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27 Common Dog Training Mistakes + Fixes (Updated 2023)

Dog Training Mistakes

You can’t help but worry when training your pooch.

As you know, 1 error can lead to another.

Good thing I can help you with avoiding some crucial training mistakes.

Keep reading to find out:

  • 27 typical dog training mistakes and how to fix them.
  • When to get help from professionals regarding canine training.
  • Interesting facts about dog training and its most important aspects.
  • And many more…

27 common dog training mistakes + how to fix them

#1: Holding back training

Some dog parents wait too long to start their pup’s training.

They hold back until they think their pooch is old or mature enough.

But starting dog training late is the first mistake fur parents make.

How to fix it:

According to PetMD, training should begin when you bring Fido home.

Typically, that’s about 8 weeks of your pup’s age.

And it’s better to start then for the best results.

But if they’re older than that already…

The quickest way to turn this around is by starting as soon as possible.

If your pup’s training hasn’t begun…

Act the moment you read this article.

#2: Insufficient training sessions

Most canines only attend classes once a week.

And for them, that’s the only time they get training. 

Because their cues and commands don’t get reinforced at home.

Now, if you approach Fido’s education this way…

They’re likely to forget what they learned from their weekly sessions.

Which will prolong the need for such ineffective classes.

How to fix it:

First of all, it’s not wrong to enroll your pup in any training sessions. 

Trivia: A study says puppies signed up for classes were more obedient and happier. Plus, they also get socialized with other dogs and people.

So, enroll your pup in a weekly training class.

But don’t forget to recall their training at home. 

And in my experience, even a daily 5-minute refresher of it works. 

#3: Irregular training schedule

AKC says dogs thrive in routine and structure.

Because it benefits them by knowing what to expect in their day.

So it’s a mistake when your canine’s training schedule is unpredictable.

For example:

You do obedience training with them every other day.

Where one session happens in the morning…

Then the next occurs in the afternoon.

That setup confuses your pooch…

Which can negatively affect their training performance.

How to fix it:

If your pooch can predict what time of day their drills are…

It’ll lessen their anxiety and improve their performance.

So pick the same time slot available for you to train them each day…

And stick to it.

#4: Inconsistent cues and signals

Consistency is an essential aspect of dog training.

And not just when it comes to scheduling…

But with your signals and commands as well.

Say you use the word “Come!”

But the next time you want Fido to go to you, you say, “C’mon!”

Then, sometimes, you also tell them, “Come ‘ere!”

Well, if you do it like that…

Your pup would have trouble understanding what you want.

Which will delay their training progress.

How to fix it:

To repair the damage of this mistake, you have to go back to zero.

This time, be consistent with your prompts.

Do so by sticking to just 1 word or phrase.

And the best approach for this is:

To apply the first cue you used when you introduced the command.

If you started by saying, “Sit!”

That’s what you’re going to employ until Fido learns it.

#5: Conflicting the pack’s training

Some parents with multiple dogs overlook this error in dog training.

Which is being inconsistent with cues, rewards, and permissions.

Say, for Fido, the prompt to sit down is “Sit!”

Then, for Lass, you use “Siddown!”

Well, that can confuse both dogs.

Another example is when you scolded Fido for being on the couch…

But moments after, you’re cuddling Lass in it.

With that, Fido and Lass won’t learn the exact behavior you want from them.

How to fix it:

Make this a rule in your household:

What applies to one dog should also be implemented in other canines.

Note: This household law includes pups visiting your fur babies at home.

So if the couch is off-limits…

Then, no dog should be on it.

Reminder: You can train different dogs by employing various approaches. But as much as possible, use similar cues and signals.

#6: Overly long training sessions

Overly Long Training Sessions

According to research:

Dogs have an average attention span of 1 minute.

And the issue with most dog training sessions is:

They take up 30 minutes at a time.

Some even span up to an hour.

But that approach is only convenient for humans.

Since no one would really spend money for 1-minute training sessions every day.

However, given the short attention spans of canines…

They might get distracted halfway through a 30-minute class.

Which will slow down their progress.

How to fix it:

While you can’t change the duration of a professional training session…

You can switch up the ones you have at home to make them more effective.

If your sessions usually take 30 minutes…

Split that by half, and make it into 15-minute drills twice daily.

Or better yet…

Break it into 4 daily classes to reduce their durations to 7.5 minutes.

I guarantee they’ll be more effective than the longer ones Fido has to endure.    

#7: Thinking all dogs are the same

You might’ve heard of an approach that worked for your friend’s fur baby…

But once you tried applying it to your pup’s training…

You didn’t get the same positive results.

