Mistakes People Make When Training a Dog

Introduction:I've spent a LOT of time in dog training classes so I feel very qualified to comment on the top five mistakes people make when training a dog. Knowing and steering clear of the below mistakes will keep your dog training sessions more fun and will make them more productive for you and your dog.

  • 01

    Making the Obedience Training Session Too Long

    Depending on the dog, the attention span might vary. For example, a highly intelligent dog, such as an Australian Shepherd will do well with a 15 minute dog training session several times a day whereas a fox terrier or basset will do better with 5 minute sessions. Learn the telltale signs that your dog's interest is wandering such as he's not paying as much attention to you as in the beginning, he's barking a lot (signals impatience), or he refuses to obey commands you're 100% certain he knows.

  • 02

    Punishing a Dog Who Doesn't Know a Command

    You might have trained your dog to sit in the kitchen and be amazed that he doesn't follow the command in the living room. He may not have transferred the action to another spot. You must practice every command in different spots (including petstores) in order to get your dog to understand what the command truly means. Never punish a dog, period. It's best to ignore the action and figure out a way to get him to understand. Dogs are not vindictive and are not being intentionally difficult if they're not working well in the dog obedience session.

  • 03

    Repeating an Obedience Command...I Said, Repeating an Obedience Command

    My pet peeve when I was training a class in dog obedience was people who would says 'sit, sit, SIt, SIT!' with rising intensity. If you're not willing to make your dog sit the first time you utter the obedience command, don't give the command. My dogs all know that 'COME' means 'Get over here right now.' That's because each and every time I command 'COME,' if they don't come running, I hike out and get them and make them come back to the spot where I called them.

    Giving an obedience command more than once only weakens your command and teaches the dog that you don't really mean what you say.

  • 04

    Using the Wrong Training Collar

    There's basically four types of collars used in training:
    A halter, a buckle collar, a choker collar, and a pinch collar.

    A halter training collar is placed around the dog's head with the theory that, if you move a dog's head, the body will follow. A buckle collar is the normal collar most dogs wear daily. Choker training collars are the next step up and are designed to get the dogs attention by giving a quick 'POP' with your hand. A pinch collar is the most severe of dog training collars and is only needed for the most difficult dogs.

    When starting off training a dog, you should start with the lightest training collar and escalate up as needed. Just because your last dog needed a pinch collar doesn't mean that the next dog will.

  • 05

    Not Using High Valued Dog Treats

    You should carry five or six different types of dog treats in a pouch around your waist and vary the treats throughout your obedience session. This way, you can mix expensive liver treats and small pieces of hot dog (high value treats) with normal dog food (low value treat). The dog will perform the command and expect a treat; he just won't know which one he'll get and he'll be more interested in continuing training sessions.

    If you dog reacts well to a squeaky toy, you might not need food treats at all during training sessions. In this case, vary the toys and keep them at arms length so you can toss one anytime you get the response you expect.




Final Thoughts

Training a dog should be fun for you and the dog. So many people leave training sessions angry at their dogs - in all cases, this is operator error on the part of the person. I always said that I can train a dog to perform any command but getting the person to understand and reinforce the command is a totally different thing. People are much more difficult to train than dogs.

One other thing; always always leave a training session on a good note. Stop the training session by letting the dog be correct on the very last command you give. If this means telling him to sit and he does, that's good enough.


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Comments

  • litetender 4/12/2011 Flag This Comment

    Kudos for points one, two, three and five. I disagree about the prong collar, and think it one of the most humane of collars ... used properly. Emphasis on used properly, which is not how most people use them! My dogs wear them loose and low, where they slip over their heads without having to be opened, and turned inside out. I only turn them around and switch my lead to the prong if they attempt to "blow me off" which happens rarely. Nice list! High five!

  • PriscillaBenfield 1/19/2011 Flag This Comment

    Excellent tips! I know too many people who need this list. If you do not train your dog properly, it will come back to haunt you.H5

  • MonikaWeise 1/18/2011 Flag This Comment

    I'll be getting a puppy before the end of the year, and I'll make sure to avoid these mistakes when training. Thanks!

  • chilipepper 1/17/2011 Flag This Comment

    I love your article! I've been trying to teach my dog and these tips will definitely improve our progress! I also love that you actually have knowledge on the subject instead of writing a list just to write a list! Major High5 :)

  • SherriThornhill 1/17/2011 Flag This Comment

    I had not thought about teaching my puppy to sit, etc in different rooms of the house..great suggestion.

  • ListingToTheLeft 1/16/2011 Flag This Comment

    I think several of these tips could also be used in child rearing, especially #3.

  • Ginae 1/16/2011 Flag This Comment

    Excellent!

  • clewand550 1/16/2011 Flag This Comment

    Nice list of mistakes. It always drives me crazy when some people continually repeat a command over and over again. The biggest mistake people can make. Nice list. Great job.

  • JennyHeart 1/16/2011 Flag This Comment

    Very helpful list indeed!

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