An entire book can be written on this topic. Cesar Milan said it best with the quote, “It becomes very obvious, by reading a dog, how stable or unstable his human companion is. Our dogs are our mirrors.”
The truth is that a well-trained and obedient dog is a sign of a good owner who loves the dog enough to have spent time training it. Let’s look at the most common puppy training mistakes out there.
1. Neglecting to train it
So often, people buy a puppy just because they think it’s ‘cute’. When the responsibilities start piling up as far as caring for the puppy is concerned, they start to neglect their duties and never really give the puppy the attention it deserves.
All puppies need to be trained for them to grow up to be well-adjusted dogs. There is no ‘problem breed’. The problem is with owners who either assume the puppy will grow up to be good or they are clueless about how to train it.
2. Improper training
While there are some owners who totally don’t train their puppy, there are others who do try to but still fail miserably because they don’t know what to do.
You should never train your dog for too long. 5 to 10 minutes per session will do. Doing this 2 or 3 times a day will suffice.
Most puppies have a very short attention span and find training sessions mentally exhausting. Less is more here.
Do not train your puppy in the same place daily. Some sessions should be at home, others should be outdoors and so on. This will train your puppy to obey your commands everywhere.
An important point to note: Avoid command nagging.
This is a situation where your puppy doesn’t obey you on the first command so you repeat it ad nauseam in the hopes that it will respond sooner or later.
When you do this, you’re training your puppy to ignore your commands. Say it once, and reward it with a treat if it performs well. If it doesn’t, then no treat for it.
Inconsistency is common mistake that millions of puppy owners make. Your puppies need some training daily. Training your puppy once or twice a week is insufficient.
3. Letting the puppy get away with poor behavior
Never laugh off gentle nips from your puppy. It’s testing you to see what it can get away with. Isolate your dog whenever it bites you. This will calm it down.
The same applies if it’s always pouncing on you when you return home. Do not make a big deal of things if a visitor comes to the home. This will cause your dogs to bark at the stranger or even pounce on them.
Biting and pouncing are behaviors that must be corrected. The best way to do it is to place your puppy in a crate to calm it down whenever it’s acting up. Over time, it will realize it shouldn’t act in this way.
Don’t let your puppy pull on the leash when you bring it out. You must stand your ground and become immobile until it returns to you. If you fail to do this, you’ll have a puppy that grows up to become a full-grown dog that will always try to lead you.
This is a recipe for failure because the dog considers itself the alpha and not the owner. So, stand your ground until your puppy realizes that it can only walk if it’s walking by your side.
4. Feeding mistakes
Feed your puppy at the same time daily. Some pet owners feed their puppy according to their own convenience. This is wrong. Your puppy needs a fixed feeding routine.
Don’t let your puppy eat from the table. If this is allowed when young, when it grows older, you’ll not be able to eat in peace because it will always come close to you looking for table scraps.
Do not give your dog too many treats. This is another common mistake that should be avoided. Too many treats can make your puppy overweight and lead to health problems.
5. Your approach
Training a puppy can test your patience. The little creature will make mistakes, be inattentive, and not listen to you.
Even with constant training, occasionally, it will have accidents. This is part and parcel of being a pet owner. You should not be impatient.
Do not be harsh when you discipline your pet. Discipline it with love. A strong word, isolation, denying it a treat, etc. will get the point across.
Hitting your puppy, shouting at it, pushing its face into the mess it created are all methods of discipline which are cruel and ineffective. You’ll only be making your puppy fearful of you and it will grow up more aggressive.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to puppy training. Some breeds learn faster than others. Some puppies are more docile, some more aggressive and so on.
As the owner, you’ll need to observe the characteristics of the puppy and train it accordingly. Do not compare your puppy to your neighbor’s dog or your previous pets. Give it time to learn.
To conclude, keep these common mistakes in mind and steer clear of them. Your attitude and care will ultimately determine the behavior of your dog.
“Mother Nature’s ruthless to the weak, but isn’t arbitrary cruel or negative. Mother Nature saves aggression for extreme situations, and instead uses consistent leadership – to help keep things running smoothly. Mother nature doesn’t rule by fear and anger, but by calm strength and assertiveness.” – Cesar Millan