Don’t Make These Dog Training Mistakes Again
Everyone makes dog training mistakes; it’s part of the learning process. When mistakes happen, it’s important to recognize and learn from them and leave frustration at the door. If you’re making these common mistakes in dog training, give these simple solutions a try!
Mistake #1: Ego Getting in the Way
Solution: Record Your Sessions
Human egos can quickly interfere a dog training session. When pet owners justify that their choices were right and their dogs were wrong, that’s ego creeping in. Justification rears its ugly head when pet owners blame their dogs for certain choices when actually their dogs didn’t know what else to do instead.
It’s hard to hear it, but the human ego is part of each dog training mistake made. As humans, we assume we’re right and our dogs are “just not getting it.” Instead of assuming, look at each dog training session from the perspective of a learner.
Still not convinced? Record your dog training sessions using a dog camera and review afterwards. Are your instructions clear to you? If you’re still not convinced, mute the video and ask a truthful friend what behavior you’re teaching in the video. If you nor someone else aren’t sure, then your dog certainly isn’t either.
RELATED: What Every Dog Owner Should Know
Mistake #2: Touching Your Dog
Solution: Use a Clicker and Treats
Humans are very tactile, resulting in numerous mistakes during dog training sessions. When teaching new dog training behaviors, refrain from touching, pushing, pulling or forcing a dog into a behavior. Physically reaching out and touching dogs get in the way.
Use a hands off approach via clicker and treats instead. At first, it might be difficult using new dog training techniques because you’re learning something new, but it’s so worth it. (Remember, your dog is learning to adapt to this training technique as well!)
Hands off dog training means no physical or verbal corrections either. Remove your dog’s leash when practicing behaviors in your home. If your dog disengages, then you need better treats or your dog will become completely confused. For dog training sessions outdoors, attach your dog’s leash to a body harness instead of a collar. This prevents collar corrections.
Taking a hands off approach to training your dog will boost your dog’s success. Quickly reward any of your dog’s attempts toward the desired behavior. As a rule, you should be rewarding more than withholding treats.
If your dog makes a mistake—remember, it’s part of the learning process—just withhold a treat. Take a break and rethink your training plan, and keep your ego in check please.
Mistake #3: Using Low Value Treats
Solution: Use Treats Your Dog Loves
Dog training treats are your dog’s paycheck, so pay him or her extremely well. Using treats during training is not bribery; it’s far from it. Rewarding good behaviors with yummy treats works, and it works super fast. High value treats include chopped up hot dogs, baked chicken, cheese cubes or anything your dog absolutely adores. Using a high value treat will make training your dog so much easier because your dog wants to earn it.
Mistake #4: Using Huge Cheese Chunks
Solution: Break Treats Into Small Pieces
Break training treats into small pieces. Pea-sized treats work best for all dogs. Clicking and tossing pea-sized treats ensures excitement during training, and sessions move quickly with lots of success.
While it’s tempting to toss a huge cheese chunk every time, it’s actually slowing down the process. Dogs take forever to eat a cheese chunk (well, most do), and they’ll fill up on the treat fast. There’s nothing wrong with tossing a cheese chunk, but use it strategically.
Save large cheese chunks for breakthrough moments, such as your dog responding to a cue for the first time, ignoring another dog or coming when called.
Mistake #5: Making Assumptions
Solution: Practice the Behavior
Again, the human ego is the cause of this common dog training mistake. Pet owners assume things too quickly, and will justify why their dogs should know a cue. Do the following sound familiar?
- “But he’s done this behavior before.”
- “He knows how to do this.”
- “She’s ignoring me.”
- “She knows better.”
- “He’s choosing not to listen to me.”
- “This is the first time this has happened.”
This is justification. Instead of assuming and justifying, teach your dog the behavior. 🙂
Dogs ignore a cue for two reasons: 1) They’ve never practiced the behavior in a specific situation before (e.g. a squirrel runs in front of them) or 2) They’re confused. So many times, pet owners convince themselves that canine confusion doesn’t exist, and their dogs should know the behavior.
Yes, human ego rears its ugly head again. Practice a behavior in a myriad of situations, including an environment where a squirrel runs in front of your dog. Always remember, dogs are a living soul, not a robot, so understand they may not respond every time.