What Do You Think Is The Most Important Misunderstanding In Dog Training?

A Reader Asks…

There are so many questions asked here every day about that just make me want to bang my head against a wall, and I know I'm not alone in this.
do you is the fundamental people hold about ?

(Scroll down to see responses)

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    • The Professor
    • August 4, 2009

    That old dogs can’t be taught new tricks.

    • GOODD
    • August 4, 2009

    That dogs respond to the same psychology that human children do when that is not the case.

    • MaryKate
    • August 4, 2009

    That trying one technique will work over night
    “i tryed lYke 5 times to get my Dogg to sit and hes so dumb and jsut wont!?!?!”
    Puhlease… it takes practice and patience. nothing will happen overnight.

    • K[L]CEE
    • August 4, 2009

    That you have to fully understand your dog before it can fully understand you, emotionally and physically or training will just be difficult.

    • Raaachel
    • August 4, 2009

    People always think that dogs naturally understand the word NO or something..
    People always post questions like, “…I told my 8 week old puppy NO but he just kept biting me, what do i do?!?1?!”
    It’s annoying.

    • hwillm19
    • August 3, 2009

    People who watch the Dog Whisperer on TV (Cesar Milan) and then automatically assume they can force an aggressive dog into an alpha roll and >poof< it's problems go away... There are reasons there are disclaimers to consult a professional before each segment...

    • Somebody
    • August 3, 2009

    What really bothers me are the owners who refuse to see and admit that they are the primary problem and have done/not done things that caused or encouraged their dog to behave in such a way. They ask for advice but they want you to tell them that it’s the dog’s fault when they haven’t seriously tried to fix the problems or try new things. It is hard to change so it’s not surprising when people are defensive and refuse to look at themselves.

    • Harvey R
    • August 3, 2009

    I think that many times people over-spoil their dogs by approving or not correcting inappropriate behavior just because they are cute.
    Dogs are just like kids and the owner should try to train the his/her dog from very early stages.
    Good luck with your dog!
    Here is a good source for dog training that my sister used in the past and worked for her.

    • fighter with a cause
    • August 3, 2009

    OH MY GOD! i just read about this kid wanting to get rid of his dog that destroys everything in sight when he hasnt even considered FREAKIN TRAINING HIM!!! he wanted to seriously give this dog away or kill it when he hasnt even tried. So i guess my answer is that people assume dogs come with automatic training programmed in their minds so the dog is perfect in every way when they get home and dont even try to teach the dog to do anything right…

    • philosph
    • August 2, 2009

    Thinking that a well-trained dog is going to respond correctly and immediately 100% of the time. As someone put it, if your spouse or child asks you to come over to where they are, you don’t always immediately jump to your feet and go rushing over. Sometimes you want to finish doing X first. But for some reason we expect that from a dog.
    This one isn’t strictly a training issue, but a general one about dog owners: That a dog loves you unconditionally and constantly. If a dog really wants to do something and you won’t let it, it’s not necessarily going to like you at that point, and that’s ok.
    And this one is my particular hobgoblin: That all dogs need to know how to Sit. My dog doesn’t sit. She stands, she lies down. She’s a greyhound, she doesn’t sit voluntarily, so why do I need to force her to do something that is physically uncomfortable and doesn’t do anything training-wise that a Down doesn’t? And yet every trainer I work with seems to want to try and make her do Sit.

    • VoskiMos
    • August 2, 2009

    Incorrect interpretations of wolves social structures and how they apply to domestic dogs. A few things are the same, but for the most part dogs and wolves are very different animals living in very different environments
    For example, the dominance myth. Alpha rolling your puppy, scruffing him, rubbing their nose in poo, any use of physical force. Physical force is not dominance, it is not what dogs need. It is not a method wolves use to discipline their young. It has been misinterpreted from when a weaker wolf, who will lie and submit willingly, while the assertive wolf will stand over him, asserting his status.
    Scruffing usually only takes place between wolves of different packs, with the intention of causing severe damage.
    Adult wolves are surprisingly tolerant and rarely discipline their young. When they do, it is with an inhibited bite over the muzzle.
    So, a dog sees the above as AGGRESSION, not dominance. It shows your dog that you resort to force because you are not a competent leader and resource manager. The best way for humans to assert their dominance and leadership is to manage resources effectively. Provide adequate food, water, shelter, entertainment (toys) affection etc.
    This gets screwed up all the time, there are so many poor dogs out there that are confused, and that become fearful and aggressive themselves. Aggression breeds aggression.
    EDIT/ADD Dogs will try and avoid this perceived aggression from their owners by being appeasing (showing deference, for example by looking away, holding their tail between their legs, hiding behind the couch, urinating). This then leads back to they never ending cycle of a pissed off owner, trying to discipline the dog, and sending more mixed messages causing more fear and aggression and submission from a very confused pooch.

    • jules annie
    • August 2, 2009

    a huge annoyance for me is when pet owners attribute human thoughts/actions to their pets. “he knew he was bad…just look at him.” guilt for something a dog did hours ago is just impossible! I’ll stay on this topic for another sec. say for instance your dog pissed on the floor while you were out… you come home and discover it. Now imagine how different your body language/posture has become since you saw the unexpected puddle. the poor dog reacts to your tone and body language not your imaginary guilty reaction of his. if a dog can be guilty for peeing wouldn’t it also be natural for it to be angry at you for being gone when it had to go? dogs’ ability to react to the sometimes subtle nonverbal cues is highly understated.
    one other misunderstanding is the NEED for positive reinforcement. you can never tell a dog that it is doing right by you – it builds confidence!! if you say a command, then please follow obediance with a happy toned “GOOD DOG!!” I always do this for everything long after they have learned whatever they do is what you want. a dog can never be told enough that it is good!! seriously.
    I also highly recommend obediance classes for EVERY dog and owner.
    ok I’m done for now! good luck to all dog owners – own your responsibility!!!

    • Single Worker 1230
    • August 2, 2009

    There a re several that I see:
    1. Only one way works for all dogs;
    2. Certain types of training equipment is cruel and abusive;
    3. Purely positive training (no consequences) is the only way to train;
    4. The dog knows when he has been bad;
    5. The dog should know better;
    6. An old dog can’t be taught;
    7. Small dogs don’t need training because they’re small;
    8. The best way to train is some famous TV trainer’s way;
    9. Dogs are little children in fur coats; and that’s all that I can think of right now.

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