When bringing home a new puppy or even an older dog that needs to brush up on his manners- training is crucial to the happiness of both you and your new canine friend. When training that lovable new ball of fur, keep in mind that there are a few common mistakes to avoid:
1.) Long Training Sessions: Spending too much time on any one training session can be trying to both your patience and that of your canine companion. Keep in mind that puppies have especially short attention spans. It’s best to start with short training sessions, maybe 15 to 20 minutes. As your dog becomes more accustomed to the training process, you can start to increase the length of sessions a little at a time.
2.) Inconsistency with Commands: Once you choose certain command words- stick to them! Not doing so will cause confusion for you pup and will not produce the desired outcome for all the hours spent on training. For example, “down” can either mean “lay down” or “get down” if the dog is jumping up. It’s crucial to pick a single meaning for each command and remain consistent.
3.) Training when you’re in a Bad Mood: Make sure you have a positive attitude when beginning a training session. You will be less likely to lose your cool and yell- which only frightens the animal and does not enforce correct behavior. You will also be more likely to be patient and encouraging, two things that will help your sweet pup through the training process.
4.) Correcting a Dog for something that Happened in the Past: No matter how mad you are about that chewed-up shoe or the accident that Fido had in the house, it’s important not to correct the behavior if the incident occurred more than 5 minutes ago. You should only reprimand your pet if you catch them in the act- and physical force should NEVER be used as punishment.
5.) Not Using Enough Positive Reinforcement: The best way to see results when training is to REWARD good behavior! Treats can be used as an effective source of positive reinforcement- but some owners are afraid their pet will become too treat motivated. A whole lot of praise and a good old fashioned belly rub make for an excellent alternative to treats and will surely teach your pup that his behavior was correct.