Inevitably when I talk to people about raising their puppies or work with them on behavior issues I talk about “follow through” and “consistency” and they think of me as a serious disciplinarian.

I do think that culturally speaking most people make that association.

Loosey goosey is fun. Clear and consistent is not.

But why?

Does that have anything to do with how we ourselves were raised….either loosey goosey or with tons of strictness?

In a collaborative relationship I associate low expectations with a lack of trust.

If I trust someone I want to be able to trust blindly. I want to live with someone who is reliable, predictable and in return I feel comfortable and safe. There really is no reason to be anxious or doubtful. This is what happens with a dog that has been taught with positive reinforcement. Cues are viewed as invitations to engage in rewarded behaviors.

That is why consistency is so important.

From the dog’s point of view it means: “My life is run by a person who is unreliable and I am not sure of the meaning of the cue”.

In this context unreliable can mean: not being consistent. If the rules of the game change according to mood, then the inconsistency leads to confusion and by the same token the human becomes “untrustworthy”, even if the manipulation veers toward being more lax rather than expecting words to have the same meaning every time.

What happens ultimately is that the dog does not trust himself or the human because there is no consistent consequence to the human cue. It creates a deficit in the trust fund.

If “sit” means: “sit” one day and the next day means “sit…or not” then we are in trouble.

Positive reinforcement training is really rooted in trust. Both parties are engaged in benevolent, reliable behavior. The consequence of the communication is rewarding for both parties.

  1. How adorable! Such manners for Nono and Sia. Very creative on the adults end.

    Comment by karen on June 10, 2011 at 10:42 pm
  2. That is totally hilarious! Great job and really fun to watch!

    Comment by Fran on June 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm
  3. Actually my friend and website designer Kendra Dixson was the person who sent me the video. So 99% of the credit goes to her!

    Comment by Elisabeth on June 11, 2011 at 7:55 am
  4. Hee hee, well a good friend of mine forwarded it to me so the list goes on. I think it is so cute and I’m amazed at how well the dogs are behaved, although you do see a little help from the human hands so they don’t dive their noses into their dish. lol

    Comment by Kendra Dixson on June 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm
  5. yes the dogs are great! I also liked HOW they helped the dogs by pretending it was a human “putting your chin in your hands” gesture. It is most entertaining.

    Comment by Elisabeth Weiss on June 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm