Our dogs are a massive part of our lives, and training your dog is where we all want to succeed. However, there are some very common miss-steps we humans can make when we are training our beloved pets. Here are 10 of these mistakes for you to avoid.
Training Your Dog: Avoid These 10 Mistakes
Mistake #1: Starting Late
Puppies can start learning the basics of sit and stay from 7-8 weeks old, so as soon as the puppy is in your home begin training.
It’s vital to begin working on house training and basic commands as soon as you can, but don’t try anything more complex until they are a bit older and they are used to training.
It is also not true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, while it will be more difficult to train out negative behaviour if you work with an adopted older dog from the moment they enter your home then they will slowly begin to learn and grow.
Basically, as soon as your dog enters your home start training no matter what their age.
Mistake #2: Not Practising
Whether it’s sticking only to doing training at group sessions or only training when we feel like it, not taking regular time to train our dogs is the next big issue.
Maintain a schedule of short training sessions 2-3 times a week and focus on specific tasks you want to reinforce.
Even when a dog has learned a command it’s worth going back and practicing it regularly, this keeps your dog’s skills sharp and can also be a nice way for your dog to get rewarded when working on a particularly difficult trick.
Mistake #3: Inconsistent Training
If you are making rules for your dog make sure to be consistent in your approach and make sure anyone who interacts with your dog is aware of these rules.
Whether it’s avoiding the dog begging or not waiting on the dog to finish a trick before giving him a treat if you don’t stay consistent your dog will be confused and won’t know what the right behaviour is.
Mistake #4: Avoiding Research
It’s tempting to read an article, book, or watch a video to decide that’s all you need for dog training.
This is a mistake; your dog is not a machine and what works from one dog may not work for yours. Do your research.
Mistake #5: Being Impatient
Be patient with your dog, training takes time and no two dogs learn the same way or same rate. If you are impatient, the dog will pick up on this and become stressed out.
If you are already feeling frustrated, do not work on training to avoid bringing that stress into play while training.
Mistake #6: Being Harsh
Leash jerking, grabbing, hitting, shock/prong/choke collars, and yelling are all big no-no’s when training your dog.
Not only are some of them are inhumane but also they can make your dog fearful and aggressive.
You are putting yourself, your dog, and other people in danger. Training your dog should be a way of bonding with your dog, you do not need to “assert dominance”.
A lot of these behaviours can also lead to your dog getting harmed. People tend to think shock collars are harmless, but they have been known to leave burns on dogs.
Prong collars can leave gouges in your dog’s neck and grabbing, hitting or leash jerking can leave your dog bruised. Look at positive dog training and avoid creating a dangerous situation.
Mistake #7: Miss-Timing Praise
I’ve seen dog trainers tell off their dogs for their behaviour or praise them way too late leading to the poor dog becoming confused about what action they are being rewarded or rebuked for.
Use short words or clickers to reinforce a good attitude, within a few seconds, reward the dog with a treat.
The same goes for negative behaviour, keep rebukes mild and to a minimum. For example; use the word ‘no’ to show you are not happy with this behaviour in a strict but not aggressive tone.
Mistake #8: Reinforcing Wrong Behaviour
Dogs seek our attention, they want to please us and want us to give them love. If your dog is jumping, barking, or whining then the best way to train is to deny that attention.
This can be hard to do and may go against our instincts. Most of us want to comfort our dogs when they are frightened or immediately bring them inside to stop them barking but these may actually be reinforcing the wrong behaviour in your dog.
Be warned though, this is not effective for undesired behaviour like chewing or getting into the trash. In those situations, you need to redirect the dog’s attention.
Mistake #9: Not Training in Various Environments
If you only train in your house with minimal distractions, then the training becomes only relevant in that situation to the dog.
When your dog knows a trick, work with them in your yard, the park, or out on a walk, in order to reinforce commands.
Slowly increase the number of distractions for your dog to help your dog understand the reaction you desire.
Suddenly sit isn’t just “put bottom on ground in house” but “put bottom on ground”, you are fine-tuning your dog’s understanding.
Mistake #10: Discouraging Dog to Come When Called
None of us like getting told off and none of us would want to go somewhere if we knew something unpleasant to us was going to happen.
Dogs are just the same, if you call your dog to yell at them or to make them take a bath then all you are doing is discouraging your dog from coming when called, a life-saving command.
Avoid giving any command to your dog while angry, try and calm yourself down before working with them.
For baths, vet appointments and nail trims simply don’t call your dog, go get them yourself to avoid the dog associating being called with a stressful or unpleasant experience.
For Futher Reading
- Why Does My Dog Touch Me While Sleeping? 7 Reasons
- Dog Breed Guide: Explore the 7 Major Dog Groups
- Why Does my dog jump up suddenly when lying down?
This article is Submitted By Madeline Miller who writes about dog training at the Write My Paper.