Being consistent with commands and tone of voice

If there is any magic to training your dog, it's consistency. Your dog can't understand "sometimes," "maybe," "perhaps," or "only on Sundays." He can and does understand "yes" and "no." For example, you confuse your dog when you encourage him to jump up on you while you're wearing old clothes but then get angry with him when he joyfully plants muddy paws on your best suit.

Here's another example: Bill loved to wrestle with Brandy, his Golden Retriever. Then one day, when Grandma came to visit, Brandy flattened her. Bill was angry, and Brandy was confused — she thought roughhousing was a wonderful way to show affection. After all, that's what Bill had taught her.

Sometimes dogs pick up consistent cues from unexpected sources. For example, before leaving for work, Wendy always put Heidi in her crate. It wasn't long before Heidi went into her crate on her own when Wendy was about to leave. "What a clever puppy," thought Wendy, "She knows that I'm going to work."

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 Heidi observed was that immediately before leaving for work, Wendy invariably put on her makeup and then crated her. Heidi's cue to go into her crate was seeing Wendy putting on her makeup.

Then one evening, before dinner guests were to arrive, Wendy started "putting on her face." When Heidi immediately went into her crate, Wendy realized the dog hadn't been reading her mind, but had learned the routine through observation. (See Chapter 5.)

Consistency in training means handling your dog in a predictable and uniform 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 that you can never permit 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 okay. 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 Buddy to understand what you want.

Training your dog is a question of who is more persistent — you or your dog. Some things he can master quickly; others will take more time. If several tries don't bring success, be patient, remain calm, and try again.

How quickly your dog will learn a particular command depends on the extent to which the behavior you're trying to teach him is in harmony with the function for which he was bred. For example, a Labrador Retriever, bred to retrieve game birds on land and in the water, will readily learn how to fetch a stick or a ball on command. On the other hand, an Afghan Hound, bred as a coursing hound that pursues its quarry by sight, may take many repetitions before he understands the command to fetch and then responds to it each and every time. A Shetland Sheepdog, bred to herd and guard livestock, will learn to walk on a loose leash more quickly than a Beagle, bred to hunt hares.

As of right now, eliminate the word "no" from your training vocabulary. All too often, no is the only command a dog hears, and he's expected to figure out what it means. There is no exercise or command in training called "no." Avoid negative communications with your dog because they undermine the relationship you're trying to build. Don't use your dog's name as a reprimand. Don't nag your dog by repeatedly using his name without telling him what you want him to do.

At one of our training camps, one of the participants wore a T-shirt depicting a dog greeting another dog with "Hi. My name is 'No, No. Bad Dog.' What's yours?"

Begin to focus on the way in which you communicate with Buddy. Does he perceive the interaction as positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant, friendly or unfriendly? How many times do you use the word "no," and how many times do you say "Good dog" when interacting with your dog? Our experience during more than 30 years of teaching has been that by the time we see the dogs, most have been no'ed to death. Everything the dog does

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