Many of us have experienced the time accuracy in a dog’s mind. If you sleep with your dog on the bed, you probably have been woken up by him at the same time every single day. At 6pm sharp, he asks for dinner. Not 1 minute earlier nor 1 minute later. At 9pm sharp, he goes to bed, and at 6am sharp, he wakes up again. Dogs are creatures of routine and masters of time. Time plays a very big role in a dog’s life, and training a dog, has everything to do with time.
Good Exposure From the Start
At 6 weeks old, the socialisation window of a dog opens, he starts absorbing everything that he sees, hears, touches and experiences. For the following 6 to 8 weeks, his brain acts like a sponge and it absorbs everything from good to bad and it lingers for a lifetime. This is the most precious time for puppies to be exposed to loud noises, dog manners, basically everything that is going to matter for the rest of his life. This is also the best time to expose a dog to grooming procedures. If the dog has been allowed to bite the handler at this time, the likely-hood of him doing it in future is of course higher too. After the socialisation window closes, at approximately 16 weeks, everything new becomes a great big deal. New loud noises becomes scary things, motorcyclists that he never new existed became terrorists.
Puppy classes are one of the most popular classes in dog trainings and they are one of the most important class to attend for new owners. Many owners gain tremendous improvements and results during that period of time. As time passes, many owners adopt the idea of once you teach a dog something, they should know it eternally. Unfortunately, dogs like humans get rusty over time, things that they once knew can become foreign without consistent work. Dogs are also opportunist. Every time he gets a chance to break your training/rule/command, he will remember it and repeat it when given the chance.
The Eternal Student
Once in awhile, you will hear people putting their plans of training their dog/doing something with their dog being pushed back and delayed until further notice. That is actually one of the worse thing that one can do. Exposing a dog to new environment, new things, new people, new distraction has to be on-going and a never ending process. Training a dog to not-do something or to do something should take place immediately or as soon as you realise there is a problem. Most of us know that training a young dog can be easier than training an older dog. That is not to say that an older dog is less clever or less likely to learn something new. It simply means that the younger dog has lesser bad habits that you need to undo, lesser “wrong things” that you need to rectify. Everyday that you postpone your plan, things get worse. Dogs learn every single day, every single minute. Good things get better with consistency, bad things get worse in time.
With any training method, whether its balanced training, positive reinforcement or correction based training, timing and consistent work is everything. A good correction is all about timing and a positive reinforcement too has to be timed perfectly. You simply cannot rush a dog into a certain behaviour without taking the time to build the foundation and you simply cannot get the dog’s attention without spending time with the dog building a strong bond. And real training can not begin without the dog’s attention. You can give 100 commands and the dog can choose to listen to just 1 because he doesn’t have his attention on you.
One of the most beautiful thing about a dog is that he never stops learning. Therefore, regardless of what mistake he has made or what mistake you have made, there is always a chance to salvage the situation and turn it around. Although the socialisation window of a dog is one of the best and most crucial time for learning and shaping a dog’s future, missing it is not the end of the world. Consistent work over time is the key and timing is the lock.