5 Common Dog Training Myths to Stop Believing Immediately

curious german shepherd puppy sitting in grass

Socialization and training, both early and often throughout your dog’s life, help them grow into and stay a well-rounded, confident, and well-behaved dog. Some dogs are easier to train than others, but there are some common myths around dog training that can make things difficult regardless. Here are a few common dog training myths to stop believing immediately:

Myth #1 – Once Your Dog is Trained, You’re Done

Training your dog is not a one-time thing. It’s a process and a journey that continues throughout your dog’s life. Also, training takes time. Depending on your dog and you, learning the basics can take time and it will vary from dog to dog.

Even if your dog has mastered the basic commands, they still need refreshers and ongoing training throughout their life. Plus, many dogs love to learn new things, and training them to respond to more advanced commands or new commands gives them a job to do and provides mental stimulation.

Myth #2 – Training Classes Are Only for Your Dog

Many dog owners think that signing up for classes or hiring a dog trainer is all about training their dog. It certainly does involve that. But, professional training isn’t just for your dog – it’s for you too. And, it requires you to continue to do the work at home so your dog responds to you and not just the trainer. This is one of the things dog trainers wish dog owners knew.

Dog owners need to learn how to communicate effectively with their dogs, build a bond with them, and also read dog body language. Because consistency is so important to training a dog, enrolling in classes or working with a trainer also teaches you how to consistently train your dog on what behavior is expected of them.

Myth #3 – You Have to be the Alpha

The concept of using harsh punishment, rough training methods, or discipline to establish yourself as the “alpha of the pack” is an outdated concept. It was based on wolf research in the 1970s, which has been debunked over the past several decades.

Training your dog isn’t about establishing dominance in this harsh way. Dogs also don’t understand delayed punishment, shame, or guilt, so things like rubbing your dog’s nose in an accident, yelling at them, etc. don’t work.

Training your dog is really about communication, setting expectations, and trust. Your dog needs to trust you and want to work with you. That trust is built through a system of bonding with your puppy, strengthening that bond over time, consistent communication about expected behavior, and rewards for desired behavior.

Myth #4 – Puppies Will Grow Out of Undesirable Behavior

Puppies do not grow out of undesirable behavior unless you have been training them not to do it. Undesirable behaviors exhibited as a puppy will continue to occur as the dog grows, especially if it has been rewarded.

By continuing to allow undesirable behavior, actively rewarding it, or accidentally rewarding it, you are actually reinforcing that behavior and it is likely to become stronger. Because of this, one of the most valuable dog training tips is to avoid reinforcing unwanted behavior.

Myth #5 – “You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks”

This cliche persists as a myth in humans and in dog training. Although it is true that modifying an existing behavior can be difficult, behavior modification is different from training a dog to respond to something new.

Dogs need mental stimulation as well as exercise and affection. Learning new things is a great way to provide mental stimulation and keep their minds sharp. At the same time, training should be ongoing throughout a dog’s life, so this should be happening anyway.

Dogs love learning new things! So, you can teach an old dog new tricks and should continue training them. Also, it’s never too early to start training a puppy or too late to train an adult dog.

These are just a few common dog training myths that can hold you and your dog back when it comes to training. Instead of getting caught up in them, do your research by reading dog training books, getting advice from professional dog trainers, taking classes, and more. It’ll help training go more smoothly for you and your dog and will result in a stronger bond too.