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Even More Dog Training Myths

One of the most important aspects of ensuring a dog leaves a happy and healthy life is dog training. Dog training can curb and prevent undesirable behaviors, keep a dog from accidentally hurting itself or others, and help strengthen the bond between a dog and its owner or family. Although dog training is an important part of a dog’s well-being, there are many myths, legends and misconceptions about dog training which can confuse, frustrate and mislead dog owners. The following are even more dog training myths–and the facts behind them.

Myth: Positive reinforcement only works for easy-to-train bDog_Training_Mythsreeds, not stubborn or large breeds

This myth is often used to justify the usage of harsher training methods, which are typically only recommended for experienced dog trainers who know how to properly use tools such as choke collars and pinch collars to train dogs.

Positive reinforcement is, in fact, used around the world to train exotic animals, marine mammals and pets. Positive reinforcement teaches an animal to associate a behavior–or stopping certain behaviors–with a reward. In the case of an exotic animal, the reward might be fresh meat, while in the case of a family dog; the reward can be positive praise, petting and a little treat. Research has shown that corrective training methods are much more likely to lead to anxiety, stress and fear rather than a happy and well-behaved animal.

Myth: Using treats or food during training is bribery

Although sometimes dog owners do use food as bribery, such as when they try to lure a dog away from a situation by offering treats, using food or treats as a reward during training is not actually bribery but a reinforcement or reward. During training, food is often used because almost every dog enjoys food and treats and they will attempt to work for that particular reward. Other rewards may also be used for dogs that do not show much interest in food: toys, playing, petting and praise are also commonly used training rewards.

Myth: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

This myth is so pervasive that the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has taken on its own meaning in popular culture! The truth of the matter is this: You can train a dog at any age, whether it’s a bouncing puppy or an elderly dog. It is true that older dogs will often require more patience and time during training than younger dogs because certain behaviors are likely now ingrained in them due to their past training or lack of past training. However, older dogs are typically calmer than younger dogs and will usually be able to focus on you and your commands during training sessions.

If you are having difficulty training an older dog, remember to exercise patience! You may be, in the course of your training, trying to undo a behavior which the dog has practiced for years.

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