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Top handler Mistakes When Training Obedience

Author Mickey Stillwell

Do you know that the reason your dog listens probably isn’t because he is stubborn, or dominant. It is because your dog really doesn’t understand what you want. Or, what you think you are saying, isn’t what the dog is hearing.

1- you don’t train often enough

Sometimes once our dog has engagement and knows a behaviour we are asking we allow our dogs to go on auto pilot. So then sometimes response times are slow or the don’t respond at all – it’s like anything we do for example we play the panio but don’t practice guess what we suck at it.

2-repeat commands 

Yes I’m guilty I say sit and my dog doesn’t so I repeat and add a cue

It can be distractions, bad technique or a head strong dog repeating commands allows the dog to half heartedly comply- learning the stalling behaviour is ok and becomes a learned behaviour that is hard to undo

Proof the behaviour , teach in a quiet living room and then add distractions ( tv on or another person) then move to the yard again in the quiet then add distractions, then the park until they have it solid- only ask once -if it’s not working go back and start with the basics – ask , no response wait a minute look the dog square in the eyes moving closer , often this will get their attention and when he or she complies — praise

3-training sessions are too long or too short

The Key is repetition to perfect  a behaviour

Sessions should be positive when you acquire the behaviours with some success praise reward and end , likewise don’t end a session without some success even if it’s just focusing for one minute. Ten one minute sessions can easily trump one 10 minute session

4- your dogs obedience behaviours aren’t generalized to different conditions 

This is similar to number 2 proof your dog in different places- start quiet then add one person at a time until it’s a busy place and the dog can do it – then continue to go to new places asking for the behaviour – this is where engagement plays a big part- you are more fun than any new adventure because you’ve taught your dog that you are fun and spontaneous

5- you rely on treats too much and not on praise and esteem 

Treats are a great way to establish a behaviour initially but later need to phase out as over use of treats can take focus away from the behaviour or you, the dog is so fixated on the treat that the desired behaviour itself becomes compromised and focus on the owner is lost. Most sport dogs aren’t offered food rewards as it interferes with the performance. Instead they use praise and a brief play session with a favourite toy. Their reward comes from the job itself.

Initiate new behaviours with treats but once your dog has learned the behaviour, replace the treats with praise, play or whatever else he likes.

Unpredictable treats sharpen a behaviour while frequent, expected treats slow performance and focus. You are the greatest reward by responding happily when your dog works well.

6- You use too much emotion 

Excessive emotion can put the brakes on your dogs ability to learn. Train with force, anger or irritation and you’ll intimidate your dogs learning ability and turn sessions into inquisitions. Likewise train with energy and squeals of delight and over the top displays of happiness and you will stoke your dogs energy and focus needed to learn. It can however make your dog too excited.

If your dog goofs up, instead of flying off the handle, back off and try again.

Calmly praise your dog when they get it right and the dog will learn to imprint on a relaxed attitude and reflect it.

7- You are reactive, not proactive

Many dog owners haven[‘t mastered timing, technique and stamina, as well as a devotion to understanding the dogs mind. This is a skill that takes time to master.

When you simply react to your dogs misbehaviours, you lose the opportunity to teach. Instead, practice your technique, anticipate the reaction ahead of time, becoming more proactive at the same time. Example–dog doesn’t like black fuzzy dogs, as soon as you see the fuzzy dog, redirect your dogs focus and in the process show a more acceptable behaviour.

8- You are inconsistent

Dogs need to feel we are consistent in behaviour and rules. If you vary your training technique too much you will diminish your dogs ability to learn. When dealing with a stubborn dog if one day you are patient and the next day you lose your cool, the dog won’t be able to predict how you are going to act in a given moment. That breaks the trust and confidence . So if you don’t want the dog on the couch you can’t let her on it 2 out of 10 times and expect her to know she isn’t allowed on the couch.

9-You lack confidence

Lack of confidence in the canine world is a sign of weakness and dogs can sense it automatically. More frightened people get bite than calmer people.

Show lack of confidence and your dog with use it against you. To avoid this work more with your dog, attend training classes and simply work towards small successes. Being around other dog owners that are training will help build your confidence. Take your dog to safe locations and push both of you to learn more..practice!

10-You don’t train to the individual dog.

Every dog has a different personality and behaviour portfolio . Though breed types have characteristics that help determine some of that. Here is and example a shy dog needs the patience of a saint, train peacefully with little distractions at first. Train to the dogs limitations and plan on adding distractions a little at a time, to desensitize and build his confidence .

On the other hand if you have a big larger than life dog, plan to be as big as him. This dog can be challenged more than a timid dog. Knowing that, because of his size and strength, you must have control over him, especially in social settings. For dogs in between , reason out a training p0lan based on personality, size, age, energy, breed and any relevant history.

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