How long to wait before repeating a command?

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JudyL
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How long to wait before repeating a command?

Postby JudyL » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:43 am

Kathy's video post of asking for Pappy to sit before going through the gate got me thinking about this. This question isn't about initially training a command, but is for dogs that already know the appropriate response to the command. Let's use "sit" as the example. Assuming you have the dog's attention and he or she has heard the command, how long do you wait before repeating the command, or do you never repeat it? When I give a command I almost always precede it with the dog's name unless only the two of us are alone and the dog is already looking at me. I think Kathy said she waited about 3 minutes for the sit after giving the command only once. Maybe I'm impatient, but I would have repeated the command after about a minute and a half. :hmm: I should add that I'm not one to repeat, repeat, repeat a command every 5-10 seconds, makes me crazy when I hear people doing that to their dogs. So, what are your opinions, how long?

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Re: How long to wait before repeating a command?

Postby Sabine » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:07 pm

I try very hard (and don't always succeed, but I'm giving it my best effort) not to repeat a cue. At least not without changing up the situation a little bit to create a clear break if I feel I've waited for a long time already.

I honestly don't have an answer in definite seconds or minutes for you, it really depends on the level to which the dog is really fluent in the behavior you are asking for (and fluent in terms of my training hero Morgan Spector means that the dog for example truly understands "sit" if he will do it even if you give the cue with your back turned, or standing behind them, etc., not just right in front of them). So in that sense, even tough Dax knows how to sit in several different contexts and does it most of the time I tell him, he really isn't truly "fluent" yet.

Of course Dax also has a very short attention span, so if I waited for 3 minutes after telling him to sit, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't even remember that I said it. lol

So what I do is I clearly break out of the situation by turning my back, walking away a few steps in the opposite direction etc. and then try again.

IMO it is important to wait out the dog as often as possible and then give them access to what they want after they do it, because it sends such a clear, strong message and doesn't take long for them to catch on that they can't get out of listening to you by simply refusing. lol
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Re: How long to wait before repeating a command?

Postby connie » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:23 pm

Yeah, I'm of the "it depends" view too. :grin:

My dogs all know the words and the actions, so they are fluent, and as Sabine pointed out, that is a factor.

Then there's the clearness of communication issue. Did my dog hear me tell him to sit? Did I have my dog's attention when I gave that direction, or was he distracted? If he was distracted, I will repeat the request when it becomes obvious to me that he just didn't hear it.

If he received the instruction but chooses not to act on it, I will stand there for a pretty long time. I might use my body language to suggest what I want from him, or -- with a Border Collie -- a meaningful look. And after a minute or two I might ask, in a conversational tone, "what happened to your sit? Is it broken?" Or I will use a phrase that the dog knows. When I say to Rowley "what do we do?" he sits in front of a door or gate and waits for me to open it. If he doesn't offer the sit/wait of his own volition, I ask him 'what do we do?'

I don't think it really matters too much ... to me, it's not a test of anything, it's okay to remind the dog what was wanted. I think the main thing is not to repeat the instruction ten times in a minute.

My obedience trainer says I make her crazy because I repeat commands with Rowley, but in herding, directions are not static and the dog is free to get up and move on the sheep after a 'lie down', so I train him a little differently because of that. Those are more reminders than commands, though. And FWIW, I hate the word "command" in this situation, it makes me feel like I should be wearing camo and boots and a combat helmet.

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Re: How long to wait before repeating a command?

Postby my2cotons » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:35 pm

Actually, I have to confess, I gave the sit command (or cue :) ) twice. Once at the beginning of the 2 minutes that wasn't on the video and then another time after I started the video. But I have no doubt he heard me and knew what I wanted with the first cue. He just didn't want to comply. Pistol almost always give me a sit immediately when I ask for it - Pappy - not so much. :)

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Re: How long to wait before repeating a command?

Postby whiteboxerboy » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:40 pm

with Brinca i'd wait (can't remember exactly how long, maybe 30-60 seconds? depending on the situation) and i never repeated the initial cue, instead i gave her a different verbal cue to let her know i was still waiting... i'd say ''have you lost your mind?' and i guess that let her know i really meant what i asked of her. as time went by i could just say 'have you lost your mind' to her in a surprised tone of voice and she'd sit immediately. of course, this was only in non-serious situations. oy, serious situations/reactive outbursts were a completely different story.

i also body blocked her so she couldn't turn around to look at something new when i was waiting for her to comply. nothing rude or mean, i'd just step in front of her and block her view. i wasn't about to let her enjoy the scenery while blowing me off. :lol:

i guess i figured that the sound of my voice was Brinca's cue that we were all good, she was doing the right thing. after all, our dogs like to hear the sound of our voices so by NOT speaking i think you have more potential to get their attention. for me the important thing was NOT using the same cue again. that's always been a pet peeve of mine, since long before Brinca came along.

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Re: How long to wait before repeating a command?

Postby JudyL » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:01 pm

Oh, I know it depends on the situation and whether one has their dog's attention and that the dog is trained, I just wanted to start a thread on how others handle this in a general sense.

Connie, the commando image conjured by the word "command" is a good one. "Cue" I never thought of but is most appropriate. Thank you! I thought of using "request" but that implies that its compliance is optional. I've never been to a training class, so forgive me if I've used some words incorrectly in the strict sense as they are used in dog training. I wouldn't say my dogs are well trained, but most of the time they do respond promptly to the basics: sit, lay down, roll over, stay, come, and mostly walk well on a leash, and are pretty easy to live with.

I've never taught any tricks until late last year when everyone learned to give me their paw and then they all took to waving their paws at me to get a treat. It's pretty cute to see 3 little butts planted and doing this at the same time. It makes me smile just thinking about it, like Yankee's dog that waits for the paw shake as gatekeeper at the top of the stairs. :)

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Re: How long to wait before repeating a command?

Postby connie » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:36 pm

Nah, I just have a thing about the words we use and how they can shape our interactions with our dogs. :grin:

I stopped thinking in terms of 'commands' and now I give 'directions' to my dogs -- like a stage manager! Compliance isn't really optional, but it kind of is, because sometimes the dog can't do what we tell it to do and we might not be aware of what's preventing it from doing that.

I don't think a dog needs to be well-trained so much as it needs to be well-behaved. To me, training implies teaching behaviors that are unusual or not natural to the dog -- agility, and rally, and such. Behavior is just the routines that make a dog pleasant to live with: not running over me to get out the door, not snatching food, stuff like that. I think dogs can figure out what behavior is wanted of them a lot of the time without any formal 'training' being involved.

But I'm a really lazy dog owner, I'm the first to admit. :grin:

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Re: How long to wait before repeating a command?

Postby my2cotons » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:48 pm

Judy, I would love to be able to say: "most of the time they do respond promptly to the basics: sit, lay down, roll over, stay, come, and mostly walk well on a leash, and are pretty easy to live with". Mine are lacking in most all of those areas. :( How's about you come over and work on mine. :)

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Re: How long to wait before repeating a command?

Postby JudyL » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:25 pm

Judy, I would love to be able to say: "most of the time they do respond promptly to the basics: sit, lay down, roll over, stay, come, and mostly walk well on a leash, and are pretty easy to live with". Mine are lacking in most all of those areas. :( How's about you come over and work on mine. :)
I kind of think of them like toddlers that never grow up and need some refreshing or reinforcing from time to time, over their lifetime. Want me to move in for a while? The only time I've been to Oklahoma was in our high school musical. lol


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