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From confusion to clarity

20/03/2023 - Mindset and motivation

Often when working with clients we have a chat about clarity - the quality of being clear and easy to understand.

How clear do you think you are when communicating with your dog?
Do you have lots of words that mean the same thing?
Do different people in the family say and do different things?
Do you feel the need to repeat yourself?

Simply put, are you clear and easy to understand or do you sometimes confuse your dog?

Slow Down and Listen

Very often we are not conscious of the things that we are doing. The more you slow down and listen to yourself, the more you will hear and understand your actions from your dog's point view.

How many recall cues does your dog have? My dog has a few including:

Come TO me.
Come WITH me.
Come PAST me and run in the opposite direction.
Come IN such as in from the garden.

Sound complicated? It really is not. It is all about what they mean to her, and my consistency in using the and reinforcing them. 
They all have different cues. They all have different meanings, and often the reinforcement is differing too. For example, my chase recall is to come past me and run in the opposite direction, so the reinforcement for that cue is to run and chase and might involve a toy, whereas coming to me would involve some social contact, maybe some food, but certainly lots of generosity of my time.

There are more recall cues I have ... not trained, but they bring her to me ... 

Opening of the ham or cocktail sausage packet = I'm getting a sausage.

Picking up the lead = we are going out.

Saying the word 'right' with purpose = mum's up, I think I am involved as I usually am when she says this word.

All these are super effective and rarely fail!

Keep it Simple

My point is, we teach all these amazing cues without realising it, but sometimes when we try to train a dog to come when called we end up confusing our dog and being inconsistent.

👉We repeat repeat repeat things.


👉We use different words each time.

👉We escalate to the word that 'works' after trying a whole load of other words.

The dog may come back, but life could be so much simpler!

Next time you walk your dog, or do any training with your dog, listen to what you do and say.

Or even better video yourself. Then watch yourself and watch your dog. 

You might be surprised at what you see and hear.