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Top 5 Dog Training Myths Debunked: What New Dog Owners Need to Know

So you finally got your first dog - congratulations! I'll bet the first thing you did after agonizing over naming your new pup was to start searching the interwebs for dog trainers and slogging through videos about dog behavior.

And now you're just thoroughly confused. With so much contradictory information out there, where do you even start training your dog?

New dog playing with child

Let's being with some dog and puppy training myths that are persistently shared, and how to move forward with training your new family member in a frustration-free way that's safe, force-free, yet still effective.

Dog Myth 1: Dog Training is About Consistency

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: you will never be consistent with your dog, and a "consistency" mindset will cause you extreme frustration, and eventually you will just give up.

Rather than focusing on consistency with your pup's training, I want you to focus on follow through.

Yellow dog panting on white backtround

For example, if my dog is barking, I will not consistently address the situation. That would be maddening. However, I will follow through if I choose to address the issue at that moment. By choosing moments when I'm more able to address the barking problem, I'm able to be more effective, and am creating a more balanced mindset, rather than focusing on perfection with my dog's behavior, I'm breaking it up into more manageable pieces.

In other words, I need you to win 100% of the battles you choose to fight.

So rather than focusing on being consistent when training your dog, focus on following through when you choose to address one of your dog's unsavory behaviors. Learn more about how to be effective with your follow throughs in this article.

Dog Myth 2: Exercise Will Handle a Pup's Bad Behavior

Your puppy has taken to nipping at you, or your dog chokes themselves on their leash during a walk. Maybe your dog jumps on guests and is out of control. The first thing you'll read on most dog training websites is to get your dog more exercise to handle their energy.

Puppy biting and nipping at owner's pants

But that's where the problem is: your dog is so out of control that you can't effectively exercise them. At least not without getting perforated by your piranha pup.

While it's true that you a dog who has not had exercise will be incapable of positive behavior, exercise alone will not address your pup's negative behaviors.

Think more about order of operations: your dog can't work on behavior until after they've had exercise. But dogs (like kids) are resource leeches.

Have you ever heard a kid say, "No, I think I've had quite enough ice cream and video games for the day. I think I'll read a book now and clean my room."

Yeah, me neither. Your puppy is the same way. They want more exercise. But if they've already had quite a bit of activity and are still out of control, what they need is impulse control.

Learn to Pilot your dog's behavior or your puppy's antics, and help them manage their impulse control. Find out out more about the Piloting Method of dog and puppy training here.

Dog Myth 3: Walking Your Dog is Enough Activity

For those of you who remember my beloved Orion, he was a 5lb papillion who I was blessed to have for 13 years.

I loved that little skunk-dog, but I would take him extreme hikes with me upwards of 15 miles(!) in a day, and that little freak would come home and still bring me a leash after dinner.

Small dog jumping over owner

Your walk around the block with your Floofadoodle isn't going to cut it. Your dog has a certain level of activity they requires before they are capable of impulse control.

Find out what the activity level is, and then watch your dog become capable of impressive feats with their behavior. Discover easy ways to exercise your dog in this link.

Dog Myth 4: Your Dog Needs to Know Who's Dominant


Your dog doesn't need to know you are alpha dominant male head honcho, because you aren't. There is no such thing (learn more about how "alpha male' has been dropped by biologists here).

Anxious dog hiding under bed

Piloting your dog, rather than dominating them into submission, is more akin to how dog and wolf packs actually operate. Just as in a healthy family dynamic, parents don't dominate their children, and dog owners should never attempt to dominate their dogs.

So let's put that whole "alpha" thing to rest, and start to communicate with our dogs, rather than dominate. Learn more in this article.

Dog Myth 5: Click and Treat Training Works On All Dog Behaviors

Click and treat style of dog training is great if your dog is (finally) giving you behaviors that you like and want to encourage. But if your dog is jumping on you, simply turning your back towards your dog does not negate their unsavory behaviors,

If your dog's behavior is tolerated, that behavior is encouraged.

Simply turning your back to your dog when they jump teaches them that there are effectively no real consequences to their lack of impulse control.

Person waiting for their dog to stop jumping

Don't be afraid of giving your dog a (gentle) negative. Simply waiting for your dog to stop their negative behaviors is like waiting for the moment your 10-year old kid decides to spontaneously clean their room. It ain't gonna happen.

When your kid does finally clean their room (or your dog stops jumping), of course you can give a positive to mark that behavior, but mistaking positive only dog training as the answer to your dog's behavioral issues will only amplify those issues (and create new ones).

Learn more about communicating a negative to your dog in a safe, force-free way in this link.

Dog Training, Differently

There are so many more myths out there regarding dog training, it would be hard to fit them all into a single article, but these top 5 dog training myths are a pretty good start.

What are some dog training myths that you feel need to be busted? Leave a comment below!

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Are you a new dog owner in the Cleveland area? Struggling with your current dog's behavior, or just want to start out right with your new puppy's training?

Discover our dog and puppy training services to help your dog to a calmer and happier way of life starting today.

Kerry Stack

Darwin Dogs

Dog Training and Behavior

Greater Cleveland Area



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