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14 Common 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. While there’s certainly no limit to the mistakes people can make, there are a few common ones to be aware of. A local vet lists some common training mistakes in this article.

#1 Skipping Basic Obedience Commands

Fido is very smart, and can learn over 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 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. Eventually, Fido’s going to come across a chicken leg or a bit of food at the park or trail, which will 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.

#2 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. It’s better to do multiple short sessions than bore him with long classes. Aim for about five to 15 minutes, at least a few times a week.

#3 Not Being Consistent With Dog Training Techniques/Commands

The golden rule of training dogs—or any other animal, for that matter—is to always be consistent. 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 Fido, ‘Sit’ and ‘Sit down’ could mean two different things.

#4 Repeating The Same Command Over And Over

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 Sit the first time you told him, telling him repeatedly will not help that lesson sink in. All that will do is teach your pup that the words mean nothing, or that he can just do what he wants as long as he eventually gets around to obeying you.

#5 Using Punishment When Training

You should never punish your dog for misbehaving or not picking up a command. Your pet may not realize what he did wrong. He also doesn’t understand the concept of punishment, at least not the way we do. What he understands 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 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. Even then, proceed with caution.

#6 Allowing 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 furry pal when he does something wrong. It’s also important for you to nip any bad habits in the bud, preferably while your pet is still a puppy.

#7 Not Making Sure Your Dog Is Getting Enough Exercise 

This one isn’t just a mistake when training: it’s also a mistake for dog care in general. Exercise is crucial to your pup’s 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 chasing 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!

#8 Not Socializing Your Puppy

Socialization may not be 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. 

If you’ve adopted an adult dog, you can still work on socializing him. However, it will take longer. Ask your vet for more information. 

#9 Not Making Training Fun

Training should ultimately be fun for you and your pup. Fido is pretty cute when he’s soaking up praise and looking proud of himself. Our canine pals 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 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.

#10 Only Using Food As A Reward

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 also very important. 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. 

#11 Not Reinforcing Basic 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, even after your pet has finished his training. You don’t have to give him a treat every single time he obeys. Just make sure that you do it often enough so that he realizes there might be a reward in it for him.

#12 Choosing The Wrong Dog Training Method

There are many different training systems out there now. Many use their own lingo or acronyms. For instance, there are the Three C’s, the 90/10 rule, the Silent Method, and the 5 Second Rule, to name just a few. Many of these are just variations on the same major themes. 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 randomly and repeatedly changing methods may just confuse your pet. 

#13 Not Getting Professional Help 

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. 

#14 Giving Up After A Mistake

Nobody’s perfect! You may take a wrong turn at some point. Don’t give up! Yes, it will take more time to undo bad training than to start from scratch, but 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 local pet hospital, today!