Top 5 Dog Training Mistakes
You’re making these 5 dog training mistakes. Go ahead, admit it. I see it with every client who comes through the training room door. In fact, most trainers start out making these same mistakes.
You can’t start to change them if you don’t see where they are happening. So pay attention to your interactions with your dog. You can even video yourself and watch for these mistakes. Or ask a friend or family member to watch and share feedback. I find myself making them sometimes too! Just start working on your own improvements.
- You Aren’t Using Hand Signals. Did you you know dogs actually learn hand signals before they learn our words. This is why it’s not really hard to train a deaf dog.
- Your Tone Of Voice Varies. You may be getting loud when you’re frustrated with progress or your dog’s misbehavior. And you may be way to excited and arousing to your dog when he does something good. Or you just might be boring and not motivating to your dog at all. Create a clear but neutral marker for errors (nope) and a clear but upbeat marker for job well done. (GooOD!) If you’re struggling with your verbal markers — consider the clicker, especially for puppies or when you are not using an ecollar for training
- You Are Too Emotional. You’re still telling yourself a sad story about your dog’s rescue. Let it go and move forward wherever things are today. Maybe you are nervous about someone watching you or you are reliving the last 100 really bad experiences of leash reactivity, or you’re too worried you’re going to hurt his little feelings– even if he’s willing to bite your neighbors. Come at training with a confident purpose of making things better and leave the emotional roller coaster at the gate. If you’re upset or frustrated with things — take a break and train at a later time.
- You Are Waiting On Magic To Happen. This comes in 2 forms. 1) For behavioral issues, you are hoping that the issue will go away on it’s own or at least not get any worse. 2) When training a new skill, you stand there looking at the dog, snapping your fingers, repeating yourself hoping he’s going to figure out what you want.
- You Are Inconsistent. He gets away with things sometimes but not others. If you can’t be there to follow-up on errors he’s making, take actions to prevent them. Don’t let him practice bad behavior unsupervised. You may even have inconsistent language (your choice of words, snapping your fingers, volume, etc). You may have inconsistent actions & consequences — sometimes he’s corrected with leash, sometimes not, sometimes he’s removed, or crated, etc. You may even have different behavior and expectations between family members. Consistency is critical to success — otherwise the dog is just confused.
Now that you’re aware of these common dog training mistakes, you can fix them pretty easily. It’s not necessarily about doing things exactly the way I do them. It’s just important that you do things consistently well, in a way that works for you and your dog.
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Get out there and get training!
Adapted from my training @ National K9 2012 -- but oh so true!