Struggling with training your dog? Here's three common mistakes you might be making (and how to fix them)

Woman and dog
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Is training your dog proving to be a major challenge? If so, you're not alone. With so much conflicting advice out there, it can be difficult to know the best approach to take when teaching your canine companion a new skill or behavior. 

While having plenty of the best dog treats on hand can certainly prove helpful when it comes to rewarding your pup for good behavior, training is a complex puzzle involving many different pieces.

If your dog training program isn't going to plan, expert trainer and behaviorist Mattison Skoog says it may be down to one of these three common mistakes she sees pet parents making. Read on to discover what she had to share in a recent Instagram post — and it really got us thinking! 

1. Your marker system is unclear: "This is the most fundamental piece of communication with your dog, so it should be crystal clear" explains Skoog. Marker training is a research-based form of training where you teach your dog to offer you a desirable behavior in exchange for a reward. For example, you may ask your dog to sit and when they do the behavior you use a vocal marker like 'yes' and then reward with a treat. When it comes to marker training, consistency is key! 

2. You don't have enough management in place: "Not having enough management in place can set your dog up for failure," says Skoog who adds that this can result in your pup rehearsing old undesirable behaviors while you're trying to teach new ones. Properly manage their environment to prevent unwanted behaviors.

3. Skipping steps: "Rushing through training steps to get outside can lead to confusion. Dogs need a solid foundation before progressing," explains Skoog. Whenever you teach a new skill, start in an easy environment inside the home to set your pup up for success. Once they can do something confidently inside, you can move your training outside. 

As well as avoiding these three common mistakes, Skoog also recommends that you set clear goals for yourself. "Understand your endgame — are you after obedience or a dog who naturally chooses desired behaviors?," she says. 

Whatever your goal and whatever skill or behavior you want to teach your dog, remember that training takes time, patience and consistency. Here are 25 practical tips for training your dog on your own, or if you'd prefer the support of a professional, our guide to how to spot dog trainer red flags will ensure you're working with someone who is suitably qualified and uses positive training methods.

American Journey Peanut Butter Recipe Grain-Free Oven Baked Crunchy Biscuit Dog Treats
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American Journey Peanut Butter Recipe Grain-Free Oven Baked Crunchy Biscuit Dog Treats
$4.19 at Chewy
These grain-free, crunchy snacks are sure to please your pup. Small in size and packed full of flavour, they're made with wholesome ingredients that will keep your dog motivated and energized. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.