I spend a lot of time showing dog owners how to train their dog the right way. Part of doing something right is avoiding the pitfalls. Today I want to focus on how NOT to train your dog. There are 4 common mistakes to avoid when training your dog. These dog training mistakes are especially important to avoid when training a puppy.
To truly have your dog listen to you, there should be NO emotional energy in your voice at all. Dogs do not understand, nor do they know what to do with a lot of emotional energy. Don’t shout, don’t plead, don’t scream. A lot of emotional energy in your voice can also cause high anxiety and stress for your dog, who will not understand what you are saying. Use the pitch of your voice instead. To indicate to your dog that he has done something you approve of, use a higher pitch in your voice to say, “Good BOY.”
Harsh, aggressive treatment causes not only frustration for you and your dog, it can stop and even make your dog regress in its training. Never be heavy handed with your dog because hitting a dog accomplishes nothing positive. What it does accomplish is that you will be left with either a fearful dog that is afraid of you or a one that sooner or later will return the favor and bite you. Either way, because of your mistake, the dog loses. Worse case scenario is that your dog will tire of the abusive treatment and snap at you or even bite you. There is a lot of truth to the saying, aggression begets aggression.
Waiting Too Long
When correcting your dog for something he is DOING wrong simply say, “No, off.” Notice I didn’t say to correct for something your dog DID. If your dog has already made a mistake and you find it, forget about it because correcting at that time is useless. Dogs have a 1.0 to 1.5 second window of opportunity to understand correction or praise to a deed. Anything past that is irrelevant, your dog will just be confused.
Expecting Too Much
You will not turn a badly behaved dog into your perfect pooch in a day. Sometimes, frustrated owners decide they are going to train their dog for hours on end until they get the results they want. They may decide to devote a whole weekend to training the dog, expecting the problem will be gone by Monday morning. The problem with this is that dogs can’t “cram.” Remember the short attention span? The way to get results from your dog is to train in short, relaxed sessions every single day. I’m talking 5-10 minutes max per session.
Be consistent with your training and remember to make training fun for you and fun for your dog. Dog owners generally get the kind of pet they create. Be good to your dog, have patience when training and have a wonderful member of your family. Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”