Patterning behaviors requires repetition and consistency. It helps a puppy learn necessary behaviors and is complete when the behavior is ingrained. Patterning takes at least 30 days of constant, accurate practice and may take longer for some puppies.
Guide to patterning behaviors
- Have several short practice sessions every day.
- Keep the sessions short and positive. Use lots of praise and don’t be afraid to stop so you end on a positive note.
- Have consistent expectations for each training session.
- Reward all of the expected behavior even if you didn’t ask for it.
- Reward all spontaneous behavior, such as a puppy that stops before walking through a doorway without you asking them to do so.
Teaching one step at a time
- All training sessions need to be taught in a style and pace that suits your puppy so they can learn what you are teaching them.
- Only move onto the next step when your puppy understands the first step.
- For example, if you are teaching your puppy Down by luring them to slide down with a piece of kibble and saying the word Down, do not stop using the kibble until they respond to the use of both cues.
- Teach only one behavior at a time.
Teaching in a sequence
- You can teach in a sequence to ensure the puppy will meet the expectations you have set for them.
- For example, when you first teach a puppy to relieve on concrete you start by saying the Busy verbal cue as they start to relieve so they can associate the verbal cue with the action.
- Move to the next step when the pup responds each time in the correct way
- Only move to the next step when the pup is focused and understands the step you’re currently working on
- If your pup has any problems understanding what you are trying to teach them, take a step back on what you are trying to teach.