Canine Psychology & Shaping Behavior: Part 7 – Eight Common Mistakes Owners Make

Required pre-watching:

This series has taken a deep dive into the fundamentals of canine psychology and through the first 6 videos we have talked about a lot of serious topics, often highly debated amongst professional trainers. In this last video of this series, I wanted to touch on eight simple things in the home that you can be aware of to minimize the chances “breaking your dog”, and increasing the likelihood of being that person with the great dog that all the neighbors are envious of!

When you have finished the video, don’t forget to visit our website to pick up some super tasty healthy treats so you can take the next step in developing your relationship with your pup!

Mistake #1

Owners forget to reward the dog for doing nothing. That’s right, doing nothing. For anybody who has walked the long road of bringing a highly reactive, loud or aggressive dog back to a relative state of normality, often they forget that silence is golden, calmness is bliss and confidence is king. Once you have gotten there, don’t forget to keep reinforcing that behavior, we want the dog to really, really, REALLY understand that this new state of mind is exactly what we want and give little to no chance to revert to the previous behavior you spent time on fixing.

Mistake #2

Owners think that they can train while walking their dog. This is actually far harder than it sounds and I get feedback from owners constantly saying “I was out on today’s walk and I was trying to get him to do…but then…”. Ideally, we want to split it up, keeping training as training and keep walking as walking. That way, you have a better chance of being able to control the environment and distractions more effectively until your dog is really ready to engage with them.

Mistake #3

Owners are not suitably prepared to reward the dog when the dog finally delivers the behavior that you want. What I see a lot is the juggle of the phone, the lead, the treats, the poop bags and any other thing in the owners hand when they are trying to work with their dog. Everything else except for the lead should be pocketed, and a treat should be sitting in the palm of your other hand ready to be despatched just as soon as the proverbial bum hits the proverbial ground.

Mistake #4

The owner is using the dog’s name randomly, or even worse, in an aversive way. The dog’s name is its name, it is not a command. It does not mean “come” or “sit” or “stop that”, its function is to get the dog’s attention. When we use our dog’s name as something other than what it is, a name, all we do is depreciate the value of the dog’s name in its mind. This is essentially sabotaging any chance of a good next engagement with your pup, and putting the likelihood of a good recall further out of reach.

Mistake #5

The owner is not delivering a clear message to the dog when working with them because their posture, facial expression, tone, voice etc is all delivering something different to the intended message. I have seen it a thousand times, and all it does is confuse the dog. When you want to give your pup a reward, be engaging, excited and fun. When you are giving an aversive outcome, it’s ok for the unhappy face and voice to come out.

Mistake #6

The family unit is inconsistent in the upholding of household rules. If a rule is a rule, then everyone in the family must be following the rules, otherwise the dog will either become less confident in being able to predict the future, or start to focus its attention on the weakest link. Either way, what we will get in the end is erratic inconsistent unreliable behavior which is what we are trying to avoid.

Mistake #7

Owners forget that reliable basic obedience training gives the dog a stronger foundation in the development of its confidence. When the dog is encountering a new situation or scenario, it will be waiting for you to show leadership about how it should progress through this situation. Getting the dog into a sit or drop is one of the best ways to show your dog that you know what is going on, and that they do not have to worry about it, as you are on top of it and will lead them through it.

Mistake #8

Owners think that sending the dog away to “doggy school” will solve all their problems at home. This is incorrect for the vast majority of issues that people face at home with their dog. Some things are indeed possible to be advanced at a doggy school, but most problems should be resolved in the home. This is because the source of the problem is more than likely coming from the environment or a member of the family unit is doing something to confuse the dog. If the family members don’t understand and participate in the development of the dog, after coming back from doggy school, old behaviors will reemerge very quickly.

A Final Thought:

Chateau Canine’s next series of training videos will be out during the winter and will be moving from the deep theory of this series and onto the practicalities of tackling specific common problems owners face. Some of the topics will include: excessive barking, destructive behavior, mouthing/biting and that old gem… inappropriate elimination (peeing/pooping randomly around the house). FUN!!!


Found this article interesting or useful even? Support our CSR efforts by taking a look at Chateau Canine’s Social Responsibility Initiatives and see how you can change a street dog’s life, just by buying a toy / treat / food for your own dog! That sounds Barking Awesome doesn’t it 😉

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