15 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Training Your Dog

These days, more and more people are getting dogs to be part of their families. And if you’re one of these dog owners, you might have asked yourself “How do I get my new pup to listen?” 

The answer: by training them! But even though it may sound easy, training a dog takes time and patience. It will take repetition and consistency in order for your dog to understand what you want him/her to do. 

There are many mistakes that can occur during training sessions (and even beyond), but here is a list of 15 common ones that you need to avoid:

BIGGEST Dog Training MISTAKES and how to AVOID them!
1. Dog training requires consistency and patience to be successful.
2. Positive reinforcement is generally more effective than punishment in shaping good behavior.
3. Common mistakes to avoid during dog training include expecting too much too soon, lack of socialization, and failing to provide rewards.
4. Early training is important for good habits to be ingrained.
5. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of a professional trainer.

Accidentally Rewarding Bad Behavior

  • Don’t reward bad behavior.
  • Don’t give attention to bad behavior.
  • Be consistent with your training, even when you’re stressed or tired.
  • Avoid giving in to begging or pleading from your dog, instead use the word “no” and remove them from the situation immediately.
  • Never reward bad behavior with food, toys or praise as it will make the problem worse and your dog will continue to do so in order to receive those rewards again in future situations.

If you’re a dog owner, then you need to know the do’s and don’ts of watchdog training to avoid common mistakes. As the first step towards successful training, learn about the common mistakes to avoid, how to start the process, and the importance of positive reinforcement.

Unnecessary Repetition

Let’s say your dog is really into tennis balls and loves playing fetch with them. You’ve taught him how to sit before he gets his ball, but every time you throw it and he brings it back to you, he stands up again instead of sitting.

You might think that the best way to teach him not to stand up is by repeating yourself over and over again: “No! Sit!” But this isn’t best practice and it could actually make things worse!

Dogs learn best when we don’t repeat ourselves. The first time through, most dogs know what we’re saying and will obey; if they don’t, there’s something else going on (like pain) that needs attention before training can continue successfully. 

Repetition makes things more confusing for your dog than helpful; all they’ll hear is “sit,” “sit” again and again until they tune out or become confused about why they should listen at all at this point.

IssueExample of RepetitionSolution
Repeating Commands“Sit, Sit!”Issue commands only once
Redundant TrainingPracticing the same exercise repeatedlyVary training exercises and duration
Overusing TreatsGiving treats excessivelyUse verbal praise and petting as positive reinforcement
Excessive Reminder Words“Stay, stay, stay”Use single reminder words or hand signals
Endless PraisePraising repeatedly for the same behaviorReserve praise only for new or advanced behaviors

Unclear, Inconsistent Commands

When training your dog, it is important to be clear and consistent with your commands. If you aren’t consistent, your dog will not know what to do when you give them a command. 

This can lead to confusion for both of you which may cause frustration and increase the chances of misbehaving in the future. For example:

If you say “come” but expect him to come running towards you at full speed every time then he would never know what kind of speed or distance was expected from him if he did come toward you slowly (or even if he ran away).

He might also think that sometimes “Come” means “run as fast as possible” while other times “Come” means “walk slowly over here and ignore everyone else around me please.

Knowing when to start watchdog training is key to ensuring success in the process. Our timetable can guide you through the different stages of the training process, from socialization to advanced training, to ensure your dog is well-trained and equipped to protect your home and family.

Training In A Distracting Environment

Training in a distracting environment is not recommended. If you train your dog while another dog is barking, or while a child is screaming, or when there are other animals around, your dog will have to hear and understand the command several times before they follow. 

This can be very frustrating for both you and your pet! The best way to train your dog in a distracting environment is to remove them from the situation entirely.

Difficulty FocusingDog distracted by people, animals, or noiseTrain in areas with minimal distractions and gradually increase stimulus
Loss of InterestDog loses interest in training due to environmentUse high-value rewards and maintain engagement with dog throughout the training session
Inconsistent PerformanceDog performs well in a controlled environment, but not in the real worldPractice training in a variety of environments to help the dog generalize behaviors
Poor RecallDog fails to return when called in distracting environmentsGradually increase distractions in training sessions and use a long leash for added control

Assuming Your Dog Knows The Command Already

If your dog doesn’t obey the command, don’t assume that he doesn’t understand what you mean. 

