The crux of dogmanship: Consistency is key
Consistency is one of the most important things to consider when you interact with your dog.
Why is that?
A person who behaves consistently is more predictable!
Predictability lets a dog reliably know how to react to a given stimulus (e.g. your behaviour or a particular event). So if something consistently predicts something great (such as a “Yes!” before a treat arrives), you dog will become happy when the predictive stimulus occurs.
As a general rule of thumb: Precede all interactions with your dog with some sort of sign that indicates what you’re about to do e.g. saying “do you want to go for a walk?” before you grab a dog’s leash. You’ll likely notice your dog is more calm throughout the day as a result.
If a dog’s surroundings are consistent= less stress
If something not so fun is about to happen, signalling it beforehand can help a dog prepare itself. If you give the same signal before you intend to do something that will change a dog’s environment or situation e.g. saying “be back soon” before leaving, the dog will have a good idea of what’s in store and can behave accordingly. Of course, if you precede these semi-stressful events with a positive experience (e.g. a yummy frozen treat or food puzzle), the dog will soon learn that the previously stressful event now signals good things – so crisis averted!
If you train a dog with consistent signals and responses = great obedience performance.
When you’re training a dog, pick whichever command you want to use and stick to it. It’s fine to have things change in the learning process (e.g. using a treat to lure a behaviour when you first train it), but once you start asking for the same behaviour 3 different ways, you’re going to have once confused dog on your hands.
And a final note: Consistency does not mean a lack of variety.
A dog should experience a variety of different environments and events throughout its life. So varying things like outing locations and training environments are great for preparing your dog to be comfortable in all situations at all times. It’s more important to be consistent in your behaviour during these times, so the dog knows how to respond to things that may be a bit different to what he/she is normally used to.