• Linda Healy

Be consistent with commands and tone of voice

The most important thing to remember when training your dog is to be consistent. Your dog can't understand "sometimes, perhaps or maybe." Your dog can and does understand "yes and no." For example, you confuse your dog when you allow him to jump up on you while you are wearing old clothes but then get angry when he does while in your best clothes.

Another example: Tom loved to wrestle with is dog named Luna. The one day, when a child came to visit Luna flattened her. Tom was angry and Luna was confused - she thought roughhousing was a wonderful way to show affection. After all, that's what Tom taught her.

Sometimes dogs pick up consistent cues from unexpected sources. For example, before leaving for work Tracy always put Coco in her crate. It wasn't long before Coco went into her crate on her own when Tracy was about to leave.

Dogs often give the appearance of being able to read your mind. What happens in actuality is that by observing you and studying your habits, they learn to anticipate your actions. Because they communicate with each other through body language, they quickly become experts at reading yours.

What Coco observed was that immediately before leaving for work, Tracy put on her makeup as usual and then crated her. Coco's cue to go into her crate was seeing Tracy putting on her makeup.

Then one evening, before dinner guests were about to arrive, Tracy started putting on her makeup. When Coco immediately went into her crate. Tracy realized Coco hadn't been reading her mind, but had learned the routine through observation.

Consistency in training means handling your dog in a predictable manner. If more than one person is in the household everyone needs to handle the dog in the same way. Otherwise, the dog becomes confused and unreliable in his responses.

So does this mean you can never allow your puppy to jump up on you? Not at all. But you have to teach him that he may only do so when you tell him it's ok. But beware: Training a dog to make this distinction is more difficult than training him not to jump up at all. The more black and white you can make it, the easier it will be for Luna to understand what you want.

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