Consistency breeds mental stability


Last week we introduced the cornerstones to training: respect, communication, balance, and maintenance. These principles are the key to training your retriever into the hunting partner you always wanted.

Today, I will tackle establishing and maintaining standards or put another way, consistency. This topic falls under the maintenance cornerstone.

Dogs love and thrive through consistency

  • You can maintain consistency by establishing schedules and strictly adhering to them. For example, feeding your dog the exact same food at the exact same time of day, every day.

As humans, we would find eating this way boring and bland. But dogs respond positively because they know what to expect and when. It gives them security, knowing they can count on you to provide for them.

If there is no consistency in the feeding schedule, the dog is left wondering when they will be fed, or why don’t I get table scraps from the table today? This causes confusion and makes them unsure.

Another place it is important to maintain consistency is when giving and enforcing commands.

  • Have you ever been around a dog owner who continually “asks” their dog to respond to a command?

You can hear the owner saying the command multiple times and changing their voice to a point of begging their dog to respond.

Instead, say the command once. If the dog doesn’t respond with the appropriate behavior, move to immediately enforce the correct behavior. With the SIT command, this would be as simple as pulling up on their lead or pushing down on their behind while saying the command.

Remember, all of this assumes that the dog knows and understands the behavior associated with the command. This is not part of the teaching phase as discussed in my last blog.

Consistency must be practiced continuously

Letting something go or slip is not doing you or your dog a favor.

For example, if you are pheasant hunting and your dog runs too far ahead and does not respond to a HERE command, it is time to stop hunting and start reviewing obedience.

Yes, this will derail your hunting for the time being, but it will pay huge dividends later as your dog learns that HERE means HERE no matter when or where.

Consistency not only breeds mental stability, it translates to love.

Until next time, happy retrieving.

Steve Smith