You should be clear and consistent with your commands, repeating them several times until they become familiar to your dog. When your pooch finally gets it right, reward him with praise and treats!

Going Too Fast When Teaching New Commands

One of the most common mistakes that dog owners make is to go too fast when they’re training a new command. If you want your dog to learn how to sit, don’t just expect it to happen overnight. Instead, break down the command into small steps and train each of those steps separately. 

You should only move on to the next step when your dog has mastered this one. For example, if you want your dog to sit down on command and he has trouble doing so with treats in his mouth, then take out the treats and teach him how to sit using only verbal cues first before adding in any food rewards later on.

Using Punishment Or Force To Train Your Dog

Punishment is not effective, and will only lead to aggression in dogs. It can also make dogs fearful and insecure. 

Punishment can increase stress levels if it’s used to the point of abuse. If you want to train your dog, avoid physical force and punishment altogether. You don’t need them!

Only Training With Food

While food rewards can be an extremely powerful motivator for your dog, it is not the only option. Food is not always available, and offering your dog treats every time he completes a behavior can lead to unhealthy eating habits. 

Additionally, training with food can also cause weight gain if done incorrectly (for example, by giving him too many treats). In order to avoid these issues, try other methods of reinforcement such as praise or petting instead.

Service dog training can be a complex process, but you can find answers to many common questions in our guide on service dog training. Learn about the benefits of service dog training, how to get started, the laws that apply, and important considerations, such as breed and temperament.

Being On Your Phone When Training Your Dog

I don’t have to tell you that your dog is distracted by your phone. You already know that. But what happens when you’re trying to train your dog, and they are distracted by their phone? 

You miss the important signs they are giving you, and therefore can’t give them the correct training advice. This could lead to a failure in training and no relationship with your dog because of it.

Not Training Your Dog Because They Are ‘too Old’ Or They’ve Been Rescued

It’s all too easy to let a dog’s age, breed or previous experiences get in the way of training. But here’s the thing: you can train your dog at any age, and whatever they’ve been through in the past doesn’t have to dictate how you treat them now.

As long as they’re healthy and happy, there is no magic moment when you stop being able to train your dog. 

Even if they are an older dog and have been through some rough times, touch them gently and with love every day until they trust you fully. 

And if your new doggie has had a less than ideal start in life? Bring them along for regular visits to a trainer who can help build their confidence and teach them all about life with humans!

Training your puppy early is essential for a well-behaved and obedient dog. Our guide on when to start training your puppy provides you with all the tips and tricks you need to start the process as early as possible. Learn about the benefits of early training, key training milestones, and the most effective training techniques.

Focusing On The ‘bad’ Rather Than The ‘good’

When you’re training your dog, it’s important to focus on the positive. For example, if you’re working on teaching your dog not to jump up on people, don’t punish them for doing it—reward them for not jumping up when they get a chance!

If your dog is trying out new tricks or commands, and makes a mistake as part of learning something new, that shouldn’t be seen as a failure by either of you; rather than focusing on what went wrong (and making him feel bad), focus instead on how he’s learning and progressing forward.

Punitive TrainingUsing punishment to eliminate bad behaviorEmphasize positive training methods such as clicker-based training
Ignoring Good BehaviorFocusing only on the dog’s mistakesCatch and reinforce good behaviors as a way to discourage unwanted behaviors
Not Being ClearGiving vague commands, such as “no”Use clear, specific commands with positive reinforcement for the desired behavior
InconsistencyUsing different commands for the same behaviorUse consistent language and reinforcement for desired behaviors
Neglecting Basic TrainingSkipping basic training and instead starting on advanced commandsStart with basic commands and progress gradually to more advanced training

Giving In To Those Big Puppy Eyes!

If you’re anything like me, there are times when your dog will get down on the floor and just look up at you with those puppy eyes. 

You know the ones I’m talking about: big eyes, sad-looking face, little lip quivering…it’s enough to make anyone give in. As much as we love our dogs, they aren’t humans and they can’t understand many of the things we say to them. 

This can lead them to learn some bad habits when it comes to communicating with others and one of those is begging for food by looking at their owner with big puppy eyes.

When that happens and you give in because it feels good inside (ahem), then what happens? Well your dog knows they got what they wanted so next time they need something from you all they have to do is put on the same show! And if the situation doesn’t call for treats or food then maybe this isn’t something worth training your pup about…

Trying To Train A Sick Or Injured Dog

One of the most common mistakes dog owners make is to attempt to train their dogs while they are in pain.

