Training dogs at home can be fun and extremely rewarding when your weeks and months of hard work finally pays off with a pet who is now beautifully house-trained and following commands as well as you had ever hoped.
But training animals is not an easy task without professional knowhow, which is why dog-owners often make these 8 basic errors that reduce the effectiveness of the exercises quite significantly:
# 1: Mistaking The Dog For Human
• Dog-owners often refer to pets as their children, and love them as such, but the truth is this: dogs are not humans. By treating them as anything but dog during the training session you are ceding a lot of ground to the animal because you’re being led by your own emotions. In due course, the dog will flout your authority and be less responsive to commands because the animal knows he/she is mommy’s baby or daddy’s darling — and can get away with anything!
# 2: Quitting Early On Training
• Don’t quit practicing commands just because the dog is following them right now. Animals will begin to slack on follow-through and may even ignore commands if you don’t practice regularly. Keep their newly-learnt skills sharp by using these commands continuously until they become fully ingrained in pet’s psyche. Your commitment to the training will inspire commitment in your pet too.
# 3: Repeating Commands Too Many Times
• If you have to ask several times before your dog performs a task, then this training has not worked very well. In due course, the animal will choose to pay heed to the command or not, as per its mood. This lackadaisical attitude may have been caused by the dog’s innate temperament or a misstep in the training process itself. Do not make excuses for your pet when he/she refuses to respond and keep asking repeatedly. Make the first command count, and if you’re failing, then revisit the training all over again.
# 4: Not Proofing Behavior
• Proofing behavior means practicing a command at different times, in different environments with different sets of distractions. If your dog learns to `sit’ in the living room, for example, the animal also needs to `sit’ in the backyard or in the public park, so the action becomes proofed to be effective under all circumstances.
# 5: Not Timing The Sessions
• If the training session is too short, the lesson may not fully register. If the session is too long, the animal can get bored, restless or start losing focus. Time each session so you can get the most enthusiastic participation from the animal and then stop on a high note – after a command has been successfully followed and rewarded. Instead of one long session per day, several short sessions will keep the lessons fresh in your pet’s mind and they will be more focused on obeying as well.
# 6: Using Only Treats To Motivate
• Treats are one of the most effective rewards when trying to get a dog to repeat a task. But once the behavior is well-learnt and you’re still using treats as incentive, then the value of the learning can become lopsided. Transition to other rewards such as praise, playtime with a favorite toy etc. and don’t use treats exclusively, so the `joy’ of following through is not restricted only to being given a tasty food.
# 7: Being Inconsistent With Your Patience Level
• Unlike professional trainers who have the knowledge to execute training without fault or inconsistency, dog-owners often allow their human emotions to show when they are training their dog. If you’re extremely patient one day and stressed and irritated on the other, the dog is getting confused. Your authority depends on your staying consistent, calm and in control during every session, so the animal does not have to second-guess your reactions.
# 8: Not Customizing The Training
• Dog-owners who train their pets at home often use DIY training material from various sources like books, social media, Youtube etc. But a specific training demonstrated on a YouTube video may not suit the breed or the individual characteristics of your own dog. It is important to understand that customizing is key, so training can be calibrated to suit each dog’s unique temperament.