Fill in the blank, spouse, kids, significant other, mother-in-law, etc….
Training your dog works better if everyone in the family is consistent and using the same methods and cues. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. Young kids and even teenagers can wreak havoc on training by trying to ‘help’, spouses or other adults who aren’t attending class, may have unrealistic expectations or misunderstanding about how to train and may begin using the cues before they are ready to be used. So what DO you do when the other people in the family are un-training your puppy or dog faster than you can get them trained?
The answer is to have them use management instead of the cues you are training, until the pups are fully trained, and THEN let everyone else in the family learn how to give the cues properly!
Management can come in many forms. Using a no-pull front buckle harness, for instance, can alleviate the need for repeatedly ‘instructing’ everyone in the family on how to work with the dog on a leash. Using a long line when you are playing outside or walking on the trails, so you can keep your dog from running away and get them back without using the word come. Tethering the dog and providing him with something to chew on when people come over or when he’s likely to jump on family members rather that continually reminding people that if they shout ‘down’ or ‘off’ or push the dog off of them when it jumps they are only reinforcing the jumping behavior. Asking children to help with other dog chores, like feeding, keeping the water fresh and teaching tricks or running obstacle courses, rather than training sit, down, stay, come and leash walking. Training tricks using treats is a great way for ‘non-training’ family members to get involved with training, if they have a bit of success they may even begin to like it!
You CAN also also show the family how to do certain things, like play the name game (calling the dog back and forth using the dog’s NAME ONLY for treats), how to have the puppy wait for their food before you put it down, how to trade stolen goods for something yummy (rather than jumping the dog and forcing it out of their mouths) and how to play the Touch game. Just hold off on sharing the stuff that it takes the dog longer to learn, like walking next to you on a loose leash, using the word ‘come’ to get the dog back and more difficult behaviors like ‘leave it’.
Make SIMPLE rules that all non-training individuals can follow, like:
1) Do not use the words you’ve reserved for training like COME, DOWN, WAIT, STAY, LET’s GO, but mostly COME! 2) If the dog runs away, make lots of happy noises and run the opposite direction the dog is running, or grab the long line the dog has on so they can’t go anywhere
3) Don’t chase the dog
4) If the dog steals something, trade for something yummy
5) Always walk the dog on a front pull harness.
Most of all, recognize that training the dog may not be for everyone! Some people find it easy and fun, some people find it difficult but doable, people in these two categories should be enrolled in a training class. Then there are some people, that find training dogs so foreign that it’s overwhelming, and that’s OK too.
Once YOU get the dog trained in the basic behaviors, and the dog can do them most of the time, THEN you can show the family how to get those behaviors too! This should be made as simple as possible, with easy to follow rules, like:
1) Only use the cue one time
2) Reward with treats for a behavior well done
3) when it doesn’t work, go back to the stuff you’ve been doing (it’s ok for some family member to always use management).
This last step should be fun it gives you a chance to show off all the hard work you’ve put into the puppy and if you wait till the puppy is ready, he will look like a genius!