Training your dog is one of the most important things you can do as an owner! Not only does it create a better relationship between you and your pet; it also helps keep them safe and healthy. However, making mistakes when training your dog can set back the process and cause problems down the road. Today, we’re here to break down the 20 biggest dog training mistakes to avoid.
Afterwards, we’ll also discuss 5 common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid making if YOU are the professional dog trainer!
So, let’s see what these dog training mistake are, shall we?
What Should You Not Do When Training a Dog? Here are 20 Dog Training Mistakes to Avoid!
Whether you’re trying to train your dog entirely at home, or you’re attempting to reinforce the lessons taught to you by a professional dog trainer, there are certain things you definitely want to avoid. Dog training is all about consistency, and making any of these mistakes can be detrimental.
So, what we’re basically saying is, make sure NOT to commit any of the following errors…
Mistake #1: Not being consistent with your commands
Dog training is all about repetition and consistency. So, if you don’t stick to the same command each time, they won’t learn as quickly as they should. This is because they won’t be able to associate a specific action with the command.
Mistake #2: Not providing consistent praise and rewards
Praise and rewards are important when it comes to dog training. They help positively reinforce the behavior you’re trying to teach your furball. For this reason, make sure to provide consistent praise and reward when they do something correctly.
Pro Tip: Learn more about positive reinforcement and why it’s widely regarded as the BEST dog training method!
Mistake #3: Using physical or verbal punishment
In direct contrast with positive reinforcement, punishment should never be used in dog training. This includes both physical (i.e. hitting) and verbal (yelling). Dog’s won’t learn anything from punishment. In fact, if anything, it can actually make them scared of you or the process in general – as well as potentially aggressive.
Remember: dog training is meant to be a positive experience for both you and your pooch. Plus, there’s a reason why the overwhelming majority of professional dog trainers agree that negative reinforcement training methods are a bad idea!
Mistake #4: The training sessions are too long
Have you ever been in a classroom environment, or perhaps a work training seminar, and found that after a certain amount of time, things were just going in one ear and out the other? That the longer you sat there, the harder it became for you to absorb the information and stay focused?
The same goes for dogs!
Studies show that having too long of a training session can be detrimental, as dogs tend to get bored and lose focus. For this reason, it’s important to remember that they’re still animals. As such, they can get easily distracted – especially if the training session is too long.
So, make sure to keep the sessions short and concise – usually no more than 10 minutes at a time.
Mistake #5: Not giving them enough time for breaks
Just like humans, dogs need time to relax and recharge. If you push them too hard in one session, or force them into multiple sessions without much of a break in-between, they won’t be able to learn as quickly and efficiently.
So as you can imagine, it’s important to make sure that your training sessions don’t take too long, as we mentioned in the last mistake. But in addition to that, it’s also critical to give them time in between each session for a break. This will allow both you and your pooch to remain calm and focused, so the training can be a success!
Mistake #6: Not training your dog often enough
Just like humans, dogs need practice if they’re going to remember commands and behaviors. Don’t think that just because you went over something once, it’s all set in stone!
In order to properly train your dog, make sure you’re continuing the lessons on a regular basis – even after they’ve learned the basics. This will help make sure they don’t forget what you’ve taught them, and that all the hard work won’t be wasted.
Not sure how often you should be training your dog at home?
Aim to get a little training in at home multiple times a week – every other day or so. This will allow you to keep reinforcing the behaviors they’ve learned, and also offer new ways for them to learn.
Mistake #7: Trying to do too much at once
Dog training is a process that doesn’t happen overnight! So, if you’re trying to teach your pup multiple behaviors or commands in one sitting, chances are you’re going to end up frustrated and exhausted.
Similarly, don’t be surprised if your furry friend gets overwhelmed or confused. Dog’s can only process so much information at once – just like us humans! So, it’s important to remember that when trying to train them.
Break down the lessons and commands into smaller chunks, and teach them one at a time. This will allow them to learn more quickly and easily – plus, you’ll be able to track their progress over time.
Mistake #8: Creating negative associations with your dog training cues
Earlier, we mentioned how negative reinforcement training methods weren’t the best idea. But there are actually other ways you can accidentally create negative associations in your dog’s mind to your otherwise positive methods… Without even realizing it!
For example, say you’re trying to teach your dog the “come” command. And, in this hypothetical scenario, let’s also pretend that your dog absolutely despises getting baths. If – during the training process – you were to give the “come” command and follow it with a bath, your dog will begin to associate that particular cue with something unpleasant.
And we know that isn’t the outcome you’re looking for here!
Therefore, it’s important to always be aware of what activities you’re coupling your training cues with. If there are any correlations that could potentially hinder the progress in their learning process, then avoid them at all costs.
