You are currently viewing Saying the Identical Factor Over and Over in Canine Coaching

Saying the Identical Factor Over and Over in Canine Coaching


Not “Sit, Sit, Sit” however “Rewards are one of the simplest ways to coach your canine…”

An Australian Shepherd and a Border Collie having fun on a patch of grass
Phot: Medenka Nera/Shutterstock

By Zazie Todd PhD

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Do you ever really feel like you’re saying the identical factor again and again? Do you ever take into consideration whether or not or not it’s helpful?

I’m not speaking about these instances if you see somebody repeating a cue to their canine time and again whereas the canine retains on doing one thing else. That’s not a good suggestion as a result of the canine is solely studying to disregard you. (As an alternative, say the cue like “Sit” as soon as, then wait, and the moment your canine sits give them a tasty deal with as a reward).

I’m speaking about coaching strategies.

Repetition on canine coaching strategies

It’s essential to make use of reward-based strategies to coach your canine as a result of there are dangers to aversive strategies (optimistic punishment and unfavorable reinforcement). Plus, reward-based coaching could be a enjoyable enrichment exercise that improves your bond along with your canine. Some research suggests it really works higher than aversive strategies, too.

A few of us have been saying that it’s essential to make use of reward-based coaching strategies for a very long time (together with many fantastic individuals who have been saying this for manner longer than me).

I do assume that, collectively, it makes a distinction. For instance, 99.7% of canine guardians in Woodward et al’s (2021) research use reward-based strategies (optimistic reinforcement and unfavorable punishment) no less than a number of the time. That’s enormous.

It’s nice as a result of reward-based strategies work.

It’s nice as a result of the extra folks speak about reward-based strategies, the extra that is seen because the social norm. Perceived social norms are simply one of many issues that affect folks to behave in a specific manner. 

It’s nice as a result of each instance you see of somebody utilizing rewards to coach their canine efficiently makes you extra prone to wish to do this your self.

It’s additionally nice as a result of there’s one thing referred to as the illusory reality impact that implies that merely listening to about one thing extra, despite the fact that it is false, makes folks extra prone to imagine it’s true. It is a large downside with misinformation. So the extra individuals are speaking about reward-based coaching, the much less individuals are listening to about aversive strategies like shock collars and leash jerks.

Repetition in canine coaching

There’s one other time when we have now to repeat messages. That’s with the canine in entrance of you if you’re coaching. Like I discussed, not the cue; simply say that after after which reward when the canine does it. However the entire sequence of cue-behaviour-treat, cue-behaviour-treat, dozens and dozens of instances. 

The extra repetition, the extra fluent your canine turns into within the behaviour.

The truth that you need to repeat it doesn’t imply there’s something mistaken with you. It’s regular. (Consider how a lot you need to follow a brand new talent when studying, too). 

As soon as your canine is fluent, you can begin to make it tougher for them when you like. For instance if they will sit in a straightforward state of affairs in the lounge when nothing is occurring, then you can begin to follow with a visitor, or out within the yard, or on the road.

You should use a algorithm, like Jean Donaldon’s push-drop-stick guidelines, as a information to when to progress.

Being life like and environment friendly

There’s really no disgrace in being that particular person saying “Sit! Sit! Sit!” We’ve all been there. And we’ve all had days when coaching feels exhausting, the canine is distracted, we’re drained, we forgot to get the most effective treats and are making do with one thing else, and it’s simply not going so effectively.

I’m certain a number of the time when folks repeat cues it’s just because they’re embarrassed that their canine shouldn’t be doing what they requested. The outdated strategy of dominance in canine coaching has rather a lot to reply for right here, as a result of it places the blame on the guardian as if they’re a failure or have the mistaken character sort. 

But it surely’s beautiful to see folks coaching effectively. When the coach has the canine’s consideration and the canine appears to be like joyful and is working exhausting to earn these treats, it’s lovely to see. 

That’s not the one facet of fine canine coaching although.

Good coaching additionally contains these moments when the canine wants a break. For instance, if you’re coaching within the yard, a great coach goes to say, okay the canine simply wandered off to pee and that’s effective, they should pee and sniff, and I’ve nice treats to coach them with after they come again to me. 

A very good coach can also be going to note if issues are progressing too quick for the canine, and so they’ll return a step to maintain the canine and motivated. That’s the place push-drop-stick guidelines are available in particularly helpful. It reduces these instances when the canine will get bored and wanders off (however after all each canine must take a break ultimately).

Seeing these moments modelled, in addition to the attentive-dog ones, helps folks to have life like expectations. In spite of everything, canine aren’t robots, and each canine and on daily basis is completely different. No canine goes to get issues proper all the time, or wish to practice for hours, simply as no particular person does.

Repetition in and about canine coaching

When coaching your canine, don’t repeat cues, however do loads of repetitions of any new behaviour you’re instructing. 

If you happen to’re speaking about canine coaching, hold repeating essential messages like utilizing rewards to coach your canine. Even higher, discover imaginative methods to take action that contain sharing movies and tales too. 

Good canine coaching includes being life like, sort, and utilizing repetition to your benefit. Similar to spreading the phrase on the most effective methods to coach your canine.

If you happen to like this put up, try my guide Wag: The Science of Making Your Canine Joyful, which is filled with recommendations on canine coaching and different facets of caring on your canine.

For extra recommendations on spreading the phrase about the most effective methods to coach your canine, see to advertise optimistic reinforcement canine coaching, educate, interact, and amplify.  

Helpful hyperlinks:


Woodward, J. L., Casey, R. A., Lord, M. S., Kinsman, R. H., Da Costa, R. E., Knowles, T. G., … & Murray, J. Okay. (2021). Components influencing owner-reported approaches to coaching canine enrolled within the Technology Pup longitudinal research. Utilized Animal Behaviour Science, 242, 105404.

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