Dog trainer reveals why following through when giving commands is so important

Owner doing training with a dog
(Image credit: Getty)

When training your dog or teaching them commands, it’s important to follow through. It might sound like common sense – after all, you want your dog to know you mean what you say – but it can be easy not to, particularly if you’re busy or you’ve got other things on your mind. 

While home is a space where both you and your dog can relax, muck around with the best puppy toys and snooze together, it's still a place where you need to build good habits. Thankfully, Ruben Montes of Kindred Dog PDX in Portland, Oregon, has advice on following through with training your pup at home.

He explains in an Instagram post that, while failing to follow through might not seem like such a big issue when you’re at home with your dog – and they’re usually well-behaved – it can “ripple” in other areas where your dog listening and obeying is more important. 

“If what we say is negotiable in low-impact areas like the house where the potential consequences are low, our dogs can learn that things are negotiable in high-risk areas where the potential consequences can be much higher,” he explains. 

You can listen to his advice in full via the video below or continue reading to find out more... 

Montes continues by saying that while your dog will “break” 50 times, it’ll be the 51st time that they do the thing you don’t want them to do – they’re patient and persistent. But, it’s up to the owner to show that they’re more patient and persistent. 

The video shows a ‘go-home session’ before pitbull Pearl leaves with her new owner. The owner says ‘down’ to Pearl, before walking away. Pearl breaks away to follow the owner, but the owner sends her back, following through. By not doing so, Montes explains that the dog learns that what their owner tells them to do is negotiable. 

When training your dog, the attention of both you and your dog needs to be there. Commitment is important, showing your dog that you mean what you say, and that you’re prepared to follow through until they do what you say and complete the command. 

Of course, all dogs, like humans, will make mistakes. If your dog makes a mistake in training – even if it’s with a command they know well – try your best not to get angry or frustrated with them. Just say ‘no’ and begin the command again. 

It’s also important to pick a command and stick to it. When you give a simple command like “sit”, you might mean that you just want them to stop running around, for example. If they stop running but don’t sit, you should still follow through until they do. Again, your dog needs to know that you mean what you say, and it’ll help stop them getting confused too. 

It can be easy to get out of the habit of following through, but by following Montes’ advice, you’ll likely make life a lot easier for yourself and your pup in the long run – and they might earn some tasty dog treats, too.

Looking for more great training tips? Then be sure to check out our guides to how to crate train a dog and how to stop a dog jumping up.

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.