Training a dog is a rewarding and enriching experience, but it comes with its fair share of challenges. In the excitement to teach our furry friends new tricks and behaviours, it’s easy to overlook some fundamental principles of training, leading to common mistakes.
In this blog post, we’ll break down some of these errors and provide actionable tips to help you steer clear of them, ensuring a happy and healthy bond between you and your pet.
Mistake #1: Inconsistent Commands and Rules
How to Avoid It: Make a list of commands and stick to them. Ensure everyone in your household uses these exact commands and enforces the same rules. Consistency is key when it comes to dog training.
Mistake #2: Using Punishment as a Training Technique
How to Avoid It: Replace punishment with positive reinforcement. Reward your dog with treats or praise when they exhibit good behaviour, instead of punishing them for misbehaviour. This builds a positive association with good behaviour and encourages your dog to repeat it.
Mistake #3: Training Sessions that are Too Long
How to Avoid It: Short, frequent training sessions are more effective than marathon sessions. Aim for 5-10 minutes, several times a day – this keeps your dog engaged without overwhelming them.
Mistake #4: Neglecting Socialisation
How to Avoid It: Expose your puppy to different people, animals, environments, and situations during their formative weeks (8-16 weeks). Continue socialisation into adulthood to help your dog become a well-adjusted and confident adult.
Mistake #5: Inadequate Grooming and Care
Proper grooming is an often overlooked aspect of a dog’s overall health and well-being. Believe it or not, grooming plays a part in dog training too! A comfortable and clean dog is more likely to be a happy and receptive learner. This includes regular brushing, nail trims, dental care, and bathing.
How to Avoid It: Invest in quality grooming products, such as a proper dog grooming hairdryer. This ensures that after a bath, your dog can be dried quickly and comfortably, avoiding the chill or discomfort that can come from being wet for an extended period. Furthermore, the act of grooming becomes a positive and enjoyable experience for your pet, which can translate into more cooperative behaviour during training sessions.
Mistake #6: Failing to Proof Behaviours in Different Environments
How to Avoid It: Once your dog has learned a new command, practice it in various settings with increasing levels of distraction. This will help your dog understand that the command applies in all situations, not just in the training environment.
Mistake #7: Delaying Training
How to Avoid It: Begin training as soon as you bring your puppy or dog home, regardless of their age. Early training sets the foundation for future behaviour, and helps to prevent the development of bad habits.
Mistake #8: Setting Unrealistic Expectations
How to Avoid It: Understand that training is a process, and progress takes time. Be patient, and celebrate the small wins along the way. Don’t expect your dog to learn a new behaviour overnight.
Mistake #9: Overusing the Command
How to Avoid It: Avoid repeating a command multiple times if your dog does not respond, as this can teach your dog that they don’t need to respond immediately. Give the command once, wait for a response, and if necessary, help guide your dog into the desired action.
Mistake #10: Neglecting Basic Manners
How to Avoid It: Don’t just focus on tricks; teach your dog polite behaviours, like sitting before going outside or not jumping on people. These basic manners are crucial for living harmoniously with your dog.
Mistake #11: Assuming ‘They Know Better’
How to Avoid It: Don’t assume that your dog knows they did something wrong – dogs don’t have the same sense of right and wrong that humans do. Instead of getting frustrated, focus on teaching the behaviour you want to see.
Mistake #12: Not Training for Real-life Situations
How to Avoid It: Train your dog in the environment where you want the behaviour to occur, not just in a sterile training class or your living room. This includes walking nicely on a leash in a busy park or staying calm when visitors arrive at your home.
Mistake #13: Training When You’re in a Bad Mood
How to Avoid It: Dogs are sensitive to our emotions – if you’re feeling frustrated or angry, it’s likely not a good time for a training session. Train when you are calm and can bring positive energy to the session.
Mistake #14: Failing to Reinforce Learned Behaviours
How to Avoid It: Even after your dog has learned a new behaviour, it’s important to occasionally reinforce this learning with treats or praise. This helps to keep the behaviour strong and reliable over time.
Mistake #15: Using Inappropriate Treats or Rewards
How to Avoid It: Use high value treats that your dog loves during training sessions. The treats should be small and easily consumed, so they don’t distract from the training. Vary the rewards to keep your dog interested and engaged.
Ready to get started?
Training a dog is as much about educating ourselves as it is about teaching our pets. By avoiding these common mistakes, you set the stage for a more effective training experience that strengthens your bond with your furry friend. Remember – patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are your best tools in this rewarding journey. Happy training!