When it comes to training a dog or puppy (either from scratch or just to teach them some new skills) one thing is very true-everyone has their own ideas about how to do it and what is best, and they will usually be only to keen to tell you all about it!
While there is no set-in-stone right and wrong way to train a dog and there are several schools of thought, protocols to follow and well-known famous dog trainers each promoting their own technique, most dog owners and professionals that work with dogs have at least reached a broad consensus terms of certain things that are universally good or bad when it comes to training.
The fact that all of the core schools of thought and training routines share a range of broad similarities in terms of what they class as good and bad can in fact be helpful, as even though it will get you no closer to deciding what form of training works best for you and your dog or what routine to pick, it will at least point you in the right direction!
However, there are still a fairly broad range of things that would have been considered as training norms some twenty or thirty years ago, but that are now badly out of date and have been proven to be either ineffective or even make things worse-and ensuring that you aren’t doing any of them is important!
This is especially important for people who may well have been raised with dogs but are now some twenty or so years on, getting their first dog as an adult for the first time-because people that fall into this demographic will remember the way that their dog was trained and managed when they were children, and use this as their frame of reference.
In this article, we will look at five pieces of dog training wisdom that are now badly out of date, and should be avoided!
For dogs that are strong, very energetic or simply poorly trained, choke chains used to be the last word in control for dog handlers. A choke chain is a free-running chain that can be tightened or loosened against the dog’s neck, with the theory being that this provides superior control, as you can ultimately restrict the dog’s breathing if you pull the chain too tight or keep it too tight.
Once you’ve read the above paragraph, it might seem like a no-brainer that a choke chain is not a good tool-but for many years, it was considered as the go-to way of controlling a strong or unruly dog. However, choke chains are not only ineffective and ultimately, an excuse for failing to train the dog properly, but they can also damage and harm your dog’s neck-as well as of course posing a risk of strangulation.
Owning a dog that is always pulling hard on the end of their lead can be one of the most frustrating things for dog owners, turning walks into a real battle that are far from enjoyable!
Old-fashioned training wisdom dictated that a short, sharp yank on the chain to physically pull the dog back to heel was the way to do this, and to resolve the problem-but this is now widely recognised as terrible advice, particularly if combined with the above-mentioned choke collar!
Pulling back against a pulling dog will not only confuse them and make them afraid to walk while doing nothing to stop their pulling, but it will also potentially hurt them-and over time, actually strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles that are doing the pulling, making the whole thing worse!
Toilet training a young puppy can be hit and miss at the best of times, and there are sure to be the odd accidents along the way! However, the best way to deal with these are to clean them up and otherwise ignore it, in favour of paying better attention to the puppy and teaching them the cues they need to give to go outside.
Rubbing the pup’s nose in their mess will do absolutely nothing to teach them that toileting inside is bad, but it will upset them and make them distrust you!
In the same vein, punishing negative behaviour instead of rewarding positive behaviour used to be the basic backbone of dog training advice, and even the police, military and top-level world renowned dog trainers used to work under this principle, using bullying and dominance to achieve compliance in their dogs.
Modern wisdom has shown this to be not only unpleasant but ineffective-dogs learn and respond much faster when there is a reward for success rather than a punishment for failure!
Treats are an excellent training tool for dogs, and having a food reward to offer will help your dog to learn things and build up the necessary memory pathways to repeat a skill much faster than working without treats.
However, some outdated schools of thought on dog training dictate that treats should not be used as a training tool as the dog will not follow a command later when there is no treat offered-but this is actually completely untrue, and dogs learn at a much slower rate when there is no reward in play too!