People make mistakes every day no matter what the topic is, and that’s also the case when it comes to training dogs. Even if those mistakes are not something that is life-threatening, they can mess up your training efforts and cause both you and your dog to get frustrated. Here are nine common mistakes a lot of dog trainers make, which you need to avoid:
#9 – Making training sessions last too long
It is not a good idea to have training sessions that are too long. Dogs, especially younger ones, tend to become bored or tired quickly and then they won’t pay attention. Plus, dogs need time to understand whatever you are trying to teach them to do. It’s best to keep training sessions to around 10 minutes at a time. Think about it this way, did you ever enjoy those long and tedious classes at school when the teacher droned on and on? Well, your dog feels the same way.
#8 – Letting a dog get it wrong multiple times in a row
When training, some people just let their dog get the command wrong multiple times, over and over. They just hope and pray the dog will finally get it and do it right, but they don’t correct the dog or explain the command better. That doesn’t work. If a dog gets a command incorrect over 3 times consequently, you need to stop immediately to figure out what you are doing wrong. You likely aren’t explaining things well enough to your pet. You need to stop and explain things better or else the dog will just stop even trying to do it and will be very frustrated. Plus, you will also get frustrated and lose patience with your dog.
#7 – Training dog if you are not in a good mood
Training your dog if you are in a bad mood is a very bad idea. All that’s going to happen is when the dog messes up you are going to yell at them and take out that anger or frustration on the poor innocent dog. So, if you aren’t in a good mood then you should postpone the training session until you feel better. Just sit with your dog on your sofa and enjoy his company, as pets help to calm us down after all.
#6 – Combining correction with positive reinforcement techniques
Research has shown using positive reinforcement methods brings much better results rather than using a correction based method of training. However, combining both of these into your training sessions is a very bad idea. All it does is confuse the dog. He doesn’t understand if he’s about to be punished or if he is going to get a reward for his actions. So, then he isn’t going to want to do anything for fear of the unknown. Who wants to try to attempt something someone else is showing them if they don’t know if they are going to get yelled at or praised?
#5 – Misusing a clicker
If you plan to use a clicker device for dog training, there are certain rules that must be followed. For instance, you shouldn’t click it and then not give the dog a reward, otherwise, the dog will ignore the clicker. And you also shouldn’t click more than one time for each behavior you want the dog to do, otherwise, the dog won’t know the reason you are clicking it.
#4 – Not practicing enough
If you make this error you are really going to mess up your dog’s actions. A lot of folks take their dog to an obedience class where they do the proper practice with their pet. The dog learns all the commands and does a great job. But then a few weeks or more later the owner wonders why their dog isn’t doing these learned commands anymore.
The reason is you never practiced with the dog outside of the obedience class. If you don’t practice daily with your dog, he is going to unlearn the behaviors just like you would forget how to do a complicated math problem after you finished a college course if it wasn’t something you did on a regular basis. So, always keep practicing obedience commands at least a few minutes every day with your dog to keep his skills current.
#3 – Repeating commands too many times
Here’s a big error a lot of dog owners commit. They repeat the cue for command over and over. For instance, you tell your dog to sit. But he doesn’t do it immediately so you repeat this over and over. The poor dog is confused. He may end up thinking he has to hear the command several times before he is supposed to do it! So, he is waiting to hear the word “sit” perhaps three or four times, and then he might do it.
So, if you are, for instance, teaching your dog to “come,” then if you say the word “come” and he doesn’t immediately do it, don’t say it again. Instead, go get the dog and bring him to you so he knows what he is supposed to do. But only say the word “come” one time. Also, if you don’t think the dog is going to do it at all, for instance if he is busy playing at the dog park, then don’t bother to say it at all.
#2 – Always do the training session in the same area
Does your dog act great when you are at home, but never obeys you at all anywhere else? If so, then you are the culprit that caused this. Dogs do not generalize. That means if they learned to sit when you tell them to do it and you were in your living room, they might not realize they are also supposed to do it if you say “sit” while you are outside. Some dogs take longer to get the connection. So, if you want your dog to understand things better, do your training in several locations, i.e. inside, outside, at the park, in your home, etc. Then he will know he is always supposed to do the same thing no matter where you both are.
#1 – Giving the dog too many food rewards
Treats are a great motivator for the majority of dogs while you are training them to do things. But treats shouldn’t be the only reward. You should also use things like toys, praise, and patting or petting them for doing a good job. If you don’t, you may end up with a dog that will refuse to do any command unless you feed him a food treat.
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