Why do you count to 5 while training?

We talk a lot about consistency in our training classes. One way we use consistency is by counting our repetitions while teaching a new behavior. When we count how many times your dog got the behavior right, you will know if your dog is actually ready for you to make it harder. If you stay on the same level for too long, your dog might think that is the final behavior you want. On the other hand, if you push ahead too quickly your dog will not truly understand what you are trying to teach them and get frustrated and give up. When we can keep at our dog's level of competency we can keep them engaged while still moving towards the final behavior.


Each new behavior has a training plan, broken down into multiple steps. We start at the easiest step - the one we can be sure we'll get right away. Then, we increase difficulty as we work our way to the final behavior. Don't worry about naming the behavior until you get to the final behavior. Naming a behavior is a topic for another post.


Each step in the plan is repeated 5 times. Use this handy guide to know if you should Push Ahead, Drop Back, or Stick the step you are at in the training plan:




For most dogs, I count in sets of 5. Some dogs find 5 repetitions too many and need you to count in sets of 3. If this is the case: Push at 3 correct, Stick at 2 correct, and Drop at zero or 1 correct.

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