Myth #1
My dog knows he did something wrong because he looks guilty.
When a dog looks “guilty” it is because they are reacting to a change in our body language that tells them “something is wrong”. As a result, even a dog that has done nothing wrong will exhibit body language that looks worried and nervous to the human eye. In reality, the dog has learned to exhibit these behaviors in order to appease humans who display angry or upset body language.
Myth #2
A puppy has to be at least six months old to start training.
With today’s modern methods of training based on positive reinforcement and cooperation with your dog, there is no reason you can’t start working with your puppy as soon as he comes home! A puppy starts learning the moment they are able to observe and relate to their environment. The sooner you start, the quicker your puppy will learn. It’s also important to socialize your puppy as soon as possible as well, to expose him to new people and things, so he’ll grow up to be a behaviorally healthy and confident adult dog.
Myth #3
Using food in training is bribery.
All animals, including humans, “work” for reinforcements; dogs are no different. Trainers often use food simply because most dogs love food and find it worth working for, but we also can use toys, play, work, petting, happy talk and a whole variety of other things to reward our dogs. A reward/reinforcement is something that is presented to an animal in order to show them they got something right. A bribe is something that you give to an animal to get them to do something they already know how to do.
Myth #4
My dog is urinating in the house because he’s angry that I left him alone.
Dogs are simply not capable of the type of thought processes that would allow them to think that doing an action such as urinating in the house will get back at you for a perceived slight. If your dog is urinating in the house, it can only be for one of a few possible reasons: 1) He has a medical condition such as a urinary tract infection or 2) He is suffering from extreme separation anxiety and is in distress. 3) You left him alone longer than you can reasonably expect your dog to hold his bladder. 4) He is not fully housetrained.
Myth #5
You should never play tug of war with your dog because it causes aggression.
Tug of war can be a great game to play with your dog as long as you do it properly! Dogs should learn that it’s never ok to put their teeth on your skin when grasping for the toy with their mouths, they should also learn to sit for the toy instead of jumping up and snatching it, and they should learn to “drop” the toy on command when you’re ready to end the game. Using tug as a reinforcer instead of food is actually very common among many dog sports competitors and working dog trainers because dogs enjoy it so much!