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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 take a look at doggy training regimes, and some of the common pitfalls to avoid. A local Des Moines, IA vet lists some common training mistakes in this article.

What Commands Should I Teach My Dog?

Fido is very smart, and is capable of learning more than 100 words and commands. Some dogs can even perform quite complex tasks, such as loading dishwashers and turning lights on and off. You don’t necessarily have to go that far, but you should teach your pup 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, Fido’s going to come across a chicken leg or a bit of food at the park or trail, which isn’t going to 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.

What Are The Most Common Dog Training Mistakes?

While there’s certainly no limit to the mistakes people can make, there are a few common ones to be aware of.

Here are a few of the key mistakes people make when training their dogs:

Making Dog Sessions Too Long 

Dogs don’t really have very long attention spans, except of course when it comes to bacon. Fido may lose interest after about ten minutes or so. It’s better to do multiple short sessions. Aim for about five to 15 minutes, at least a few times a week.

If you’re taking your pet to a class, be sure to give him breaks to keep him interested.

Inconsistency In Dog Training Techniques/Commands

The golden rule of training dogs—or any other animal, for that matter—is to always be consistent. 

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

Always use the same words or phrases each time.

Repeating Dog Training Commands 

It can be quite natural, or even instinctive, to repeat yourself when someone doesn’t understand what you said. That makes sense for humans, but it really doesn’t apply to dogs. If Fido didn’t Lay Down the first time you told him, telling him repeatedly isn’t going to help that lesson sink in. All that will do is teach your pup that the words don’t mean anything, or that he can just do what he wants as long as he eventually obeys.

Not Making Sure Your Dog Is Getting Enough Exercise 

This one isn’t just a mistake when training: it’s also a mistake when it comes to dog care in general. Making sure your canine pal is getting enough exercise is crucial to his health and well-being! If Fido hasn’t burned off his zoomies, he’ll likely be pretty full of energy, and may be more interested in the squirrel in the yard than in continuing his petucation.

You don’t want your furry student to be exhausted, either. Training won’t go very well if Fido falls asleep halfway through class!

Punishment As A Dog Training System

Dogs are very loyal and obedient, but it takes training to get them there. Until he’s properly trained, Fido will just follow his instincts. You should never punish your dog for misbehaving or not picking up a command. Your pet may not realize what he did wrong, as he doesn’t understand the concept, at least not the way we do. What he does understand is associations. The focus should be on helping your pet form positive associations with desired actions. If you yell at, or worse, strike your pooch for misbehaving, he may start to feel uneasy or even scared of you. That will definitely do more harm than good.

You may see products on the market that are marketed as training products. We wouldn’t advise using these, unless advised to by a professional.

Not Addressing Improper Behavior

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

Lack Of Socialization:

Socialization may not be considered part of Fido’s official training regime, but it definitely plays a huge role in shaping his outlook and personality. This must be done when your canine pal is a puppy, as this is the point when he’s forming his opinions about the world.

Not Rewarding Your Dog During Training:

It’s very important for Fido to get rewarded for his progress. Our canine pals aren’t going to be very impressed with a report card, and they don’t care about written evaluations or gold stars. You’ll need to give your furry 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.

Not Enough Praise When Training Your Dog

We all know that dogs love snacks. Food shouldn’t be Fido’s only reward for behaving, though. Shower your pup with compliments and attention when he obeys a command. This is great for bonding, which is important in and of itself. Man’s Best Friend 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. 

Not Reinforcing Basic Dog Training

It will probably take about 4 to 6 months to get your canine pal trained. 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 your pet 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.

Choosing The Wrong Dog Training Method

There are all sorts of different training systems out there now. Many use their own lingo or acronyms. For instance, there’s 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, by all means take a closer look, but completely changing methods randomly and/or repeatedly may just confuse your pet. 

Don’t be afraid to ask your Des Moines, IA vet for advice on this. We’re here to help! 

Not Getting Professional Help With Dog Training

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

How Do I Fix A Dog Training Mistake?

It will take more time to undo bad training than to start from scratch, however, it can 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.

Do you have questions about training your dog? Contact us, your localDes Moines, IA  pet hospital, today! 

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