Or you did, but it took you longer than they advertised.

When things like that happen, I remind fur parents that:

No dog is the same.

How to fix it:

You’re free to try any training approach you’re willing to test.

But remember these:

First, training isn’t easy for both the parent and the dog.

More importantly, one wrong system doesn’t mean your pup won’t learn…

That’s why I suggest researching multiple methods…

Then, find out what works best for Fido.

And while you haven’t discovered it yet…

Manage your expectations when training your pooch.

#8: Getting ahead of yourself

Starting with the basics helps build the foundation of your dog’s knowledge,

But some parents skip it and rush to the advanced behaviors and skills.

If that’s how you approach dog training…

You’re going to take longer compared to if you begin with the basics.

How to fix it:

It’ll depend on the result you want to get:

For example, you want Fido to learn the “play dead” trick…

But if they have a problem jumping on you or other people…

Your goal will be miles away from your reach.

So, start by taking care of their jumping issue first.

And once you can settle your pup on the ground…

Then, you can easily train them to do the play dead trick.

#9: Expecting results too soon

There’ll be times when your pup won’t immediately deliver results.

Which may frustrate you.

But based on a study:

Your dog can detect your emotions through your:

  • Tone.
  • Facial expressions.

So when they sense you’re disappointed at them during training…

That can only stress them and make them anxious.

Plus, it also affects their attitude toward the specific behavior or activity.

If you show this attitude to them, they might start to dread the sessions.

All of which can delay the results you’re waiting for.

How to fix it:

As Dr. Coren, a renowned canine psychologist, revealed:

Canines are as smart as a child at 2 to 2.5 years old.

So when you’re training your pup…

Teach them the same way you would a kid.

And typically, a dog needs 6 weeks to learn basic cues and commands.

If it hasn’t been that long since you started…

Don’t be impatient and take it against Fido.

#10: Incorrect timing with reward

Imagine this scenario:

You tell Fido to sit down, and they do…

But it took you a while to give them their reward.

So you hand them the treat when they’re already up and jumping at you.

Unfortunately, your incorrect timing encouraged the wrong behavior.

In that scenario, your pooch thinks jumping at you is desirable.

How to fix it:

This takes practice on your part too.

The moment you say the command and Fido does the trick…

That’s when you must hand them the reward.

Tip: My technique is to praise the pup while they’re in the act.

#11: Disordered treat delivery

Picture this:

You ask your canine to lie down.

And they did it on your right.

But you had the treat on your left hand…

So Fido stood up to get it.

What behavior do you think you reinforced?

Unfortunately, you encouraged them to get the treat from your hand.

And that’s how you can misplace the treat delivery…

Thus resulting in a corrupted command.

How to fix it:

You must hand your pup their reward on the same side they did the behavior.

Don’t make them get up and walk toward you.

Instead, aim below or behind their mouth a little.

#12: Repeating cues

Your pup didn’t sit the first time you asked them to…

So you repeated the cue…

And they only did it the third time you said, “Sit!”

With that, they’ll start to think it’s okay not to follow you the first time.

Or that the official command is “Sit, sit, sit!

How to fix it:

Never repeat a cue.

Doing this is also known as command nagging.

If you see your canine is distracted and they’re not listening…

Hold it for a while.

You only say the command when you’re sure you got their attention.

Doing so avoids the misunderstanding between you and Fido.

#13: Bribing instead of rewarding

In dog training, bribery is when you show your pooch you have a prize in hand…

And they can get it in exchange for them following your cue.

So, they do it, and you give the treat to them.

Now, that seems harmless at first…

But when you always bribe Fido…

They’ll only perform the skill when there’s a prize on sight.

Which is dangerous…

Because, in the long run, you need to gradually decrease the frequency of treats.

How to fix it:

You can begin training by showing Fido what they can earn.

That way, they’d know you’ll reward them for being a good pooch.

And when they start to perform well…

Begin to not always put the prizes on view.

Don’t worry. Letting them guess if they’re getting the reward is still motivating.

By doing this, you can successfully remove Fido’s dependence on treats.

#14: Only relying on treats

At the start of training, goodies are fundamental as rewards.

But over reliance on them influences the transition to gradually using fewer treats.

Because your pup will develop a dependence on the prize.

That limits the effectiveness of training.

How to fix it:

Apart from treats, here are other positive rewards:

  • Petting them.
  • Saying praises.

Try to switch between those.

From time to time, you can also award them with a new toy.

