What are Some Common Mistakes People Make when Training Dogs?

When you become a pet parent, you are signing up to a lot of responsibilities. Although training might not be one of your immediate thoughts when you first decide to bring a dog into your household, it is actually one of the most important aspects of raising a canine companion.

Why is training your dog so important?

There are a number of different reasons why training your new pet pooch is so important. Firstly, training and behavior are intrinsically linked. If you want your dog to behave well and do what is expected of him, for example not jump on the sofa or run away the moment his leash is removed, then you need to teach him what is and what isn’t acceptable. The only way to do this is through training and rewards.

A well-trained dog is a happier dog. This is because you can allow him greater freedom without worrying about how he will behave around in new environments and around other people and animals. E.g. If your dog is trained not to jump up, you won’t feel the need to restrain him if a new person comes into your home.

Training also serves to strengthen the bond between you and your furbaby. Your dog wants nothing more than your love and approval, and when he is behaving appropriately he will earn that and feel happier. Learning from you helps to build communication skills, understanding, mutual respect and eventually, your dog will see you as his Alpha, which is important if he is particularly dominant by nature.

Finally, proper training may prevent your dog from becoming hurt. Animals that run off are at great risk of becoming lost, stolen, stuck somewhere or injured, such as if your furry friend was to run into traffic. Recall is one of the most important skills you can teach your dog, and it could potentially save her life.

Common training mistakes

There are many different ways to train your dog. Some owners like to teach their dog at home, while others also choose to attend classes to get additional support. However you choose to train your dog, there are a few common mistakes that you should to avoid making.

Long training sessions

Many owners think that extended training sessions are the best way to get their pet the skills he needs quickly. Fact is, longer sessions may bore your animal and he will enjoy and remember more if you keep it short and sweet. 10/15 minutes is ideal.

Training when you aren’t in a great mood

If you feel tired, stressed or irritable, skip training until your mood has changed. Studies show that if you try to train your pet when you are in a bad mood, you are more likely to become frustrated and short-tempered quickly and could take this out on your pet.

Becoming clicker-happy

If you use a clicker in your training, check that you aren’t over-using or abusing it. Many owners click and forget to reward, or click too much and reward too often, both of which can confuse your dog and led to the clicker losing its value.

Command nagging

We are all guilty of repeating a command from time to time. However, when you do it over and over, you are essentially teaching your canine pal that he doesn’t need to respond on the first, second or even third command. Instead, he may actually choose to wait until you have repeated it multiple times before he performs the action.

Too many treats

While treats are a very useful training tool, if you rely completely on these your dog will only be complicit if he realizes that you have food to offer. Instead, switch up positive reinforcement by using praise and attention, toys and games.


Consistency is crucial to any training regime. If you don’t remain consistent, your dog won’t know what to expect from you and may become confused. You may also find that you accidentally reinforce undesirable behavior which could undo some of the training that your dog had previously mastered.

Using punishments

Most dog trainers agree that punishment is not an effective way to train your pet. Positive reinforcement is much more useful as dogs are naturally inclined to want to please their owner. That said, the use of mild aversives such as a spray bottle of water can be helpful in some situations.

Training in the same place each time

You want and need your dog to be able to recall his training in any setting and when surrounded by distractions. However, by undertaking his training in the same place every week, he becomes used the sights, sounds and smells of the area, and you have no way of knowing how he will react in different situations. Therefore, we recommend that you proof your training by practicing in a variety of locations and at different times of the day.

If you would like further support in training your dog, contact us and speak to our veterinarian who may be able to recommend a 1-1 trainer or local training classes.