We find that if we always keep these three factors relevant in our dog training, we can achieve an even more accelerated rate of learning.
Here are three things to consider whenever we are training our dogs.
Any good dog trainer will tell you that consistency is a primary factor in achieving success when creating and maintaining behaviors. Even if the training is unfair or unclear, the dog will adapt in order to either avoid consequence or obtain reward.
Because of the fact that dogs have an incredible ability to adapt to their environments, consistency (which translates into predictability), enhances the dog’s ability to learn, as well as the rate in which they learn.
Imagine that you are learning a new skill, like boxing, dancing, needlework, piano, etcetera; you start with the basics, repeating the same passages over and over until they become muscle memory. By repeating the same patterns over and over, you no longer have to think; instead, you react, much in the same way that we want our dogs to react in response to our signals or commands.
If you can maintain absolute consistency in the information you provide your dog and the responses you produce in response to the behavior being exhibited, you will find an almost exaggerated rate of learning.
Clarity ultimately means communication. In regards to our dog training, our communication is quite limited from the get go, mostly due to the fact that we do not speak the same language. All we have is our signals, sounds, or commands, and the dog’s responses to said signals. That being said, it is imperative that we have total clarity in the signals we produce. If we have unclear signals, we will have unclear responses. We find that most of the “mucky muck” comes from a handler who is giving the dog too much audible information. This approach will force the dog to sift through, and hopefully absorb the information, instead of the the dog seeking the information from you. When the dog is seeking information, they are listening intently, and it is much easier for the dog to decipher the information being presented to it.
Lets face the truth: we all work for payment. Currently, our method of payment is money, and this factor is what drives many of us in life. This is due to the fact that we live in a monetary based society, as opposed to a resource based society, but that is another matter. Lets take a moment to look at it as if our dogs are working for payment. In our human life, when our boss gives us an unexpected bonus, or a raise, the effort and integrity in our work becomes reinforced, because money shows recognition of value. With our dog training, this payment is usually in the form of food rewards or play, not in the form of petting. Again, with our jobs as humans, if we go to work and our co-workers and boss shower us with love and appreciation, but no payment, our appreciation of their appreciation sooner than later, becomes no longer appreciated. We then find ourselves doing something more enjoyable with our time, much like the dog who becomes bored during training.
So, in a nutshell: pay big and pay often.