Mistake #9: You’re not giving the rewards fast enough
In order for your dog to make the connection between their actions and your rewards, it’s important that you give them out as quickly as possible. If there’s a delay, then there’s a good chance they won’t understand why they’re receiving them in the first place!
Instead of waiting until after a training session has ended to reward your pup, give them out whenever your dog follows their cue correctly and to completion. This will help ensure that they make the connection between their behavior and your reward quickly and correctly – which is the goal here.
Just remember that as your pup eventually gets the hang of your commands, you should start weening them off the treats. Dog’s are highly intelligent creatures, and they don’t need a reward every time to understand what you’re asking of them. Otherwise, they’ll come to expect it every time, you may find yourself running out of treats quickly, and your dog may run the risk of becoming overweight!
Mistake #10: Not monitoring your dog’s progress
Training your dog isn’t just about teaching them commands and behaviors – it’s also important to track their progress along the way. Doing this will help ensure that your pup is actually understanding what you’re asking of them, and that their behavior is improving over time.
If you find yourself becoming frustrated with the training process, noting down their progress can be a great way to keep yourself motivated! It’ll also allow you to quickly identify any areas that need more work or improvement, so you can adjust your methods accordingly.
So, create a routine for yourself – like setting aside time once a week to review their progress and make updates or changes to your plan. Your pup will thank you for it!
Mistake #11: Not taking into account your dog’s unique personality and needs
Here’s the thing: when it comes to dog training, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach. But some owners do exactly that – they assume what works for one dog will work for theirs, too. And that’s a mistake, because every pup has their own unique personality and needs. What might be effective for one dog may not be as effective for another.
Therefore, it’s important to take into account your pup’s individual traits – like their age, breed, energy levels, etc. – when designing your training plan. Doing so will help you come up with a strategy that’s tailored to your pup, and one that will work best for them in the long run!
Mistake #12: You have a puppy but aren’t being proactive about getting them trained right away
Some people mistakenly assume that puppies don’t need to be trained – that they’ll just naturally pick up good behaviors on their own. But that’s not true! Puppies do, in fact, require a certain level of training in order for them to learn how to behave appropriately.
Waiting too long to start your pup’s training can create problems down the line, like bad behaviors becoming habits that are hard to break. Therefore, try to start their training as soon as possible – even if it’s just basic obedience commands like “sit” and “stay”. This will help ensure that your pup is on the right track when it comes to good behavior!
Pro Tip: Here’s everything you need to know about successful puppy training, when to start, and how to do it!
Mistake #13: There’s too much cue nagging
Cue nagging is when you repeat the same command over and over again, expecting a different result each time. This can cause a number of issues – like confusing your pup, making them think that responding to your command doesn’t matter, or even stressing them out.
Instead of cue nagging, take a step back and reassess what could be causing the problem. Is your pup not understanding the command? Are they distracted by something else? Do they need more motivation or a different reward system?
By addressing the root cause, you can work on fixing the issue instead of just repeating yourself and making matters worse!
Mistake #14: Not taking into account environmental factors
Trainers often forget to consider environmental factors when it comes to dog training. For example, if you’re trying to teach your pup a new behavior in the same room they usually take naps in, it’s likely that they’ll be too distracted by their familiar surroundings to focus on what you’re asking of them. Or, if there are lots of people or other dogs around, your pup might not be able to concentrate on the task at hand.
So, when designing and carrying out a training plan, make sure you take into account both internal (like your pup’s individual needs) and external (like environmental factors) factors. Doing so will ensure that your pup is in an environment that’s conducive to learning and can pay attention to what you’re asking of them.
By doing this, not only will your pup learn faster but they’ll also be less frustrated and more engaged in the process!
Mistake #15: You’re trying to train your dog while frustrated
Dogs are amazing creatures when it comes to picking up on the emotions and energies of those around them. As a result, if you’re feeling frustrated or stressed while trying to train your pup, it’s likely that they’ll feel it, too… And this can (and probably will) make the process even more difficult.
Therefore, it’s important to take a few deep breaths before starting a training session. This will help you stay calm and relaxed so that you can better communicate with your pup, and will also make the training more enjoyable for both of you!
Many dog trainers also suggest taking a few minutes to bond with your pup beforehand – like playing a game of fetch or taking them for a walk. Doing this will help create an atmosphere that focuses on positive reinforcement and mutual respect, which will make training sessions much more productive and successful.
Mistake #16: Reinforcing unwanted behavior
Unwanted behaviors can include anything from jumping on people to barking incessantly, and trainers often make the mistake of reinforcing these negative behaviors without even realizing it.
