What dog training mistakes have you made?

Black lab mix sitting with rugby ball on pitch/fieldI have made training mistakes with my dog. I thought a little more about this after yesterday’s post where I talked about controlling my dog at the dog park. We’ve all screwed up in one way or another while training our dogs. But the good news is dogs live in the moment. Today is today and now is now. No matter how much we do wrong with training them, our dogs give us a second (or third) chance.

Here are 8 things I’ve done wrong at one time or another:

1. I trust my dog too much.
I expect too much from my dog. I will think he has something down when he is really still learning. Yesterday, for example, I was carrying some things from my car to my apartment, and I expected Ace to follow me to the door off leash like he’s done before. He didn’t. Instead he chased after two other dogs, and I had to be that neighbor who walked over, got my dog and apologized to a man I’d never met before. It was a bad choice to expect him to follow me when I had my hands full and couldn’t control him if I needed to.

2. I move too quickly.
Sometimes my mutt learns a command in a day. Other times it takes weeks or months, one step at a time. I need to work more on the basics before I expect him to move on to more advanced levels, and even then I still need to work on the basics as practice.

3. I lose my temper.
It’s easy to get angry at a dog that won’t listen. I have gotten upset and yelled at Ace many times, but usually it’s because he just doesn’t understand something. It’s not his fault and yelling will not solve anything. It will probably make it worse. I have screamed at him to come, told him he was bad when he was still learning agility weave poles or the teeter, and jerked his collar too hard when I was upset with him for not heeling. None of these things did any good.

4. I’m inconsistent.
I expect Ace to listen to me when we’re at home, but then when we visit someone else’s house, I might be more lenient. All this does is tell Ace that he doesn’t have to listen when we are at a new place. This is part of the reason why I am now doing a 30-day challenge to take him to 30 new places. He needs to learn to behave no matter where we go.

5. I don’t set aside specific training time for him each day.
I practice little things with Ace throughout the day, and I am very good at exercising my dog every day. However, I do not have a habit of setting up daily training sessions for him. This is something I want to start. I know it will make a big difference.

6. I don’t carry dog treats at all times.
OK, carrying treats at all times might be pushing it, but I never carry treats except during agility practice. Carrying treats in my pockets would be a simple way to reward Ace throughout the day for good behavior.

7. I don’t challenge my dog enough.
Although I can’t trust my dog too much, I also need to give him more challenges. For example, if I would have put him in his kennel every time I left, he would have never learned how to behave alone without it. But he did learn to be left alone, because I trusted him after slowly working on decreasing his time in the kennel. I need to take that same concept and apply it to other areas. For example, during agility, I need to step back away from Ace and not guide him as much. Or, when I feed him his meals, I should make him work for a few minutes before he gets fed.

8. I don’t appreciate how good my dog really is.
It’s easy to dwell on the negative things my dog does. But in reality, I have a well-trained mutt. Sure, he needs work, but he has come a long, long way in a year. When I adopted him, he didn’t even know the sit command or how to walk on a leash. Now, he walks well on a leash, goes backpacking, does agility and knows several tricks. He’s a great mutt.

Have you made any dog training mistakes?

12 thoughts on “What dog training mistakes have you made?”

  1. I think inconsistency is the big training killer. Our first dog we actually took him to training and he learned some things, but we didn’t stay on top of it and he would forget. This time with Mazzie Dog we have kept to a consistent state of doing things and it’s going well.. Every day we have been working on roll overs and she can almost do it now without a treat. It has taken some time, but we are getting there..

    tazdog’s last blog post..Fundraisers and Giveaways

  2. Inconsistency is my biggest fault. All of my dogs are very quick learners, but I neglect to reinforce and practice what I teach them. I think we are all guilty of this to some degree.

    I also regret I didn’t try to do Agility with Hera. I think she would have really liked it and would have been a really good outlet for her energy.

    Lora’s last blog post..My name is Lora and I’m a collaraholic

  3. Hi! I unfortunately am unable to keep myself from screeching “Come!!” at Pepper in circumstances when I know darn well that she won’t come to me. I need to just face it – when she sees a squirrel or a cat, she’s deaf to all input from me. I should just shut up and start running after her, hold the screeching. I also think I’m just too soft on her in general. If I tell her to do something and she does not want to do it, I’m likely to figure out a way to not ask her to do it. Her toenails, for example – it’s so hard to cut them (they are black) and she hates it so much that I actually have her groomed every six weeks or so just so I don’t have to do the toenail trim! Pathetic. I totally puppy-whipped!

  4. It’s interesting that inconsistancy seems to be the most common mistake. That’s the same for me too. My golden is an incredibly quick learner and he knows most commands, but we never managed to teach him not to pull when we take him for walks. The problem was, sometimes I would walk him, other times my husband, other times my kids and we didn’t enforce the same rules. We tried, but for some reason it didn’t work. Then, of course we weren’t consistent every time and let him get away with the pulling. Now that he’s grown (and he’s BIG) we have to have a hand of steel to keep him from pulling. My 10-year old can’t walk him–he’ll send her flying. It’s at the beginning of the walk that he’s so desperate, though. Later he slows down. Anybody who sees him would think we never take him out, but we walk him an hour a day, and often an extra 20 minutes each morning. I have considered hiring a private trainer just to correct the problem. We tried a doggy training school, but it didn’t work. The thing is, when he pulls, he refuses to eat treats, so there’s no way to prompt him with goddies. I don’t know what to do, but I sure would like to correct this problem.

    Mayra Calvani’s last blog post..On the Spotlight: CE Bilingual Books

  5. Lindsay Stordahl

    What kind of collar do you use for your golden? If you don’t use a gentle leader or a prong collar, I’d start with that. Lots of dogs still pull even with those, though. I think hiring a personal trainer would be a good idea, too.

  6. Oh Lindsay except for the treats in the pocket Im guilty of all the above…I dont move without them, though I only use them every fourth command…One word though, If you get in that habit, the washing machine is your enemy..lol I have to clean out my pockets all the time….

    Like others consistancy is my issue, and probably more so if we are not on our own…the Walk challenge was good for me in maintaining that and Im doing it again in june…

    Again, great honest reflection on where you are at…

    abbey’s last blog post..Mmmmm

  7. castocreations

    Oh gosh…I get Tourettes with my dog I swear. “Trooper, Trooper, Trooper, Trooper, Trooper” Sheesh. He knows his name already! lol

    I also get impatient and frustrated, but rarely with him. Usually with myself. Almost all the issues we have in Agility are my fault.

    And I’m really bad at training when we’re home. We do fairly well at Agility and there are things (like sit stay) that I’m supposed to work on at home and I rarely do. I need to work harder on it.

    castocreations’s last blog post..Play with your Dog

  8. yeah..inconsistency is the major problem with human…i think no one is perfect on this..

    but the biggest problem that really blew me away is i allowed my dog to jump off the agility contacts for a year.

    Pacco’s last blog post..Scary Eye

  9. Lindsay Stordahl

    A harness just gives a dog even more power to pull. It’s hooked to the strongest part of the dog, it’s chest and the base of its neck. I highly recommend the Gentle Leader, which fits around the dog’s nose.

  10. Have to agree with you on that one Lindsay…if in doubt with Chels (usually in crowds) its on with the leader

    abbey’s last blog post..Wind Chill Rocks

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *