Habitual behavior is often a good attribute in a dog trainer. Dogs learn by repetition and positive or negative reinforcement. We want them to link commands with desired behaviors, which then deliver praise.

We get into trouble when our dog’s habits are so inextricably linked that they don’t jibe with our immediate needs. Breaking a few links in the habit-to-habit chain is sometimes a good idea. It’s probably harder for the trainer than the dog, but throwing a change-up into the command sequence once in a while keeps a dog on his toes, paying attention to you rather than running on autopilot.