If you're serious about your dog training and committed to your dog learning a new skill or behaviour, consistency is the only way you will achieve your goals.
Its important that you follow through with your commands and reinforcement, praising the correct behaviour at the right place and time and never 'giving up' if they didn't listen and slipping them a treat anyway. Inconsistencies in your instructions and rewards will result in confusion for your dog, if they receive praise for not behaving, and get no acknowledgment for doing exactly as they're asked, you are undoing any progress you might have made and, in essence, not teaching your dog very much at all.
Consistency is particularly important where more than one person is involved. Everyone in the household must be on the same page, using the same markers, cues and techniques in order for your dog to learn and, in turn, to behave consistently themselves.
If the goal is to stop begging at the table for food, for example, food must never be given from the table from anyone in the house. If they're not allowed on the sofa, no-one must allow them on the sofa, even if there's no-one around to see. The same applies for the words used in your training as a family. While us humans might understand through context and nuance the differences and similarities between Come and Here, Off and Down, Stop and Enough, to your dog these are vastly different words, and yet his parents are asking the same thing of him for each word pair. Confusing. One cue should be dedicated to one behaviour with clear and concise instructions.
Similarly, a blanket "No!" can mean Stop eating that! Come here! Go away! Be quiet! Lie down! Get up! Come this way! Not that way, this way! all at the same time, and we expect our dog to understand exactly which one it is we mean from the same word used in a multitude of situations and contexts.
If there is any confusion between the humans (or even within yourself!) at any stage, take a moment to consider how you can expect your dog to understand if your instructions and goals aren't clear to you in the first instance. Consistency in training your dog is simple and will make the experience less stressful, more enjoyable, rewarding and effective for the whole family.
K9 Anytime Dog Training School
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