Many dog trainers and obedience teachers like to remark that dog training is really dog owner training. This is true, because the dog takes its cues from you. If you get frustrated, the dog can become impatient. If you’re inconsistent in your training, the dog may not understand what you want each time you go to modify his behavior.
Remember that if you do something incorrectly over and over again, the dog will learn it. And unlearning bad behavior takes more time and is more difficult than learning good behavior from the beginning.
Some trainers don’t use treats at all for many kinds of training. Instead they use praise and petting, a kind tone of voice and repetition. But most owners will use treats at some point, even if only to teach tricks like shaking hands and rolling over. It’s important to use treats only when they’re appropriate.
For example, a dog that’s reluctant to go out the door into the backyard by himself should be picked up and taken outside or taken on a dog leash. Using a treat to coax the dog outside might seem a clever way to get the job done quickly, for you. For your dog, it’s a reward earned for stepping outside. Soon, a reward may be required to get him to come back through the door. And in no time, your dog will go in and out, not to potty or play, but to earn a delicious snack.
Be sure that treats are given in training only in special ways, and not for things that need to be done several times a day. Your dog might start bringing you his dog harness and leash, not because he wants to go for a walk, but because he expects a bacon-flavored treat or a bit of “people food.”
If you’re trying to teach your puppy to chew on his toys and not your shoes, it’s important to remember you can never, ever let the dog chew on a shoe of any kind. If you’re trying to protect your dress pumps, don’t let your puppy chew on an old slipper. The dog might not see any kind of distinction between them, even though the slipper is clearly old and no good to you.
If you’re housetraining your dog, take him out several times a day at regular intervals. Waiting too long between trips or doing them at strange times will only confuse the process. Make putting on a dog harness or dog collar and walking with a quality dog leash part of the housetraining process that your dog comes to expect so he associates these things with going potty outside.
Consistency will help keep your dog from being confused and allow him to learn the proper behavior faster.