When it comes to dog training, everyone seems to want a magic pill to suddenly “fix” all their dog’s problems. Although countless training methods exist, no one method works on every dog. Realistically, like people, dogs are individuals, so you may have to experiment a bit. For example, if your dog isn’t motivated by food, any type of training method that uses treat-based rewards isn’t going to work very well. If you know what motivates your dog, it’s a lot easier to encourage him to do what you want. Like that magic pill, a few other things you hear about dog training are definitely not true either.
1. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This pervasive myth continues even though it’s obviously not true. Even if your dog has slowed down physically, it doesn’t mean he’s suddenly not trainable. (When you turned 40 or 60, did you suddenly stop learning anything anymore?)
2. If I say it louder, he’ll listen. When it comes to training, repeating commands and yelling are pointless. Repeating a command just teaches your dog not to listen to you. Say a command once and mean it. If the dog doesn’t do what you ask, don’t yell and scream. Your dog hears far better than you do. Instead, show him what you want. Correction and instruction is not the same thing as punishment. You don’t want your dog to fear you.
3. I already told him, so he KNOWS I don’t like it. Dogs are not people. They pay attention to responses, and they live in the moment. They don’t “know” what you are thinking from past experience. If they do something and it elicits a response (even what to you may be a negative response), they’ll probably do it again. To many attention-starved dogs, being yelled at is better than being ignored.
4. I need to show him who’s boss. Having a dog that fears you should not be your goal. Dogs respect leaders, they fear erratic, mean humans. You establish leadership by having the dog do things to gain a reward, such as sitting before receiving affection.
Again, dogs live in the moment, so punishing a dog for something he did hours ago just isn’t going to compute. If you don’t catch a dog in the act of doing something you don’t like, too bad. Get over it and be more vigilant next time.