Five myths about dog training vets want you to know aren’t true

With more people welcoming pooches to their family, longer evenings present the perfect time to start outdoor training with our four-legged friends.

A vet nurse at leading pet health charity, PDSA has issued advice for new owners and those who may need a refresher, when it comes to pet training.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Many people might be familiar with techniques that punish or scare pets in an attempt to change their behaviour. However, these can leave our canine companions frightened and confused, which may lead to further unwanted habits. We’ve outlined five common dog training myths that are not true, in order to help owners change their dog’s behaviour for the better.”

1 Myth – I need to teach my dog who is boss or they won’t respect me

Nina says, “Frightening your dog into submission can lead to a lack of trust, and even aggressive behaviour further down the line if they’re frightened and don’t know what else to do. Instead, make instructions clear and consistent, rewarding any positive behaviour. Dogs will then know what is expected from them and what they can expect from you.”

2 Myth – Punishment teaches dogs how to behave

“Although punishment methods can supress the behaviour you don’t want in the short-term, they don’t address the reason your dog is doing it,” says Nina.

“Imagine being shouted at when you don’t know what you’ve done wrong, and no one will explain. Reward-based training has been proven to work best, as pets learn to associate a good behaviour with something positive that they want.”

3 Myth – Using a rattle will stop my dog from barking

Nina says, “Rattle cans are often loud and scary enough to stop dogs from barking but aren’t the best solution in the long-term. They can actually make pets anxious about the noise, so the next time they hear it, they’ll bark even more. Consult a behaviourist instead if your dog’s barking is getting out of hand.”

4 Myth – If my dog is scared of something, they just need to learn it won’t hurt them

“Like with human phobias, forcing your dog to be near or interact with something they find stressful won’t teach them not to be afraid,” Nina says. “If your dog has a phobia, firstly as your vet to check your dog over in case of any underlying health problems. Then if they’re given the physical all clear, they can be referred to an accredited behaviourist, who will be able to design a de-sensitisation programme to help your dog manage their phobia.”

5 Myth – My dog doesn’t like treats so I can’t train them

Nina says, “If your dog isn’t a foodie, they may prefer a toy or game used exclusively during training time, while other dogs will favour praise and attention. Most dogs enjoy a combination of different rewards – so why not try them all and see which work best for your pooch.”

For more tips and reward-based training, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/dogtraining.