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Sarah Wilson
Award-winning Pet Expert
Teacher, Trainer & Author

Building Consistent Response

In this episode... Want your dog to respond consistently to your commands? Who doesn't? Learn how to create just that (and learn where many of us go wrong) in this Episode of Teacher's Pet. You'll also find out why a puppy who was downing right away suddenly stopped and a competition's dog attention may be wandering. Next week's episode is Coming When Called: Right Now Thank You!

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[intro music]

Announcer:  You’re listening to

[school bell rings]
Announcer:  Ok class, take your seats.  I said, “Take your seats!”  Class, sit!  Shhh!  I swear you’re all acting like a bunch of animals.  [Laughter, animal sounds]  Pet Life Radio presents “Teacher’s Pet,” where you’ll learn how to understand and communicate with your pet, and train them to be the best pet they can be.  It’s time to see the world from your pet’s point of view, so give a tail-wagging welcome to your Teacher’s Pet host, Sarah Wilson.

Sarah Wilson:  Welcome to “Teacher’s Pet” on Pet Life Radio.  This is Sarah Wilson.  Today we’re going to talk about building consistent response.  And guess whose job that is!  You want to find out?  Come right back after our sponsors.

[school bell rings]
Announcer:  Ok class, grab your tuna flakes, biscuits, and bones.  Teacher’s Pet will be back in two shakes of a tail, right after recess.


[school bell rings]
Announcer:  Ok, class, hang up your collars and leashes.  Teacher’s Pet is back in session.  Now park yourselves on the floor.  [animal sounds]  I said “park”, not “bark”.  Ohhh.  Ok, “Teacher’s Pet”, with pet expert and author Sarah Wilson.  Pay attention.  There may be a quiz later.

Sarah Wilson:  Welcome back.  We’re on “Teacher’s Pet”, and today we’re talking about building consistent response.  The first thing you need to know about any command with your dog is that everything your dog understands or doesn’t understand about a command, he learned from you or from some other human.  They have absolutely no opinion about what “sit” means, “down” means, “come” means, “stay” means, until we teach them.  So if your dog is not responding the way you want, guess who has to change something?  You do.  [laughs]  There’s Bracken playing with a Jolly Ball.  Honey, we gotta do that a little later.  Ok.

        Your dog doesn’t “down” right away?  Then I know as a trainer that you haven’t caused your dog to “down” right away.  Dogs respond at the point where you cause it to happen or the point where you reward it, one of the two.  So if you say, “down, Down, DOWN,” and then your dog lies down, and you either stop (oh, good girl Bran.  Yeah, my dogs are all lying down now), if that’s when you cause it to happen, you actually get up and make them “down”, often frustrated, then your dog rightfully believes that the command is “down, Down, DOWN”.  Many people tell me, “Well, my dog won’t listen unless I get upset, or unless I yell, or unless I sound strong.”  No, your dogs have been taught that the only time you get off your duff and make it happen is when you sound angry.

        And why is that?  That’s because many of us, particularly women in this culture, have been taught to be patient, patient, patient, and to only assert ourselves when we get angry.  So when we get into training, and we need to cause things to happen with our dog, we find ourselves getting angry, or we wait until we’re angry, to make it happen.  So that’s gotta be shifted.  And it can be shifted.  You need to totally disconnect that cycle.  The rule is, “you say it, you do it”.  You say it, and either your dog does it or you help your dog to do it.  There is no third option.  All right?  Once it’s out of your mouth, it is a rule. 

        The reason I am very, very clear about this with my dogs is one of the big reasons that I teach commands at all, besides I have fun doing it, is I want to keep my dogs safe.  And these are their emergency brakes:  come, down wait.  And I need to know that in an emergency they will respond right away.  Not on the third command, not after a pause, not with any confusion.  To me, teaching my dogs commands is pretty close to a sacred trust between me and my dogs.  What I say, you can believe.  I will not break your trust by being inconsistent.  I will not confuse you by getting angry.  I will be 100% clear, as much as any human can be 100% anything.  But that’s the goal I strive for because I want my dogs to trust me when I speak to them, and to understand that when I speak to them it means something, and it means the same thing every time. 

