Ideally, we would all have well-behaved pets that never steal food off the kitchen counters and never mistake green carpet for grass. However, dogs require prompt, consistent training in order to become well-behaved, and many dog owners make common mistakes that can be avoided early on in the dog’s life. Unless you are paying for expensive training at a local facility, you’ll have to learn these dog training mistakes and how to avoid them.
Dog Training Mistake #1: Inconsistency
Dogs aren’t people and they can’t understand when you change something in their routine or in your commands. For example, if you let your dog lay on the couch during the weekend and then yell at him during the week for getting on the couch, he isn’t going to understand that sometimes it’s okay and sometimes it’s not. As your dog matures and learns the routine around the house, you can make exceptions, but during his or her puppy days, consistency is absolutely necessary.
Dog training should be based on a simple routine of cause and effect. If you tell your dog to sit, you expect him to sit every time. If he lays down or runs around in circles, he’s giving the wrong effect. The same goes for the other side of the coin; if your dog does something wrong, your response must be the same every time. You can’t allow him to lay on the couch one day, then refuse to permit it the next.
Dog Training Mistake #2: Impatience
I took my first dog to training school and something the instructor said has stuck with me since that first dog training experience. He said that you can punish your dog for doing something wrong if you have taught him that the behavior is wrong, but you can’t punish your dog for simply misunderstanding. For example, if you haven’t taught your dog that the couch is off limits and he jumps up one day, you can push him off the couch and tell him, “No!” but you can’t punish him further. It’s only after he’s learned that the couch is off-limits but continues to break the rules that you can punish.
Dog training is a long, complicated process that can last for several years. You can’t expect overnight results and you can’t allow yourself to get angry with your dog when he doesn’t immediately understand your commands. Human beings are often focused on instant gratification because we come to expect it in our society of convenience, but that isn’t how it works in dog training world. Instead, you’ll have to control your impulses and learn to give it some time.
Dog Training Mistake #3: Attitude
Your attitude is singularly important in the dog training process because it directly impacts the results. If you treat your dog like he’s a “possession”, then you probably won’t get very far. However, if you approach dog training as a process in which you both work together, you’ll probably see faster results. Look at your dog like your “partner-in-training” and look at your successes and failures as shared. When something goes wrong in dog training, it’s the combined result of both of your efforts, just like a success belongs to both of you.
Work with your dog as though he is a partner and not a subject. This will not only work toward a more enjoyable dog training experience, but it will also help to create a bond between you and your pet.
Dog Training Mistake #4: Inattention
One of the most important aspects of dog training is paying attention to your dog. You must watch and learn his or her responses to your behavior so you can better understand motivations. When you’re involved in a dog training session, watch your pet for signs that he or she is listening and make sure that you aren’t boring your pet. If you don’t pay attention to your dog, you can’t hope to correct problems that arise in the future.