Are You Guilty of These Dog Training Mistakes?

“He doesn’t heel, even though I use a corrective collar.”
I often work with pet owners who have long used corrective collars and see no reason to give them up. But these collars are ineffective at best and, in my mind, border on abusive. I often see dogs who are choking and straining at the end of their leashes, putting potentially damaging pressure on their necks and tracheas, which in turn can put pressure on their eyes. I also see pet owners who continually correct their dogs with jerks and pops on the leash, without giving their dogs the knowledge or ability to change their behavior and avoid correction. There are much better ways to teach a dog to walk politely, often with the help of a front-clip harness —but, again, this requires that the pet owner put in the time to teach the dog what behavior is expected of him when he’s on-leash, rather than just jerking the collar when he doesn’t heel.

“We couldn’t keep him — he was so badly behaved.”
I am exasperated by pet owners who surrender their dogs to shelters and attribute their decisions to the dogs' bad behavior. Most of the time, these pet owners have done little to no training and have made no effort to teach their dogs a better way to behave. I’ve also reached my limit with pet owners who make excuses to give up their dogs. Among my least favorites: The dog is too old, the family is moving to another city or state, or the pet owner is in a new relationship or expecting a baby. Though there are situations and circumstances when it is best for a dog to be surrendered to a shelter, these are uncommon and typically don’t stem from a dog’s behavior. Giving a dog away can seem like an easy fix, but it can be detrimental to the dog.

I forgive you if you have done or are doing any of these things, but if you see yourself in this list, please, do yourself — and your dog — a favor and take the initiative to change your behavior. You and your pet will both be happier.

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