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Every pet owner loves their fur babies... most of the time. When Spot's leaving spots on the rug or Rover's roving where he shouldn't, it can be tough to not respond with feelings of frustration. However, that's one of the main reasons that people make common training mistakes.
Dogs are loving creatures, but they're not as mentally complex as humans. But they are more than capable of learning and are eager to please. Bear that in mind as you consider these 4 common training mistakes!
Dogs understand more than we think they do, but they especially respond to tone. When you get angry and loud, they think "threat!" and respond by adopting appeasement posture. If you've seen videos of "dog shaming," that's the kind of behavior dogs use to avoid a challenge from a more senior pack member.
To put this in terms of people training, imagine trying to learn a foreign language while it's being shouted at you by an angry person. It's hard to focus on the content when you're trying to figure out if this person is going to hurt you.
Worse yet, dogs may respond to this threat in unhealthy ways. If you get mad every time the dog uses the bathroom inside, the dog learns that you get mad when he potties. This will lead to more concealment, and is part of the reason dogs start hiding poop around the house!
When it comes to your new DoggieLawn, we advise you to make sure your dog does not use the DoggieLawn as his new chaise lounger and take naps on it. After all, can you blame him for wanting to sleep on a soft, cool, natural bed? If you find your pup starting to do so, we recommend you distract him and find a way to get him off - getting his attention and throwing a toy elsewhere is one way. Scolding him for sitting/laying down on the lawn may only confuse him more and cause him to think that going near the grass is bad.
2) Bad Timing
Especially with a puppy, timing is everything. A dog has a relatively short attention span. If you don't get your praise or reward in that window, you're not reinforcing anything.
While the puppy potties or just after, you've got a very narrow window to give praise and a reward. Doing this consistently will establish a pattern your dog can follow.
The same thing goes with trying to punish your dog well after they've peed in the corner of the house. If you weren't there to correct it at that moment, then doing so a few hours later won't be helplful.
3) Using Punishment
When you react out of anger to your dog's behavior, it's easiest to go straight for consequences. After all, that's how you'd raise a kid. Bad behavior has consequences, and dogs need to learn that.
Except they won't. As much as we love them, dogs aren't kids. They don't learn the same way. When you punish a dog, all the dog learns is to dislike whatever the punishment is. That's serious trouble if you punish with crate time or isolation. Doing so can increase separation anxiety and produce more bad behavior.
Instead, rely on positive reinforcement. Most dogs are fairly food motivated, and so a well-placed treat can really bridge the gap between you and your canine companion. Praise, delivered in the right tone, can do many of the same things. Your dog wants to please you, so showing that approval will help reinforce the behavior your dog is showing.
This is perhaps one of the most important mistakes people make. To train your dog you need to be consistent with what you do. So when it comes to the DoggieLawn, if your dog does not take to it immediately, try to establish a routine and have your dog try to use the DoggieLawn each morning. Then make sure that you're there and if they do go, make sure to always praise them. Dogs thrive on routine and patterns so if you deviate from what they expect, it will confuse them.
If you're looking for a dog potty solution, it doesn't have to be an outdoor space. For city dwellers or anyone without a big patch of grass, an indoor dog potty can be a lifesaver. If you're interested in learning more about saving your floors and your furry friend, click here!