Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Importance of Timing

 I feel that I cannot stress the importance of timing with dog training enough. You could be getting everything else wrong and still have good outcomes. In almost every post I've made I have tried to emphasize that the timing must be exact. As I was reading through one of my favorite dog training sights I came across this, which is a very good example of two very important aspects of dog training, rewarding only for good behavior and timing:

Believe it or not ...

You should NEVER reward your dog for unwanted behavior.   Instead, reward only good behavior.  Sounds simple, right?  You'd think it would be.  But most other dog training programs confuse this very straight-forward concept...
For example:
Let's say you're practicing the "Down-Stay" with your dog, around distractions.  Most other dog training programs suggest that when your dog breaks the command (when he gets up before the exercise is finished) that you go back to the dog and put him back into the down position... and then praise him?
Fact: What you're really doing is confusing your dog.  You're praising him for getting up before you've completed the exercise.  You've told him, "You've made a mistake... good boy!"  
Does that make sense to your dog?  Absolutely not.  
So, you end up having to do endless repetitions until either you quit or your dog somehow magically understands.  He might learn the exercise, but it will take 100 times longer than if you were communicating clearly with your dog.  And that's not intelligent dog training.

If you have all of your other techniques down to an art, but your timing is off, you will find that your dog is not learning to his full potential, if at all. One example I came across yesterday was when I was walking past my neighbors dog who always goes nuts when he sees our dogs. The owner was outside, preparing himself to 'correct' his dog, who was in turn getting ready to start barking.

What he did: The dog raced towards the fence and started to bark, like usual. His owner waited until that moment to rush up and give his dog a correction. The owner literally had to wrap his arms around the dog and force him to sit and clamp his mouth shut in order to stop the dog barking, once the dog was (forcibly) quiet, yet still totally focused on us, the owner praised his dog.

What he should have done: The owner should have raced forward before the dog started to bark, and distract his dog from us with toys or treats or lots of very accurately timed corrections. He should have quickly corrected his dog the moment he thought about barking, not afterwards. He should have rewarded and praised his dog only once he had his dogs full attention.

I have watched this owner and his dog struggle with the same problems for almost a year now, with no success...why? Because he has the timing all wrong.
The keys to dog training, Timing, Consistency, and Patience.

1 comment:

  1. Kinda the keys to parenting, too. (And teaching....)