Dog trainers cringe when they see how some people intentionally or unintentionally treat their canine companions. Don't become one of those people a dog trainer secretly wants to yell at.
Table of Contents
1. Stop Talking At Your Dog
Some owners clump together and string a bunch of sentences when attempting to give a command. Dogs do not fully understand the language we are speaking to them, even if they actually attempt to make sense of our gibberish. However, dogs are able much better to distinguish the specific sounds of each command that are followed with visual cues.
So when you are out walking, stop talking at your dog in full sentences while issuing commands. Those extra words have no meaning to your pet and will only confuse them. Rather, be with your dog and issue specific commands only. You will know when you are connecting with the dog because they will be looking at you fully engaged, not glancing back to try and understand what you are saying.
2. Put Away the Cell Phone
Dogs want to be with their owners, but you are not fully available while you're talking or texting on your cellphone. Dogs are their happiest when their pet parent is focused on them while out and about and are fully engaged.
3. Avoid the “Drill Sergeant” Tone
Dogs read our tone of voice over the words we are speaking. When you are working with your canine, don't issue a command in an angry tone of voice. Dogs sense these types of emotions and are likely to be affected by them.
Instead, use a happy tone, say the dog's name, then issue the command. For example, Fido (dog responds by looking at you), “Sit,” (dog sits), mark the moment with a happy “Good!” Avoid using cues such as “That's a Very Good Sit,” as this only confuses your pet.
4. Control Your Dog
Dogs depend on their humans for their safety and to create boundaries. When you are in a crowded area, provide your dog with both by shortening the lead and not allowing them to run up to or to jump on strangers. This is for the benefit of the dog and those around.
5. Know the Definition of “Socializing” Your Dog
Dragging a frightened puppy or rescue dog all over the place when they are not ready is not a dog trainer's definition of the action. True dog socialization of the canine species is allowing the dog to comfortably explore new situations without the fear and anxiety of strangers approaching and touching them, picking them up or carrying them around.
6. The Shock Collar
Electronic collars use a volt of electricity to correct or modify a behavior. While some dog trainers have nothing against them and use for training stubborn dogs, generally, these collars are viewed by many other trainers and animal behaviorists as unnecessary punishment.
Studies have shown that dogs learn more and better by using positive reinforcement techniques over fear and pain that electric stimulus provides. When shock collars are misused or overused, it can also cause both physical and emotional damage to the dog.
7. Myths About a Dog's Attitude
Some pet owners tend to anthropomorphize their dog, which means, we are putting our human thoughts and emotions into our dogs. This can lead to false ideas that the dog is “trying to get back at us,” is trying to be “alpha,” or to “take over the pack.” Most commonly, we often assume that dogs feel guilty about bad behavior and so forth, but in most cases, none of this is actually true and does not help with training a dog.
Skip most of the old advice given by trainers like Cesar Milan, such as establishing yourself as the leader of the pack. This and other myths have long been debunked. Yes, it's perfectly fine to let your dog walk in front of you, or to let them up on the sofa. This will not lead to your dog thinking they have control over you.
8. Don't Leave Your Dog Unattended
Dog trainers, just like most animal lovers, dislike seeing dogs left tied outside a store or left in a car. Dogs depend on us for their safety, and being left tied outside in a busy area where they are at the mercy of anyone, is stressful and frightening to the animal, which is why many dogs bark when forced into this situation.
Additionally, allowing strangers to touch the dog when the animal is clearly uncomfortable is also a no-no. Dogs shouldn't be public property and you never know how the canine might react. Know when your pet is comfortable with strangers and when they are not and respond accordingly.
9. The Mis-No-Menor
Dogs don't know the word “no,” but are responding to the tone of your voice. Instead of yelling “NO!” at your pet, try showing them what you want it to do, then reward for good behavior.
10. Dog “Soldiers”
Like people, dogs need mental stimulation. When out for a walk, give your pet the freedom to check out the new “sniffs” and get caught up on the neighborhood “peemail.” Forcing your dog to always be in heel-mode is not pleasurable for your canine companion. Give them the freedom to be a dog and you will see how much “more” the walks become.
11. Get Expert Advice
Resist the urge to ask other pet parents training advice for your dog. Unless they're a professional canine behaviorist, using an advice from someone who doesn't know your dog will only confuse your pooch when you try out different methods.
Instead, bring your dog to a professional dog trainer or canine behaviorist that can assess and analyze the behavioral issue you are experiencing with your pet, then give you specific advice and methods that will work for your dog.