For many pet parents, the dream of training their own dog is a long-standing one. Unfortunately, however, at-home dog training is often more difficult than it may initially seem. From accidental commands to sending a pup mixed messages, there are many things pet parents can do to unintentionally sabotage their dog's training program. Fortunately, it's easy to avoid these things once you know more about what they are. Learn more about the most common dog training mistakes pet parents make and how to avoid them.
1. Using treats as a crutch
While treats can certainly be a helpful form of incentive for dogs, they can become an impediment if you rely on them too heavily. If a pet parent uses treats too often in training, the dog will begin to respond only when treats are present. To avoid this, it's wise to stick to one general rule. While treats are an effective tool for early training, they should be eliminated from the equation when the dog begins to grasp a new command or trick. This will save both of you from becoming dependent upon treats for your training exercises.
2. Moving too quickly
Training a dog is exciting and it's easy to go too fast. Dogs and humans learn at different paces and many pet parents make the mistake of pushing their pets' training too quickly. While this may seem like a more efficient approach, at first, it can actually be disastrous to a dog’s training. As soon as you begin to skip steps, Fido can easily become disoriented and confused about what is being asked of him. With that in mind, be sure to take all training slowly to avoid rushing your dog or leaving out important building blocks.
3. Too many signals too quickly
Imagine if someone asked you to pat your stomach while rubbing your head, hopping on one foot, and baking a cake. It would be impossible, right? When pet parents send their pups too many signals too quickly, the dog becomes confused and frustrated. To avoid this, be sure that you're giving your dog one clear command at a time. Once you’ve done this, be patient and give the dog a chance to respond. If he doesn't respond, repeat the cue calmly. Doing this allows your dog to form clear connections between commands and actions, rather than wasting time wondering what the heck you want him to do.
4. Rewarding poor behavior
If you're sending your dog mixed signals, you can’t exactly blame him for not getting it right all of the time. In some cases, people train their puppies not to bite but then engage them in "boxing" games during a moment of roughhousing. While this is only one example, it's clear to see how something like this could easily confuse a dog and reward improper behavior.
5. Expecting too much
Dogs learn at their own pace and you can't expect your pup to be a pro during his second training session. To avoid disappointment for you and frustration for him, be patient. Good training is a marathon, not a sprint.
While dog training can be tricky, avoiding these common dog training mistakes will help you make sure that the road is as smooth as possible for you and your four-legged companion.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.