Is Anticipation a Good Thing?

Is Anticipation a Good Thing?

In my opinion, you often want your dog to anticipate what you want them to do.  Anticipation is a good thing, as long as their anticipation is correct!  Here is what I mean:

If you want your dog to get on their dog bed when the doorbell rings, you have to teach, rehearse and practice until that skill is functional. Over time, your dog may hear the doorbell and run to their dog bed before you can even tell them to do so – this is good anticipation.

If you want your dog to walk with you at your left side when out for a walk, you have to teach, rehearse, and practice this. One day you start your walk and your dog automatically puts himself on your left side and starts to walk with you – this is good anticipation.

The other side of anticipation is when the dog is wrong with his actions. Even though their intentions were based on paying attention to you and attempting to ‘be a good dog’, their anticipation lead to disobedience.  Here are a few examples:

When teaching your dog to come when called, it may be common to bend down like a catcher as a way of encouraging your dog to come into you. Although this is a great way to help your dog in the initial stages of training, your dog can’t anticipate this for life. If they do, your dog may break a sit/stay, down/stay, or place every time you bend over to tie your shoe – this type of anticipation is not desirable.

Every dog needs a functional sit and down. It’s common for dog owners to start off with their dog in a sit and then transition into a down. Over time, when your dog is put in a sit, he may anticipate that the next command that will be given is a down.  Without waiting for the down command to come, he will often put himself into a down – this type of anticipation is not good.

As your dog training progresses, your dog is catching on to what you want and how you need him to behave.  If your training has led to incorrect anticipation, you may need to mix things up and vary some small details so that the picture is changed for the dog.  However, the correct anticipation will get you one step closer to a dog that is on autopilot. 

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