Top Ten Mistakes Novice Dog Trainers Make

Dog training is something that you learn over time and you can’t hope to master it in just a few weeks. As you work with more dogs and become familiar with different breeds, you’ll learn to make your own conclusions rather than relying on what you are taught. Further, you can’t possibly see every circumstance during a class or training program. If you are hoping to become a dog trainer, here are ten mistakes novice trainers often make.

High Expectations. One of the most serious mistakes that novice dog trainers make is high expectations. While you should always encourage your dogs to succeed, you should also know that dog training takes time. If you allow each dog to learn at his or her own pace, you’ll wind up with much more positive results.

Low Expectations. While you should expect too much too fast, you must give dogs credit for their intelligence. If a dog is learning quickly, you must set the bar higher much earlier than you would with a dog that learns slowly. Adjust your expectations according to the individual dogs in your charge.

Changing the Routine. The third mistake that novice dog trainers often make is changing the routine in the middle of a training session. Dogs depend on you for consistency and if they don’t know what to expect from session to session, their progress will be impeded by confusion. Stay as consistent as possible and develop a routine that doesn’t change.

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Too Little Reward. Another mistake that novice dog trainers make is failing to give enough rewards. Especially during the early stages of dog training, you must give generous rewards for even tiny steps. Rewards are the way we communicate with dogs and they won’t want to participate if you don’t show you are happy with their progress.

Too Much Punishment. Negative reinforcement has its place in dog training, but it should be quick, decisive and appropriate. If you use too much punishment to get results, you’ll have a dog who doesn’t want to behave but does most of the time because of fear. This automatically provides a negative relationship between dog and human.

Inappropriate Lessons. When it comes to dog training, you must tailor the program to the dog’s individual abilities. If you try to teach a poodle to be a hunting dog, you should know that you’re barking up the wrong tree (pun intended). Rather than trying to mold your dog into the job you need him or her to do, work only with dogs that are bred specifically for — and are capable of doing — the job. If you have a client for your dog training business that doesn’t understand, explain gently that it isn’t possible to train a dog outside of his or her ability.

Failure to Follow Through. Dog training requires consistency and if you don’t follow through with each of your lessons, your dog will forget as soon as the lesson’s been taught. Make sure that you follow through with lessons you taught on Monday throughout the week.

Using Too Many Techniques. It is important for every novice dog trainer to come up with his or her own set of techniques. You don’t have to do it exactly like everyone else, but you must stick to a technique. If you teach a dog something on Monday using a particular cue, you can’t expect him to respond appropriately to a different cue on Tuesday.

Expressing Apathy. A dog trainer who doesn’t care won’t make it in this business. You must care that each and every one of your charges makes it through your training program with flying colors. Obviously, some dogs will learn quicker than others, but you must be committed to each individual dog.

Quitting While You’re Ahead. Just because a dog has finished a six-week training course doesn’t mean that he or she shouldn’t be trained further in subsequent sessions. Dogs can continue learning new behaviors and tricks until the day they die, so continue to challenge the dogs in your charge to keep them happy and healthy.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. Should you think that your pet needs medical attention, please contact your local veterinarian.  
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