Bringing a dog into your home to live with you is a tremendous responsibility. It is a role not to be taken lightly.  It is important to recognize how to properly train your dog so that he becomes a well-adjusted member of your family. The main reason that dogs get abandoned and put down is because of misunderstood behaviour. The good news is that with a sound knowledge of how the dog mind works, you can prevent this from happening!

Here are 5 common dog obedience mistakes that people make that lead to undesirable behaviour and unhappy homes:

1)      Possibly the most common mistake that dog people make is to “rub their nose in an accident”. In the old days, people thought that if they exhibited anger while showing the dog “what he did wrong” the dog would get the correct message; not to do it again. While this makes sense according to the human mind, to the dog mind, it does not. When we discipline our dogs, we want to consider the fact that their concept of time is very different from ours. To the dog, your rubbing his nose in his accident comes through in his mind that you are being unnecessarily cruel. Sadly, this can cause a whole host of other fear-based behaviour in the dog. For example, the dog will think that you think that elimination is wrong. The dog can then employ a fear of elimination.  Most importantly, that the dog may become afraid of you. To get the point across, we must catch the dog in the act of accident and then discipline him. Because to the dog, the only time that exists is NOW. When we catch the dog in the act, instead of saying “NO!” we may say “NO! OUTSIDE!” and then take the dog outside to finish eliminating.  If we are unable to watch the dog all day and all night, we want to make sure we SET THE DOG UP TO SUCCEED. We do this by creating a fool proof environment so that the dog has no choice but to eliminate using our desired behaviour.

2)      INCONSISTECY is a big mistake when it comes to dog training. And it is especially difficult to keep on track if there is more than one person who is attempting to train the dog.  Dogs thrive on routine and consistency. If we are inconsistent with our discipline, we will get inconsistent results from the dog. To ensure that the new behaviour becomes engrained in the dog’s brain, we must be incredibly patient and consistent with training. It is always a smart idea to have family meetings every few days to recap what has gone on with the training and to ensure that everyone remains on the same page about techniques and discipline. By sticking to your obedience training plan, you are ensuring a happy, peaceful home for your whole family.

3)      Especially in rural areas, dog people think it’s a good idea to give their dogs the exercise of a lifetime by allowing them to run beside their cars while they drive down the street. In theory, it’s quite a good idea. However, practically, you are training your dog to believe that running onto the street along with moving cars is fun and is a desirable behaviour. Whereas in our minds, we are operating carefully, and there may be very little traffic on that particular road, what happens when we take the dog to the city? The dog does not know the difference between running alongside your car on a dirt road in the country and running into traffic on a busy city street. To them it’s all the same.

4)      If you are particularly stubborn, you may want to believe that all dogs respond to the same obedience training in the same way. This is completely false. In fact, just as every human responds to the same stimulus in an individualized way, so does every dog. Every dog, regardless of breed, age, background, etc. has his or her own personality and will react as such. It is important that which each dog whom you work with, you come into the experience with an open mind and an open heart. Recognizing your dog for who he or she is will go a very long way in amalgamating the dog into your family.

5)      Repeating commands- We have all had the experience where we command a dog to do something and he does not do it. And then we repeat the command. Whereas when we are communicating with other humans, we tend to repeat a comment if it is not addressed by the other party, communicating desired behaviour with dogs is much different. Because dogs learn human language as a secondary form of communication, we must proceed very slowly in teaching. To a dog, if the word is repeated, the command “sit” becomes “sit sit”. The dog will then understand that every time you wish for him to sit, he must wait for you to say it twice. This can be very confusing for both you and the dog. By being patient when we use the command “sit”, the dog will recognize that you want him to sit when you say it once. Many times dogs will hear the command and take a few moments to remember what that command means, especially puppies who are learning human language for the first time. This is where humans often mistake the behaviour for the dog not listening or not responding to the command. Give the dog a few minutes to remember what that command means. Dogs are much more intelligent than most people give them credit for. Training a dog takes an incredible amount of patience and persistence.

These are five of many mistakes that people make when attempting to train their dogs. It is always the golden rule to do your research before adopting your new family member into your home. Remember that adopting an animal is a major responsibility that requires a lot of planning and consistent work. It is a life long commitment. Be aware and take care!


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