If you’ve been reading Keep the Tail Wagging for a while, then you may know that we have three dogs; they’re all sleeping around me like a Bermuda Triangle of black dog hair as I type.
I consider myself a fantastic dog owner and Fur Mom, but I’m not perfect and I’ve made several mistakes with our dogs. As the New Year approaches, I’ve decided to be more open and honest about who I am. It’s good to purge and it might help someone else.
So here goes…
5 Huge Dog Training Mistakes I’ve Made as a Dog Owner
Dog Training Mistake # 1 – Allow the Dogs to Control the Walk
When Rodrigo and Sydney were puppies, it was exciting watching them discover their new world so I didn’t mind if a 1 mile walk took an hour while they stopped to sniff every blade of grass or engage in an impromptu play session on the Centennial Trail.
This was cute and manageable when they were puppies. It became a pain in the butt when the two of them outweighed me and truly controlled the walk.
I took control of the walk by walking. I didn’t allow them to stop me. I didn’t stop to see what was holding them up. I just kept walking, only stopping for a potty break. What I love about dogs is that they live in the moment so bad habits they developed as a result of poor training, were quickly reversed.
Dog Training Mistake #2 – Stopped Clipping Sydney’s Nails
I was using the wrong nail clippers and that lead to Sydney hating the chore of having her nails clipped. It became such an ordeal that I stopped clipping her nails. Fortunately, I didn’t allow her nails to grow too long. But I did invest in a new Dog Nail Clipper (per the advice of a friend who is a dog groomer) and after a clipping session with many breaks and cookies, Sydney now tolerates having her nails clipped.
I learned that I can’t feed into their fears; instead I reward them for being brave while paying attention to make sure that I’m not overlooking a problem.
Come on! They’re so little and cute and they’re just trying to kiss us! Jeez!
Jeez is right! Rodrigo and Sydney weight about 70 pounds each; it blows when they jump on me, at the same time, with muddy paws, when I’m wearing my favorite Old Navy cords (they’re off white). So I started ignoring them when they would jump and then giving them tons of love when the paws landed on the floor. It didn’t take long at all to stop the jumping.
It’s taken longer for Blue to “get it,” but he’s getting there.
Dog Training Mistake #4 – Always Using Treats When Training
Sydney packed on the weight last winter. We went on fewer walks so I started doing more training sessions in doors. And Sydney is a food motivated dog. You’d be amazed at how many sits I can get out of her for the right amount of cookies.
So I traded in the treats with tons of love and Sydney lost her weight and I learned that our dogs are equally motivated by affection and praise. I’m saving money, getting even better (and more consistent) behavior from our dogs, and they’re healthy and happy.
Dog Training Mistake #5 – Allowing Everyone Else to Tell Me What to Do
Getting advice from others is great, but allowing everyone to tell you how to raise your dogs isn’t so great. I had people quoting Cesar Milan, quoting Victoria Stillwell, telling me about positive reinforcement dog training, and the importance of being the Alpha. My head was spinning and I had no idea what to do. I just wanted to raise happy, well behaved dogs.
I finally learned to smile, because everyone means well, and started to listen to our dog trainer, who got us started on the right track with our dogs. She’d be proud of us today. I hope.
So now it’s Your turn! What dog training mistake have you made with your dog(s)?