Whether it’s your first puppy or a problem that you have never encountered before, training a dog is no walk in the park – and it’s full of myths! This is why so many people choose to leave it to the professionals. But with easy access to so much information, many novices may feel like they are the expert. Then again, how can you be sure that what you’re reading is correct?
Cliverton, in partnership with Ali from Rebarkable, is on the case to help debunk the myths for you and your pup. Here are five myths that dog trainers want you to know!
Myth #1: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks
It is never too early or too late to start training your dog – after all, age is just a number! Like humans, dogs continue to learn throughout their lives. They take in social experiences more as puppies, but the learning never stops. Dogs can still learn well into their old age and tend to benefit from constant learning that engages their brain.
When taking your dog to a training class, it’s always important to ensure your dog trainer has the correct dog trainer’s insurance to guarantee safety for you and your pooch! When training, the most important things to remember are good timing, positive feedback, and plenty of patience.
Myth #2: You can’t train a dog without treats
Ali is a positive reinforcement trainer and finds that a lot of people tend to get training with treats wrong. “I find a lot of people think they need rewards to train a dog, but rewards can range from praise, affection, playtime, or freedom!” There are a lot of things you can use as a reward that will help train your dog that go way beyond a biscuit.
Myth #3: You must be the alpha
Developed in the 1970s, the whole concept of the ‘alpha’ wolf has been disproven several times over. Even L. David Mech who developed the original research in his book, The Wolf, has repeatedly tried to have the book removed from shelves! This myth is propagated a lot with the depiction of ‘big dogs’ encouraged by a lot of films and TV shows, but dogs don’t need an alpha. What they need is a teacher and a guide with strong communication skills to help navigate them through the crazy world we humans dominate, not intimidation or punishment.
Myth #4: Dogs shouldn’t sleep in the bedroom
Your bed is a prized spot – it’s warm, super comfy, smells of you, and of course, our dogs love to be around us! Realistically, the only issue with dogs sleeping in the bedroom is the practicality for you and your family. For some, it’s a necessity to have a dog on hand for medical emergencies or emotional support, so letting them sleep in the bedroom makes sense. There’s really no reason not to if you’re comfortable with it!
Myth #5: My dog feels guilty – giving me puppy dog eyes
This one is probably the largest misconception in the dog world. We tend to humanise our dogs, and while they’re very emotionally intelligent, guilt isn’t a concept dogs understand. That one implies that they have a sense of right and wrong and decided to do it anyway despite knowing it was wrong. That’s just not the case. With this in mind, don’t let what you perceive of your dog’s “expression” influence you during training – if they do something wrong, they didn’t do it knowingly!
For the best advice, it’s always good to reach out to a high-quality, credentialed dog trainer who you can trust. Speaking to a trainer will allow you and your pet to learn everything you need to know to have a happy relationship and while also giving you both the support you may need throughout your journey.