        Imagine you were taking language lessons and one day the person comes in and says, “chair”, the next time “furniture”, the next time “recliner”.  You’d go insane.  You’re like, “Teach me one thing at a time.  It’s hard enough without you mixing it up.”  And the teacher goes, “Hey, they all mean the same thing.  I expect you to do it and if you don’t do it I’m going to flunk you.”  But it’s worse, actually, with a dog, because often when they don’t do it, we get emotional with them.  We don’t look at what we did.  We look at what they’re not doing.  And we tend to, when we get frustrated, attach negatives to it.  “My dog is stubborn.”  “My dog is stupid.”  “My dog is spiteful.”  “He won’t learn.”  “He’s doing it to me.”  No, he is not.  He is doing exactly what he’s been taught.  Don’t like it?  Change it.

        If you say “sit” to your dog and your dog stares at you, then I can tell you as a trainer I know exactly what’s going on.  You say “sit” and you stare at your dog to wait to see if they do it.  And after a certain number of seconds, if the dog doesn’t do it, you cause it to happen.  So stare at mom or dad and wait to see when she makes a move, and when she makes a move, I sit.  That’s the game.  That’s the game you taught so that’s the game they play.  Same thing with “come.”  I call it the “park recall.”  Come, come on, come on puppy, come on, come on, COME ON, COME ON, COME ON KID, GIMME, COME HERE,” [laughs]  If the only time you get off the park bench or leave your friends at the park is when you yell, then your dogs will only listen to you when you  yell.  That’s entirely up to you.  You can teach them to respond to you at a whisper:  [whispers] “Sit”, “down”, “come”, if you cause it to happen then, and if you reward it. 

        Be generous with your rewards, but also controlled.  Which means, if you want your dog to work for cookies, don’t hand out cookies for nothing.  If you were trying to motivate some employee with cash, a $20 bill every once in a while, you wouldn’t walk by and hand them a 20 every time you walked by, and then expect them to care if you hand them a 20 for doing something right, because he’s getting a 20 all the time anyway.  Same thing with your dog.  If you’re giving them attention all the time anyway, why should they really care if you praise them?  If you give them tons of treats just for being cute, why should they work for the treat, for the sit or the down?  So you want to control those things and give them to your dog when you want them to be important to your dog. 

        I smile and speak to my dogs when they look up at me.  Consequently, my dogs look at me a lot.  I sit there and stroke them and fuss over them when they down.  Consequently they love to down.  Often when we get into teaching mode, somehow we get rushed, and the dog does it and you think, “Great, now we’re gonna do it again.”  “Down, good dog.  Down, good dog.  Down, good….”  And the dog goes, “Well, you know, all right, not so much fun.”  But what if you said “down” and the dog downs, and you squat down and you go, “Oh, you’re so good,” and you stroke them and you tell them they’re fabulous.  And then you get up and you ignore them for a second.  “Down”, and they, boom, they down, because they go, “Ooh, here comes something good.” 

        The most important thing in your dog’s life is their connection to you.  Often people undersell that.  But that is the most important thing in most dogs’ lives.  They may work for cookies because you’ve had them work for cookies.  They may work for the tennis ball because you’ve had them work for the tennis ball.  But they can also work for your connection and your attention and your praise.  It is a powerful reinforcer for dogs if you use it properly. 

        It’s a little bit in vogue right now to say that dogs don’t work for praise, you know, they really work for food best.  And this is generally said by people who don’t emphasize praise.  They don’t work with praise.  They don’t make it a big part of their training.  So of course their dog doesn’t listen to it.  That’s no surprise.  Because again, they learn exactly what we teach them.  Whatever your dog does when you give them a command, see it as a direct reflection of their current understanding, nothing more, nothing less. 

