As a dog trainer I have always know how important it is to be consistent. Good pack leaders are always consistent! But just as important as consistency is being persistent. It is one thing to be consistent and always ask your dog to sit while waiting at the door, but it does you no good if you give up easily when your dog doesn’t respond the first time.
I was really reminded of how being persistent can be used as a training tool while on my recent trip to Paws with a Cause, in Michigan. There I got the opportunity to work with folks with disabilities and see how they worked with their service dogs. I went on many field calls to help teach people how to better work with their assistance dog. But the most interesting thing of all was that even though I was the dog trainer, the one supposed to do the teaching, my clients taught me a much more valuable lesson.
You see a person in a wheelchair with limited mobility of their arms and legs doesn’t have a lot options when their dog doesn’t obey the command. They can’t snap the leash and offer a correction, they may not be able to get out a treat and bribe their dog, and they certainly can’t manhandle their dog and force them into doing the behavior. All they can do is persist and ask again. Imagine if you will this scenario: You are in your wheelchair and you drop your keys, you ask Fido to retrieve them and Fido looks at you blankly. What can you do but ask again, you aren’t going to get into your house until he retrieves them so you have to keep trying. Eventually Fido gets bored with just standing there and grabs those keys, he wants to go someplace too!
Many times those of us with all our capabilities get frustrated or in a hurry and we give up to soon. We cave to the confused, distracted, or maybe just lazy dog, and our leadership quotient takes the hit. So much can be gained by just showing your dog that when you say sit, you mean it, and nobody is going anywhere until they sit, so they may as well do it. Remember good leaders get what they ask for, nobody questions the president when he gives a command! You are the leader of your pack, empower yourself and get results!
Licks and Wags,