546 – Consistency is the Key to Successful Dog Training

Consistency is the Key to Successful Dog Training

Trainer and author Shannon Riley-Coyner joins host Laura Reeves to talk about the key to successful dog training – consistency.

“Really, consistency is something that even as humans, we thrive on,” Riley-Coyner said. “Like if we have a relationship, whether it’s with our children, our spouse, our friends. Inconsistency really creates fear. It creates anxiety. It creates a lack of trust.”

Five Ways to be Consistent

  • Be clear about what you are expecting. Does down mean get off or lie down?
  • Make a doggy dictionary. What is the word for each behavior?
  • Be clear about reinforcement. Clicker? Food? Verbal? Be consistent with the reinforcer!
  • Nail your timing. “A punishment that happens 3 seconds after a behavior can be very stressful for a dog. A reinforcement like treat that’s given three seconds after the behavior, it will be confusing. But it won’t be necessarily be stressful.”
  • Consistent technique. “Inconsistency is very stressful for a lot of dogs. That’s why it’s so important to have that timing and your techniques be consistent.”

Clarity is kindness

“We need a way of communicating with (our dogs),” Riley-Coyner said. “If I don’t have some consistent words that mean something, we’re going to have a hard time communicating because dogs don’t talk in language like this. They talk with body language and we need to know about these things.”

Consistency for the dogs within the family is critical, Riley-Coyner said. Which is why using consistent words, rules and a similar tone should be part of the family meeting for any new dog.

“Tone will amp up a dog or bring a dog down,” Riley-Coyner said. “It’s a lot of training ourselves.” Consistency from the beginning and building a foundation, she added, enables us as trainers to show our dogs that “clarity is kindness.”