For example, if your pup is barking and you give them attention or a treat, they may interpret this as good behavior instead of bad – thus reinforcing the unwanted behavior.
So, it’s important to be mindful of what behaviors you’re rewarding, and make sure that they’re the ones that you want your pup to exhibit.
Mistake #17: Punishing desirable behavior
On the flip side, it’s also possible for you to accidentally make the mistake of punishing desirable behaviors. This usually happens when a pup is overly excited, and the trainer responds with scolding or punishment instead of positive reinforcement.
For instance, say your pup is barking in excitement when they see you. This is actually a desirable behavior, because it shows that your pup is happy to see you. However, if you scold them for it or otherwise punish them, you’re teaching them that it’s wrong to show excitement or happiness.
And that’s not what you want! If anything, that’s actually quite counterproductive and can lead to your pup becoming fearful or anxious around you.
Instead, you should try to maintain an atmosphere that focuses on positive reinforcement and rewards for good, wanted behaviors. By doing this, you’ll be much more likely to get the results you want from your pup. Plus, it will make both training and bonding sessions much more enjoyable for the two of you!
Mistake #18: Not proofing their learned behaviors in different settings
Proofing behaviors is an important part of the training process, yet it’s something that many dog trainers and owners forget to do. Proofing simply means that you take a behavior or command that your pup has already learned and test them with it in different settings. This helps ensure that they understand what you’re asking of them no matter where they are.
For example, if you’ve taught your pup to “sit” at home, it’s important that they understand the command when they’re in a park or other unfamiliar setting. By proofing their learned behaviors in different locations, you can make sure that your pup is truly understanding what you’re asking of them and can confidently obey your commands wherever you go!
Mistake #19: Not teaching your dog how to generalize commands
Generalizing commands means teaching your pup to understand the same command in different ways. For instance, you may have taught your pup to “sit” using a verbal command, but you should also teach them how to respond when you point or gesture for them to sit. This helps your pup better understand what’s expected of them and can prevent confusion.
Plus, it also makes it easier for you to communicate with your pup even when there’s a lot of noise or other distractions.
Mistake #20: Using bribery to get your way
It’s easy to want to resort to bribery when your pup isn’t behaving the way you want them to. But using food or treats as a bribe can lessen their willingness to obey commands, as they will only listen when there is something in it for them.
Instead, focus on reinforcing positive behaviors with rewards and praise, while also teaching your pup to respect boundaries and understand that certain behaviors won’t be tolerated. This will help you establish a much more trusting, effective relationship with your pup!
5 Common Mistakes to Avoid as a Dog Trainer
Dog trainers are responsible for helping both owners and their pups learn the skills they need to become well-rounded, obedient companions. However, becoming a successful dog trainer requires more than just an understanding of canine behavior. It’s also important to know which mistakes to avoid when training dogs and their owners.
Interested in a career in professional dog training? Get fully trained and internationally-certified in as little as 3 short months with the help of QC Pet Studies’ self-paced, online Dog Training Course!
With that in mind, here are 5 of the most common mistakes you should avoid if you’re a professional dog trainer…
1. Not taking the time to get to know your clients and their dogs
It’s essential that you get to know your clients and their dogs before attempting any training. Dog owners will be much more willing to trust and follow your advice if they feel like you genuinely understand their pup’s needs, personality, and preferences.
2. Assuming all of your clients’ dogs will learn the same way (especially if teaching a group session)
No two pups are alike! Some may respond better to verbal cues, while others may need more visual or tactile guidance. It’s important to remember that not all dogs learn the same way, and that you should tailor your teaching methods to the individual pup’s needs.
3. Not staying up-to-date with current dog training techniques
As a dog trainer, it’s essential that you stay informed of the latest dog training techniques and trends. Dog owners are likely to hire you if they know you’re knowledgeable about the most up-to-date training methods, as this shows that you take your job seriously and want to provide them with the best services possible.
4. Skipping out on proper preparation before teaching a class
Before each class, you should make sure that the space is prepared and clean, the materials you need are accessible, and all of your students’ pup’s records are up to date. Proper preparation helps you ensure that each class will run smoothly and that all of your students get the best learning experience possible!
5. Not having the proper equipment/tools/supplies to do your job right
Having the right tools and equipment on hand is essential for any successful dog training session. This includes:
- Agility obstacles
- And more
Having these items available will help you create a better learning environment and ensure that both you and your students get the most out of each class.
Though training a pup can be challenging, Dog owners and professional dog trainers alike should strive to avoid the common mistakes outlined above. This will help both parties have a better understanding of canine behavior, build trust with each other, and create an overall more successful training experience for all involved!
Do you have any tips or advice that have helped you when training your dog (or teaching a class)? Share with us in the comments below!
Good luck, and happy training!