        And whatever that current understanding is, figure out, “Ok, how’d they get it and how can I fix it?”  It’s not a mystery.  If they don’t respond to the first command, it’s because you’ve repeated yourself.  I know you have.  Watch yourself:  “Sit, sit, sit.”  Very common, because with human beings, if someone doesn’t respond we figure they didn’t hear us, so we repeat it.  And it would be incredibly rude to go over and try to shape the person or place the person into position.  It’s a whole new skill when you start training dogs.  Nonetheless, I say “sit”, they don’t sit, I’m gonna go over and gently place them. 

        In fact, I’m gonna teach placement as a separate exercise when my dogs are calm, so that they totally understand what I’m doing with them.  There is no stress, there is no manhandling.  It’s another way to get dogs used to and accepting handling.  I think it’s key, it’s valuable, and it does not get in the way of learning.  It only makes learning better.  All right?  So teach them how to be placed into a down, how to be placed into a sit.  There are lots of ways to do it. 

        I really like the simple sit, which is “slight upward pressure equals ‘sit’”.  The only people that shouldn’t be using this one are people that are going into a show ring with their dog, and don’t want their dog to sit when the lead is tensed up.  But for most people, most pet owners, we lift up the lead anyway, right?  So why not teach the dog what it means?  And the way you teach it is, you start in the kitchen when all is quiet.  You have some treats on the counter.  You put your dog on lead.  You give slight upward pressure, one finger.  Just a little upward pressure.  All four feet on the ground all the time.  No choking, no gagging, just a little upward pressure, and tell your dog “sit” when you give them that upward pressure.  The minute they start to sit, boom, you release that pressure.  So the dog learns, “I can turn that cue off by sitting.”  Most dogs learn that really, really quickly, and the key is to release any pressure the moment the dog starts to comply.  Praise, smile, treat, do it again.  So pretty soon, if your dog doesn’t sit – say, they’re at the door and you’re opening it and you say “sit” and they don’t sit – you can just reach down and give them light upward pressure.  They go, “oh yeah, that’s right.  I got it.” 

        I don’t want you repeating yourself.  There are a couple of reasons for that.  Repetition confuses the dog, because again, they only learn what you teach.  So if it’s “sit sit sit” you’ve just confused the dog.  Two, as I already said, it’s about safety.  I want to know my dog will respond right away.  And three, it’s about my own consistency.  If I start varying things, it’s hard for me to keep track of it.  One day I expect them to sit on “sit”, the next day I say “sit sit sit”, then I say “sit down” – oy, it’s impossible to keep track of.  So keep it simple for you, too.  You say “sit”, they sit.  You say “down”, they down.  You say “come”, they come. 
        Which also means you start this work in situations where you know you can cause it.  I don’t try to teach “come” to a year-old adopted dog in the middle of a five acre field.  Forget it.  I don’t have a prayer off lead.  All right?  But, I will start in the kitchen.  Because if the dog isn’t coming quickly on a slack lead in the kitchen, it sure as heck isn’t gonna come quickly off lead outside. 

        It’s all cumulative.  We tend to get goal-focused.  I want them to do this, today.  And dogs are process-focused.  What do I understand?  And what do I need to understand to get to the next level?  That’s what we need to think about for them.

        So, you listen to this, and you decide, “Oh, I’ve been repeating myself.  I’m not gonna repeat myself any more.”  Then don’t get mad at your dog when they didn’t get that memo.  And of course they’re not gonna respond at first.  Don’t be mad, just help them.  Because basically, they’ve been playing a game with you for six months, six years, whatever, and today you woke up and decided to change the rules.  It’s not fair to get angry at them just because they’re playing the rules you told them.  All right?

