Most clients would agree that their dogs respond better to obedience training when their training tools are on them. If that is happening to you and your dog, consider these four reasons why:  

1. The same reason that when a police officer is driving behind us, we become the “perfect driver!”

Rules get reinforced when authority is watching over them. Your dog understands their new obedience commands, just like we know the laws of the road. Without maintaining them to the standard you expect, your dog will push boundaries and thresholds. It’s the nature of all of us.  

2. Your dog’s off-leash maturity might not be as advanced as their obedience.  

Expecting a young dog to do an off-leash recall in the middle of playing with a pack of dogs is about the equivalent of asking your toddler to recall from Disney Land. You better have some form of motivation, which could also include the avoidance of a correction. The more off-leash freedom your dog has, the less likely they are to be obedient. Using an off-leash electric collar is the best way to bridge a young, already trained dog’s maturity. Having this tool doesn’t make you or your dog overly dependent. It means there is an invisible leash connected to you and the dog for safety until you obtain trust and maturity.  

3. The owner feels more confident when the training tools are on. It’s not necessarily that the dog is responding better.

You have more control over the dog with the tools, so you act more confident in your handling, and the result is that your dog conforms better to the training. Don’t put pressure on yourself to have a deadline for when your training tools should be off. Every owner should set their own pace by how much practice in different environments you get to transfer the training, the level of stimulation you train your dog around, and the more seasoned you are working with your dog together. These factors all play a part in what stage of learning you are experiencing. Even if your dog goes home more trained than you, the training tools will help you trust the commands your dog knows and the advantage you have to reinforce them. 

4. There is science behind instilling new patterns and habits that play a critical part in transferring the training back to the dog’s home environment.   

After a dog graduates from our “21 days” of a Full-Service Training program at The Doghouse, we require clients to continue using training tools for an extra 30 days to ensure the “training picture” transfers back to your home routine. Here’s why:

Remember that old 21 Day theory?

“In 1960, Maltz published the above 21-day theory, and his other behavior changes thoughts in a book called Psycho-Cybernetics (audiobook). The book became a blockbuster hit, selling more than 30 million copies, and that’s when the problem started. Maltz’s work influenced nearly every major “self-help” professional from Zig Ziglar to Brian Tracy to Tony Robbins in the decades that followed. More people started reciting Maltz’s story, like a very long Telephone game, leaving out the most critical word “a minimum of about 21 days.” Instead, they shortened it to say, “It takes 21 days to form a new habit.”

That’s how society started spreading the common myth that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. It’s remarkable how often these timelines get quoted as statistical facts.

The Truth Behind The Science Of Changing Behavior Patterns And Habits:

It takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days, to be exact. How long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on its behavior and circumstances. Another recent study by Lally’s studied that patterns took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days to create a new habit. Suppose you want to set your expectations appropriately. In that case, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life (or your dog’s life, for this matter!), not 21 days.

This study can help us determine why your dog most likely responds better to their training when the “training tools” are on. There hasn’t been enough consistency for your dog to be completely reliable. The goal is to have your training tools available but not have to use them. You shouldn’t test your dog until you have weeks of sessions and different training pictures to which you have successfully exposed your dog. Dog training does not make robots, and who would want that from their dog anyhow? Some of the best traits and characteristics of dogs are their spirit and personalities.  

Be patient as the training picture transfers. Don’t relinquish all the power to your dog to make the right choice by not having your training tools available. Going away to training is like learning a new job. If they get home and are free to make their own choices without reinforcing their new job, they will most likely revert to what they knew in that environment. Humans and dogs are notorious for being creatures of habit. We want to ensure the desired practices we are rewarding and repeating after our dog graduates from the Full-Service Training at The Doghouse, LLC.