Canine Services International Dog Training Blog

Overcoming confusion at home



Do you ever experience the frustration of family members refusing to enrol in the possibility of your dog becoming a precision trained obedience genius?

Do your family members refuse to implement the same expectations as you do, or perhaps even contradict your teachings?

If so then know that you aren’t alone – it happens, and we run into it a lot with our clients.

Hiring a professional means that people are financially invested in creating better outcomes for their dog, and generally we are able to work with the whole family to get past any sticking points and get everyone on the same program.

So what if you don’t have us on your side?  How can you try and deal with this yourself?

In most cases you can apply a little more patience and persistence and overcome the issue, though of course it is never easiest for the dog to have to work out that there is one set of expectations for you and another for certain family members.

You can minimise the stress on the dog by making sure that you train in a very enjoyable fashion with the dog – extra high value rewards.

Also, be sure not to give commands you don’t care enough about to follow up – and where you do remain calm and committed. This way when the dog gets confused he will learn that your way is the way associated with least stress and the most calm.

Another great strategy is to train patterns that are completely inconsistent with the situation in question – lots of repetitions and success for the dog early and often are the key to success here.

Perhaps you could even adopt a completely new training language for your dog?  For example, if you are training your dog using German, Czech or French words then the dog can have one association with the words you use in training and another entirely for the words the family or flatmates use when they interact with the dog.

Do you have a story of how you have made a similar situation work for you and your dog, despite the inconsistency?  Please share it with us in the comments below.



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  1. Luzelle

    The hardest part is overcoming the constant unconstructive critisism from a spouse or parent… so here’s what I’ve done: Not trained around them, gone off on my own somewhere where there’s no pressure on me (audience, etc.) changed my commands to French (because in most other languages Sit is still sit, except French sounds drastically different). And I’ve educated myself watching training DVDs and reading books. Then I’ve found friends keen on training too and started training with them.

  2. Angela

    Take it from me! Professional help is the easiest and cheapest way out (financially and emotionally). Some dogs just need help. It can save your sanity and marriage. Heaps cheaper than a court battle over ‘who gets stuck with the mutt’.

  3. Mel

    I’m very lucky that I’m the only person in the household so my dog gets pretty consistent messages – but I do see it clearly if at any time other people handle her. She starts off behaving beautifully and within half an hour she’s doing whatever she damn well pleases because she’s figured out the person doesn’t have the same skill set I do.

    What I really need to do is start getting other – savvy- people handling her so she learns that she doesn’t only have to behave for me!

  4. Kirstie

    Very well written!!
    It is a constant sticking point for our house when my softy husband lets the dogs get away with certain things, and then overcompensates by yelling when they try to get around other commands or disobey him entirely.
    Ultimately, what happens is that the dogs will listen to me over him, because when my expectations are met with reward or disapproval, it is fair and given to them in a way they can understand. If they are not allowed to do something, then they NEVER are allowed to do it, with myself.
    I am by no means perfect, but my dogs are a lot more well behaved when I am on the scene than when I am not, and they seem less anxious also.
    I have asked my husband not to use so many words with the dogs, and ensured that when he does give them a command, that he at least knows the correct wording we use.