Dog’s Behaviour MYTHS BUSTED!
You can find some excellent dog training tips online, in books, and from fellow pet parents. Unfortunately, not all of the advice you get is accurate. Let’s find out why!
Dog training myths can be harmful to your pet and can also make training more difficult. There are so many myths that can ruin the overall experience of pet parents. So, today we give a tough fight to these myths and help you gain clarity.
•You can’t train a puppy until he is six months old
Puppies begin learning from their mom and siblings almost immediately after their birth. They are capable of learning basic commands, being potty trained, learning how to walk on a leash and socialising with new people, sights and sounds as early as 8 weeks of age. Their attention span is shorter than adults. This means it requires more patience and positive reinforcement, but the sooner you start basic training, the better.
• You can’t train an aggressive or fearful dog
Using harsh training methods to train an aggressive dog will likely result in a more aggressive or fearful pet, and won’t change their bad behaviour. Positive reinforcement training is one way of earning your pet’s respect, and it gives him confidence as well.
• Food reward is as good as bribery
When learning something new, whether it’s dog or human, a reward is a motivating factor to want to be successful. Most canines are motivated by food reward during training sessions, and when your pet reliably complies with a command, you should treat him. You should understand that he’s doing what you ask him to do, which is a sign of good behaviour and obedience.
• Playing tug-of-war can make dogs aggressive
Tug-of-War is a game dogs love to play. It’s used as a reward by professionals who train service dogs, working dogs, and canines who compete in dog sports. However, there are two rules you need to enforce when playing. Never let your dog put his teeth on your skin when he’s tugging the toy, and he should know and obey the ‘Drop It’ command.
• Dogs work to please us
Our canine friends are opportunistic and driven by instinct, but through domestication we’ve learnt to coexist and share a mutual bond of appreciation. Dogs perform jobs we train them to do, and in return we provide them with food, shelter, healthcare and affection. Doing what you ask will get your pet rewards he likes, such as playtime, belly rubs, relaxing massage, or even his favourite treats.
• It’s a phase
No, it isn’t. Dogs learn what we teach them on purpose. You’d be surprised to know that they also learn what we unintentionally teach them. Unfortunately, canines learn bad behaviours when you don’t take the time to train them. If you don’t address unwanted behaviour, it will likely become more prominent and harder to change. When you let him get away with growling over his food bowl or any other unwanted behaviour, it’s not something he will outgrow, nor is it just a phase. As a pet parent you need to be strict in order to teach your little one the right ways.
• My pet isn’t one of those intelligent breeds
Regardless of the breed, all dogs can learn commands. Some just require a bit more patience and time for them to get what you’re trying to teach them. It can be a challenge to figure out what motivates your pet to learn and how long his attention span is. But with positive reinforcement and persistence you can teach your pet all commands and life skills. Of course, treats and rewards will make the training journey a lot smoother.
• My pet is too stubborn to learn
Some breeds can be stubborn, but there could be a good reason for their lack of desire to listen. A dog might be in pain due to a medical condition, feeling anxious, fearful, doesn’t understand what you want, or you haven’t found the right reward that motivates him. Understand the reason that’s becoming a hindrance in his learning, and you’ll be able to help your pet.
• You have to do everything and let your pet follow
This is a myth based on how a wolf pack works. There are two things wrong with this thinking. Dogs aren’t wolves, and the belief that you have to do everything first to establish yourself as the leader comes from a debunked study done on a captive wolf pack made up of unrelated wolves. It doesn’t matter if your pet goes first through a door or walks a bit out in front on a walk. You establish yourself as the leader by building a bond and earning your pet’s trust and respect.
Certified professional dog trainer
Ketan Panchal with Bruno
Helpful training tips
• Understand that a puppy has certain limitations
Adjust your expectations, considering the puppy’s physical and mental limitations. He’s still in the learning phase, and it may take some time for him to understand your commands. Before you know it, he will be grown up!
• Puppy-proof your house
Any time the puppy is not directly supervised, he should be in a safe place where he can’t get into trouble. Provide appropriate safe toys for him to chew and a safe play area.
• Train with high-value treats
You will be amazed at how much harder your dog will work for a tiny piece of chicken breast, cheese, or liver, compared to store-bought treats. As the training gets tougher, the reward needs to be worth all his efforts. Make sure the treats are soft and bite sized, so that they are easy to chew and you don’t overfeed your pet.
• Catch your dog being good
It’s easy to get caught up in scolding when your puppy is getting into trouble, but rewarding him out of the blue for being good lets him know he’s doing the right thing.
• Always be happy when your dog comes to you, whether you called him or not
A common complaint of pet parents is that their pet doesn’t come to them when they call him. Never punish your dog when he comes to you, no matter what he did before. Call him in a happy, playful tone and reward big when he gets to you, with treats, a toy, or just a warm hug.
• Keep a positive attitude
If you are getting upset, your dog knows it! They can sense your mood, so keep yourself motivated and positive, at least during training. And remember to carry extra dose of patience. No shouting or scolding!
• Provide the right amount of exercise and mental stimulation
Bored dogs get into trouble. For young puppies, mental stimulation is just as tiring as physical exercise and is safer for their growing bodies.
Follow these tips and don’t follow these myths! Indulge in a happy training session with your pet. Encourage them to learn new things, appreciate his efforts and you’ll see what a master he’ll become in just a few days!
(Poorvi Anthony is the co-founder of Just Dogs, a pet retail chain of pet superstores and spas. The services they offer include spa, dog training, dog breeding, dog grooming, and pet boarding).