5 Common Mistakes
Dog Owners Make
(and how to avoid them)

Luzelle & Puppy Sage of HausTralis Malinois at Starbucks Botany Auckland

By Luzelle Cockburn

We’ve all heard the overused expression “prevention is better than cure” and while having a dog is a fantastic way to enhance your life, getting their training wrong and having a naughty dog can just make your life miserable. But, you don’t have to throw your hands in the air in protest because you have no idea what to do to prevent any problems! We’ve got you covered. Yup, here are the 5 most common mistakes we see dog owners make, and how to avoid them!

Teach Your Dog what You Want

I see many dogs that just have no idea what their human is asking, this is the most common mistake dog owners make. Usually, I pick this up very quickly when the owner is pleading for their dog to “sit. Sit! S-i-i-i-it. Will-you-just-sit!” and the dog is standing there looking at their owner as if they’re speaking a foreign language. Because to the dog, well, let’s face it, they are.

Firstly it’s important to note that just because you taught your dog to sit in the kitchen doesn’t mean that your dog will automatically understand that “sit” is the same thing when you’re out in the backyard! While this lack of generalisation on your dog’s part can be highly frustrating! It’s important to remember that your dog is just a dog, and doing what you have taught them. So when you are faced with your dog looking at you like you’ve just spoken Chinese, ask yourself: How have I taught this to my dog and how did I make sure that my dog understood what I’ve taught them?”

“I pick this up very quickly when the owner is pleading for their dog to “sit. Sit! S-i-i-i-it. Will-you-just-sit!” and the dog is standing there looking at their owner as if they’re speaking a foreign language.”

Get Puppy Socialisation Right

This is a biggie. The myth that puppy classes is the extent of puppy socialisation is something that drives me insane. At puppy classes, rarely is proper socialisation taking place. It’s just a glorified puppy party with puppies learning to bully other puppies and ignoring their owners all over the show.

No, puppy socialisation is MORE than just play dates. Usually, puppy classes only result in one of two outcomes: your puppy becomes obsessed with playing with other dogs and you no longer exist in your puppy’s little world or your puppy learns that other dogs are scary because no one realised that your puppy was actually being picked on by the little terrorist of the group.

Use this brief and important time to get your puppy used to as many noises and interestingly different things as possible. This is your opportunity to teach your puppy to cope with the amazing world around them. So use your opportunity to the full! Get your puppy out and about, your puppy will learn dog behaviour from a few well-balanced dogs that will teach your puppy how to behave.

Pay Attention to Your Dog

Now, failing to pay attention to your dog is a recipe for a puppy or dog to learn that they can do what they like. And that you don’t care and aren’t a part of their fun. When you take your puppy out and about, don’t expect your dog to play with the other dogs there. Be part of your dog’s fun. The more relevant you are to your dog the more likely your dog is to do the right thing when you ask them.

Not paying attention to your dog will encourage them to become more independent – which can be a good thing. But you don’t want your dog to go off hunting seagulls and leave you hanging at the beach and struggling to catch them because calling them is just going to result in damaged vocal cords! That’s no fun!

Know Your Dog

Your dog can’t tell you with words what is wrong, but they can tell you with the things they do, their eyes, their posture their tail and their ears what is going on. Knowing your dog’s body language is the best way to prevent dog bites. Many dogs won’t even growl before a bite, so don’t rely on that. Sometimes a bite is a desperate last-ditch plea for some space.

So, learn to recognise your dog’s body language. But one thing that is important to understand is that every dog is different. Some dogs will growl when they are playing, and others will show some signs of stress when they are not really distressed (negative stress, like when you are being bullied at work or school. Eustress is positive stress – like when you’re looking forward to meeting Reese Witherspoon or Tom Hardy – you still feel stressed but you are looking forward to it as well). So it’s still important to get to know your dog!

Getting Help

This is probably one of the most important things. Most people leave it far too long before getting help. Often you can help your dog with only a few minor adjustments or by understanding your dog’s likes and dislikes. But without help you will most likely miss the signs before it is too late and the behaviour has become ingrained.

Then it usually means that you have a longer road to fixing your dog’s problems or even worse, ignoring your dog’s bad behaviour or body language when they’re pleading with you could result in your dog taking matters into their own hands and that usually doesn’t end well. So do yourself and your dog a favour and get help sooner than later!

How Will You Avoid these Common Mistakes?

Did you find this blog post helpful? Leave me a comment below and tell me what you plan to change so that you can avoid making these mistakes with your dog!

Need Some Help with Your Dog?

The whole reason I’m a dog trainer is to keep dog out of shelters and rescues and off death row. The best way to do that is to keep dogs with their families! So, I’ve put together some AWESOME FREE resources to help you with your dog! It’s all kept in The Dog Training Lab! 

What information is in there? Tips to help you with walking your dog on lead, toilet training, problem barking and so much more! What are you waiting for, head over now and get some proven help with your dog!

About SolutionK9 Luzelle & Walter

Hey, I’m Luzelle!

If it has to do with transforming your naughty, embarrassing, frustrating or worrying dog into an obedient, well behaved member of the canine society that you can actually enjoy spending your life with, I can help.

Wanna know more? Check out the SolutionK9 About page!

2 thoughts on “5 Common Mistakes Dog Owners Make (and how to avoid them)”

  1. Im currently doing an online course, dog care and grooming and one of my topics and assessment questions are on, research a dog training business and critique it for its good and bad, and i cant fault your info, infact, I have learnt quite a bit from your site for training my own dog. A high energy fox terrier 1 year old. I would like to know how i can stop my dog from barking at people who come to our gate, he is an over protective little pup.

    • Hi Christine! Foxies are awesome little dogs! Each dog is different, so what could be perfect for him could be detrimental to another foxy. Without seeing your dog and how he is managed I really can’t give you specific advice as it’s not tailored to your dog and I might give you the wrong advice, which I would hate to do! I would recommend getting in touch with a good dog trainer in your area for help. Kind regards, Luzelle


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