Dog Training – What Are the Most Common Dog Training Mistakes?

dog training common mistakes - smartdog.bizBy Wayne Booth

People set out with the best intentions in the world when it comes to training their dogs. They see dog trainers on TV or they read about dog training on the Internet and it looks so easy. So, what goes wrong? What are the most common dog training mistakes?

Some of the things that happen to sabotage your efforts to train your dog occur before you ever put a leash on your dog.

Dog Training – Exercise & Diet

Many dogs have behavior problems and training issues because they don’t receive enough exercise. Your dog may not be able to focus on anything you try to teach him because he’s been stuck in the house all day and he just wants to play. Before you try to do any training with your dog make sure that he has had plenty of time to burn off some energy, especially if he is a puppy or young dog. Staying in the house all day without enough exercise is also one of the primary reasons why dogs develop behavior problems. Many dogs become destructive out of boredom. Remember that your dog will be much less likely to destroy your house if he has some good exercise everyday. You should also be sure that he has plenty of his own things to chew on. It’s a lot cheaper to replace $5 dog toys than a $1000 sofa.

Also contributing to hyperactive dogs is the food that many people feed their canine friend. Many foods today have very high levels of protein. Some of these foods are designed for canine athletes, such as sled dogs or racing Greyhounds. Before you buy a high protein food for your dog you should consider whether such a food is really appropriate for your dog and his activity levels. If your dog is a couch potato then he probably doesn’t need to eat like he’s going to run the Iditarod. If you feed your dogs such high levels of protein they have to be able to use that energy. Otherwise, you will be increasing your dog’s energy level – more behavior and training problems.

Dog Training and Socialization

Once you have considered your dog’s exercise and diet, you should consider your dog’s overall socialization. Well-socialized dogs are easier to train. Try to get your dog out where he can meet other people and dogs. Your dog needs to know how to interact normally with others. Make sure that you are not accidentally rewarding bad behavior. You don’t want to try to soothe a puppy when he’s fearful. Nothing will help convince him faster that there actually is something to be afraid of. Don’t pet dogs when they do something bad, no matter how cute it is. You don’t want to pet a dog that jumps on you, for example. Teach your dog good manners with other dogs and with people.

When you’re training at home, many problems are caused by poor timing. Your timing can be off when it comes to giving praise, rewards or corrections. It’s always best to do things as soon as your dog does something so he can make the connection. Even clicking a clicker at the wrong time can give your dog the wrong information. Even though training should be fun you should try to stay focused. Make sure that you’re clicking and treating, or praising for what you intend. Consistency and timing are very important or your dog may be confused.

Dog Training – Keep Your Cool

If you and your dog are having a bad training session it’s important to call it quits before you become aggravated or lose your temper. People sometimes make the mistake of trying to push their dog to do one more thing right, but they insist on trying to learn the new lesson. It’s much better to take a step back and let your dog finish the lesson well by doing something you know he already knows well. Reward him for doing something easy that he knows. That way you can both leave the lesson feeling better and without anger. You can have a better lesson the next time when you both have your heads clearer.

Trying to train when you’re upset or angry is a bad mistake and very counterproductive with dogs. They will pick up on your emotions and react badly to them. They will most likely be unable to focus and will probably perform the lessons badly, which will, in turn, only make your own mood worse. Save training for a time when you are in a calm, good mood. It should be an enjoyable experience with your dog. When you are calm and happy your dog will pick up on that mood and be happy to learn.

Dog Training – Take It Slow

Don’t try to do too much too fast with your dog. Dogs learn best in small steps. You can teach a dog complicated things to do but you must teach each small step separately. Take your time. Your dog may catch on very quickly but don’t skip steps.

Don’t forget to praise and reward generously. Training is a partnership. Show your dog you appreciate him.

Remember that when your dog is not learning what you want to teach him that very often it is the trainer’s fault. Don’t blame the dog. Consider how you’re trying to communicate and try something different.

Wayne Booth is owner of Canine Behavior Specialists, in Nashville, TN where he helps people train their dogs and solve behavior problems. Wayne has been teaching people how to become Professional Dog Trainers since 1990 and he is the Training Director of the Canine Behavior Specialists Network,

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