Training your dog is an important responsibility that will help your pet learn the skills they need to live safely and peacefully around humans and other animals. However, it’s easy to make mistakes when training your pup, which can lead to frustration and bad habits.
The following are some of the most common dog training mistakes with information about how to avoid them:
Not practicing in between classes
If you and your dog attend training classes, you’ll need to reinforce their lessons with some at-home work. A training class once or twice a week isn’t enough to establish good habits, but it can lay groundwork you can reinforce at home. Practice every day for short stretches of about 5 to 10 minutes.
Working with your dog when you’re short on patience
Don’t train your dog when you’re in a bad mood. Your dog can pick up on your mood more easily than you realize. You’ll need to approach training with a positive attitude, avoiding negative sounds and telling your pet “no.” For the best results, your dog needs to feel confident and may ignore commands if you create a negative atmosphere.
Continuing a technique that’s not working
Don’t get stuck on repeating an instruction to your dog if he isn’t picking it up. Repeating the same word is likely to lead to frustration on your part and the same unsuccessful response from your dog. He may also learn to wait for a command to be repeated again and again before obeying. Stop using the method you’ve been trying and try a new plan.
Not reinforcing desirable behavior quickly
Treats and other positive reinforcements are very effective, but your dog needs to be clear on what behavior earns a reward. Deliver a treat immediately after the positive behavior before your dog has a chance to do something else. That way, your dog will be clear about what earned the reward. You can also use a clicker or say “yes” exactly when your dog does what you want.
Accidentally “poisoning” your cues
When first training your dog, avoid accidentally associating cues with an activity your dog dislikes. For example, if you use the word “come” to summon your dog to a hated bath, he might associate the word with something he doesn’t like and start ignoring it. Instead, use positive reinforcement when teaching commands.
Being inconsistent with cues
Once you’ve established a command, such as “come,” use this exact word every time. Your dog will become confused and won’t know what you mean if you use a variation like “let’s go.”
Dog training takes time, effort, and consistency, but the results are well worth it. It can be easy to make mistakes along the way, especially if you’re a first-time dog owner. However, following the tips above can make training quicker and more successful. A well-trained dog will be a happier, healthier companion.