Dog Training Tips From A Easley, SC Vet: Top 13 Mistakes To Avoid 

Has your dog been fully trained yet? While it’s always a good idea to talk about Fido’s education, January is the perfect time to look at doggy training regimes and some common pitfalls to avoid: it’s Dog Training Month! In this article, a local Easley, SC veterinarian lists some of the biggest mistakes people make when training their canine pals.

#1 Not Starting With The Basics

Man’s Best Buddy is very smart. In fact, Fido can understand and respond to over 100 words and commands. Some of our furry friends have even been trained to perform complex tasks, such as loading dishwashers and controlling lights.

While it’s not necessary for your own pup to learn such impressive feats, it is important for him to know the basics. These include Sit, Stay, Heel, Down, and Lay Down.

Other useful commands include Leave It and Drop It. These will come in handy when Fido comes across tempting but potentially harmful items on walks or hikes … like that sandwich someone tossed out.

We may also recommend teaching your dog “Down.” This one is particularly beneficial for those with large breed dogs or pups who tend to jump on people.

#2 Repeating Yourself. Again. And Again. And Again.

It can be quite natural to simply repeat yourself when someone doesn’t understand what you said. This makes sense for humans, but it doesn’t really apply to dogs.

Telling Fido to Lay Down again won’t make that lesson sink in if he didn’t get it the first time. That will just make him think the words don’t mean anything, or that he can just do whatever he wants as long as he obeys eventually.

#3 Not Rewarding Fido

Fido needs to be rewarded for his progress. The best bet is to give him something that will help him form a positive association. Our canine pals aren’t usually very impressed with a report card or written evaluations, and they won’t care about gold stars or written evaluations. (Fido may even try to eat his report card, which is not going to be very productive.)

Treats, of course, are the way to go. use small treats, like training snacks, so that you don’t overfeed him.

We all know that our canine friends love snacks. However, food shouldn’t be Fido’s only reward for good behavior. Shower him with compliments and attention when he obeys commands.

This is also a great way to bond with your pet. Fido will go above and beyond to please his human friends, but this relationship must be based on love and trust, not punishment or bribery.

#4 Lack Of Exercise

This is a mistake not only when training your canine pal: it’s also a mistake when it comes to dog care in general. Proper activity is crucial for Fido’s health and well-being! Your furry best buddy will likely be pretty full of energy if he hasn’t burnt off his zoomies, and he may be more interested in chasing the squirrel in the yard than in continuing his lessons.

Of course, you don’t want to overcorrect and wait until your pup is tired. Training won’t be very effective if Fido falls asleep halfway through class!

#5 Using Punishment As Training

Our canine pals have both loyalty and obedience, both of which are wonderful traits, and both of which require trust and training.

During the initial stages of training, Fido will largely rely on his natural instincts. It’s important to keep in mind that punishing your dog for disobedience or failure to understand commands is not effective.

Animals do not comprehend concepts in the same way humans do. They respond to associations. Your primary focus should be on creating positive associations with desired behaviors in your pet. Harshly scolding or physically punishing your dog for misbehaving can cause him to develop feelings of discomfort or fear toward you, which could be counterproductive and detrimental to the training process.

The market is filled with training products. Some, like shock collars, rely on pain and discomfort. We don’t recommend using these unless advised by a professional.

#6 Making Class Too Long

There’s a good chance Fido will lose interest after about ten minutes or so. It’s better to do several short sessions. Aim for about five to fifteen minutes, at least a few times a week.

Professional training sessions may take longer than this. To keep your pet interested in his class, give him lots of breaks.

#7 Not Being Consistent With Dog Training Techniques/Commands

Training dogs–or any animal, for that matter–requires consistency. When training vocal commands, always use the same command.

Keep in mind that dogs don’t really comprehend variations in phrasing. To Fido, ‘Sit’ and ‘Sit down’ could mean two different things.

#8 Letting Bad Behavior Slide

Punishing Fido isn’t the best route, but you shouldn’t let bad behavior go unaddressed. You can verbally reprimand your pup if necessary. Address any bad habits right away! It’s best to nip any bad habits in the bud while your pet is still a puppy. Sure, it may be cute when your puppy jumps on your niece, but this can develop into dangerous behavior down the road.

#9 Not Socializing Your Puppy

While socialization may not be considered a part of Fido’s formal training regime, it plays a critical role in shaping his outlook and personality. This must be done when the dog is still a puppy, as this is the point when he’s forming his opinions about the world. Ask your Easley, SC veterinary clinic for advice on socializing your dog.

#10 Not Refreshing Training

Basic training usually takes about 4 to 6 months. After Fido learns the basics, keep working with him. Have him run through his commands every now and then. You’ll also want to keep rewarding him. You don’t have to reward your pet every time he obeys – just do it frequently enough so he knows there may be a reward in it for him.

#11 Using The Wrong Dog Training Methods

There are lots of different training methods out there today. Many of these use their own acronyms or lingo. The Three C’s, the 90/10 rule, the Silent Method, and the Five Second Rule are just a few of them. Research, and see what works for you. Don’t switch programs or systems randomly. If something isn’t working, by all means revisit your methods, but repeatedly changing methods may just confuse your cute pet.

#12 Not Seeking Professional Help

You might need to consult a behavioral specialist or enroll your dog in obedience school if you aren’t making progress with your dog. This may cost time and money up front, but it will be well worth it. The right training can make all the difference in Fido’s behavior, as well as your friendship with him. Ask your Easley, SC veterinarian for advice on behavioral counseling.

#13 Not Fixing Mistakes

Trying to undo bad training will take more time than starting from scratch, but it can be done. Focus on positive reinforcement. You want Fido to associate the desired behavior with being rewarded and praised.

In Conclusion: Training is crucial, not just for your dog’s manners, but also for safety. It’s important to use proper techniques, and also to know what to avoid.

Do you have questions about your dog’s health or care? Is Fido due for a visit? Contact us, your Easley, SC pet hospital, anytime

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