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How To Avoid Making Common Mistakes When Training Your Dog

January 15, 2024

This month is Dog Training Month! While it’s never a bad time to discuss Fido’s education, it’s a good opportunity to examine doggy training regimes and some of the common pitfalls to avoid. Proper training can make a world of difference in not only Fido’s behavior, but also in your friendship with him. That petucation is also crucial for safety reasons. There are certainly no limits to the mistakes people can make when training dogs, but there are a few common ones to watch out for. A local Rapid City, SD veterinarian goes over some basics in this article. 

Start With Basic Commands

Fido is a very intelligent buddy! He can learn over 100 words and commands. Some pooches are even capable of completing complex tasks like loading dishwashers and turning lights on and off. While you may not need your furry buddy to perform such elaborate duties, teaching him the basics is essential. 

The most important commands include Sit, Stay, Heel, Down, and Lay Down. Leave It and Drop It are also valuable commands for everyday situations. Down is also useful, especially if you have a large dog or one that tends to jump on people.

Keep Up With Training

Your dog will probably need about four to six months of training before he is up to speed. Keep working with him once he has the basics down. Have him repeat his commands from time to time. You will also want to reward him as much as possible. Once your pet is trained, you don’t have to give him a treat every time he obeys – just do it enough so that he realizes there might be a reward in it for him.

Don’t Use The Wrong Dog Training Methods

There are all sorts of different training systems out there now. Many use their own lingo or acronyms. The Three C’s, the 90/10 rule, the Silent Method, and the 5 Second Rule are just some of the many variations. 

Research what works for you, and then stick with it. Don’t jump between different programs or systems. If something isn’t working, by all means look into it more closely. However, changing your methods completely and/or randomly may just confuse your pet.

 Make Sure Your Dog Gets Enough Exercise

Exercise is vital for your furry friend’s health and happiness! Fido will be full of energy if he hasn’t burned off all his zoomies, and may be more interested in the squirrel in the yard than in continuing his petucation.

Of course, you don’t want to overshoot this, either. It probably isn’t a good idea to train your dog when he is ready for a nap. Otherwise, your furry friend could fall asleep in class! (This may be adorable, but it won’t be very productive.) 

Don’t Use Punishment As A Training Method For Dogs

Although dogs are known for their loyalty and obedience, proper training is necessary to achieve this. During the training process, Fido relies on his instincts … which may urge him towards undesired behavior.

You should never punish your dog for misbehaving or not following a command. Your pet may not comprehend what he did wrong. In fact, yelling or using physical force as discipline can make your canine friend uneasy or scared of you, which will ultimately be counterproductive.

Some dog training products rely on negative reinforcement. These include things like shock collars or prong collars. We would not recommend using them unless instructed to do so by a professional.

Don’t Make Classes Too Long 

Man’s Best Friend is a wonderful and devoted pet, but his concentration may go out the window if he spots a squirrel or smells bacon. He also has a fairly short attention span, and may lose interest after about ten minutes or so. Try doing multiple short sessions. Aim for about five to fifteen minutes, at least a few times a week. 

If you’re doing longer classes, such as you may with a professional trainer, just give your four-legged buddy lots of breaks. 

Use Consistent Techniques And Commands

Consistency is the key to training dogs. 

When training vocal commands, it is crucial to use the same wording every time. Dogs don’t understand the nuances of our language or variations in phrasing. Fido may not realize that ‘Sit’ and ‘Sit down’ can mean two different things.

Don’t Keep Repeating Yourself

If someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying, it can be quite natural, if not instinctive, for you to repeat yourself. However, this unspoken rule does not apply to dogs. If your dog didn’t Lay Down the first time you told him, telling him repeatedly won’t help him understand. In fact, it may do more harm than good. Your furry pal could decide that the words don’t mean anything, or that he can just do whatever he wants as long as he eventually obeys.

Don’t Let Your Dog Get Away With Bad Behavior

You don’t want to let bad behavior go unaddressed, either. You don’t want to punish Fido, but you can verbally reprimand your pet when he’s been naughty. 

The key is positive reinforcement. You want your dog to associate the desired behavior with being rewarded and praised. (Fido looks adorably proud of himself when he’s soaking up compliments.)

Don’t Wait Too Long

You don’t have to wait until your dog is fully grown to start training. In fact, the sooner, the better. Nip any bad habits in the bud, ideally when your canine friend is a puppy.

Make Sure Your Dog Is Socialized

Although socialization may not be part of your dog’s training regime, it plays a massive role in shaping his outlook and personality. This must be done when Fido is still very young, as this is when he’s forming his opinions about the world. Ask your Rapid City, SD veterinarian for more information. 

Reward Your Dog During Training 

It’s very important for Fido to get rewarded for his progress. Dogs won’t be impressed by a report card or written evaluation, and they won’t care about gold stars or written evaluations. Your canine friend needs something positive to form a positive association with. Your furry bff will need food, so you’ll want to use small treats, such as training snacks, so you don’t overfeed him.

We all know that dogs love snacks. (We’re fond of them, too.) But food shouldn’t be Your dog’s only reward for good behavior. When he obeys a command, shower him with praise and attention. This will strengthen the bond between you and your canine. If Man’s Best Friend is going above and beyond to please his human friends, it must be based on love and trust, not bribery or punishment.

Get Professional Help If Needed

Some dogs are just easier to train than others. You may need to consult a behavioral specialist or enroll your companion in obedience school if you’re not progressing. Don’t just give up! Besides improving your dog’s behavior, proper training can also enhance your friendship with him. It is also crucial for safety. Ask your Rapid City, SD veterinarian for advice.

Do you have questions about training your dog? We can help! Contact us, your local Rapid City, SD animal clinic, today! 

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