        So, you say “come”, you stay relaxed, but you follow through.  And you say, “Buddy, sorry I confused you in the past, new rules today.  I say it, you do it.  That’s the new rule.”  You do that and you’re going to get amazingly consistent results in a very short period of time.  It is no more or less mysterious than that.  Many people seem to make it complex today.  It isn’t.  Say it, do it. 

        Now the last piece of the puzzle we’re gonna go over before we start doing questions and answers is, “what causes the reward to appear?”  This is key.  Key, key, key.   I remember watching a client who was trying really, really hard with their dog, and their dog’s barking at them, and the client’s trying to stop it.  It’s in the middle of a class, and what happens is, the dog looks at her and starts to bark, and she puts her hand in the pocket.  Because she’s trying to get ready for the moment when the dog stops barking so she can give it a treat.  But putting your hand in your pocket is as good as the cookie, because the dog knows what comes next.  So the dog would bark, and the hand would go in the pocket.  The dog would see the hand in the pocket, stop for a second, get the cookie, and then start barking again.  Why?  Because, what caused the hand to go into the pocket?  Barking.  And so, because dogs always go to what they get rewarded for, the dog understood this game to be, “I bark like mad, you stick your hand in your pocket, I get quiet, you give me a cookie.  That’s the routine.” 

        Another common one these days are dogs that run up, jump all over you, the person turns away, the dog gets off and sits and gets a cookie and gets praised.  Now what I see all too commonly are dogs think that entire thing is the loop.  So the dog jumps up like crazy, you turn away, which is always a precursor to praise and reward, the dog hops off, they get praise and a cookie, and around we go.  And people say, “He’s still jumping on me.”  And I say, “Well, of course, because you’ve got this whole behavior chain started.”  That’s a fine thing to start as a puppy, but you need to move really quickly to “any paws touch me, you don’t get the treat.  And once you change that up, the dog will start to stop jumping.  But as long as jumping still leads to the cookie and praise, he’ll jump.  Because that’s fun.  That’s fun. 

        All right?  So you get that idea?  That whatever causes the treat to appear, is the behavior you are reinforcing.  So if you keep that in mind, you’re gonna understand how your dog got confused.  So now we’re gonna hear from our sponsors again, then we’re gonna come back and go over some questions and answers, and I’m gonna show you how the dog got confused and what this person can do to change it up.  All right?  So stay tuned.

[school bell rings]
Announcer:  Ok, class, grab your tuna flakes, biscuits, and bones, Teacher’s Pet will be back in two shakes of a tail, right after recess.
[animal sounds]


[school bell rings]
Announcer:  Ok, class, hang up your collars and leashes.  Teacher’s Pet is back in session.  Now park yourselves on the floor.  [animal sounds]  I said “park”, not “bark”.  Ohhh.  Ok, “Teacher’s Pet”, with pet expert and author Sarah Wilson.  Pay attention.  There may be a quiz later.

Sarah Wilson:  All right.  Welcome back to Teacher’s Pet on Pet Life Radio with Sarah Wilson.  Here’s the first quandary we’re going to wrestle with today.  It was posted on the My Smart Puppy message board at My Smart Puppy dot com, and the question was: 
“My puppy used to down on command, but now she’ll only down for the lure.  Why?”  I’ll tell you why.  Because what caused the treat to appear?  We can guess at it.  Because now we have a puppy that when she hears “down”, pauses and looks at the owner.  Now because the owner was only using the lure, as many people do, she only had one option when the puppy didn’t respond.  And it was to produce a lure to get the dog to down.  So what the dog learned – at some point it clicked with her – that if she paused, the treat would appear sooner.  So pretty soon you have a puppy that, when you say down, she sits and looks at you brightly, you get the treat out, you lure her, she downs, she gets the cookie.  The dog is doing exactly as she was taught.  Inadvertently, common problem, no ill will, this isn’t a mistake per se, it’s a misunderstanding between the owner and the dog.  So if the puppy knew a guided down, where light pressure on the collar downward – light, one finger, not pressing hard, this is not jiu jitsu, this is light pressure – and the dog goes, “Oh all right, I remember what this is.”  This is not the enforced down of yesteryear.  You are not mud wrestling the dog down.  You are simply applying light pressure that you’ve already taught the dog means “down”, and reminding the dog, “You must do this.” 

