Being a one-to-one dog trainer I get to work with absolutely brilliant individuals and their families. I go into their home and quietly observe how they interact with their new furry family member. It's heartwarming to watch the strong bond developing and to see the puppy looking up at its human with big loving eyes in hope of guidance.
Busy households can allow too much room for inconsistency, I often see one member of the family telling the little puppy who is jumping up to get "Down" then 5 minutes later I watch another member of the family shouting "Off". Already the poor puppy is receiving mixed messages, however, will the puppy learn what their human family wants them to do, if they themselves can't stick to the same word for that particular behaviour?
To give your new puppy a fighting chance of learning what you'd like them to do and when it's vital that everyone is on the same page. Remember dogs do not come pre-programmed, they don't understand English but they are brilliant at learning our English words but only if the meanings remain consistent and clear.
TIPS TO BE MORE CONSISTENT
CREATE YOUR PUPPY'S DICTIONARY
Sit down as a family and decide on the verbal cues that you will use when training your puppy. Write them down and stick them on the wall so that everyone can refer back to them. For example, does 'Down' mean lay down or does it mean stop jumping?
CREATE YOUR PUPPY'S RULES
It's really important to agree on what you will and will not allow your puppy to do in the home and outdoors. If you NEVER want your puppy to jump up at people then you should NEVER allow your puppy to jump up at you EVER. If you don't want your puppy to beg at the dinner table then don't feed them food when you're eating at the table. If everyone sticks to the same rules then your new puppy will have a better chance of getting things right.
DON'T MUDDLE UP THE VISUAL CUES
It's important to think about what your body is doing when you give your dog a cue, as your dog is more likely to be looking at your hand gesture than he is listening to your voice. When training your puppy pick clear visual cues and stick to them, everyone in the family should use the same visual cue. For example, If you teach a 'Stay' with a nice flat palm facing your puppy then don't be surprised when your puppy doesn't respond when someone asks for a 'Stay' while holding one finger up instead. If you use clear and consistent verbal and visual cues, then your puppy will learn more quickly.