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MISTAKE # 9: CONFUSING/ MISLEADING or no communication
Give your dog feedback on things she does right, even beyond training sessions.
She does not speak your language, but she notices when you are happy, loves treats and praise. Always have a praise or treat ready to reward her for behaving well around the house, for example. Establish a “rewarding word”. When I tell Mila, she is a “good girl” she is happy.
One of the more important but also more difficult training exercises is the recall. Always practice this with your dog in an enclosed, secure environment or on a long leash first. You don’t want to risk your dog running off.
Owners often become angry when trying to call their dogs back and the dogs seem to not even hear them.
Dogs have a better hearing than humans. However, when focussed on certain things the can literally go “deaf” for a moment. Not necessarily is this disobedience or ignorance. It may actually be the case that your dog did not hear you.
Another reason for not reacting may be that the dog heard you very well and is weighing her options. That is when the dog expects an unpleasant situation when returning to the owner or if the dog is simply not yet used to being called back.
Some owners call their dog back several times and when the dog finally arrives after seven call backs they yell at them loaded with emotions of anger about the dog “not listening”.
Which message does this transport to the dog?
“When I call you and you eventually come to me, you will be yelled at.”
Especially when the procedure is the same every time – owner calling several times, yelling when dog finally arrives – the dog will likely never really understand why exactly she is being yelled at.
She will only know: “If I come when called, I may be yelled at.”
As a consequence – especially when this happens often – the dog will increasingly avoid to follow the recall. Which in reality means: Yelling makes it even worse.
This changes once the dog goes through different stages. For example no reaction when returning after seven recalls, while being praised and rewarded when returning after one or two calls already.
Rule: ALWAYS make it a positive experience for your dog to return to you.
If you don’t feel like praising her, because it took too many times of calling before she returned, you don’t have to. Just behave neutrally and say nothing when she returns, but don’t yell.
On the other hand eagerly praise and reward her for every timely response to your commands.
MISTAKE #10: NOT MAKING dog training PART OF YOUR everyday life
Although there are certain times for dog training and it is called “training”, in general dog training is most successful, once you make it part of everyday life. This is the easiest way to deepen newly learned exercises and turn them into routines.
If you have never heard of the “NILF” principle, here’s a short introduction to this very useful and rewarding way of living with your dog:
NILF means “Nothing In Life is Free”. Your dog has to work for praise, attention and treats by performing behaviors you want from her.
For example, don’t just let her dash out of the door. Instead, make it a habit to have her sit before going outside for a round of fetch. Make her lay down and reward her by praise or a treat for patiently waiting without bothering you until you have finished a call. Reward her when you notice her pondering to take this piece of food you just dropped in the kitchen, but eventually not taking it. Not by giving that food to her, but by picking it up and giving her one of her treats and or a warm hug instead. Always having a few SMALL low-cal treats or a hearty praise ready, being alert and notice good behavior around the house or on the go will pay off in the long run. Dogs are eager to please and the more chances they get the more often they will do it.