The main task of training a dog is to develop and consolidate useful skills for a person: an approach on command, moving nearby, guarding things, being in a specified place, etc.
Often, especially when self-training by the owners of their pets, tasks are not only not achieved, but the opposite phenomena occur – completely undesirable skills and reflexes are developed.
In this article we will look at the most typical (common) mistakes when training dogs.
Rough, cruel treatment of a dog
Sometimes you can still meet trainers of the “old school” who believe that in order to develop obedience, the dog needs to be harshly suppressed, and in order to develop anger towards outsiders, you need to beat with all your might to anger. The result of classes with such “pros” is sad. Dogs with a strong nervous system and innate malice become poorly controlled aggressive animals, other dogs develop unnecessary shyness, fear of the trainer and the training process as a whole.
Either a game, or a job
Training, even in a playful manner– is still training, and not fun running around and games of pulling the leash. Differentiate between just a walk and the training itself. This does not mean that you should exercise continuously for half an hour outside. It is enough to devote 5-10 minutes to training, without being distracted by anything. Then take a break, let the dog run freely, play, chat with other dogs, and return to training again.
While walking, communicate with the dog the way you are used to. But during the exercises, be strict and consistent, like a first-grade teacher at school. Do not allow the dog to play at this moment, be distracted by passers-by or other animals.
An unconditional stimulus before a conditional one, or first a command, then an action
A very common mistake of many dog owners. A typical situation. The dog is walking near the owner, suddenly a cat jumps out, the dog makes a leap forward. The owner immediately tears the leash back and at best simultaneously with this (and more often after a jerk) gives the command “fu!” or “next!”.
The whole training is based on the development of a conditioned reflex. There is a command (condition or conditional stimulus), which should be followed by the dog’s reaction. Your jerks and shouts will not do anything, because the dog does not see the connection between the command and the desired action.
But if first there is a command (a conditional stimulus), and then an unconditional stimulus (for example, a jerk with a leash), then the dog understands how to behave after the command, and it develops a conditioned reflex for it (to approach, lie down, sit down, etc.).
Multiple repetition of the command
The command is given once, remember this. If you shout “to me!” to the dog several times, she will get used to coming up for the 5th time. If it doesn’t work the first time, wait at least half a minute with the second attempt. And it is better for the first time to use tools that can help to achieve the execution of the command, for example, the “to me” approach is first worked out only on a long leash.
Every command must be executed. Animals feel their masters well, and the slightest weaknesses and connivance with respect to discipline are interpreted in their favor. If the dog did not execute the command yesterday, then what can make it do it today? Why do something that you can’t do? So be persistent. It is better not to “fill up” the dog with commands, but to give a smaller number of them, but to achieve one hundred percent fulfillment.
The same tone of commands, praise and forbidding shouts
It is easier for dogs of emotional owners – their owners scold or praise their pets, not hesitating to show feelings. If you are a very reserved person by nature, you will have to make a little effort. The command to execute is given clearly, in a calm, slightly strict voice, prompting the desired action to be performed.
Praise should be several degrees higher and brighter in emotional coloring. Dogs understand the intonation of their owners well, but the training will go faster if you do not skimp on enthusiastic exclamations like “Ah, good girl!”, “Good!”, “Excellent! Bravo!”, stroking, patting the dog.
Forbidding commands (“fu!”, “no!”, “no!”) are given in a stricter voice than normal commands. For a dog as a pack animal, it is extremely important to have the support of the leader – you, in this case. The dog should clearly catch in your voice dissatisfaction with her behavior.
Adjustment to the dog
A seemingly simple rule is to always remember that you are the owner. Not the other way around. And yet, this rule is often violated.
Example. You gave the command “to me”. The dog came up, but sat down a little further than required. Do not approach yourself. Repeat the command. If the dog has not completed it, take it on a leash and repeat everything again in a minute or two, having already achieved the correct execution (pulling it up with a leash). Or the “nearby” command. A common mistake is to take a step back, forward, to the left, so that the dog still ends up where it should be when giving this command. This approach is fundamentally wrong. Pull up the dog, turn it around with your hands, show the treat, but get the dog to execute the command, not you.
A separate point to stop at is the end of the lesson or the execution of the command. Even if you were about to give the command to “walk” a sitting dog, but she suddenly got up on her own, do not let her go. This is an important point. A few such independent decisions to interrupt the command, and the dog will clearly learn that she is generally free to do what and when she pleases herself.
“At the same place, at the same hour”
It is clear to you that it is more convenient to walk side by side and lie down on the asphalt platform on command, and the dog understands this as “come here, so now we will exercise.” In the first classes, such installations can even be useful: seeing the playground, the dog is set up to “work”. But in the future, if you do not work with the dog outside the playground at all, she may refuse to execute commands outside of her usual territory. Therefore, try to diversify the places for classes. Of course, we are not talking about a full-fledged occupation in the middle of a busy city street. But a couple of times during a normal morning walk, it will be very useful to seat the dog on command.
The same applies to the time of the lesson, the use of only one projectile to pass the obstacle course, the involvement of the same assistants – all this will affect the development of skills not for the better. The dog gets used to the sight, smell, costume, and in another situation may get confused, weakly or not react at all to commands.
If you go to the playground exclusively in the morning, work out with your dog in the evening, at dusk, in rain, snow – in any non-standard conditions. It’s like a mandatory night driving lesson at a driving school. If you can only drive during the day, you can hardly be called a real driver.
Insufficient or excessive repetition of exercises
Repetition is the mother of learning. If you perform exercises too rarely with long intervals, the dog may simply not remember anything. Unnecessarily long and intensive classes with a dog that is tired or has started to get bored are also ineffective. If the dog began to yawn, look around, lie down, give her some time to rest, switch her attention to something else. Otherwise, there will be no benefit from the lesson.
Classes with an unvigulated dog
Young, temperamental, energetic dogs should first be walked a little so that they “let off steam”. Often on training grounds you can see such a picture. The owner, who is late for the start of the class, jumps out of the car in a hurry with the dog and immediately tries to “get in line”. The dog tears the leash, jumps on it, flirts with other dogs. The whole lesson eventually boils down to constant tugging. You need to come to the playground ahead of time, at least 15 minutes before the start of classes. This is enough for the dog to be able to take a little walk and calm down by the beginning of classes.