From dog whisperers and blogs to friends and family, no doubt everyone has an opinion on how to properly train your puppy. But with so much information floating around, how do you know who has the best advice? Here, we’ll clear up some common myths so you can focus on enjoying your well-behaved dog.
Myth: I should reward all good behavior with treats.
Fact: While treats are an excellent tool when training your dog, you don’t want to become dependent on this. Too many treats can lead to an overweight and food-dependent dog, which comes with a plethora of potential health issues. Instead, mix up the treats with other methods of positive reinforcement, like going for a walk, physical rewards (petting), or verbal rewards (“Good dog!”).
Myth: Using human food during training will encourage my dog to beg at the table.
Fact: As long as you don’t feed your dog from the table, using human food will not encourage him to beg. The best way to avoid a table begging habit is to teach your dog to go to a special place during meals, such as a crate or bed, or just to lie calmly as you eat.
Myth: I know when my dog did something wrong, because she looks guilty.
Fact: Even though we treat them like little humans, dogs are not capable of feeling human emotions like guilt. The reality is, when you are angry or upset with your dog, your dog can read your body language and react accordingly. It’s called “appeasement behavior,” as they change their own body language to appease yours.
Myth: When my dog has an accident in the house, I should rub his face in it.
Fact: For starters, dogs are not grossed out by waste like humans are, so they would not actually consider this punishment. Additionally, dogs have a difficult time connecting current events with previous actions, so they likely won’t even realize why you are doing this. The best way to housetrain your dog is to prevent accidents before they happen with frequent walks and positive reinforcement.
Myth: My dog urinates in the house because she’s angry I Ieft her alone.
Fact: There are many reasons a dog might urinate in the house when left alone, but anger is never one of them. Just as dogs are incapable of feeling guilt, they do not possess the thought process to feel anger and enact revenge. Dogs urinate in the house as a result of separation anxiety, urinary tract infection, being left alone too long, or not being fully house trained.
Myth: You can’t train a puppy younger than six months.
Fact: Puppies start learning as soon as they are able to observe and relate to their environment. It’s never too early to train your dog.
Myth: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Fact: While it may take longer for an older dog to learn new tricks, it’s never too late. And in certain cases, training an older dog can actually be easier than training a puppy.
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