Training a dog can be overwhelming to first-time pet owners. Poorly behaved dogs often received too much affection, but too little training. In order to reinforce good behavior in your dog and discourage bad behavior, you need to be willing to be firm with your dog and communicate in a manner that he understands. Before you make the mistake of coddling your pup, create a plan for consistent discipline and rewards that will keep your pet well-behaved.

Common dog training mistakes to avoid:

Too much affection

You love your pup, and you should! But, this does not mean that you can avoid disciplining them. Your dog should get enough exercise, consistent training, and then affection – in that order. Dogs are smart, and if they only receive treats and pets from you, they will not see you as the dominant creature in your mixed dog-human pack. It is important to establish clear boundaries and to only shower your dog with affection when they are behaving the way that you would like them to.

Encouraging bad behavior

New dog owners will often encourage poor behavior without meaning to. For instance, if your dog barks when feeling threatened and you rush to calm him by petting him, you are reinforcing the barking behavior. There are also some behaviors that are cute in puppies, such as jumping up on guests and licking them, that quickly lose their charm as your dog matures to his full size. Another behavior that is sometimes encouraged is playing rough with other dogs – remember, it may not be a big deal when your large dog is a small puppy, but it may become problematic as he grows.


Training dogsPuppies will quickly learn that they do not have to comply with your commands if you do not enforce them consistently.

For instance, if your puppy jumps up on people and you do not immediately discipline them if they ignore your command of “off”, they will learn that this is an optional command. If your puppy does not listen to you the first time, make him sit by taking him by the collar if you need to, and put him on the leash. Once he sits, give him a treat.

The command “come” is also a difficult one for dogs to learn and obey consistently. Until your dog has perfect recall, do not let him off the leash in new areas.

Be sure to train your dog to your commands by making consistent requests on a daily basis, and treating them when they obey your commands. If you share your home with a partner or children, make sure that everyone is clear on the words used for each command and how to discipline the dog appropriately.


Treats should be the number one training tool in your arsenal. Especially for the first few months of puppy-training, or training a dog that is new to your home, you might even consider keeping treats on you at all times. That said, your dog should not always expect a treat for every positive action. Mix treating with praising their good behavior and petting them.

Dogs that only follow commands when they know that they can expect a treat, may willfully disobey the same commands when they know that you do not have a treat on you. By mixing rewards, you acclimate them to doing your bidding regardless of whether you have a dipped biscuit in your pocket!

Delayed discipline

Disciplining your dog is another training tool. You should never physically strike your dog, or confine them to their crate for poor behavior. Instead, say “no” or “bad dog” in a stern voice – this is often enough for dogs who are actively seeking your approval as the pack leader. If you are disciplining them in response to chewing an item, you may show it to them while you reprimand them. If your dog continues to misbehave, you might consider putting them on a leash.

However, putting them on the leash, or reprimanding them verbally, too long after the bad behavior will only confuse them. If you come home to a chewed item and are not sure when the incident occurred, reprimanding them might best be saved until you catch them in the act.

Training in a set pattern

Dog trainingWhen training your dog to obey common commands like “sit” and “lie down”, be sure to ask for the actions in a different order each time. Dogs are smart and will learn the sequence of tasks, if you always ask for “sit”, “paw” and “lie down” in the same order, for instance, without actually learning what the individual commands mean. Ask your dog for the actions consistently every day, but vary the order.


Training a dog requires patience and consistency. If you work on it every day and use the appropriate amount of treating and discipline in a timely manner, your dog will learn what behaviors are expected him, and to recognize when he is misbehaving.

Other Popular Dog Training Articles:

  1. Are you training your dog unintentionally?
  2. Are you struggling with dog potty training?
  3. How to handle that overly active puppy.
  4. How to deal with an energetic dog.

This guest post was written by Jeffery Roberts

Jeffery is a pet enthusiast and volunteer at his local pet shelter. His passion for animals started at an early age and through his work on becoming a veterinary student he understands and cares for pets of all species. Jeffery currently writes for The Happy Pooch and has 2 cats, a bird and a dog named Lucy.

Remember: All data, information, and advice reflect the views of the authors alone and in no way reflect those of Everything is provided on an as-is basis and every situation is different. Always consult a veterinarian with safety and health-related questions.