Cue fluency and how to tell if your dog has it
Let’s talk fluency. It’s something we all strive for in our behaviors.
Fluent behaviors are: consistent, dependable, and reliable. They have been generalized to various location and contexts. In short, the dog has honed their skill in executing the behavior beautifully.
We not only need to have fluent behaviors, we need fluent cues.
Whaaat!? There’s a difference? I think there is! We put a lot of focus on having fluent behaviors, but the most common reason a dog doesn’t respond is due to a lack of understanding or fluency in the verbal cue.
How are “fluent cues” different from “fluent behaviors”?
To determine whether the behavior or the verbal cue is lacking fluency, you can ask these questions:
- Is the behavior reliable when prompted with an obvious hand cue?
- Is the prompted behavior reliable in a variety of locations or contexts?
- Does the dog offer the completed behavior?
- When the verbal cue is used does the behavior deteriorate or become unreliable?
If you answered yes to these questions, then it could be that the behavior is likely fluent, but the cue is not.
You Can Test for Cue Fluency!
Test your dog’s fluency by doing a “cue fluency check”. It’s basically a cue discrimination exercise.
In the below video, I give Kashi a series of verbal cues. Her responses tell me which cues are fluent and which she still struggles to understand fully. Her percentage of correct responses here is about 83%. And it showed me that at least one of the cues was not yet fluent.