January is Dog Training Month! That makes this the perfect time to consider doggy training regimes, and for us to go over some of the key pitfalls to avoid when teaching your canine companion how to be a Good Boy. A local San Antonio, TX vet lists some common dog training mistakes in this article.
Dog Training Mistake #1: Skipping Key Commands
Did you know that Fido can learn over 100 words and commands? Some dogs have even been trained to do complex tasks like loading dishwashers or turning lights on and off. You may not need to go that far, but teaching your furry pal the basics, such as Sit, Stay, Heel, Down, and Lay Down, is important.
Leave It and Drop It can also be quite useful. Eventually, Fido may come across food in the park or on a trail that could be harmful if consumed.
The command Down can be helpful as well. This one is especially beneficial for larger dogs or pups who tend to jump on people.
Dog Training Mistake # 2: Repeating Yourself
It can be quite natural to repeat yourself when someone doesn’t understand what you said. However, that doesn’t necessarily work for Fido.
If Fido didn’t lay down the first time you told him, telling him again won’t help him learn. Your furry buddy will just learn that the words mean nothing, or he can just do whatever he wants as long as he eventually gets around to obeying.
Dog Training Mistake # 3: Not Enough Exercise
Making sure your furry pal is getting enough exercise is crucial to his health and well-being! Fido may be pretty bouncy if he hasn’t burned off his zoomies, and might be more interested in the squirrel in the yard than in continuing his petucation.
Of course, you don’t want to overshoot this, either. The last thing you want is for your canine student to be exhausted during class. If Fido falls asleep halfway through, training won’t go well. Choose a time when your pet has burned off his energy, but isn’t quite ready for a nap.
Dog Training Mistake # 4: Too-Long Sessions
Fido may lose interest in school after about ten minutes. Our four-legged friends really don’t have long attention spans, except when it comes to bacon and squirrels.
To keep your pet interested in a class, avoid long classes. Instead, shoot for short sessions a few times a week. About five to 15 minutes at a time is ideal. Sometimes less is more!
Dog Training Mistake # 5: Using Inconsistent Commands
Consistency is essential when training Fido, or any other animal, for that matter. This is especially important when teaching vocal commands.
Keep in mind that dogs don’t really understand the nuances of our language. To Fido, ‘Sit’ and ‘Sit down’ could mean two different things. Always use the same words and phrases. Also, don’t chide your pup for getting on the couch one day, and then let him get away with it the next.
Dog Training Mistake #6: Punishment/Negative Reinforcement
Canine companions can be incredibly loyal and well-behaved, but it takes proper training to cultivate these ‘pawesome’ traits. Before undergoing training, Fido may rely solely on his instincts, which don’t always produce the behavior we want.
Don’t reprimand your dog for disobedience or struggling to follow a command, as he won’t respond to or even understand the concept of punishment in the same way we do. Yelling at or physically punishing your furry best friend when they misbehave can cause him to develop feelings of discomfort or fear towards you, ultimately causing more harm than good.
Some products are marketed as training products. We don’t recommend using them unless advised to by a professional, and even then, proceed with caution.
Dog Training Mistake # 7: Not Correcting Bad Behavior
Negative reinforcement is not recommended, but that doesn’t mean letting Fido jump on people or ignore your commands. If your pet shows bad behavior, you can—and should—verbally reprimand them. Don’t scream at Fido, but you can by all means say ‘No’ or ‘Stop’ or whatever is appropriate. Again, always use the same words.
Keep the focus on positive reinforcement. You want your pet to form positive associations with desired behaviors.
Dog Training Mistake # 8: Lack Of Socialization
Socialization plays a huge role in shaping Fido’s outlook and personality. This must be done when he is a puppy, as this is when he is forming his opinions about the world. Once your pup is an adult, that window closes. Socialization can still happen, but it will be harder, less effective, and take longer.
If you’ve adopted a rescued and/or adult dog and know or suspect that your new furry bff wasn’t socialized, contact your vet or a pet behaviorist.
Dog Training Mistake # 9: Not Rewarding Fido
It’s very important for Fido to get rewarded for his progress. Your furry buddy probably will not be impressed by a report card, and he most likely won’t care about gold stars or written evaluations.
Food, of course, is the go-to here. You don’t want to overfeed your canine student, so you’ll want to use small treats such as training snacks.
However, treats shouldn’t be Fido’s only reward. Offer compliments and attention when your pooch does something right. This is also good for bonding with your furry pal, which is important in and of itself. Dogs will go the extra mile to please their human friends, but that relationship has to be based on love and trust, not bribery or punishment.
Fido Training Mistake # 10: Not Continuing Training
Getting Fido trained will probably take you about 4 to 6 months. You don’t want to stop working with him once he learns the basics. Keep it up! You do not have to reward your pet every time he obeys – just do it often enough so he knows there might be a reward.
What do you do when your pooch has mastered the basics? Move on to complex commands, or show him some tricks!
Dog Training Mistake # 11: Using The Wrong Training Methods
The world of dog training has all sorts of different systems. Many use their own acronyms or lingo. For instance, there are the 90/10 rule, the Three C’s, the Silent Method, and the Five Second Rule, to name just a few.
Do some research, and see what works for you. Once you’ve started, try to stick to it. By all means, you’ll want to revisit your chosen method if it isn’t working, but continually changing methods may just confuse your pet. Consult your San Antonio, TX vet or pet behaviorist.
Dog Training Mistake #: Not Seeking Professional Help
While some of our canine friends pick things up very, very quickly, others are just harder to train. Many rescues, for instance, need extra petucation. Depending on the dog, you may need to consult a behavioral specialist, or enroll him in an obedience school.
Conclusion: When training Fido, be patient and consistent, and focus on positive reinforcement. You want Fido to associate the desired behavior with praise and rewards.
Contact your local pet hospital if you have questions about training Fido. As your local San Antonio, TX pet hospital, we are here to help!