12 Dog Training Mistakes Owners Make – Part 1


1. Keeping your new puppy indoors until they have had all of their shots.

Early positive exposures (socialization) between the ages of 8 – 12 weeks is what the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, a large group of veterinarians, behaviorists and researchers, recommends. Why are those early months so important? The first three months are the most important time to socialize your puppy because sociability far outweighs fear. Puppies should have as many positive exposures to people, places, sounds as can safely be done. Incomplete and improper socialization during this age can increase the development of aggression, fear and anxiety as an adult. Having a well-behaved adult dog starts the first day your dog comes home.

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2. Too much time in a crate.

Dogs are denning animals and can stay in their crate all day, right? Wrong, a dog should never be kept in a crate longer than four hours at a time, except when sleeping at night. Keeping a dog in a crate all day creates hyperactivity and can lead to frustration and aggression. If you need to leave your dog all day while you are at work, block off an area for them, ie. kitchen, laundry room or use an exercise pen. Hiring a dog walker to come walk them is also a great idea. Adding some mental stimulation can help as well (read 6 below).

3. Using the wrong equipment.

Choker Choke chains, pinch collars and shock collar do exactly what they say – choke the dog by cutting off his air supply, pinch his neck until it hurts and deliver an electric shock to the dogs throat. Making these kinds of training mistakes can not only cause physical harm such as blindness, trachea damage and death but they can, and often do cause behavior damage. Build a solid bond with your best friend by teaching them what you want instead. Using a front click harness can help with a dog that pulls on the walk. Hiring a good positive reinforcement dog trainer can help teach you the basics and get you started on the right paw. Read what educated veterinarians say about using the wrong equipment “AVSAB’s position is that punishment (e.g. choke chains, pinch collars, and electronic collars) should not be used as a first-line or early-treatment for behavior problems. This is due to the potential adverse effects which include but are not limited to: inhibition of learning, increased fear-related and aggressive behaviors, and injury to animals and people interactive with animals.”

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Using a front click harness can help with pulling during the walk and finding a positive reinforcement dog trainer or class can teach your dog manners.

4. Not enough time walking.

WalkingDog One of the joys of having a dog is that you will never walk alone. Taking a walk with your dog twice a day for at least 30 minutes can reduce barking, chewing, hyperactivity and eliminating in the house (and those are only the benefits for the dog). A walk is great physical exercise but your dog will also get environmental enrichments in the form of sights, sounds and sniffs! The more sniffing your dog does, the more fatigued he will be so let the sniffing begin. And if you really want a tire dog, walk him in a new place, neighborhood or direction. The new sites, sounds and smells will exhaust him. Home Depot and Lowe’s have some great environmental enrichment so take your dog with you when you go.

5. Poor leadership.

Pop culture wants us to believe that dogs are trying to dominate us for leadership and we need to show them we are the “alpha.” But decide which type of “pack leader” will be more effective, a dictator or someone that influences behavior. Leadership expert Steven Covey explains that in order to be a good leader you must first seek to understand. Dogs behave in a way that benefit them, in other words they do what works (humans do this too). If your dog investigates the counter top because it smells good up there and he finds and eats a tasty ham sandwich, then you can bet he will be checking the counter tops more often. Once you understand the simple principals of how dogs learn then you can solve any problem. Being a knowledgeable benevolent leader is the most effective way to lead.

6. Not enough enrichment and mental stimulation.

Work to eat. Biologically speaking, your dog is not supposed to have a bowl of kibble plunked down in front of him. He is a hunter by nature, meant to work for his keep. Mimic this by serving your dog’s food in a Kong, treat ball or interactive toy. Your dog will spend the first part of the day figuring out how to get at his food and the rest of it recovering from the mental effort. Perfect!


The best toys have a purpose. They deliver food, present a challenge, squeak, or make themselves interesting in some other way. Some classics to consider: Rope toys, plush toys (with or without squeakers), Hide-A-Bee (Squirrel, Bird), tricky treat balls, soft rubber toys (vinyl), and hard rubber toys like Kongs and bully sticks.

Sherry Nativo, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP, is a professional dog trainer and owner of All About Training Dogs. Visit or email questions to .