and temperaments throughout the Dallas Fort Worth area to help them have good public manners and be more dependable with their owner. Come see why our clients say K-9 Culture has the best dog trainers in the DFW Metroplex area.
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