MISTAKE # 6: Not enough repetition
“But last time she knew what I wanted from her”.
The first results in training a new exercise often mainly based on coincidence. Just because your dog performed the requested action several times in one session that does not necessarily mean that the exercise is already reliably trained.
Keep repeating this exercise over several sessions and even after that throw it in every now and then in your dog training sessions.
The regular obedience exercises should also be used in everyday life as much as possible to get the dog also used to performing them in non-staged situations.
MISTAKE # 7: Inconsistency
Commands should always be enforced!
This means, if you are not sure that you can reliably enforce a command in everyday life, it is better to not use it (yet).
Using commands and not enforcing them subsequently send the dog the message that following your commands is optional. This will prolong the way to your dog reliably responding to commands.
If you are only 10% sure your dog will follow a command in public, don’t try it yet. Give the training at home or in another calm environment some more time before doing it. If you are 90% sure your dog will follow the command in public, try it, but also go the distance and take the time and patience to work on it until she does it – right then.
In this case when trying a “sit” in the more distracting environment, even her bottom touching the ground for a second can be the start and needs to be noticed, appreciated and rewarded.
MISTAKE # 8: Introducing commands too soon and/ or use confusing language
Just as exercises are learned best when broken down into single steps, commands should be introduced at the right time. Your dog does not speak your language. The command is more like a distinct sound to her that she later connects to a distinct behavior. When introducing commands, your dog needs to focus on two things: The command AND her action. As long as she is insecure, if she is performing the wanted action, the additional command can be too much and the confusion can be frustrating for her.
When starting with dog training, you can/should skip commands altogether and only wait for or lure your dog into the desired behaviors and reward. You can continue with establishing hand signals for different exercises. Distinct hand sings are a much better orientation for the dog than commands. Commands should be introduced once the exercise is being performed with more than 70% reliability.
Choose short commands that largely differ in pronunciation. Commands that sound too similar are confusing for the dog and inhibit the progress in training.
Let’s say you are using the word “stay” to make your dog remain wherever she just is and the word “play” to initiate a round of tug with her favorite toy.
The two terms sound so similar that this will possibly lead to several confusing situations and unwanted results. For example, if you order your dog to “stay” she may actually jump up and run to bring her toy for a round of tug. A better word for “play” in this case may be “tug!”, because it sounds completely different.
Also choose a distinct word for your approval. Not something you use in every conversation with people like “ok” or “yes”. That can be confusing for the dog. It can be helpful for the dog to establish a certain word or phrase to end the training and release the dog as well. My phrase is “free!” letting her know that our training session is over and that our “training game” is now over. If she loves the training a lot and does not exactly know when it ends, she may be bothering you for more treats afterwards. Be consistent and make a clear cut (no treats or exercises immediately after the session) after you ended the training. This helps her to read you, understand and learn to accept when you are available for entertainment.
Read on about the ninth of the ten common mistakes in Dog Training on the next page