Dog training success is as much about what you don’t do as it is what you actually do.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the most important “don’ts” to keep in mind.
These apply to all strategies, from positive reinforcement to alpha training methods.
Let’s take a look!
“Don’ts” for Dog Training Success
It’s no secret that a well-trained dog leads to a healthier and happier life for all involved.
At the very minimum, your pup should understand basic commands and know where to do his business.
Conventional dog training tips (including ours) are typically full of “do’s.” Do this, do that, try this, try that.
We thought we’d take a different approach today and go over some things you should never do during your training routine.
The reasons for the don’ts will become evident as the lessons continue, as each one is based upon the distinctive psychology of the dog’s mind.
1. Don’t punish your dog
Punishment has no place in dog training, period. It’s especially important not to react out of anger, though.
If your dog does something that upsets you (who isn’t angry when they step in a puddle at 2AM), take a few deep breaths.
React only when you’re in control of yourself, and check out these common mistakes in scolding a dog:
2. Don’t create negative associations
Don’t punish your dog with the lead or any other training tool that he should with duty or pleasure.
Not only does it break rule #1, but you’ll create negative associations with things that he should enjoy (or things you NEED to use regularly).
Do you really want him to be terrified of the leash? Instead, look at the RIGHT way to leash train.
3. DON’T sneak up on your dog
Dogs like being startled about as much as people do (which, for most of us, is not at all).
Sneaking up on him or grabbing him from behind is a great way to get bit, and it won’t be your dog’s fault!
Always approach from the front, where your dog can see you coming.
4. Don’t chase your dog
If you’re working on recall with Fido, don’t chase after him to catch him. He must learn to come to you.
Of course, if you’re just playing a fun game of tag in the yard, it’s a different story.
Just wait until he’s mastered recall before you start playing chasing games with him.
5. Don’t turn on your dog!
DO NOT call your dog over to you in a nice voice, then yell at him for something.
You shouldn’t be yelling at him to begin with, but it’s especially rotten if he comes to you thinking you’re happy with him only to get punished.
How would you feel if someone did that to you? Heartbroken, right?
6. Don’t tease or taunt your dog
It is cruel and inconsistent to tease your dog to come to you when he can not.
For example, if you stand outside a fence and call him to you, knowing full well he can’t comply.
7. Don’t cause him pain
Again, this goes along with not punishing your dog, but it’s important enough to repeat.
DO NOT hit your dog. In fact, don’t do anything that’s designed to cause pain- including twisting his ears, rapping his nose, and so on.
That’s not training. It’s called abuse. Period. End of story.
8. Don’t grab your dog or reach for him quickly
I’m not talking about grabbing to cause pain. We’ve covered that already. I’m talking about that super fast “oh no, he’s going to spill the garbage” grab.
It’ll freak your dog out. When done too often, it’ll also breed anxiety. Go back to #1, compose yourself, then gently but firmly correct.
9. Don’t nag your dog
Don’t issue orders over and over again. Your dog needs to learn to follow them the first time around.
If he’s not, then he either doesn’t understand them or he doesn’t deem them worthy of following.
Either work on reinforcing the command or re-evaluate your training style.
Some dogs ONLY respond to reward training, so if you’re not using that method, give it a go.
10. Don’t contradict yourself
Don’t praise a dog for doing a certain act, then at a later time, scold him for doing the same act.
If you let him bite you during play today, do not punish him for doing it tomorrow, when you are not in good humor.
Consistency is key to dog training success.
11. DON’T train him at the wrong time
Don’t train your dog immediately or soon after he has eaten, when he’s tired, or when he’s just feeling blah.
Dog training success is all about timing! Do it when you’re both in a good mood and well-rested.
12. Don’t lose patience with puppies
While you shouldn’t lose patience with dogs of any age, definitely don’t when they’re puppies younger than six months.
They aren’t trying to be difficult or disobey. They’re just acting their age. Think of them as toddlers!
13. DON’T train him in agility tasks too early.
It’s not a good idea to train him in feats requiring much strength or endurance until he is at least six months old.
For jumping games, you’ll need to wait until his growth plates close, or about 1 year.
14. DON’T run him into the ground
Don’t work your dog without some short rest or play periods during training.
A five-minute rest for every fifteen minutes of training is desirable.
15. DON’T permit everyone to give commands to your dog.
While you are training him, he must be a one-man dog, depending on you alone to feed him and care for him.
Once he masters basic commands, then you can bring others into the mix. Eventually, you DO want him to take orders from your partner and your kids.
16. DON’T run before you can walk
Don’t just dive right into trick training before your dog masters the basics.
Sure, it’s cute to teach him how to jump rope, but dog training success is all about setting groundwork first.
17. DON’T expect instant results
It’s irrational to expect your dog to be perfect after a few weeks of training.
While most dogs respond well within a few months (yes months), some stubborn pups may take even longer. It’s worth it, though!
18. Don’t make assumptions about your dog’s intellect
Don’t jump to the conclusion that your dog is dumb just because he doesn’t seem to “get it” right away.
Instead, readjust your training to make sure you’re giving commands in clear and concise ways.
Follow these 18 don’ts for dog training success and you and Fido will be living happily ever after in no time!
Can you think any dog training success don’ts that we missed? Share below!
Do you have any current dog training challenges?
Sign Up & Get Weekly Tips To Overcome These Challenges
Great advice! So much of what we do with our dogs can be done more intentionally and positively. Thanks!