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Dog Training “Tips”: Really? Not In This Dog Trainers Opinion

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There are a lot of great dog training tips out there – really. I provide many myself, as you probably already know, on this dog training ventura blog as well as the Noozhawk dog behavior advice column Poncho and I write for. Although I’m a certified dog trainer, and one that prefers practicing more of a science-based methodology, I ask you, please, be a critical thinker when it comes to adhering to some of these “tips”. Mine included! 

Some of the ones I’ve seen out there just amaze me! Do people really believe some of this stuff? These are just a few that I came across:
  • “Do not tell your dog “it’s okay” or “don’t worry” while they are acting fearful or aggressive. Showing affection to your dog in those states will reinforce the behavior you do not want. The dog reads your affection as praise and believes that’s the behavior you want.”

  • “Grabbing the scruff of your dog can help him calm down. That is how mothers carry their puppies after they are born. However, you cannot be angry when you do it or your dog will pick up on your energy and fight it.”
  • Dog training classes aren’t necessary. Classes only benefit the dog in the aspect of socialization and very basic obedience. You don’t need to pay money for this. The time is better spent out on a walk.”
  • “Be the first to walk out the door. Pack leaders are ALWAYS the first through passageways.”

OH MY GOODNESS! Really??? Yikes! Just like the “Lose 10 pounds in one day.” It sounds like it’s time for a “dog-training-bust-a-myth” moment…at least in my opinion. 
First off, when I’m scared, if my husband consoles me I’m certainly not going to want to perform that scared behavior more. If anything, it’ll help me relax, and may even help build my confidence, which would come in handy if I were ever in that situation again. 
For example, when it comes to flying I’m not real keen on the take-off and landing part. He knows this. So whenever we fly together he takes my hand during both these times and talks to me in soothing voice – he doesn’t yell at me or ignore me. Geez, if he did that I’d hate take-off and landing even more! Nope, he does show affection – and ya know what? This makes me love him even more! 
As for the other examples of “tips” that I mention above, let me just say:
  1. I’m pretty darn sure our dogs know we’re not dogs or wolves, and that grabbing their scruff doesn’t make them think we are, nor do I believe my own dog Poncho, or any dog would “feel calm” if I were to grab him by his scruff. If anything, I would think Poncho would be reacting out of fear from me grabbing him in such a manner – which I would never do. 
  2. Dog training classes “aren’t necessary”??? It’s all about finding the right class. One that is educational, fun and rewarding for both the dog and their humans. Even if you’re not taking one of my manners classes at the inquisitive canine studio, or at Ventura College Community Education, there are still plenty of fun dog training classes out there! It sounds to me this person found classes very punishing…too bad, maybe they will want to attend one of mine. 
  3. I don’t care who goes through the doorway or “passages” first. I do like to set boundaries, but I’m not a complete control freak. I’ll ask for a sit, or four-on-the-floor before giving the release cue to “go on”. Shoot, sometimes life is really exciting and our dogs want to get there first! Just like us humans and getting in line at the movies, or concert, or roller-coaster! It’s called “impulse control” – dogs don’t have much, which is why it’s important to teach them such exercises….Hmm, maybe those dog training classes are important. I teach many of these behaviors in my own dog training classes.

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