Dog training mistakes, myths and misbeliefs can lead many dog owners astray.

Dog training mistakes, myths and misbeliefs can lead many dog owners astray and far from their training goals. Learn how to recognize the more common of these so that you and your dog can avoid them.

When dealing with dog obedience training or any other dog training in general, we will always make mistakes along the way, they simply happen, they are a fact of life. The good news is that the more knowledge and the more hands on experience you have, the fewer dog training mistakes you will make, or fall victim to. And it’s not just the dog owners that make these mistakes. Unfortunately, there are a staggering number of dog trainers out there who feed these myths and misbeliefs by misleading dog owners, whether intentionally or unintentionally, from their own lack of knowledge. The list of dog training mistakes, myths and misbeliefs is very long, so I will just mention a few of the more common ones that tend to happen most often to new dog owners and dog trainers.

Myth #1:

Dog obedience training will fix your dog’s behavior issues.

Not true. You may work on leash-pulling or other issues, but if your dog has a behavior issue you have to address it separately. Find the root of the problem and deal with it; otherwise the behavior can continue to manifest itself into more and more unwanted behaviors. For this you can check out the behavior modification page.

Myth #2:

Your dog has finished dog obedience school therefore he should now be trained for good.

Wrong. What your dog has learned is to perform certain exercises in a certain environment, and if you don’t exercise with your dog in other environments and situations, in order for him to reach the generalization point, you will hit failure. Being top of the class or even getting a diploma after successfully completely school may be misleading for some dog owners. Obedience “school” or any other dog training class is just a start to the training process; the rest is in your hands. If you expect that you should be settled for life now because your dog “knows” what to do, you are expecting too much from an animal.

Myth #3:

You should wait to start training your dog.

Don’t wait with training. Delaying training is a common dog training mistake, but there is no reason to wait and postpone training for some “better time”. Even if you don’t do anything with your dog, whatever you do in your daily interactions falls under the training umbrella. Most of the things we allow our dog to do, or train him to do without even realizing it, often become big issues later on, like jumping on people, mouthing, pulling, barking, etc. Remember, if you don’t do anything to address a behavior, you are allowing it.

Myth #4:

You can never train your dog too much.

On the contrary, do not over train your dog. Dogs are a different species than us and they learn differently. If your training plan starts with “today is Sunday and I will teach my dog to retrieve by this afternoon” it will turn into you and your dog’s worst nightmare. Most people tend to keep drilling certain tasks in order for their dog to learn, but this only turns to frustration for both you and your dog. Keep learning sessions short (a few minutes in the beginning), and do them a few times a day. If your dog is tired or not motivated, and you still persist with training, he will start hating obedience and working with you, and that can be a detrimental dog training mistake to make.

Myth #5:

It’s an easy concept, why can’t my dog ‘get it’?

What is simple for us is not simple for our dog. If you look at the whole dog obedience training concept, it actually consists of a number of relatively easy exercises that you would expect your dog to be able to figure out in no time. The reality is different, dogs don’t have the same perception as humans do and for them these tasks are extremely demanding. Always have patience and remember that you are dealing with an animal.

Myth #6:

This is the training plan that I used before, so I know it works

Remember that each and every dog is unique. If you are hitting spots in your training or in your daily life with your dog, where mistakes are repeatedly happening, take a step back and rethink your training strategy. Dogs don’t do it on purpose or to drive you crazy, there is a miscommunication somewhere, and as the dog’s trainer, it is your job to find out where and what that is to correct it. Remember that you always need to break the exercise into small increments in order for your dog to learn each part separately, and then merge those parts together into the whole exercise.

Myth #7:

I can trick my dog into doing what I want

Avoid bribing your dog, or luring him to do something (with a toy or a treat) and then not rewarding him, or using toys to “trick him”. This will only train your dog to not trust you, and establishing trust is the most important part of building a relationship.

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