Listed here are five mistakes you should avoid when training your dog.
The most important aspect of dog training is consistency. Examples of consistency include always using the same verbal command, always providing a reward for your pet, and being firm with the house rules. For instance, if you do not allow your dog on the couch but your spouse occasionally lets your pup enjoy the furniture, your dog will struggle to know what is appropriate.
Dogs have a short attention span and an even shorter memory. When you are teaching your dog a new skill, you must have the proper timing when administering a treat or praise. If you wait too long, your dog will be confused and not make the connection between behavior and reward.
Expecting Too Much, Too Soon
There are many factors that go into dog training, such as communication and the breaking down of one skill into smaller components. Oftentimes, pet owners become frustrated because their young dogs are not immediately mastering the commands. During dog training, it is important to take baby steps. For instance, if you are training your dog to sit, you must first reliably be able to get the dog’s attention. Next, your dog must be able to perform the sitting motion using a treat as a lure. Once your dog has mastered this skill, “sit” should be overlaid with the behavior. Finally, only after plenty of practice, the dog can be expected to sit on command.
Reinforcing Bad Behaviors
Another mistake that dog owners make is to accidentally reinforce bad behaviors. For instance, many pet parents do not realize they inadvertently reinforce jumping. Typically, dogs jump because they are seeking attention. When a dog jumps, humans interact with the dog, and the animal rarely distinguishes positive and negative attention. The best way to counteract this behavior is to turn around and ignore the dog completely, which will remove the reward (your attention) from the bad behavior.
Not Phasing Out Treats
Dog owners often lament that their pets only behave if there is a treat in hand. While treats are great for encouraging the proper behavior, they should be appropriately phased from training (also known as “fading”) and replaced with verbal or physical praise instead.
By avoiding these five mistakes, your dog will be on his or her way to training excellence in no time!Do you want to know more about Training your dog? Subscribe to our newsletter to have the rest of this series delivered to your inbox!