When it comes to teaching dogs their life skills and basic manners we get a lot of calls and messages regarding similar problems such as jumping up, recall issues, pulling on the lead, or even just ignoring commands in general. Most of these problems are easy to fix if you can avoid making the following mistakes during your training.
1. Inconsistency Whilst Training
Being consistent in your training is very important for your dog to learn basic manners and house rules. Things like whether your dog is allowed on the sofa/bed or not should be decided before your puppy even arrives home and you need to make sure everyone in the family is sticking to these rules. If one person is following the rules and another is getting the dog on furniture for cuddles the dog is going to get confused as to wether this is an area he’s allowed on or not.
This also applies to training such as lead walking, if you are trying to stop your dog from pulling on the lead, don’t take the dog on a walk when you are running late and decide that it’s fine for them to pull this time. The next time you go out the dog is going to think that its actually ok do this as we did it last time, loose lead walking needs to be continuously training to be a success even as the dog gets older so that bad habits don’t sneak in.
Overall make sure you have set rules before your puppy comes home and that you stick to these rules, and that all the family are sticking to them as well as the dog. If you are trying to train behaviours be consistent with your training and don’t keep changing the rules as you go.
2. Patience Is Key
Just like humans every dog learns at a different pace, don’t try to rush your dog into learning things too fast and don’t compare them to other dogs. If you are training something and your dog is finding it difficult, don’t get frustrated or stressed out just break the training down a bit more and give them a helping hand, even if this means you’ve tried to progress the training on and it hasn’t worked and you need to go back a step.
A little bit of patience will go a long way in training and make your dog feel more happy when training.
3. Too Many Commands
We like to talk a lot to our dogs but sometimes this isn’t a good thing, if you are training or just asking your dog to do something they already know, don’t talk to much. Make sure you only ask that command once, if you are training something new you should be saying it when your dog has done it and gradually bring the command in sooner as your dog starts to understand the behaviour. For example, if we are teaching a sit, you lure the dog into position then say sit. Once you know your dog is getting the hang of it and finds going into the sit position easier, say it just before his bottom touches the floor. As you progress on from this and are trying to get the command and then the behaviour don’t revert to repeating the command lots of times and just changing the tone of your voice – ‘Sit, sit, siitt’. This just teaches the dog he can ignore all these commands and do the behaviour on the eighth time you’ve said it. Say it once and if he doesn’t respond go back to helping them out and even luring them into position, don’t for your patience and take that step back and help the dog out.
4. Reinforcing The Wrong Behaviours
If your dog is doing something you don’t want them to you could still be reinforcing them without realising it. Take jumping up, or barking / pawing for attention, even if you are pushing them off or telling them to be quiet they are getting a reaction out of you which is probably what they are after.
Instead try ignoring them and praise them when either they have settled down and all four paws are on the floor or when they stop barking.
5. Not Enough Proofing
A big mistake is not proofing the behaviours you are teaching, great your puppy has learnt to do a sit in the front room, you bring them to class and he’s not doing it. Anything you teach your dog needs to be proofed, teach them in the front room, then try the garden, over the park with other dogs near by as a distraction. Behaviours will not be learnt fully unless you keep proofing and adding distractions to your training, Just remember whenever you are training something they’ve learnt in a new environment or with distractions once again you may need to take that step back in training and help them out a little bit.
(Featured Photo by Conner Baker)