Most Common Dog Training Mistakes

Dog training is hard.

It’s not just about teaching your dog to sit or stay, it’s about making sure they’re happy and healthy too.

The training of a dog does not begin at puppyhood and it does not end at maturity. Throughout your dog’s life, you will need to take advantage of the many learning opportunities that abound and make every training session count.

Mistake 1: Teaching Dogs Through Negative Reinforcement

Dogs have a remarkable ability to learn through positive and negative reinforcement. However, some owners do not fully understand the power of positive training and instead use negative reinforcement to teach a dog. This usually occurs after your dog has already demonstrated some sort of behavior.

When you have the opportunity to use positive reinforcement instead of negative reinforcement to teach a particular behavior, do it. If you need to use a time out, do it. If you must take away a favorite toy, then do it. Remember: your goal is to teach your dog a new behavior. You must learn to use positive reinforcement to teach this behavior.

Mistake 2: Teaching Dogs Without Teaching Them Basic Commands

The vast majority of training problems start with a dog who has not learned how to obey commands. This is the case even if you think your dog is obeying commands perfectly. If your dog can not tell you when to stop or come, when you call his name, or when you tell him to “sit,” “down,” “stay,” “wait” or “come,” then you have a training problem.

Mistake 3: Teaching Too Much Without a Plan

Many owners get into trouble teaching dog behaviors when they become busy. Dogs do not learn behaviors when they are busy. They learn behaviors by experiencing them. That means that training takes time. If you can schedule a time to train your dog, take advantage of the time.

If you have a lot of other things to do, don’t try to cram your training sessions in. If you rush and you expect to learn a lot in a short time, you will be disappointed. Do not try to work your dog into training for an event in a few days or weeks. You must train at your own pace, which usually takes weeks or months.

Mistake 4: Not Following the Lead of Your Dog

If your dog jumps on and off your lap or runs out the door or through the house when you call, it is clear your dog does not understand when you are asking him to come. If your dog runs out the door when you are calling for him, your dog does not know your command, “come.” He does not know that you will give him a treat if he obeys your request to come. You must have a firm plan that you can follow to train your dog. You must use a command that he understands and you must take the lead in teaching your dog.

Mistake 5: Trying to Learn Every Time

One of the greatest mistakes you can make is to become busy trying to learn every time. Take the time to train with your dog only when you have decided you want to learn a behavior. Do not try to teach your dog multiple behaviors all at once. It does not work that way and you will be disappointed. Be prepared with a list of behaviors you want to learn before you start.

You will want to start with the easiest to learn. Once you have learned one behavior, you will be able to start learning the next. Only after you have learned the first two behaviors in your dog’s list will you be ready to start the next. It may take a while before you are ready to start training your dog. If you rush to teach your dog behavior, your dog may not learn that behavior as well as he would have if he had time to work on it.

Mistake 6: Not Spending Enough Time Learning

As with anything, training takes time. If you rush and your dog learns only a small percentage of the behavior you have taught him, your dog will never understand or obey the rest. Do not expect your dog to learn behaviors in a short period. Training a dog is an art form that should take several months or even years of focused attention.

Mistake 7: Not Spending Enough Time with Your Dog

It is not enough to decide you will spend time training your dog. You must spend quality time with your dog if you want him to be well trained. If you are too busy, then do not take on the task of training a new behavior or learning an old one.

You should put some time into training every day, but time should be a part of your life. If you can’t train with your dog during an active period, then you must make time for training at other points in your daily routine.

Mistake 8: Not Understanding Your Dog

It is very important to understand your dog. You must know what motivates him and what makes him afraid. You have to pay attention to what he likes and dislikes so you can use the right motivators. If you don’t, you will get nowhere with training your dog.

If you ignore these mistakes in training a dog, you will lose a lot of time and be unhappy with the results. To avoid these problems, take your time, create a plan for training your dog, take the lead in teaching him behaviors, spend enough time learning each behavior so he understands them all and spend quality time with your pet to keep him motivated.

Mistake 9: Not Being Consistent

You must be consistent in training your dog. If you are not, then your dog will become confused and uncertain of what you want. You may also do behaviors that confuse or anger him. Be prepared to follow through with what you train so your dog can understand the behavior and learn how to behave well for you.

Mistake 10: Not Following Through with Punishment

If you punish your dog for doing something wrong, be sure to follow through. If you punish him but do not punish him every time he does it, your dog will still continue to behave the way he did before. To prevent this problem, take precautions so your dog knows what is expected of him before you start training.