Beware of Inconsistency in Training and Hidden Fears

  • Beware of Inconsistency in Training and Hidden Fears

    Posted by Zvonimir on April 3, 2021 at 8:11 PM

    A reminder about the importance of consistency in training through a small personal experience/mishap. This is inevitable to happen within any family, so please read through if you have time.

    When I lived with parents I had several dogs at the same time, but unfortunately, my own family, wife and son, hadn’t. When we moved into our new house, where we could introduce a dog too, to my family it was a new experience. (Although it wasn’t for me.)

    The puppy quickly followed me and in a matter of several attempts, through play and fun, the puppy was answering to ‘sit’ and ‘high five’ whenever I asked – and without treats. That is how I work. It was cute seeing a small, cuddly, furry ball answering high five and doing the basics of obedience.

    However, my wife had a slight fear of dogs which she wanted to overcome. As a child, she was bitten by a nearly blind, old shepherd dog; it was no serious would, but her emotional scar was deeper than the scar in her skin. To prevent the puppy from nipping (which she feared and exaggerated in her mind as it were mature dog bites), she opted for giving him treats — although we agreed we won’t do that. Without my knowledge, she proceeded to do it even for the simplest things during the play, like ‘sit’ and ‘high five’. And although the puppy (previously) happily responded each time without any treat. The result of her fear was that the puppy, in just a matter of days, refused to either sit, or offer a high five, or do anything when I asked without a bribe (without a treat). I saw something was wrong, then I asked …

    Not only that, but the side-effect of her fear, and change in the agreement, was that the puppy began looking at her hand constantly, then nipping both her hands and her pockets far worse than before. The puppy figured out where the treats are (or could be hidden)!

    A slight departure from the established routine and the problems not only started, but immediately ESCALATED. Now, 5 weeks later, I still have the issue with those two simple commands (although sit is becoming better and biting is under control). The inconsistency and introduction of unnecessary methods — out of your own fear — will surely spoil your dog. If it goes on for a long while, you will have a messy dog, that receives different treatments from different members of the family and the dog will ignore — all of you.

    It prompted me to immediately find a fix and stop it from escalating. I introduced a third party – a professional dog trainer and behaviouralist, a man in business for several decades. What he says, goes, and everybody in the house then follows. (Although he uses similar methods I know, which I learned in tactical training in my youth), the real purpose of this was that inexperienced family members must be mentally trained, so to speak, not allowed to make their own rules but emulate exactly what they *paid for* (rather than what they got for free from me).

    When you get a dog, and if you want to have a good dog, you also open up a bag of history’s artefacts, and face unknown facets of human frailty, which you must deal with:

    1. Overcoming childhood fears,

    2. Overcoming unwarranted projection of those fears,

    3. Compromising the training routine,

    4. Required mental training of the family,

    5. Introducing a third party to set definite rules etc.

    But you must fix the problem, otherwise, it is unfair to the dog, and to your household.

    Zvonimir replied 3 years ago 1 Member · 0 Replies
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