For example, if your dog takes a tumble and bumps into his leg on the way down, it’s best to avoid training that day. 

A dog who’s hurting will be distracted and respond more slowly (or not at all), which will make it difficult for you to teach him what you want him to do. 

If he continues on with the session despite being injured, he could injure himself further or even exacerbate an existing condition.

In short: Training when your pet is sick or injured could cause further injury. It’s better for everyone that you wait until the animal has recovered before beginning any new sessions with them!

Not Knowing What Motivates Your Dog And Using It In Training

  • Don’t use treats as a reward for bad behavior.
  • Don’t use treats as a reward for good behavior.

And, most importantly, don’t use treats at all! Treats are like candy they’re enjoyable when you have them and it’s easy to fall into the trap of using them all the time in training your dog, but that comes with a cost: you can get so used to giving them out that your dog will start expecting one every time he does something right (like sit down or roll over) or wrong (like bark at strangers). 

The best way to avoid this problem is by finding out what motivates your pet and using it as positive reinforcement instead of food rewards.

Not Having Realistic Expectations For Your Training Session

It is important to have realistic expectations for your training session. If you are attempting to teach your dog how to sit, don’t expect it to happen in one session. 

It will take several sessions over a period of time before he/she learns the command and responds accordingly.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if your dog does not initially respond in the way that you want him/her to when training them on a new command or trick. 

Dogs learn at different paces and some commands may take longer than others for them to understand what you are trying to teach them!

An example of this would be teaching a puppy who is younger than six months old how to sit while on leash; they may need more repetitions with multiple rewards before understanding what “Sit” means as opposed to just “Down” (where they lie down).

Rushing the ProcessExpecting too much progress in a short amount of timeTrain in small increments, regularly throughout the day
Overestimating CapabilitiesExpecting a dog to perform beyond their skill levelStart with basic commands and gradually progress as the dog improves
Inconsistency in TrainingInconsistency in training sessions leading to slow progressPlan for regular and consistent training sessions that build on previous training
Expecting PerfectionExpecting instant perfection from the dogRealize that dog training is a gradual process that requires time, patience, and effort
Comparing to Other DogsComparing individual dog’s performance to others lacking individual uniquenessRecognize each dog is different and train at his pace but strive for results


If you follow these tips, you’ll find that training your dog will be much easier! You’ll also have a happier, more well-behaved pet who trusts and respects you. 

Remember that consistency is important: if you only train your dog once in awhile, they won’t learn anything new (and may even forget old commands). 

It’s also important to keep things fun for both of you; always take breaks when training so that it doesn’t get tedious for either of you!

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about common mistakes to avoid when training your dog, check out the following resources:

13 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Training Your Dog: This guide outlines common mistakes that can hinder your dog’s training progress and provides tips on how to avoid them.

Train Your Dog: Common Mistakes to Avoid: The American Kennel Club provides an educational guide to avoid common mistakes during your dog’s training process.

7 Common Dog Training Mistakes to Avoid: Learn about the most common mistakes dog owners make during training and how to avoid them in this helpful guide.


What are the most common dog training mistakes?

Some of the most common mistakes made during dog training include a lack of consistency, failure to provide rewards, using punishment instead of positive reinforcement, neglecting to socialize dogs properly, and expecting too much too soon.

What is positive reinforcement and how does it help with training?

Positive reinforcement involves rewarding your dog for good behavior. It can include treats, praise, toys, or other rewards that your dog likes. It helps to encourage good behavior and minimizes the chance of your dog repeating bad behaviors.

Is punishment an effective training method?

Punishment can sometimes discourage bad behavior in dogs, but it is not always the most effective method. Using positive reinforcement to reward the desired behavior is generally more effective in shaping good habits.

When should I start training my puppy?

It’s best to start training your puppy as early as possible. Socialization and basic behavior training should begin as soon as you bring your puppy home. The earlier you start, the easier it will be to instill good habits.

What do I do if my dog doesn’t respond to training?

If your dog isn’t responding to training, it’s important to reassess your training techniques and make sure you’re being consistent. You may also want to enlist the help of a professional trainer to identify the issues and provide tailored solutions to help your pet.