Lady in dispair holding a puppy

Dog training mistakes to avoid.

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by Erik Prins

22/04/2023

In my last post, I mentioned some of the basic instructions you be taught during dog training classes. People sometimes say to me you make it look so easy. I usually respond that once they know what to do, how to do it and what to avoid they will also make it look easy. With that in mind let’s look at some of the most common mistakes you need to avoid.

Owner showing a treat to their dog as the dog is sitting down
Dog training 5

Treats used

This is a really important one. Most dogs will work for food. I have seen it so often where people come with commercial treats and their dog will not work for it. I whip out my homemade treats and I can get them to do a lot of activities, heel work, and moving between my legs. I can sometimes do this even without an actual treat in my hand. So what’s the trick, there is no trick.

I use what their dog considers to be a high-value treat. No, it is not made of gold, diamonds or socked-in scent. It is simply something they have never had before. Because of this, the treat is novel, smells good and they want to work for it. You can make it yourself simply search dog liver treats and you will get so many search results

Puppy jumping up at an owner
dog training 4

My dog keeps jumping up.

This one is very easy to solve. When training for instance loose lead walking. What I frequently have to remind people of is to keep the treat in front of the dog’s nose. They try and do this, however, the treat is held high so the dog needs to jump up to get to the treat and we are unwittingly teaching the dog to jump. Please keep the treat at the level where your dog’s nose is when on all fours.

I have tried it but it does not work.

This is a comment we hear a lot. You showed us this technique and we tried it but it will not work. My first question is how many times did you try? The response is often ohh maybe ten times. This is the moment we explain how a dog learns and that they may have to try over 50 times before they give up on a technique.

It works at the club but not at home or vice versa

I will do a more extensive post on this to explain this. However, this is again about how dogs learn. Unlike us, humans we are able to learn a behaviour and related this to other situations. For instance, we are taught to look left-right-left before we cross the road. We know we should do that where ever we cross a road. It does not work that way for dogs, if you trained them to sit at home they will do that at home. Don’t expect them to do this straight away in the street or park until you trained them there too.

Always telling the dog what not to do

This I see as the negative part of us humans, and I am just as guilty of this. We never praise another for the good things they do. The same with our dogs, we tell them NO!!!, Stop that!!! Bad Boy/Girl. How is a dog to learn the behaviour that we want them to do if we don’t tell them and praise them for sitting, being quiet, and not going into the kitchen. So Praise them, give them a bonus treat, and go wild when they do a behaviour you want.

man shouting to be heard by a dog who has its ear up
dog training 6

My dog will not respond to a recall.

When I teach recall, I always explain the importance of the way they use their voice. An example I use is inviting someone on a date. If you do that in a soft monotone voice asking, all right, fancy a date? Chances are they will say no. However, if you use an excited voice asking, I think you are gorgeous let’s go on a fantastic date, we go to a cinema after which we grab something to eat and then we dance the night away. Probably with this, you are more likely to get a yes. It is no different for dogs, they prefer to go to something exciting it does not even have to be words funny noises can work just as well.

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About the Author

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Erik Prins

Hello, My name is Erik, I am a 3D (Dutch, Dyslexic, Diabetic), 55-year-old young man who lives with his wife, daughter and 3 Greyhounds in North Warwickshire. I volunteer as a dog trainer and run my own dog training and dog psychology business. I am proudly Dyslexic, please forgive my grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and you may be so lucky to experience my chaotic mind. I hope you will enjoy the content as it builds up over time.