Timing Really is Everything
One of the most difficult, yet most important parts of dog training is timing. Regardless of what training tools you use or what methods you prefer, in order to train a dog well you have to first master timing. Some people are naturally good with timing which is a huge benefit however most owners struggle with timing at least at first and some dog owners never seem to quit master timing the way we would like.
Timing is import not just when giving a correction to a dog but also when rewarding a dog. If your timing is off you can accidentally reward or correct a different behavior than you intended. You may end up accidentally positively reinforcing an unwanted behavior or correcting a desirable behavior.
In order to have the most success with training it is import to reward or correct a behavior as soon as it happens. For example if we’re teaching a puppy to sit for the first time we want to reward as soon as the puppies butt touches the ground. If there is a delay in the reward then it becomes more difficult for the puppy to understand what behavior is being reward and will slow down training. Dogs are more likely to repeat a behavior that has been rewarded in the past. However if the reward comes too late the dog most likely will not associate the reward with the desired behavior.
“Dogs are more likely to repeat a behavior that has been rewarded in the past.”
The same thing applies for any time of correction. For instance if an owner leaves the house to go to work and during the day the dog has an accident on the rug, when the owner returns home several hours later if the owner corrects the dog for having an accident in the house it will be an ineffective correction because too much time has passed and the dog will not clearly understand what is being corrected.
Now some owners will argue that when they come home from work and find an accident or some of their belongings chewed or broken that their dog has a guilty look and therefore the dog understands what they did wrong and can be corrected. This is not true. Your dog may have the ‘guilty’ look or act like they know they are in trouble but they are most likely picking up on your body cues and know that you are not happy. Don’t confuse this with thinking they know why you aren’t happy. The best rule of thumb is if you can’t correct your dog while they are in the act, you are better off not correcting.
Now there is no secret on how to have good timing. The best way to improve your timing is to practice! You can also have a friend or family member video tape you while you’re working with your dog and then you can go back and watch the recording to see how good your timing was or areas where you can improve.