The 5 Worst Dog Training Mistakes
Does your dog speak your language or do you speak his? Thinking like a dog will help overcome these five common dog training mistakes.
1. Calling for Sparky only when you want to put a leash on him
Human: "Come, Sparky!"
Dog: "This blade of grass is fascinating so I'll keep sniffing it while the human prattles at me from over there. Besides, if I go to her now, she'll snap a leash on me and take me home."
Mistake: When Sparky comes to you, snap on the leash and take him home. See it from his point of view. You'll need to be more compelling than that blade of grass. Use a happy voice to call him and reward him with excellent dog treats or his favourite toy. "Come, Sparky!" should be practised daily. Call him, reward him, let him go. Don't let "Come, Sparky!" be his cue that returning to you always means a trip home.
2. Hustling Sparky back into the house after he eliminates
Human: "Okay, you're done! Back in the house!"
Dog: "If I eliminate as soon as I step into the backyard, she'll hustle me back inside and I won't have time to sniff stuff. So I'll hold my bladder until I'm ready to burst."
Mistake: Using a stopwatch at toilet time. If your dog takes a long time to go to the bathroom, it's because he knows he'll have to come back inside as soon as he's finished. Allow him time to check out the yard at his leisure or give him a reason to pee immediately: take him for a walk when he's done what you wanted.
3. Pushing Sparky's nose in household mistakes
Human: "I'll stick your nose in that mess so you'll learn not to repeat it!"
Dog: "She has issues with my elimination proceeds. I'll need to do it somewhere else where she can't see me. Or I'd better not do it at all."
Mistake: Causing your dog to think elimination is an error. Teach Sparky that going to the bathroom isn't the problem. It's location, location, location. If you catch him in the act, say "No! Outside!" and let him outside immediately. Reward him when he does what you want.
4. Being inconsistent
Human: "I don't feel like working on dog training exercises today. We'll do it next week when I have more time."
Dog: "Jumping up on people is okay today."
Mistake: Training the dog only when you feel like it. Consistency is key! Keep the lessons short and enjoyable and run through them at least once daily. If it's snowing or raining or you've come home late from work, practise the exercises in the house.
5. Refusing to learn new tricks
Human: "I grew up with dogs so I know everything there is to know about training."
Dog: "Are we trapped in a time warp?"
Mistake: Believing that 1950s dog training techniques work just fine today. Keep an open mind! Times have changed along with our growing understanding of the human/animal bond. If Sparky doesn't understand what you want from him, you'll have to re-think your training techniques and methods of communication. Take a few different dog training classes, read books, and do online research. Choose the ideology that works best for you and Sparky.
Don't think of dog training as a chore. Think of it as a learning experience for you and your dog. You're both teachers and, at the same time, you're both students. Work at developing a relationship based on love, respect, and mutual understanding. After all, isn't that why you wanted a dog in your life?