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?