Nagging feels right
We, as humans, take language for granted and we tend to forget that animals don't think of words as we do. They understand words as sounds that are connected to particular situations. We make our mistake by assuming cues cause behaviors to happen :). But if a dog doesn't know the association between the word and its meaning, saying it twice or ten times will make no difference. We are really good at patterning, and most of us don't even realize we are doing it. For most people the magical number is 3 - sit, sit, SIT, and then you mean it. Generally, it's because we get irritated at about the same time each time this happens. But once you reach your magical number, generally you get angry or frustrated and two things happen - your voice and your body posture changes. That certainly doesn't make training fun for you or your dog.
|River says "You are boring me with|
your meaningless words."
It's a bit of a fix
Don't panic if you realize you have been nagging your dog for behaviors. Consistency is key here too - not only in the verbal and physical cue, but also in how you respond after you give the cue. So try to give your cue once and then wait for 20 seconds to allow your dog to realize that you aren't going to keep saying it. If your dog does what you have asked withing that time frame, praise and reward them! If your dog simply stands there, you have a few options:
- If your dog isn't complying with your request because they are too distracted, maybe you are over threshold. Go further away from whatever is distracting them and ask again.
- If your dog isn't complying but is still focused on you, turn your back and walk away. Your dog will mostly likely follow you to get another chance for their reward. Give the cue again and give them another 20 seconds to comply.
- If your dog still isn't performing the behavior you are asking for, then help them. It may be just that they really don't understand the cue in the current situation. So using either luring or shaping get them to perform the behavior and reward. Then focus on teaching them until you are certain that they know what you want in all situations.