You’re Not Making These Dog Training Mistakes, Are You?


Yellow labI write about dog training fairly often on this blog, including all the things you should teach your dog such as to heel or to interact appropriately with other dogs, etc.

But what are some things a dog owner shouldn’t do while training a dog?

The following are some of the top dog training mistakes people make, according to the dog trainers I interviewed. I don’t know about you, but I’m a little guilty of most of these …

Top 5 dog training mistakes

Repeating commands

One of the top mistakes dog owners make is to repeat commands, according to Samantha DeDivitis, founder of Paws with Manners Dog Training.

Commands should never be said more than once, she said. But instead you hear dog owners saying things like, “‘Buffy, sit. Sit? Sit? C’mon, sit? Buffy, sit! Sit! Sit!’ and all the while the dog is paying no attention to them.”

According to DeDivitis, if you repeat a command, you’re teaching your dog there’s no need to respond the first time because you’ll just say it again.

“The dog needs to understand that there won’t be a second command. He needs to do it the first time he’s asked,” she said.


“Inconsistency is the leading contributor to frustrations on both ends of the leash,” according to Karen Scoggins, a dog trainer and founder of the pet food company My Perfect Pet.

Using a variety of terms to convey the same message leaves the dog confused about what command was really given, she said.

For example, does “down” mean “lie down?” Or does it mean “stop jumping?”

According to her, dog owners also allow their dogs to ignore commands, which teaches them that obedience is optional in some situations (such as when the doorbell rings), not mandatory.

Calling the dog before doing something negative

Dog owners also have a bad habit of calling their dogs before doing something the dogs perceive as negative, DeDivitis said.

For example, calling a dog before a nail trim or calling the dog before a bath.

“Dogs should only be called to you for positive things,” she said. “In their mind, ‘Come’ should always mean good things await when he gets there.”

For “negative” things, just go and get your dog, she said.

Encouraging behaviors that are not desired long term 

A good example of this is jumping.

While a puppy may be encouraged to jump as a way of showing affection, that same behavior is “bad” when the dog becomes 40 pounds, Scoggins said.

“Obedience does not come with age,” she said. “It comes with consistency and discipline. Do not wait until the dog has developed bad habits that need to be corrected. Rather, start day one with consistent setting of expectations and obedience.”

Forgetting to praise!

“People tend to go heavy on the verbal corrections but don’t praise enough,” DeDivitis said. “You have to communicate with your dog and let him know the things he’s doing right and well, not just the stuff you don’t like.”

How about you? Are there any mistakes you have made with your dog?

About Lindsay Stordahl

Lindsay Stordahl is a blogger for She has a black Lab mix named Ace and two naughty cats named Beamer and Scout. Lindsay owns a pet sitting business called Run That Mutt and also maintains the blog ... Add Lindsay to your Google+ circles at . You can follow Lindsay on Twitter @ThatMutt.

  1. I just came from visiting our grandchildren and their 10 month old Black Lab Sampson. My son did have him in obedient school but Sampson is a jumper. He ‘s happy to see you but always jumps up on you. Play dates have ended b/c they are afraid he will knock the kids down. He is also a biter. Any suggestions on how to handle the jumping, other than kneeing him in the chest or squeezing the bottom of his paw???

    • Hi Sue. That’s great your son took him to obedience school. Unfortunately, a lot of dogs jump on people and puppies will also nip and bite when they’re excited.

      Here is a post we wrote on how to stop a dog from jumping:

      Ignoring the dog is a big factor, which I know is difficult when he’s probably around 60 pounds. One thing I do with larger dogs is just keep moving forward, into their space, rather than backing away. When I back away, their force/weight can knock me over but when I move forward they have to move back. One thing you could suggest to your son is to keep the dog on a leash when people come to the door and to find a highly valued food/treat the dog will work for. Then, teach him an appropriate behavior, like sit and reward that instead of the jumping.

      Good luck! I know jumping is one of the hardest habits to break!


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