Many owners who start dog training sooner or later encounter their dog “offering” certain behaviors which they have learned in the past.
In clicker training this is part of the basics of this training technique. Dogs are either lured into desired behaviors or the trainer is waiting until the dog is OFFERING the desired behavior or a tiny part of it.
So, in general “offering” is appreciated.
It can, however turn into a hassle when the “offering” develops into “predicting” and leads the dog to take premature action.
Dogs are creatures of habit and one of the greatest experiences for them is to KNOW in advance what is going to happen.
Especially when it concerns things that mean a lot of fun or food, such as playtime or dinner.
Many dogs use their “spare time” during the day to watch their environment and their owners, if they get the chance.
This way they easily pick up schedules, the order of processes and routines and eventually start predicting/ anticipating future events.
Humans are creatures of habit just as dogs are. For most of us our days are pretty structured and follow fixed schedules without a lot of deviations. This makes predicting our day much easier for our dogs.
Btw. that is also why fixed routines and a structured day are often recommended for very insecure dogs, because this can help these dogs a lot to settle and become more confident.
The fact that our days usually follow a schedule makes it much easier for our dogs to pick up routines and repeating events, including the time of day when they occur.
And our dogs like to actively incorporate these schedules into their behavior. To us this often feels like our dogs have an “inner clock”.
Dogs actually do have a pretty good sense of time by nature. They can differ between long and short periods and they have a circadian rhythm just as humans do. Although they don’t know about the system of hours, minutes and seconds, their amazing ability to pick up patterns of the day still enables them to act like they are almost able to tell time like humans can.
Therefore some trainers recommend to try and actively break patterns and change routines as a way to bring diversion back into the life of dogs, who become destructive out of boredom while getting enough exercise and entertainment in general.
This provides a new challenge and “job” for the dog: Watching and studying the changed situation in order to figure out the new patterns.
I think this easily explains, why an unstructured, unpredictable day can on the other hand enhance stress and nervousness in an insecure dog. Not knowing what’s going to happen can be pure stress to some dogs.
Learn more about how predicting can interfere with the dog training and how to handle it on the next page.