3 Common Dog Training Errors

When you bring a new puppy home, you may want to leap right into the challenge of providing the necessary training, from socialization to correct bathroom habits. However, the wrong approach to training can leave your pet disobedient, confused, or even afraid of you. Steer clear of the following three common dog training errors.

1. Harsh Punishment Instead of Positive Reinforcement

Harsh punishment doesn't always have the desired effect on pets. For instance, if you punish your dog for inappropriate elimination by rubbing its nose in the poop, you may only make your dog anxious and afraid about going to the bathroom. Where possible, use positive reinforcement by rewarding correct behavior with treats.

Bear in mind that not all dogs will respond to the same rewards. Your dog might get excited about a special edible treat but not a toy, while another dog might react the opposite way. Experiment with different rewards to see which ones elicit the most enthusiasm and produce the most consistent training results.

2. Inconsistent or Confusing Commands

Dogs can learn to respond to specific commands, but they can't understand language the way we do. If you command your dog to do something, make sure you always use the same command word or phrase every time. Otherwise, your dog won't grasp the connection between the command and the task.

Repetition can serve as a useful tool for reinforcing new knowledge and skills. Your dog might need several training sessions to learn a complex new command or task. However, repetition can work against you if you employ it incorrectly during your dog or puppy training sessions.

If your dog doesn't initially respond to a single-word command, don't make the mistake of repeating the command multiple times. This approach can accidentally train the dog into perceiving the command as the same word spoken over and over. Wait until you have the dog's full attention, and then repeat the command only once.

3. Overly Lengthy or Complex Training Sessions

Some dogs experience distraction more readily than others, while puppies tend to have more trouble maintaining focus than adult dogs. A training session that goes too long will tire and/or bore your pet, causing them to learn commands incorrectly or only partially. Limit your dog training sessions to 15 minutes for best results.

Introducing too many new commands into a single training session can also prove too difficult or confusing for your dog. Dedicate each training session to the mastery of just one command at a time.

Dog training can require a lot of time, patience, and energy. However, once your dog knows how to behave, the two of you will enjoy a happier, more harmonious life together.