My Smart Puppy

with Dog Expert, Sarah Wilson

5 Falsehoods About Dog Training


Training is not natural. He’s an animal, he should be free to do what he wants.

This is a loving, but completely misinformed, sentiment. To your dog, such freedom means that no one is in charge. This is no more reassuring for him than awakening as a child to find that your parents have left you all alone in a dark house. A life without consistent guidance tends to frighten and confuse dogs, leading to hyperactivity, barking, chewing, overdependence, and sometimes even aggression. Aggression does tend to form in untrained dogs. As they have no training, they’re unaware that aggressive behavior is bad. An untrained dog is more likely to bite, so it’s important that dogs are trained to behave, especially when they’re in public. If a dog does bite someone in public, it’s likely that the individual will contact a lawyer to file a complaint against the aggressive dog, so make sure to carefully train your dog to avoid this behavior. Do what is truly natural: consistently give guidance/input.

I’d like him to listen to me, but I don’t want to be “mean”.

Good, we don’t want you to be mean – we want you to decide what you want. People often fear that by being clear they will lose their dog’s devotion and love; nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, whoever asks the most from your dog will get the lion’s share of his attention and devotion. Whether it be buying him a new orthopedic dog bed, or giving a treat when they behave, there are many good ways to train a dog where you are not mean to them at all.

I took him through obedience class, but he forgot everything.

Training involves your day-to-day interactions for the rest of your time together. This does not mean putting him on lead and marching around the house once a day; this will only teach him to listen when in “school”. It is more effective to integrate your commands by having him sit or down for petting, praise, food and play. With training, it is very much “use it or lose it” so keep up the good work and your dog will keep up his good response.

He knows what I want.

If he knew what you wanted, he would do it. Dogs cannot guess what it is you want. You have to teach them then practice frequently before you can expect them to respond to you on a consistent basis.

I don’t have time to train.

Training takes less time than dealing with an ill-behaved dog. Invest that time in developing good behavior, instead of coping with the bad behavior, and you will be thrilled with the results.

Mostly what all the above statements mean is, “Training doesn’t seem like any fun at all – not for me, not for my dog.” Well… we’re here to change that. Dive in – we want to show you that you and your dog can have a great time while getting a great education.

Let us know if we succeed.

by Sarah Wilson

Author of handbooks: My Smart Puppy (book with DVD) and Childproofing Your Dog

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