For further reading: 7 Reasons Why Dogs Like Treats So Much + 5 Dangers

#15: Using aversive training methods

This is also called negative reinforcement.

And examples of such are using choke, prong, or shock collars.

As well as applying force, like hitting your pooch, to make them follow you.

Although the application of those methods can be effective at times…

I still consider it a training mistake.

Since they harm your dog’s mental health and well-being.

A research discovered:

Dogs trained using aversive methods showed more stress-related behaviors. Some of which are:

  • Yawning.
  • Lip-licking.
  • Being tense.

Moreover, the canines showed pessimism toward activities.

That means their confidence is scarred. 

Making them more prone to stress and anxiety during training.

How to fix it:

Vets and trainers advocate using positive reinforcement in dog training.

It’s an effective method that won’t harm Fido’s mental health.

The Humane Society describes it as:

A training method that applies positive rewards for behavior reinforcement.

That includes praising your pooch and handing them treats.  

Continue reading: 17 Shock Collar Alternatives To Train & Bond With Your Dog

#16: Yelling at your dog

Yelling At Your Dog During Training

Vocalizing your frustration while training your pooch is also aversive.

And according to VCA Hospitals:

Canines know how to sense and respond to different intonations and volumes.

So they might not understand the words you’re saying…

But your pup can still tell if you’re:

  • Firm.
  • Cheerful.
  • Disappointed.
  • Warning them.
  • Being reassuring.

So if they hear your mad tone during training…

That can stress them and make them anxious.

Which lessens Fido’s confidence…

Thus leading to more frustrations on your end.

How to fix it:

After you yelled at your dog…

Position yourself at a safe distance from them.

Then, kneel at their side to be on their level. 

Doing this makes you appear less intimidating.

After that, talk to your dog in a soothing voice.

Based on research, canines listen better when humans talk to them that way.

Not only should you do that to make amends with Fido…

You must apply it to their training sessions to get better results.

#17: Continuing training while you’re frustrated

Yelling isn’t the only way to spill your frustration during dog training.

As you learned, canines can also detect your emotions through your expressions.

So even if you conceal your anger under your neutral voice…

Fido can still tell if you’re mad by looking at your face.

When they do, it’ll make them anxious…

Which can make training more challenging for you and your canine.

How to fix it:

Ensure that your emotions align with what’s going on.

You can get excited when your pooch successfully does the trick.

And you’re allowed to act disappointed when they don’t.

But don’t overdo the latter when it happens. 

So avoid getting carried away by your frustration.

If you find that hard to do…

You can take a short break from training.

Note: A 5-minute recess won’t hurt your pup’s training. But use it wisely. You can have them play a short game after they successfully do the trick as a reward. 

#18: Neglecting fear and anxiety signals

It’s dangerous if you ignore fearful signs.

Because your dog can develop anxiety during training.

Then, the more you leave them feeling that way…

The more likely they’ll associate that negative emotion during sessions.

Moreover, ASPCA warns:

Fear can turn into aggression.

Which can drive your canine to bite you

How to fix it:

According to PetMD, these are the signs of fear in dogs to watch out for:

  • Circling.
  • Escaping.
  • Tail-tucking.
  • Trying to hide.
  • Panting (without exhaustion).

And when you catch these signals…

You must take a break from training to distract your fur baby.

Take a recess and play a 5-minute game of fetch with them.

However, I advocate avoiding the training method that scared Fido.

Instead, use positive training approaches.

So you won’t have to put your pooch through unnecessary stress and danger.

#19: Unintentionally rewarding negative behavior

Dog parents often make the error of reinforcing undesirable actions.

And most of the time, it’s unintentional.

Say you want your pooch to stop barking at you to demand something.

And every time they do it…

You immediately tell them to stop.

That might’ve done the trick for you…

But here’s what happened on your pup’s side:

They’re barking at you because they want your attention.

And when you reacted, you just gave them what they wanted.

How to fix it:

Stop reacting to your pup’s actions that you don’t want to see again.

When they’re showing you undesirable behavior…

The best thing to do is to ignore them.

It might be annoying to endure something you don’t want…

But your pooch will stop in no time.

And once they do…

You can finally reward them through praise or treats.

This teaches Fido they can’t get what they want by misbehaving.

#20: Not being proactive

Another way of unintentionally encouraging undesirable behaviors is by:

Giving your pup a chance to do them.

Such as when you want to train Fido to stop chewing your shoes.

But since your pooch has easy access to them.

It’s going to be difficult for you to curb the behavior…

How to fix it:

As the dog parent, you’re in control and responsible for your pup’s environment.