And with a puppy who is responding to a verbal pretty consistently, then if I have to help them down, I will “show it and stow it”.  I will show the treat to them, put it right to their nose, and put it away.  Put it in my pocket, put it behind my back, whatever, but not give it to them.  They are not going to get it unless they do it on a verbal, once they show that they have some understanding of that verbal.  If the dog was not doing it on the verbal, and was getting frustrated or was starting to lose motivation, then I would start rewarding after the guided, and go back a couple of steps.  Because what is the most important thing you’ve got with your dog in training?  Their willingness to participate.  The most important thing.  Never, ever, ever lose that.  If you lose that, you can do nothing. 

So as long as your dog is willing to try, and enjoys the training, and is there with you, you can keep going.  But if your dog gets bored or frustrated or upset or shut down, then you’ve really got nothing.  So, never frustrate your puppy.  But assuming the puppy can and will down on a verbal, and is just having a momentary glitch, then guide and “show and stow”.  And then try again, and you will be amazed how many puppies fling themselves down next time, when they realize, “Oh, ok, stalling no longer gets me the treat.  I’ll try that thing I used to do.  I’ll try that responding right away.”  And bang, you’re right back to it.  At which point you smile, you praise, you give the treat, you stroke them, you have a praise party, you let them know in no uncertain terms, “This is exactly what I want!”  Right?  Goes back to the big green light, small red light.  Often when we’re frustrated we give small, puny, brief, nasty green lights, and we really focus on the red light, and that will get you stress.  That would get you stress if you were trained that way.  So always think:  “never optional, always pleasant”, and “big green light, small clear red light”.  If you make your green lights big and obvious and fun, your dog will go to them.

So once you go back to your dog getting the treat for downing on a verbal, and not getting the treat if they have to be lured, it will over.  That’ll be fixed.  All right?  On to the next one.

Let’s talk breeds for a minute before we go on to our next question, because this is one of the things that stumps people.  I hear all the time, “I can’t teach a recall to XYZ breed.  That breed can’t learn a recall.  That breed will always be distractible.  That breed is impossible to train.”  No.  No, all right?  That’s not true.  Every breed can learn.  Will every individual dog be safe off lead?  No.  No.  But that has as much to do with the trainer as with the dog.  But I’ve seen dogs of every breed excel, and I’ve seen dogs – rescues, who I really thought quietly in the back of my head, didn’t have much of a chance of really becoming confident, wonderful working partners – go on to earn obedience degrees.  Why?  Because their owners believed in them, and their owners didn’t quit, and the owners kept trying new things till they found the thing that worked for that dog.  Trying everything you know does not mean you’ve tried everything there is. 

And often we get caught in training fads, or in personal preference:  you will or won’t use certain pieces of equipment, you will or won’t use a certain method, you will or won’t use treats, you will or won’t use a clicker, you will or won’t use toys, you will or won’t use praise.  Whatever it is, get over it.  Get over it.  Because I guarantee you, that the stronger you feel about something, the more likely you are to get a dog who could really be helped by it.  Because that’s one of the ironies of dog training. 
So look at your dog, and continually work toward things that make life easier for your dog and more clear for your dog.  If your dog is confused about training, I cannot emphasize it enough and you will hear it from me many times, it is your job to clarify it.  It was probably you who confused it in the first place.  It can’t be helped.  It is part of the process.  But it can be recognized and resolved once you realize it.  If you tell your dog down and they start to look for a way out, and they look stressed, then you’ve stressed them.  If they stare at you blankly and don’t respond, even though you’ve now done this for weeks, then something’s wrong.  There’s some delay in the reinforcement.  There’s always a reason.  Never let breed or breed mix be an excuse for not training your dog.  There are very few quote-unquote “stupid dogs”.  I’ve met one who I suspect had some sort of oxygen deprivation early on.  They are all capable of learning.  You may think they’re not – they are. 

