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Dog Training Mistakes

January 15, 2024

January is Dog Training Month! While there’s no bad time to talk about Fido’s education, this is a perfect chance to look at doggy training regimes, and go over some of the common pitfalls to avoid. Read on as a local Rockwall, TX vet lists a few of the most common dog training mistakes. 

#1 Making Dog Sessions Too Long 

Dogs don’t have very long attention spans, except of course when it comes to food. Fido may lose interest in his lesson after about ten minutes. It’s better to do multiple brief sessions than bore him with long classes. You’ll want to aim for about five to 15 minutes at a time, and work on training at least a few times a week.

#2 Not Starting With Basics

Fido is very intelligent, and can learn over 100 words and commands. Some dogs can even perform quite complicated tasks, such as loading dishwashers and turning lights on and off. You don’t have to go that far, but you should teach your pooch the basics. 

The most important ones are Sit, Stay, Heel, Down, and Lay Down. Leave It and Drop It are very useful as well. (Sooner or later, your pooch will find a chicken leg or a bit of food at the park or trail, which will definitely not be safe for him to eat.) Down is also a good one, particularly if you have a large dog and/or your pup has a habit of jumping on people.

#3 Not Reinforcing Basic Dog Training

Don’t expect overnight results: time, patience, and consistency are key. It will probably take about 4 to 6 months to get your four-legged pal fully trained. 

What happens after graduation? More school! Don’t stop working with Fido once he has the basics down. Have him run through his commands every now and then. You’ll also want to keep offering rewards. Once Fido is trained, you don’t have to give him a treat every time he obeys – just do it often enough so that he realizes there might be a reward in it for him.

#4 Choosing The Wrong Dog Training Method

There are many different dog training systems out there now. Many use their own lingo or acronyms. For example, there are the Three C’s, the 90/10 rule, the Silent Method, and the 5 Second Rule, to name just a few. 

Do some research, and see what works for you. Just don’t bounce around between programs or systems. If something isn’t working, then by all means, take a closer look and consider going with another approach. Just know that randomly changing methods may just confuse Fido. 

#5 Improper/Lack Of Socialization:

Socialization may not be considered part of your dog’s official training regime, but it plays a massive role in shaping his outlook and personality. This must be done when your four-legged pal is a puppy, as this is the point when he’s forming his opinions about the world. If your dog is still a baby, you’ll want to work socialization into the little guy’s petucation. 

#6 Inconsistency In Dog Training Techniques/Commands

The number one rule of training dogs—or any other animal, for that matter—is always to be consistent. This is key when training vocal commands. Always use the same commands each time.

This one is easy to trip up because of the nuances of our language. Dogs don’t really understand variations in phrasing. To Man’s Best Friend, ‘Sit’ and ‘Sit down’ could mean two completely different things.

#7 Repeating Dog Training Commands 

You may instinctively repeat yourself when someone doesn’t understand what you said. That may work for your sister, but it isn’t going to help your dog. If your dog didn’t Stay the first time you told him, telling him repeatedly won’t make that lesson sink in. Your four-legged pal may get bored, or just decide obeying you isn’t important.

#8 Not Making Sure Your Dog Is Getting Enough Exercise 

This one isn’t just a mistake when training: it’s also a mistake with dog care in general. Making sure that your dog is getting enough exercise is crucial to his health and well-being! If your dog hasn’t burned off his zoomies, he’s probably going to be pretty wound up, and may be more interested in playing than in continuing his petucation.

Of course, there’s a happy medium here. You don’t want your four-legged student to be exhausted, either. Training won’t go very well if Fido falls asleep in class!

#9 Punishment As A Dog Training System

Never punish your dog for misbehaving or not picking up a command. Fido may not realize what he did wrong, as he doesn’t understand the concept, at least not the way we do. If you yell at, or worse, strike your pooch for misbehaving, he may feel uneasy or even get scared of you. That will definitely do more harm than good.

The focus should always be on helping Fido form positive associations with desired actions. 

#10 Not Rewarding Your Dog During Training:

Your dog needs to get rewarded for his progress. This is very important! Our canine companions will not be very impressed with a report card, and they don’t care about written evaluations or gold stars. You’ll need to give your four-legged friend something that will really help him form a positive association. Food, of course, is at the top of the list here. You’ll want to use small treats, such as training snacks, so you don’t accidentally overfeed your pooch. Ask your Rockwall, TX vet for recommendations. 

#11 Not Enough Praise When Training Your Dog

We all know that Man’s Best Friend really, really, really loves snacks. (We do too, buddy!) Food shouldn’t be your dog’s only reward for behaving, though. Shower your pooch with compliments and attention when he obeys a command. This is great for bonding, which is important in and of itself. Fido will go above and beyond to please his human friends, but that relationship has to be based on love and trust, not bribery or punishment. 

#12 Not Getting Professional Help With Dog Training

Our canine buddies are all different. Some dogs are just easier to train than others. If you aren’t making progress, reach out to a behavioral specialist, or enroll Fido in obedience school. Proper training can make a world of difference in not only your pooch’s behavior, but in your friendship with him. That petucation is also crucial for safety reasons. 

#13 Not Addressing Improper Behavior

On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t want to let inappropriate behavior go unaddressed, either. You can verbally reprimand your canine pal. Nip any bad habits in the bud, preferably while Fido is still a puppy.

Again, don’t resort to punishment or using negative reinforcement. You may see products on the market that are marketed as training products, but that use fear or pain. Examples include shock collars and prong collars. We wouldn’t advise using these unless advised specifically to by a professional.

#14 Not Fixing Mistakes

It will take more time to undo bad training than to start from scratch, however, it can—and should—be done. The key is to focus on positive reinforcement. You want Fido to associate the desired behavior with being rewarded and praised. Be patient and consistent, and don’t be shy about asking for help if you need it!

Do you have questions about training your dog? Contact us, your local Rockwall, TX pet hospital, today!