Raising a dog takes a lot of patience and consistency and the rewards certainly pay off when you have yourself a well-behaved adult dog. The top ten mistakes that people make when raising a dog are outlined below, if you’re aware of them then you can avoid making them yourself!
Mistake #1: Allowing behaviours as a puppy that are unacceptable in an adult dog. Bad habits aren’t something that dogs grow out of, these habits will only get worse and become harder to break. Be consistent with your rules and behaviour expectations.
Mistake #2: Thinking they are a human and treating them the way we would treat each other. A classic example of this is when owners notice their dog is scared - In this situation, you may be inclined to pat your puppy and tell them ‘it’s ok’ however this is not calming for a dog. Though it may be reassuring for a scared human, dogs will take this as praise for their current thought pattern, and ‘good dog for being scared’ is not what you want to be teaching your dog.
Mistake #3: Rubbing a dogs nose in it if they have toileted where they shouldn’t.
Remember your dog is a puppy, they are learning and they will make mistakes. Rubbing your dog’s nose in it can make them fear you or the toileting process and they may hide when they have to ‘go’.
Mistake #4: Verbally repeating a training command multiple times. Ask your dog once, then show them what to do. Asking repeatedly dilutes the command and your dog learns to ignore you. Praise when they succeed.
Mistake #5: Not praising our dogs enough when they are being good. When your furry friend is being well behaved, make sure they know this is good behaviour. Positive attention and a treat can do the trick here.
Mistake #6: Not enough exercise. All dogs need daily exercise, regardless of their size or breed.
Mistake #7: Too much attention or at the wrong time. Attention should be given when your dog has done something worth rewarding and it should not be given when a dog is misbehaving. Timing is key, reward good behaviour at the right time and be careful not to reward when misbehaving. For example, when off-lead do not call your dog back to tell them off for something as your dog may interpret the telling-off as a result of coming back when re-called.
Mistake #8: Neglecting to socialise your dog. Dog’s that aren’t socialised can develop aggressive or fearful behaviours. Socialisation is key, ensure you are socialising your puppy with objects, people, environments and dogs in a positive way – lots of pats and treats does wonders.
Mistake #9: Feeding table scraps. This is one of the hardest habits to break which is why it should never be started. Eating at a family dinner can make you feel guilty, especially if your puppy is watching and drooling over your dinner.However it is important not to give in to feeding table scraps. Not only is human food unhealthy for dogs, but once you feed your puppy one scrap of food they will come to expect food every time you eat at the table.
Mistake #10: Never leaving your dog alone. Although you shouldn’t leave your dog for long periods of time -from a young age dogs need to be taught to be confident by themselves. Start earlier for shorter times, increasing as they get older. Giving them the confidence to be by themselves reduces separation anxiety and destructive behaviour. Doggy day care is also a great idea to help build their confidence in being away from you.
Now that you know the top ten mistakes, you can be sure to avoid them yourself. Want more info on this topic? Urban Dogs has an in-house trainer and dog behaviourist that is available if you are having troubles with training. Sam has been teaching dog training, behaviour classes and consultations for 16 years, was an animal control officer for 6 years, spent 8 years working as a vet nurse and has tutored the Canine Behaviour Training course. She is a dog expert and is available to help with all your training needs so if you have any behaviour concerns, Sam is here to help.
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This blog is general advice, all dogs and scenarios are different. If in doubt contact a dog trainer or behaviourist.