What your dog needs to succeed is someone who believes in them, and will keep looking and keep trying till they find a method that works for that dog, and for them.  A method must work for both ends of the leash.  And the one thing we know right now in dog training – because there are so many different methods, hold on to this fact – is those methods work for somebody, and that’s why they’re doing it.  So is there one way to do it?  No.  Are there ways that you will love and ways that you will hate?  Yes.  Make your choice.  Follow the road.  Do the work, and your dog will learn.  If you are consistent with what you ask and how you reinforce it, your dog will learn.  So on that note, let’s move on to our next question. 

The next situation is a common problem.  It’s a dog who gets distracted when out and about.  And this happens for a lot of reasons.  Number one, the world is distracting, and you need to do foundation work to get connection, blah blah blah.  But in this case it was a fairly advanced team who was doing very well in competition, still was facing this problem.  And what I commonly see at the root of this is that when the dog starts to wander off, what happens?  The owner starts to get excited or playful or whatever, and that draws the dog back.  So what caused the good thing to happen?  Wandering away.  Uh-oh.  So the dog learns, if things are slow or the owner looks tense or whatever, I just wander away, she’s gonna get downright perky. 

So instead, what I do is I teach the dog that if I back up and I jiggle the leash, and by jiggle I mean “squeeze pulse”.  It’s like the move you use to wring out a sponge with one hand.  You just squeeze it.  You’re squeezing.  Or if you’re riding, it’s a squeeze motion with your little finger.  You squeeze.  The reason I do that is, I don’t want the dog to lean against the leash, and to fight.  I want them to think, “Huh, this is kinda weird”, and to turn back to me.  So I start that indoors in a calm place, really good treats.  The dog gets distracted, I back up, I do the squeeze pulse, the moment I start to see that head even turn to me a little bit, “Good dog, all right, you’re great, woohoo!”  Praise, party, treat, treat, treat, that’s great, and then I get quiet again and I let them get distracted, then I back up, squeeze pulse, then I wait to see that head start to turn back, and that’s what causes me to light up like Christmas.  All right?  It’s the head turn back to me.  That’s the rewardable behavior. 

Do not become more interesting when the dog wanders off, or else you’re rewarding wandering off.  But if you become a party animal when your dog starts to look back at you, your dog is gonna be whipping that head back to you so quickly, and that’s exactly what you want.  Because upon that head turn, you can build a beautiful off lead recall, wonderful call backs on lead.  It’s a foundation behavior.  You cannot practice it too much.  You can practice it with puppies, you can practice it with adults, you can practice it inside, you can practice it outside.  Have fun with it, but get it to the point that, when your dog feels any pressure on lead, they immediately turn back to you.  That makes life so easy.  And I’ve seen dogs who are very reactive, who’ve been trained this way, if they all of a sudden lose their mind and lunge at something, the minute they feel pressure on the lead they immediately come back and reconnect.  Perfect.  Upon that we can build.  All right?

So, it doesn’t function as a punishment, the leash pressure.  It functions as a cue to something positive.  It helps your dog get to “good”.  And it allows you, yet again, to use a small, clear, unemotional red light, that little pressure on the lead, and then a big green light, right?  “Good dog, all right!”  Leave your dog in no doubt what it is you want.  Now, you don’t have to be enthusiastic like me.  Because I’m “crazy trainer”, and I’m used to it.  But you have to be enthusiastic in relationship to you.  So if you’re normally a calm person, even a quiet person, even a little bit of praise will make your dog light up.

