There’s a lot of debate in the dog training world about just how important consistency is. Some people believe it’s the most important thing, while others think it’s not nearly as important as other factors. So, what’s the truth? Just how important is consistency in dog training? Keep reading to find out!
Just How Important is Consistency in Dog Training
Dogs are creatures of habit. They like to know what to expect and when to expect it. This is why consistency in dog training is so important. If you are all over the place with your commands, praise, or rewards, your dog will get confused and will not be as likely to obey. But is consistency truly the most important factor?
The answer, of course, is that it depends. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Every dog is different, and every trainer has their methods and philosophies. That said, some general guidelines can help determine if you need to focus on consistency in your training.
First, let’s define what we mean by “consistency.” In the context of dog training, it means using the same commands, cues, and rewards every time you train your dog.
It also means being consistent in how you praise or correct your dog. For example, if you always give your dog a treat when he sits on cue, but sometimes you also give him random treats when he ignores your command, that’s not being consistent.
Last, but not least, it means establishing a routine that your dog can rely on. For example, taking him out at the same time each day. When you put all of these together, consistency helps your dog learn and understand what is expected of him. It also teaches him that he can trust you and rely on you for guidance.
Check out the video below for an overview of why it matters so much.
So, as we can see, it’s very important. I don’t think anyone can argue against that. But just how far do you have to go with it? Let’s discuss some common consistency questions along with their answers to find out.
Should I wake up my dog to go out while in training?
Yes…and no. It really depends on your dog’s age. A very young puppy can only hold their pee for so long. How long? Well, according to PetMD, there’s a very easy way to figure that out. “A good rule of thumb is that puppies can usually hold their urine for their age in months plus one, converted to hours. In other words, a 3-month-old puppy can generally go four hours without urinating.”
So, in that case, it makes sense to wake your puppy up to take him outside. If you’re training an older dog, though, chances are he can hold it until morning. That said, he may still need to go out during the night at first, until he gets used to his new routine.
Does it matter if you use front or back doors to take your dog out to train him? Do you always HAVE to use the same door?
Again, the answer is yes and no. Yes, it matters if you use the same door to take your dogs out to train them because they will learn that that (and that alone) is the door they need to go to go outside. No, you don’t always HAVE to use the same door because you can teach your dog that both doors lead to the same place – outside!
Here’s what I suggest: If you want your dog to always scratch at the same door to go out, then DO use that door consistently. If you want him to learn that all doors lead to the same place and he can scratch at either to go out, then switch it up and alternate between doors.
Even if you go the second route, you may find that your dog just prefers one door. We have two doors to my fenced-in backyard. My 7-year-old pup only ever asks to go out by scratching/barking at one specific door, even though the other door is closer to where I sit to work most of the day!
Can I skip a training session if my dog isn’t feeling well?
Many new dog owners wonder if they should skip training sessions when their dog isn’t feeling well. They worry that they may set their pup back by skipping these vital training sessions and create an issue that is difficult to fix later on.
If your dog is not feeling well, it is best to miss the training session. Dogs not feeling well may be less responsive to training and more likely to become frustrated. If you must train while your dog is not feeling well, take things slowly and be sure to end the session on a positive note, with lots of praise.
Seriously, though, skipping a day because Fido is under the weather isn’t going to undo all of your hard work. He’s not going to forget how to sit, stay, or come just because you missed a day. That said, if you’re still working on potty training do at least try to get him to go outside at his regular times. If he has an accident inside, though, because he’s too sick to go out, DO NOT punish him. Honestly, you shouldn’t be punishing him at all, period, but especially not when he’s sick.
What if I’m too sick to work on training for a few days? Will it undo everything I’ve accomplished?
If you’re training your dog consistently and suddenly have to stop for a few days because you’re sick, don’t worry! Foxy will remember what she’s learned and will be just fine. Taking a break from training may even be beneficial for both you and your dog. If you’re too sick to train, your dog may sense it and become anxious or stressed. Taking a break will give you both time to relax and recharge.
Again, though, if you’re still potty-training, at least try to stick to that part of your routine. If you can’t, maybe enlist help from family or a friend that your dog likes and trusts.
Is it OK to get excited when picking up our pup from obedience school? We usually are calm when we greet him daily.
If you’re sending your pup off to obedience school rather than doing the training yourself, you may wonder if it’s ok to lavish him with hugs and praise when you’re reunited. After all, you usually greet your pup with a calm demeanor every day. The answer is that it’s terrific to show excitement when picking up your pup from school! It will probably make your dog happy to see you excited, and I bet he’s just as excited to see you!
Bottom line, consistency in dog training is pretty vital…but it’s not the end of the world if you can’t be perfectly consistent every single moment of every single day. Don’t stress yourself out trying to stick to a flawless routine. If you’re anxious or stressed, Fido will pick up on it. That actually ruins a training session far more than veering from your regular routine ever could.
What do you think? Just how important is consistency in dog training? Share your thoughts below!