The human world is a mysterious, often confusing place for our animals. Although it can be easy to forget this, it’s important to remember that our animals don’t see any reason for much of what we do.
That’s why repetition can be our best friend. This is something I really stress with clients – I train guide dogs for the blind, and this is an important key to their success with their dogs! When there’s repetition, or a routine, our animals can feel good because they know what to do and what’s expected of them. There’s no uncertainty and it also shows that you know what you want them to do. That shows your leadership ability. It’s calming for them to know that at least someone knows what should be done.
It’s even more important when teaching an animal something new – repeat, repeat, repeat… If there are too many exceptions to a rule, it can become confusing and the animal ends up just ignoring it all together. The ignorance can simply come from the fact that they don’t know when they should do something and when not to, because their human’s let it slide so often. So following through with our repetition is important.
I helped a lady with her poodle. He was always very excited (to put it nicely) about going outside on his walk. We set up a routine. She puts him on the leash, opens the door, tells him to stay and then takes her time putting on her coat and shoes. He had to stay exactly where he was (or she would lead him back) and she always did this before walking him. Now he comes over to her, sits there without her saying anything and waits… the door is open and he is as calm and content as can be. He knows there’s a routine.
The walk comes after patience is displayed.