If your dog is having trouble catching on to basic obedience skills, it might be the result of training inconsistencies. Here’s what to do if you suspect your dog walker is to blame!
You love your dog walker. She treats your dog like her own and is more reliable than any other candidates you’ve found. Still, you can’t help but notice that despite your hard work, your dog’s training isn’t progressing as it should. Could your dog walker be to blame?
In many cases, the answer is yes. But before you start looking for someone new to take care of your pooch, let’s look at the ways your dog walker or pet sitter may be unknowingly hindering your dog’s training, plus some tips on how to solve the problem.
Your dog will notice any inconsistencies
When it comes to successfully training any dog, the most important component is consistency. If you are trying to train your dog not to pull on the leash, but your dog walker is happy to let your pooch pull her all over town, you’ll never succeed.
Even if you’ve told your dog walker not to let your pup pull, she’s unlikely to use the same training method you are. While you may train by stopping every time your dog pulls, your walker may react by yanking on the leash.
These kinds of mixed signals only serve to confuse your dog and halt your training progress. Talk to your walker to make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to training style.
The dark side of variable rewards
Another place inconsistency causes issues is with a concept known as variable rewards. For dogs and humans, variable reward schedules help entice us to keep performing a behavior even if we aren’t always rewarded for it.
Take the slot machine as an example. Each time you pull the lever, you have a very low chance of receiving a reward, yet you know there is some chance and so you go on pulling it.
Your dog is the same way. If you always ignore your dog when he jumps up, but your dog walker occasionally loves on them when they do it, your dog will continue to jump because he knows he’ll eventually be rewarded for it.
Handling an extinction burst
Another common phenomenon that’s likely to put you and your dog walker at odds is something called an extinction burst. Oftentimes, right before an unwanted behavior is about to go away for good, your dog will suddenly start doing it more.
If you see this happening as an owner, you need to stay consistent with your training method and know the unwanted behavior is about to disappear. But more importantly, you need to make sure your dog walker understands this too.
Communication is key
In the end, talking to your dog walker about all of these things is the most important step you can take. Show her exactly how you have been training your dog to walk nicer on a leash, and how she should react if your dog jumps up. Explain to her when to ignore your dog, and when and how to reward him.
If your dog walker is undoing your dog’s training, it doesn’t mean you need to look for a replacement. It just means it’s time to share with her all the hard training work you’ve been doing so she can help in that training instead of hindering it.