Repeating Dog Training Cues – Why You Should Avoid It.
Punishment is as ineffective in humans, as it is in animals. However, consistency and fairness does work. The trouble is; we have all been guilty at some point of falling into the trap of verbally repeating requests; the last one uttered in a tone intended to indicate you finally mean business. Why should repeating dog training cues be avoided? Holidays4Dogs finds out.
“If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times!”
Parents everywhere will be familiar dealing with an errant child; at least at some point. Likewise, many of us may remember being on the receiving end of an exasperated parent!
As parents, we tend to give our children ‘chances’. “Do that one more time and that’s it”, followed by the threat of removal of favourite toy, or perhaps time out on the naughty step. However, how many of us have been guilty of repeated ourselves over and over again? How often during this process do we hope our child will finally stop hitting his brother over the head, or shrieking in the supermarket aisle?
Children learn that, as the decibels increase, they might have to at least pretend they are listening, but the details of the actual requests go almost unnoticed. They tune out.
It is exactly the same with dogs. And, don’t forget – dogs don’t speak our language. As owners, we frequently ask them for example, “to sit, sit, SIT!” in training sessions. Many dogs will simply tune out to verbal repetition like this.
When this happens, the dog quickly learns he doesn’t have to listen to his owner until about the third repetition. In essence, when we repeat commands, we are teaching the dog to ignore us until the third, or so, time we ask.
The dog may become fearful by repeated verbal cues, (especially if the owner is annoyed).
Repeating cues creates a situation which is unfair to the dog. This is because he, effectively, learns to wait until you get annoyed before paying attention. This can often make the dog fearful and submissive because, ultimately, he is getting shouted at to do as he is told.
Matters can be made worse, because he is even less likely to comply if he is being shouted at. Worse still, the owner then may choose to use physical manipulation, grabbing his collar and pushing him into a sit, for instance.
Always set the dog up for success.
Consistency is the key to getting the best out of your dog during training sessions. It is important not to give him a command more than once and absolutely NEVER give him a command that you are not in a position to back up.
For example, if your dog is off-lead in full flight running away from you, it is futile to command him to return.
However, if he is on a long line, you are able to use this to encourage him to you and prevent him from running off completely. In addition, only give him a command that you absolutely know he fully understands. It is unfair to ask your dog to do something that he has not previously been shown how to do.
Positive reinforcement v. repeating dog training cues.
Always use positive reinforcement to help your dog understand. Use a lead during initial stages of training, so you have control over his movement if he chooses to ignore. Encourage and praise all the time, but don’t keep repeating the command and especially not if he does not yet understand what that means.
Give your dog reason to listen to you in the first place by using plenty of tasty treats, or the prospect of a game with a toy.
For more detailed instruction on teaching your dog basic commands follow our other Holidays4Dogs articles in the training section.