Tuesday, 07 April 2015 11:27

Dogs, like people, need consistency

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Keep commands simple, brief and to the point. Keep commands simple, brief and to the point.

A common mistake people make is ‘waffling’ to their pups and dogs in sentences or by repeating a command over and over again. In a dog’s mind the command is lost in the burble. 

If you keep commands simple, brief and to the point the dog is less likely to get confused e.g. ‘Mate, sit - Mate, no’.  

When he obeys, don’t say it again. ‘Mate, behind’; he stops, turns and comes towards you; he is doing what you asked. You have no need to say it again, but a lot of people do. They repeat the command several times whilst he is coming back. Why?

And if he regularly doesn’t obey he either doesn’t know what the command means (train him), chooses to disobey (he is disrespectful), or there are times when he just doesn’t hear you.

You need to gain your dog’s respect, and that isn’t done by beating or electrocuting it to within an inch of its life. 

Think about the people you have come into contact with over the years and who you naturally respected. You either respect someone or you don’t, and the people who gained your respect probably had a certain manner, an aura, a way of conducting themselves. They didn’t gain your respect with lavish gifts (titbits) or bullying (cruelty); the same can be said for gaining a dog’s respect.

The most important advice I can give you regarding dogs (and people) is be consistent. Set fair rules and stick to them, every time from day one. I see too many people letting something slide time and time again and then out of the blue they jump on the poor unsuspecting victim. Inconsistency does not aid learning or respect.

Often I need to insist with a dog, and if insisting doesn’t work consequences follow. For example, my ‘stay’ is lie down, and I teach it in a kind, patient manner until the dog understands what the word means. Afterwards, ‘Eve, stay’ is said in a normal voice. Saying her name gets her attention, she waits for the actual command ‘stay’. She should lie down. If she doesn’t, my voice and eyes change – they become angry but I don’t get louder if I know she can hear me; I harshly repeat ‘Eve, stay’ and that is usually enough for her to lie down.

If she doesn’t, I do my version of raised hackles. I walk towards her, magically growing six inches taller, shoulders squared, with a look of ‘do or you die’ on my face and that is enough for her to glide nervously down to the ground. I turn away and go back to where I was.

If she hadn’t, I would have walked over to her, grabbed the back of her neck and shoved her down to a lying position, saying “STAY!” Remember, she understands the command, had been told twice and had disobeyed. The consequences were being shoved down on the ground as she heard ‘stay’ for the third and final time.  

I can hear a lot of you saying “if I was walking towards my dog like that, it would take off” and that is understandable if it is terrified of you. None of my dogs are terrified of me. Had I cruelly beaten or kicked any of them previously I would not be able to walk over and do that; they’d be gone too. 

There are a lot of idiots out there who sit their dogs down or call them over, then beat them unmercifully. When they are angry, they can’t get near their dogs. 

Anna Holland is teaching people dog training. For more information www.annaholland.co.nz  or Ph  06) 212 4848 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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