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Culture » Pet Page Articles

A Penny Saved...

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This article not prepared by City Weekly Staff

How can you get your dog to respond to a cue the first time you ask no matter where you are? One step at a time, keeping your expectations realistic.

You would never take your kids to Disney Land and ask them to learn how to do algebra, but that's what you do with your dogs when you take them out and about and ask them to respond correctly to everything you ask. On the other hand you might take your kids to Disney Land and if you've already taught them to add and subtract, ask them to figure out if they have enough money for that Mickey Mouse hat.

Show your dogs the same consideration by practicing their skills in an environment that's easy for them to learn before taking them into the real world and expecting too much from them.

Each time you reward your dog for success with treats, toys, or real life rewards it’s like you're putting a penny in a piggy bank. You're building a savings account of reliability. The same way you would put aside money to buy that special item you want, you would add pennies to your piggy bank to get the special behavior you want from your dog. It takes lots of practice and lots of pennies before you can get a behavior reliable enough for a highly distracting environment.

Remember every successful practice repetition is a penny in your reliability piggy bank and one penny closer to a dog who responds no matter where you are!