Training a puppy can be a challenging undertaking. It takes time, effort and patience to have a dog that is attentive, obedient and wants to please you.
A dog that is well-trained will not bark incessantly or get out of control when strangers or other dogs approach it.
It all starts when they’re puppies. If you train them right when they’re young, they’ll grow up into good dogs that you can be proud of.
Many people do their best to train their dogs but often, it takes them longer than they predict and their dogs’ behavior is inconsistent at best.
This is often due to mistakes that are made during the training phase.
In this article, we’ll look at 5 common mistakes that many ‘pup parents’ make when training their puppy and how you can avoid them.
1. Failure to Encourage
Encouraging your dog is very important and makes it want to please you even more. When your puppy does something right, lavish it with love, attention and verbal encouragement.
Do maintain calmness while encouraging your puppy.
Some owners get overexcited and hug and roll around with their puppy as they squeal with joy. This will just overexcite the puppy and cause it to lose concentration.
Encourage your puppy sincerely and calmly. It needs to know that you’re pleased with its actions.
The training needs to be consistent and should be done daily. At most, you want to train your dog for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
You could train them twice or thrice a day but keep the sessions short so that your dog doesn’t get tired or distracted. Quality of training is more important than quantity.
The words you use should also be consistent. If you’re training it to sit, always use the command “Sit!”
Do not use different words like “Down, boy!” or “Play dead!” or other terms to get the same desired action. Your puppy will only get confused and not know what you want.
3. Tone of Voice
You need to have a firm and authoritative voice. The goal here is to have a commanding presence without appearing angry or irritable.
You should not shout at your puppy. Being firm and enthusiastic will do the job. If your dog does not obey your commands initially, be patient.
4. Repeating Your Cues Unnecessarily
When you give your puppy a cue, ideally, it should obey the cue immediately.
If you toss a toy and say “Fetch!” your puppy should run and fetch it. If it looks at you lazily and lies on its back expecting a belly rub, do not repeatedly say, “Fetch! Fetch!! FETCH!!!”
That’s not going to work.
By repeating cues over and over agin, you’re conditioning the dog to tune you out. The puppy needs to take your cues and commands seriously and not ignore you. So, only give a cue once.
5. Poor Leash Handling
You should never drag or pull your pup around on a leash. You shouldn’t let the puppy walk in front of you either when you’re taking it out for a walk.
The puppy should always walk by your side. When you stop, your puppy stops.
If the puppy is always ahead of you leading the way, it’s following a pack mentality and considers itself to be the alpha dog.
It’s not going to obey you over time because you’ve made it think that it’s the boss. If it tries to pull you around, do not move. Stand fixed till your puppy comes back to you.
At the other end of the spectrum, do not drag your puppy around if it is not following you. Learn proper leash handling.
Practice at home with a leash so that the puppy follows you for a few steps. Gradually increase the distance till it is comfortable walking by your side.
Keep these 5 tips in mind and you’ll have a puppy that’s more obedient and your life will be much easier too since it will learn new tricks and cues faster.
“The animal is NEVER wrong. You get what you reinforce. All behavior has function, including undesirable behavior. The question is NOT ‘Why is the animal behaving this way?’ but rather, `What is reinforcing this behavior?’ —Susan Friedman, PhD