Everyone makes mistakes but when we make mistakes when interacting with our dogs we can confuse them. So in dog training and dog ownership, it’s important to eliminate as many of our mistakes as possible.
Mistake Number One: Incorrect Timing
The timing of the rewards you give your dog to reinforce good behavior and the timing of your interruptions to stop bad behavior is important. Your dog thinks in the present – that particular moment – and if your rewards or interruptions are late, the lesson will be lost.
Mistake Number Two: Being Stingy
Don’t be stingy with rewards when your dog is in the early stages of learning something new. This is especially true if you have a puppy or if your dog is having trouble learning something. Reward him generously with praise, petting, and a treat.
Mistake Number Three: Use treats
Use treats often during the early stages of training. The treats are not just for training sessions; instead use them during the day, too, during your normal routine. After all, you’re teaching your dog something all the time.
Mistake Number Four: Your Dog is Training You
Dogs are very good at training people. Does he tell you when he wants a treat? Do you comply? Dogs are allowed to communicate their wants, but you don’t always have to comply. Or instead of giving him everything he wants all the time, have him sit, then lie down, then sit again before giving it to him.
Mistake Number Five: Reinforcing Fear or Worry
If your dog is worried about something that he doesn’t need to be afraid of – such as a garbage bag – show him it’s not scary by acting silly. “What’s this? It’s not scary!” Pop a treat in his mouth when he moves towards it. Throw him a jolly party!
Mistake Number Six: Forgetting to Set Your Dog Up to Succeed
Teach your dog what to do rather than punish him for making a mistake. Show him what you want him to do and then reward him for it. For example, teach him to sit for petting rather than punish him for jumping up on people.
Mistake Number Seven: Don’t forget he’s a Dog
Even though dogs are very much a part of our families – and they should be – many people forget this and treat them as people or worse yet, human babies. Dogs are not people or human babies; they are dogs and need the freedom to act like a dog. Let your dog have a chance to chase critters, roll in the dirt, and run around madly. A jacket or sweater in cold weather is fine but otherwise don’t make your dog wear clothes all the time.
Mistake Number Eight: Isolating Your Dog Outside
Dogs need companionship; they are not solitary creatures. A dog who is alone outside, isolated from his human family for long hours, will often develop behavior problems. He may bark and bark and bark. He may dig holes in the back yard, chew up the landscaping, or try to escape from the yard.
Mistake Number Nine: Training Without Distractions
Start your training at home where your dog is secure and comfortable but then begin adding distractions. Your dog needs to learn that he can do these things when there are distractions – sights, sounds, smells, and so forth.
Mistake Number Ten: Giving Your Dog Too Much Freedom Too Soon
Your puppy, newly adopted dog, or dog in training should not have free run of his world because it’s much too easy for him to get into trouble. Instead, limit his access to the world around him both in the house and outside. Later, when he’s well trained, he can gradually have more freedom. Remember, you want to set him up to succeed.
Mistake Number Eleven: Too much information
If you read a lot about dog training, watch videos, and talk to many people about it, you may be getting too much information. Although being well informed is great, it can also be confusing so be cautious.
Mistake Number Twelve: You Have Forgotten to Have Fun
Although training definitely has it’s serious aspects, don’t forget to have fun while you’re doing it. The come, for example, is one of the most important commands your dog should know. You want him to come to you immediately when you call, each and every time you call, because it could save his life some day. But this is a great command to have fun with. Shake your container with dog food, pop a treat in your dog’s mouth and laugh! Yeah! When he comes to you, praise him and laugh! “Good boy!”
Trick training is also great fun and it’s easy to laugh as you teach some silly tricks. When you go for a walk, watch your dog’s reactions to the world around him and enjoy his attention to the things around him.
Our dog’s lives are too short as it is; make sure you enjoy the time you spend with him. Laugh, giggle and smile; it’s good for you!