Look at your dog.  That’s what I care about.  I want your dog to be wagging and their face all relaxed and happy, and they’re like, “I got it right!  I got it right!”  and you’re like, “Yeah, you got it right, you rock!”  So play that.  That confusion about when to start the reward is the fatal flaw in a lot of distraction work people are doing.  So watch yourself, and ask yourself “what is causing me to reward my dog?”  If it’s your dog’s wandering away, if it’s your dog looking away from you causes you to become interesting, then guess what you’re reinforcing.  Your dog is not impossible to train.  Your dog is not a distractible breed.  Your dog is doing exactly what you inadvertently trained them to do.  It’s so common.  So switch it up.  And that’s gonna mean changing things by a second or two.  And a second or two is a huge difference in training.

So make sure you light up when your dog starts to turn back to you, and pretty soon you’re gonna have a dog that you can’t get rid of.  This is a game I play with Pip off leash when we’re walking, a lot.  She comes back to me, any time she looks back to me, comes back to me, I smile, I praise her, I reward her, “Great dog!”  And then I tell her, “Go away, go on.”  And pretty soon when I say “go on” she goes five feet and then comes back.  And pretty soon I can’t get rid of her.  And I walk with my friends, and they go, “Does she ever take her eyes off of you?” and I go, “Not much.  Why should she?”  And for her, that’s important.  My other dogs I don’t worry about that so much.  But Pip is a little impulsive fireball, and I need her to be keeping me in her awareness almost all the time, because I can’t imagine everything she can get into, and I don’t want to try.  So we just play that game.  You come back to me, I smile, I reward you, this is great, and then I tell you “Go away.”  And if she comes back 50 times I’m there to smile and reward her 50 times, because I want coming back to me to be the best thing in her life.  Because when she came to me, she had no come back.  I could go walking down our farm road, she could be by herself at 16 weeks, brand new to me, in a new place, I could squat down and go, “Pip!  Come!  Good dog!  Woohoo!” and she would look at me up and down like, “Yeah, whatever,” and she would turn and go the other way.  So I knew that I would need to build this in her.  So I’ve been working with this since I got her, and it’s gotten better and better and better and better and better.  As it will. 

And you’re stuck with your dog, so it’ll get better and better and better and better, once you really start to look at what causes the good thing to happen.  And if it’s a behavior you want, then you’re building the behavior you want.  But if it’s a behavior you don’t want, and it’s a behavior you’re trying to get rid of, uh uh.  All right?  Any time a behavior is getting quote-unquote “worse”, or “stronger” is really what that means, a behavior is getting stronger.  Because a behavior we don’t want, we call it getting “worse”.  If it’s a behavior you do want, you call it as getting “better”.  But basically, it’s just getting stronger.  There is a reason for that.  Something is reinforcing your dog.  You need to find out if it’s you.  If you start there, looking at everything you’re doing, looking at your timing, you’re going to figure out, “Oh, that’s why I’m not getting the response I want.  I can fix that!”  And you can.  It’s just a new way of thinking.  That’s all it is.  You can do this.

So that wraps up our time together this week.  I want you to go out and really think, “How did we get here?”  And you’re going to crack up.  You’re going to say, “Well, of course she does XYZ.  I do ABC.”  You’re going to begin to see that she’s just doing what she’s trained to do.  And once you understand that, then anything becomes possible because you can change it.  You can change the response.  But you have to change first.  So go out there, make big green lights, small clear red lights, say it do it, and practice “never optional, always pleasant,” and you’re gonna build an incredibly consistent dog, because you will have become incredibly consistent.  So have a great week.  I’ll talk to you next week.  This is “Teacher’s Pet” on Pet Life Radio with Sarah Wilson.  And remember, any dog can be a teacher’s pet.  Take care.

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Announcer:  School’s in session on Pet Life Radio with “Teacher’s Pet”.  Learn how to communicate with your pet, train your pet, and see the world from your pet’s point of view.  You may even learn a few tricks yourself.  “Teacher’s Pet” with pet expert and author Sarah Wilson.  Only on
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