Dog training, for better or worse, is far from an exact science. There are many different schools of thought out there regarding the best way to train dogs to behave properly. In fact, some may even disagree as to what exactly behavior is deemed “proper” for a dog.
Then you throw in the age of the internet and misinformation online, and dog training can become a difficult subject to sift through regarding determining what’s sound advice and what is utter nonsense. Whether it comes from a difference of opinion, misinformation, or just downright made-up preconceptions, there are plenty of myths about dogs, canine behavior, and dog training.
At Don’s Behavioral Dog Training in Elk River, Minnesota, our trainer, Don Dahlberg, has trained dogs since he was 16 years old, studying many schools of thought in the field, including W. R. Koehler, Cesar Millan, Dr. Ian Dunbar, Doggy Dan, Jean Donaldson, among many others. Don, a former zookeeper with a degree in biology, has extensively researched wolves and their behavior. He fully understands that after 15000+ years of domestication that the domestic dog does not have the same behavioral characteristics as their ancestors. But that doesn’t mean that we have to pretend that they are a different species.
Now, back to those pesky dog training myths. We’ve highlighted 10 of the most common myths we hear regularly and will give you the facts about dogs, their behavior, and dog training in general. It’s important to remember that dog training is healthy for your dog, you as a pet owner, and the relationship the two of you will share for a lifetime!
A Food Reward is Bribery
Many myths become well-known because they’re based on some sense of truth or half-truths. This is a popular example. Like humans, dogs are motivated by a reward of some payoff down the road. Treats are a great motivating factor for dogs and give you a way to verify the behavior you’re seeking from them. Petting them and other positive attention is also a great way to let dogs know that responding appropriately to your commands is correct. But like any training, you should be mindful and diligent in your rewarding. Don’t give treats unless they do exactly what you want, and slowly wean them off treats so that positive reinforcement is enough.
You Can’t Train an Aggressive Dog.
This is 100 percent false. Any dog who displays aggressive behavior can be trained to correct the behavior. Aggressive dog training is all about establishing why your dog displays aggressive behavior in the first place. Likely, it is fear-based or the result of poor socialization with other dogs or people at a young age. Any dog breed can be aggressive under the right circumstances, and any dog can indeed be trained to act less aggressively.
You Can’t Train a Puppy Until Six Months Old.
Puppies begin learning almost immediately. In fact, the first 16 weeks of a puppy’s life are usually the most important for its development and growth. You should begin potty training and teaching basic commands as soon as the dog is old enough to come into your possession in the first place. Puppy training is a fantastic way to stimulate their mind, socialize them with other people and dogs, form a stronger bond with you, and more. If you wait until their six months old, you will have wasted plenty of valuable time.
Dogs Seek to Please Us
Dogs are animals and are driven by their own instincts. They are opportunistic, smart, and adaptable. Although domestication has bred dogs to understand we share a mutual interest, they don’t instinctively seek to please use. It doesn’t necessarily come from a place of trying to make us happy.
My Dog is Too Stubborn to Learn
There is no question some breeds are more prone to displaying stubborn personality and behavior. However, there is no such thing as a dog who is too stubborn to learn. Great dog training is about understanding your dog and how to communicate with them effectively. This is where professional dog training comes in handy, especially with more stubborn breeds or personalities. The key is to find what motivates them and communicating with them on a level they respond to.
My Dog’s Breed Isn’t the “Intelligent” One.
Regardless of their breed, all dogs can learn basic commands. Sure, some breeds or personality types require a little more work and dedication to dog training, but they will learn with the right attitude and process. The trick is figuring out what motivates them and how to best communicate in a way they relate to. This is Don’s specialty and why he’s been a successful dog training in Minnesota for more than 40 years.
It’s Just a Phase
When your dog displays poor behavior or the kind of behavior you don’t want them to have, it’s never “just a phase.” You need to show them that the behavior is inappropriate and teach them the correct behavior, whether chewing, barking, or pulling on the leash.
Tug-of-War Teaches My Dog to Be Aggressive
Tug-of-war with a rope or other toy is one of a dog’s favorite games and is often used as a reward by pet owners and trainers worldwide. This does not make your dog more aggressive. However, what you should always keep in mind is making sure your dog knows it’s wrong to put their teeth on your skin and that they obey your command to “drop it” when it’s time to stop playing.
My Dog is Just a Dominant Personality
The concept of “dominance” is often used to explain away poor behavior in dogs. But dominance is a social relationship between two parties, not a character trait. Your dog doesn’t seek to establish dominance over you. Leash training is a great way to reinforce the behavior that you want.
We hope you found today’s post informative and helpful. There’s no question Don’s Behavioral Dog Training can help you and your dog come to a full understanding so that the relationship is strong and healthy for the future, whether your dog is just a puppy or is older. So contact us today to learn more or schedule a free consultation with Don and take the first step to an obedient, well-behaved dog!