Dog training is a lot of work, and different tactics might work for different pets. But while there is a variety of right ways to train your dog, there are also some ways that are always counter-productive.
Read on to learn 6 common training mistakes – and how to avoid or fix them.
⏲️ Training sessions running too long
Just like babies & toddlers, puppies have a short attention span and can only focus on training for a short period of time. Anything that goes beyond that time period is not going to stick. Older dogs have longer attention spans, but they still have their limits.
If you aren’t having luck training your pup, try having shorter training sessions more often. Also, pay attention to signs your dog has lost interest – wandering off, getting distracted, etc. When you see them, end the training session and try again later.
👀 Ignoring visual cues
Verbal cues are an important part of training, but you can make them more effective by combining them with visual ones like a raised hand or finger.
Adding a hand signal or gesture that you use when you say the verbal cue gives your dog a bit more information about what you’re asking. This can be especially important for puppies, or early in training dogs of any age. Adding a visual cue to your verbal one might even help your dog learn the command more quickly!
🏠 Changing your training location
Try to keep your training location consistent until your dog has the command mastered – or at least has the first steps of the command down. If you train your dog to sit in your quiet home one day, then in a park full of kids and squirrels the next, you’re going to get different results!
Try to find a training environment that’s as free of distractions as possible, and train there. Move to more distracting, or just different, locations once your dog is comfortable in the first one.
🙊 Repeating cues
It seems reasonable to think that saying a cue two or three times will be more effective. However, what it teaches your dog is that they should wait until they hear the cue multiple times before they follow it.
When you give your dog a command, count to five and wait for them to respond. They might need a second to remember what the command means, or just to get moving.
😕 Using the clicker incorrectly
A clicker is a small device that makes a clicking noise. It can be useful in dog training – the person doing the training uses the clicker to make its noise when the dog follows the command, then rewards the dog with a treat, a pet, etc.
But some people use the clicker like it’s a remote control, making the noise as you’re giving your dog the command. This can confuse them, or even reinforce bad behaviour – for example, if you use the clicker when your dog runs away. Remember: The click comes right before the reward for following the command, and not at any other point.
😠 Paying too much attention to mistakes
Training sessions will be more successful if you focus on your pup’s wins instead of their mistakes. Getting upset when your dog makes an error or ignores a command only teaches them they’ve done something wrong, not which action is right. And puppies often consider any reaction a good one, which means a bad one is confusing.
Look for chances to reward your dog for doing the right thing, and don’t make a big deal out of training mistakes. It’ll be a lot more fun for you both!
Consistency is one of the most important parts of training – maybe the most important one! Try to be consistent as much as you can: with your tone of voice, the training location, the treat you offer, etc. It all helps your dog learn the command more quickly!
DISCLAIMER: The information presented here is not meant to replace your vet’s advice or prescribed medications, but only to suggest additional options to explore, based on your dog’s condition.