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Common Training Mistakes Dog Owners Make



Dog training can be the most rewarding – and frustrating – undertaking for a new pet owner, especially when a young dog is involved.  Watching your dog master a command for the first time is an incredible moment; while other instances may make you feel like you are spinning your wheels.  Before you blame your dog for being stubborn consider whether you are making any of the following common training mistakes.

Poor Timing
Timing is crucial when training a dog, both for reward and punishment.  When your dog does the correct behavior, such as sitting when you ask for the “sit” command, your dog should be rewarded immediately.  Any delay in giving your dog positive praise will teach your pet that there is no incentive to follow directions.  Similarly, punishing your dog long after a bad behavior has occurred, such as yelling at your pup when you find an accident occurred while you were away, will only confuse your dog and delay the training process.

Lack of Consistency
Another common mistake is to be inconsistent about the house rules.  For instance, if a dog is not allowed on the furniture you must ensure that everyone in the household enforces these rules at all times.  If your dog is not allowed on the bed but a family member occasionally indulges the pet, your dog will not understand why he or she is not allowed on the furniture every time, leading to frustration and setbacks for all involved.

Using Training Tools Incorrectly
There are many tools available for training your dog, but they are inefficient if not used correctly.  For instance, electronic and prong collars can be highly effective in the proper circumstances, but when used inappropriately they can cause undue pain and emotional distress for the animal, leading to increased behavioral problems or even aggression.  Similarly, reward-based training is also a great way to train your pet, but if not used with proper timing or consistency this method is useless.  If training a dog with any method for the first time, attending regular obedience classes or consulting a trainer is recommended.

Having too High of Expectations
Each individual dog will have different training capabilities depending on age, sex, and breed.  One mistake that dog owners make is to expect too much, too soon from their pets.  Training sessions should be kept short and fun, totaling only 15 – 20 minutes for young puppies.  Becoming frustrated with your dog can make him or her want to avoid training sessions which will delay the process.

Becoming “White Noise”
Finally, failing to get a dog’s attention during training and continually saying a command repeatedly can sabotage training.  This problem often occurs when owners try to move too quickly through training, moving to the next step before the dog has fully mastered the first.  If your dog does not “sit” the first time, avoid the urge to continue saying, “sit.  sit.  siiitttttt.  SIT!” lest you want your do to learn that the command is okay to ignore.  To avoid this situation, make sure you only say the command once and if your dog does not listen, try a different method instead, such as luring your dog into a sitting position with a treat.

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