And your fur baby’s surroundings are an important factor in their training.

So, be proactive and change what you can.

For instance:

You’re bothered by how your dog gets too excited when you get home

Then, I suggest putting a dog gate at one point of the house.

In the meantime, work on reducing and eliminating unwanted behavior. 

For example, let’s say your dog jumps on you. Then you immediately turn your back to them. And close the door behind you. 

This will teach your dog that what they’re doing is driving you away. 

You might have to repeat this action a few times, so they get the idea. In time, their undesired behavior will stop.

#21: Using their name in a negative context

Yelling is already bad for your dog’s training…

But if you shout their name, especially in a negative manner…

That can make the damage worse.

Because your pup will start to get anxious every time someone calls them.

How to fix it:

Don’t allow them to associate their name with anything negative.

So, don’t yell it out when they’re disappointing you during training.

And if you’re teaching them not to do something…

Use simple cues like “no” or “stop” instead. Don’t forget to say these in a firm but calm tone.

#22: Poisoning their training

It baffles fur parents when they successfully teach Fido a command…

Then, it gets less effective as days go by.

That can happen to you, too, if you poison your dog’s training.

Here’s an example:

You need to summon your pooch for a bath…

Which they usually hate.

Now, you used the cue, “Fido, come!”

But the next time they hear that command…

They’re going to hesitate to trust you…

Since they think you’ll put them through something they despise.

How to fix it:

Assign a command for a specific activity or action.

With that, avoid using a general cue for multiple tasks.

If they need a bath, use an appropriate prompt rather than “Come!”

You can go for something like, “Fido, bath-bath!”

#23: Failing to generalize a skill

“Why can’t they do it when somebody else is around?”

That’s something you might’ve asked yourself due to this mistake.

See, if your pooch learned a skill at home…

There’s a chance they might not show it when other people are watching.

Or when you’re in a different place.


Because you didn’t train them to perform it with distractions around.

How to fix it:

For a behavior to work in different settings…

You must generalize it. Here’s how to do so:

Step 1: Train with no distractions

You’re still building the foundation of your dog’s training…

So start inside your home with no disturbances.

Step 2: Introduce distractions while still inside

Now that Fido has learned the skill…

Time to incorporate some distractions while in the initial training area.

Ask someone to watch during the drill.

Or open a window or door that shows people passing by.

Step 3: Take it outside

It’s time to practice outside.

But ensure it’s still a controlled environment.

Like in your yard where the distractions are visible and audible…

But Fido can’t pursue them because the area is fenced.

#24: Rewarding them with something they don’t like

A study discovered your dog has food preferences.

Which are influenced by their genes and upbringing.

And when you apply this fact in training…

It shows that the treats you use as rewards can affect your pup’s performance.

So if you used the wrong ones that Fido doesn’t like…

They won’t work for your reward. Thus, influencing their interest in training.

How to fix it:

Prepare different kinds of treats for your canine.

Then, see and use which type they respond to best.

#25: Leaving food within reach

The simple logic is:

How would you convince your pooch to work for treats…

If they can easily steal food off the counter or table?

How to fix it:

Properly storing dog food is part of puppy-proofing your home.

So ensure that you stock Fido’s kibbles in containers they can’t reach or open.

Then, guarantee you won’t leave around food on surfaces they can quickly get to.

#26: Lacking confidence during training

Dogs look up to humans. 

So it’s a mistake if you train them without confidence.

If you don’t trust yourself while teaching your pooch…

They’ll take control of the situation…

Making it harder for you to establish your authority as a parent or trainer.

How to fix it:

Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with the alpha or dominance theory.

Instead, it’s about controlling and commanding the training environment.

It’s how you react to distractions around you.  

Since your pup will follow your lead.

Confidence is also letting them understand what you want.

And you can show it by being consistent with cues and schedules…

More importantly, you also build your canine’s self-esteem.

Which is crucial in their training performance.

#27: Not knowing when to get help

You’re not alone in your dog training struggle.

And that’s a fact that some fur parents set aside.

Although rest assured, you can work around and learn from your mistakes…

There’ll come the point where you need help with the process.

And you must know when to acknowledge it.

How to fix it:

Help could come from a professional dog trainer. 

Here are situations where you might need to reach out to them:

  • Feeling burned out.
  • Having tried most or all the approaches (from your research).

Not just that, because a vet can help you as well.

The reason Fido is disobedient can be due to anxiety. 

Or an underlying medical illness affects their functions and interest.

And those are better handled under the doctor’s advice and instructions.