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Dog training: useless rules that you should avoid


When it comes to dog training, there are some rules that are now outdated. So consistency and authority are often confused with violence, rewards and a calm manner are dismissed as softened. We have collected some common parenting myths for you - and explain how you can do better. Should you give your dog a pat with the newspaper if it destroys your furniture? Or is this educational rule nonsense? - Shutterstock / holbox

Raising dogs and raising children have one thing in common: Others know better and better. Sometimes the tips are really useful. However, the supposed wisdom is often sheer nonsense and sometimes even dangerous.

Hitting the newspaper is a sensible punishment

As long as you don't hit dogs with your bare hand, is violence in dog training a legitimate punishment? Unfortunately, this belief is still widespread. If the four-legged friend does something that he is not supposed to do - for example, pee on the carpet - he doesn't get a slap with his hand, but with the rolled-up newspaper or a stick.

The idea behind this is that the dog then does not associate the blow with his caregiver, but sees it as a punishment for his "offense". However, this is a mistake. Subsequent punishments are of no use since the animals cannot retrospectively establish a link between their own behavior and the pain that their caregiver causes them.

The result: the dog does not understand why he is being punished. For him, the blow comes out of the blue. He is unsettled and confused. If this happens more often, he may develop an anxiety disorder and in the future react with anxiety aggression by looking at a newspaper or a stick.

Better: If your dog does something that it shouldn't, say "No!" and show him what you want him to do instead. If he does what you want him to do, praise him extensively. You can find more tips on this topic in the guide "Punishing Dogs: Tips for Dog Training".

Deprivation of love as a useful tool for dog training

When children misbehave, their parents often send them to their room. There they should think about their wrongdoing. Whether this works is controversial. In dogs, however, this method is clearly nonsensical because they are unable to think about misconduct from a human perspective.

So punishing your dog by ignoring it, sending it away, or locking it up is an incomprehensible deprivation of love for your pet. It no longer understands the world and feels left alone. This damages trust and deeply unsettles your four-legged friend.

Better: Teach your dog with consistency and patience what behavior you want him to behave. It's easier than getting rid of "bad" behavior. Work on a stable bond and a trusting relationship - for example with joint obedience training or orientation training.

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As a pack leader, people must always show dominance

No. Humans do not have to act like an alpha wolf towards the dog or harass him to put the animal in its place. Gripping dogs by the neck and shaking them, knocking them over or closing their mouths are forms of violence. At best, you disturb your dog with it, at worst, you injure him physically.

Also nonsense: people always have to do everything in front of the dog, otherwise the four-legged friend takes the lead. The worry that dogs may go megalomaniac, strive for power and take over world domination as soon as the opportunity arises is unfounded. This way of thinking is far from the animals. Rather, you want to live a comfortable, calm, and safe life.

Better: Provide your dog with security and security by being reliable. Establish certain rules from the start that always apply. Practice the most important commands with your four-legged friend with calm, patience and consistency. And look after your pet appropriately. Then you can get by without any dominance.

Dogs make up their own conflicts

That dogs regulate conflicts among themselves is an educational tip that is at least partially true. Under normal circumstances, you do not need to intervene in dog encounters. But there are exceptions. For example, if your dog has physical ailments or is very anxious, stormy greetings or play offers from other members of the breed can end badly. Your dog is also dependent on your help if it is physically inferior to the other four-legged friend.

Better: Pay attention to whether your dog feels uncomfortable during a dog encounter, possibly even being bullied. Even if a dog dispute escalates and threatens to become bloody, you need to intervene. But be careful: be sure to protect yourself and do not just step in between with your hand. You can find tips on this in our guide "Intervene in dog fights: yes or no?".

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Treat the dog with treats as a reward

Some dog owners do not want to reward their pets with treats because they think it is bribery. They also don't want to spoil their dog. In fact, you can train your dog without treats, but it will be difficult without a reward. It is also quite possible to spoil your dog with goodies if you give them for no reason and regardless of their behavior.

Better: Use high-quality treats as a reward for your desired behavior. This will make it easier for your dog to learn what to do. You can gradually sneak out the treats as your learning progresses or switch to clicker training. In addition, praise also works great as a reward.

Positive reinforcement only works with "good" dogs

A common parenting myth is that naughty or aggressive dogs need a particularly hard hand. Positive reinforcement is misunderstood as a cuddle course that only pampered the "cheeky" dogs. This can be used for dogs that obey on their own, but not for rebellious four-legged friends.

The problem with this is that dogs don't intentionally break rules to annoy their owners. Animals know no vengeance, no defiance or the like. If dogs don't abide by the rules, there's always a reason. They either didn't understand the rule or they don't know it. Or they are distracted by something more interesting. If your dog is normally well behaved and suddenly behaves differently, there may be something wrong with him - as a precaution go to the vet.

Better: Use the positive reinforcement consistently and reward desired behavior. Do not pay attention to undesired behavior. If you catch your dog in flagranti with something he is not allowed to do, immediately say "No!" or another cancel command. In this combination you can also train difficult dogs. If your dog appears to be resistant to learning or stubborn, he needs clearer instructions, shorter training sessions and more time.

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You cannot raise puppies yet

Puppies are only ready to learn at the age of 6 months and cannot be brought up beforehand? This is also gross nonsense. After all, human children don't only learn how to behave in primary school. Of course, you shouldn't overwhelm your puppy with learning material, otherwise he won't know where to put himself.

Better: Teach your puppy important basic commands like "sit", "stop" or "no". You can also start with the lead at a young age. It is helpful to visit a puppy play group with the animal three cheese high. This way he has contact with other people and can learn a lot about social behavior in a playful way.

"You can not teach old dogs new tricks"

What dogs have not been taught in puppy age will not be learned later? Fortunately, this is a mistake. Adult dogs and four-legged seniors can also learn. So don't be afraid to adopt an older dog from the shelter for fear they won't be able to teach him anything.

Better: Take your time and rest if you want to teach an older four-legged friend new rules, commands or tricks. Once certain habits have crept in, it is difficult to put them back. However, it is not impossible. Help your dog by shortening the training units and building them up playfully. Reward him for doing something right. And be patient.

You might also be interested in these topics for dog training:

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Rituals in dog training: that's why they are important

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