This article is about the most common mistakes we sometimes make when it comes to dogs and dog training.
Nobody sets out to make mistakes but we are only human and mistakes go with the territory.
I have been observing and living with dogs for over forty years and I have made many of the mistakes that I write about in this post, and I want to share with you what I have learned.
The first time I decided to take it upon myself to get a dog, I was ten years old, now mind you I had already had two years experience working with and being responsible for our two farm dogs. We had two male German Shepherds, Nipper guarded the farm and family, and Sharkey brought the cattle in from the field as well as provided considerable back up for Nipper should there be a threat. When I turned eight years old my Uncle Eldon, told me one morning at breakfast, that I was old enough to help the family run the farm where ever I could, so my first job was to tend to the dogs in the morning.
I learned a lot about dogs and what makes them tick in that first two years. In my tenth year during the month of February we lost Sharkey to a pack of coyotes, and thinking back, struck the whole family like a sledge-hammer. It really felt like we lost a family member. It took some time for us to move forward. In July of that same year I went to the livestock sale with our neighbor like I always did during the summer when school was out. I didn’t get up that morning thinking I was going to get a dog today, but we had been talking about getting a new dog to help us with the cattle. As it happened I walked into the bay area where farmers would display the puppies, and kittens they had for sale or give away, and the first thing I saw, actually the only thing I saw was this beautiful grey, white and tan puppy. With one ear flopped over she came straight up to me and lay down at my feet..I was hooked, I new right then and there I had to find some way to take this pup home with me. I will save the rest of this story for another day, because I do not want to stray too far off topic, needless to say I did bring the pup home with me and began my journey of making mistakes and figuring out how to correct them. I hope by sharing some of what I have learned with you I can save you time and help you figure out where you may have been making some of these mistakes and what you can do about it.
Having little or no knowledge about the breed of the dog you get.- For example someone sees a friend who owns a Rottweiler, and he says,” Man what a beautiful looking dog, I gotta get me one of those!”, and without becoming informed about the Rottweiler breed, he proceeds to go out the next day and get a Rottweiler, only to discover the hard way there’s much more to this power breed than being good-looking. Sadly the shelters are full of dog that people got for this wrong reason. You should always do your home work, read as much as you can about the breed of dog you are thinking about getting, make sure to ask people questions who own this breed what their experiences has been.Then when you sure you can meet the needs of this breed and are ready to provide this breed with a balanced and stable home, make the decision. You will then be prepared to better handle situations when they arise, and they will.
Spur of the moment decision to buy. We have all heard about this scenario, A family is taking a nice Sunday drive down the road and suddenly they see a sign, Puppies For Sale or Give Away. The kids start singing, ” We want a puppy!”, and one parent says to the other, ” We told the kids if they were good and kept their grades up, they could get a puppy, maybe we should get one?.” Then without further discussion, except about which one they should get, the pup is in the car, and on its way home with them. The problem comes later, when the new wears off and the kids no longer feel the same because the puppy poops and bites and jumps, on them. And Mom and Dad just got it for the kids, so sadly another dog finds it’s self in a shelter. You should always plan to get a dog or puppy, have a family discussion, it is not going to be just your dog, it will be the family dog, and each family member has to be dedicated to taking responsibility for its training and making sure basic needs are met.
Interacting with your dog as if they were a person. This can be very mentally damaging to a dog. While it is a very human thing to do, it only makes your dog more confused, and can create unwanted behaviors caused by the dog’s frustration. Bottom line, your dog is an animal, and should be treated as such, at least most of the time. Your dog should be seen as animal first, breed second, and family pet last. Out of an entire day, only 1 hour should be spent treating your dog as a family member or human, the rest of your day should be spent interacting with your dog as they would be treated in nature, as an animal. You must provide strong leadership, and create clear and consistent guidelines to maintain control, and balance with your dog, this will allow your dog to live in a happy state of mind.
Inconsistency with daily training routine. We see it everyday, loving dog owners everywhere get caught up in the chaos of life, and sometimes training their dog isn’t at the top of their list. Our days are filled with activities that we simply can’t avoid, and among the hustle & bustle of everyday life, and days can go by before we realize that the dog hasn’t been walked or played with. If a dog is left on their own, they will create their own routine of behavior, and this is never the best outcome. If a daily routine of training is not exercised with your dog, it can make simple things such as walking your dog, or opening your front door a challenge for you, and your dog. It is very important to develop a routine of exercise and training, ideally at the same time each day and have consistency with command words, and the participation of everyone who has daily interaction with the dog, working the same routines. Once you have this routine in place you will see a huge difference in how your dog behaves and shows you respect.
Letting your dog be the boss. Many times dog owners give in to their dog’s pushy attitude, such as rooting your hand or arm for affection, barking at you when they want to play or eat. Allowing your dog to demand your attention by barking, jumping, nudging, rooting or other unwanted behaviors is a very common mistake, usually caused by the dogs owner not realizing they are giving their dog leadership. The answer to this problem is no longer giving in to your dog’s demands, instead, have the dog do something for you. If your dog roots your arm for attention, simply make them sit down before you give them any affection, or if your dog is barking because they want food, toys, or other rewards, simply make them sit down and wait for them to be silent before you reward them. As long as this routine is consistent you will see great results in your dog’s behavior.
There are many more common mistakes that we all have made, and we will be covering those in a later post, in the mean time review this first five mistakes and work hard to provide strong and fair leadership for your dog, when you put in the time the reward is more than worth the effort. You will develop a trusting relationship with your dog.