How To Avoid Common Mistakes In Dog Training

January has gone to the dogs: it’s Dog Training Month! This is a great opportunity for us to talk about Fido’s education! Man’s Best Friend is a wonderful and loyal companion, but it takes time to get there. A local Hiram, GA veterinarian lists some common dog training mistakes and offers tips on avoiding pitfalls in this article.


Start With Basic Dog Obedience Commands


Dogs are quite remarkable: they can learn over 100 words and commands. Some dogs have even been known to complete intricate tasks like loading dishwashers or operating lights. While it’s not necessary to train your pup for such advanced tasks, it’s important to teach them the essentials. These include Sit, Stay, Heel, Down, and Lay Down. Additional commands like Leave It and Drop It can also come in handy. You definitely don’t want your pup eating that leftover burger someone dropped on the ground at the park! Down can be especially helpful, especially if you have a large dog or if he tends to jump on people.


Don’t Make Dog Training Sessions Too Long


There is no doubt that dogs have short attention spans … except when it comes to bacon. Fido may lose interest after about ten minutes. It’s better to do short sessions several times a week, aiming for about five to 15 minutes each time.


Avoid Using Inconsistent Dog Training Techniques/Commands 


It is always important to be consistent when training a dog-or any other animal, for that matter. Use the same commands every time.


The subtle—and sometimes bizarre—nuances of our language don’t really register with our canine companions. Dogs don’t really understand variations in wording. For Fido, ‘Sit’ and ‘Sit down’ might mean two different things. This can be quite confusing! 


This also applies to discipline. If you don’t want your furry pal on the sofa, reprimand him every time he gets on it. 


Don’t Keep Repeating Yourself


If someone didn’t understand what you said, it can be quite natural or instinctive to repeat yourself, and maybe speak louder. That might work on your boss, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work for dogs. 


If Fido didn’t lay down the first time you told him, repeating the same thing won’t help him learn. Actually, this may just teach your pup that the words don’t really mean anything, or that he can do whatever he wants, as long as he obeys you eventually.


Make Sure Your Dog Is Getting Enough Exercise


This isn’t just a training gaffe: it’s also a mistake when it comes to dog care in general. If you want your canine buddy to be healthy and happy, you definitely need to make sure he gets enough exercise. As for training, well, Fido will likely be pretty full of energy if he hasn’t burned off his zoomies, so he might be more interested in the squirrel in the yard than in continuing his petucation.


Ask your Hiram, GA vet for more information on this. 


Never Use Punishment As A Training Tactic


It’s very counterproductive to punish your dog for disobedience or not following commands. Your pet may not comprehend the concept of punishment as we do. However, he does understand associations. If you resort to yelling or physical discipline, your canine companion may become uncomfortable or fearful of you, causing further harm than good.


The key is to focus on positive reinforcement. You want Fido to associate the desired behavior with being praised and rewarded.


Many things marketed as training products rely on negative reinforcement. Do not use these unless directed to and supervised by a professional. Many of these, such as shock collars, can do more harm than good, especially if used carelessly. 


Address Bad Behavior Properly


While you should avoid harsh techniques, that doesn’t mean letting bad behavior go unnoticed. Nip any bad habits in the bud! You can verbally reprimand Fido if you catch him in the act. Otherwise, focus on rewarding good behavior. 


Always Reward Progress


It’s very important for Fido to be rewarded for his progress. Our canine friends aren’t going to be impressed with a report card, and they don’t care about written evaluations or gold stars. You need to provide your furry friend with something he can associate with positive feelings. The most important thing here is food. To avoid accidentally overfeeding your pup, you should use small treats, such as training snacks.


That said, food shouldn’t be your pup’s  only reward for good behavior. When Fido obeys a command, shower him with praise and attention. Dogs look super cute when they are proud of themselves for being Good Boys!


Reinforce And Revisit The Basics


It will probably take about 4 to 6 months to get your canine pal trained. Don’t stop working with Fido once he is trained. Keep working with him, and keep rewarding him for doing well. Run through those basics regularly. 


Once your pet has been trained, you don’t have to give him a treat every time he obeys, but you should offer enough treats so he doesn’t lose hope.


Choose The Right Training Methods For Dog Training


There are many different training systems out there these days. Many use their own acronyms or lingo. For instance, there is the 90/10 rule, the Silent Method, and the Five Second Rule. Do some research, and find out what works for you. This may vary, depending on the kind of training your dog needs. 


If something doesn’t work, by all means look at it closer, but randomly and repeatedly changing methods may only confuse your pet.


Seek Help From A Professional Dog Trainer If Needed


Some dogs are easier to train than others. You may have a harder time with an adult dog that wasn’t socialized, with a rescue that is recovering from trauma, or with a pooch that has a low attention span and/or a high prey drive.  If you aren’t getting the results you desire, contact a behavioral specialist or enroll your dog in obedience school. It will take some time and money now, but it will be well worth it in the long run. 


Don’t Give Up On Training Your Dog


Petucation is crucial for safety reasons, and it can make a huge difference in Fido’s behavior, as well as your friendship with him. Don’t give up! Even once your dog has learned the basics, he’ll benefit from continued training. Work on advanced commands, or just show him some cute tricks. 


This is also something to keep in mind if you have a setback or realize that you’ve been making a  mistake. Just keep moving forward. Undoing bad training will take more time than starting from scratch, but it is possible and, in fact, necessary.


Have Fun Training Your Dog


At the end of the day, training shouldn’t be something that you and/or your furry pal dread. It can actually be pretty fun! This is also a good time to hang out with your dog. What better way to wind down after a long day than by spending quality time with your canine buddy? 


Do you have questions about training your dog? Contact us, your local Hiram, GA pet hospital.


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