I’ve seen just about all the training mistakes we humans make, but here are my Top 3 Training Mistakes of all time. If I was going on David Letterman I could come up with ten, but there’s really nothing funny about these three…
TRAINING MISTAKE #3: Punishing for Something That Happened a While Ago
If you walk in and see that your dog shredded the couch, do not begin shouting. She will think she’s being punished for what she is doing now (possibly greeting you at the door, or lying on the floor wagging her tail), not for what she did a a while ago. Five minutes ago to a dog is like yesterday to us.
TRAINING MISTAKE #2: Rubbing His Nose in It When He Makes a Potty Training Mistake
This was my Dads favorite (sorry Dad, you are great at most everything else). This will just confuse the dog, and possibly make him afraid to go at all. He will know you are upset with him but have no idea why you’re sticking his nose in his own pee/poop. The best thing is just say “outside,” and then take him outdoors right away. Once he has gone outside, praise him. And praise him every time he goes outside.
And TRAINING MISTAKE #1 is: Scolding For Not Coming to You Once She Finally Does Come
Even if she ran off and ignored you when she clearly heard your call, even if you just watched her spend the last hour chasing rabbits while you ran late for an important meeting, please do not yell at your dog when she does end up coming! And never call your dog to punish her, because if you punish your dog when she finally does come, she is going to associate answering your call to come with a punishment. This doesn’t give her incentive to come in the future; it gives her reason to stay away, and only come after you’ve stopped calling.
The common theme in all 3 mistakes is that dogs live in the here and now. They will most likely associate anything we do say to what they are doing at that second. Unlike us, they do not stay mad or have a need to correct something that was done in the past. Seriously, have you ever seen your dog suddenly bite or snap at you because you yelled at him hours ago?
Praise your good dog whenever you get the behavior you want and you will be rewarded with more good behavior.