Dog training has changed a lot over the years. Unfortunately, myths and outdated training techniques still abound, and misinformation could wind up causing more problems than what you were trying to fix in the first place. In some cases, outdated information can actually injure your dog. Luckily, researchers are constantly helping us understand dogs better and how they think, so we can better understand how to train them. Here are 6 common training myths debunked.
#1 – Dogs should just understand what we want them to do
Dogs don’t speak English. They can learn to associate certain words with certain tasks, but they have to be shown what these words mean. Yelling “Sit! Sit! Sit!” will never make your dog sit until you show them the action you want them to associate with the word. Training should be very hands on – your dog will never understand what you want by just talking to him.
#2 – Destructiveness is done out of spite or anger
If you come home to a mess, it can be tempting to assume your dog did it to upset you or because they were mad at you for some reason. Here’s the thing – years and years of research have shown that dogs are incapable of spite or revenge. That doesn’t mean your dog is tearing up your house for no reason. It just means you need to look a little deeper to figure out the true reason and treat that problem.
#3 – My dog looks guilty, so he knows he did something wrong
The classic “guilty” look of a dog is actually a submissive response to your anger. They aren’t feeling remorseful for something they did; they don’t even understand why you are angry. They’re just hoping to make you less angry. Many studies have shown that dogs are actually incapable of guilt – it’s just not an emotion dogs are equipped with.
#4 – I need to prove I’m the Alpha by rolling my dog on his back
Unfortunately, the early 2000s brought a certain dog trainer to fame for his method of dominance training, which is based largely on a study done in the 1940s with captive wolves from various geographic locations being forced to live together in unnatural circumstances. The American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, and the top veterinary behaviorists in the country have all come out against the Alpha Roll Over, saying that this technique can have unintended consequences, such as increased stress, fear, and insecurity.
#5 – Dogs should be punished for growling
A growl is a natural warning sign that a dog is uncomfortable and provides an opportunity to address the dog’s concerns. Dogs that are trained not to growl may become more unpredictable and snap without warning. A professional dog trainer can help teach you positive reinforcement techniques to address your dog’s concerns.
#6 – Choke chains stop dogs from pulling on walks
Choke chains may be effective training tools in the hands of professional dog trainers, but in the hands of the average owner, they wind up teaching dogs to ignore pain to continue dragging their owner around. Vets treat a wide variety of injuries caused by choke chains, ranging from gagging, gasping, and fainting to windpipe damage, temporary leg paralysis, and abnormal movement. There are a variety of better training tools to use, such as front clip harnesses and head collars.
(H/T: Just Vibe Houston)