Top 10 Dog Training Mistakes

This post contains affiliate links, which earns us a commission if you click through and make a purchase (at no additional cost to you!). To learn more visit our disclaimer page.

When new dog owners first start training their pet, they tend to make mistakes in both techniques and how they approach the training process. There are some mistakes that are common to many people new to dog training. Here are what are probably the top ten most common dog training mistakes:

#1) Mistake number one is going into training sessions without bringing enough patience!  Dog training is an ongoing process, it does not happen overnight.  Sometimes progress is slow but sure.  And dogs are like children, teaching them requires a lot of patience, attempting dog training without it will be an exercise in futility.

#2) Mistake number two is lack of persistence in your dog training. When training your dog, you can’t give up.  Work on achieving a desired behavior in increments if necessary. Work toward small successes. Don’t give up – be persistent.

#3) Mistake number three is lack of consistence in your dog training. You must always be consistent with your dog training.  If it is not OK to jump on you, then it is *never* OK to jump on you.  If the rule is no getting up on the couch – then the rule must be that the dog can *never* get up on the couch.  Lack of consistence is very confusing for a dog.

#4) Mistake number four is not using enough positive reinforcement in your dog training. The reward you offer should be highly desirable to your dog – so much so that your dog will perform any behavior to earn the reward. The reward can be whatever your dog finds desirable – a tasty treat or a bit of play with a favorite toy.  And of course the gleeful sound of “Yes! Good dog!” from you, instantly upon performing the behavior, every time.

#5) Mistake number five in dog training is related to number four: not rewarding your dog frequently enough. It’s important to find your dog performing desirable behaviors and lavishly praise and reward him. This will have a snowballing effect, the more you praise and reward the more he’ll perform desirable behaviors, the more opportunity you will have to reward good behaviors, etc.  Always remember: reward works better than punishment. Period.

#6) Mistake number six is not training the right behavior for your dog.   There are some behaviors that all dogs should have, house training, of course, and sit, stay, come, & heel, are always useful.  But you can’t teach your Mastiff to stand on his hind legs and dance, and your toy breed will never pull you in a cart.  If your dog loves to ‘fetch’ start training with tricks that involve his retrieving things for you.  Try to pick tricks that involve behaviors your dog enjoys for sure success.

#7) Mistake number seven is not having short and successful enough dog training sessions. Dogs have limited attention spans, and generally a half hour of training is enough at one time. Anything more than an hour may be counter productive.  And always try to end each dog training session on a successful note. If you or your pup are having an ‘off’ day, end the session by having your dog perform a trick he knows and enjoys doing – then heap on the reward. Your dog should enjoy and eagerly anticipate dog training sessions. They should not be a chore.

#8) Mistake number eight is not having frequent enough dog training sessions.  While dog training sessions should be short, they should be regular and frequent.  You should train your dog in a short session every day if possible.

# 9) Mistake number nine is having expectations of your dog training sessions that are too high. Many new trainers expect too much.  This is usually a well intended error. They watch ‘Pet Stars’  – without realizing all the training and preparation that was invested in the performances. And the problem with high expectations is that they may lead to discouragement and feelings of failure – and/or possibly punishment of the dog.

#10) Mistake number ten is giving up.  Giving up on dog training is simply not an option. Dog training is an ongoing, lifelong process. Training is never over.  Even once your dog has behaviors mastered, you always need to continue to reinforce the desired behaviors.

Remember these keys and you are well on your way to having a happy, well trained pet, who is a great source of pride to you, and a ‘canine good citizen’.