Trainer shares genius solution to improving your dog’s behavior, and it all comes down to avoiding this common mistake

Japanese man and Border Collie relaxed outdoors
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Are you struggling to help your dog master certain skills and behaviors? If the answer is yes, rest assured, you're not alone. Whether it's trying to figure out how to stop a dog pulling on a leash, or you're wondering why your dog's recall isn't reliable despite all the effort you're putting in, it can be helpful to know that many of us find training a challenge.

And it turns out, there's a common reason why we often find ourselves going around in circles when it comes to trying to teach our dogs the basics.

"As humans, we can fall into the habit of thinking that training has to be over-complicated, or really strict and structured to see results," explains Amelia Steele, an expert dog trainer certified through the prestigious Victoria Stilwell Academy.

Because of this, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do things the 'right way'. To help you avoid this mistake, Steele has shared a really helpful video on Instagram in which she explains why simple training techniques often produce the best results. Here's what she had to say...

"One of the biggest reasons people fail at training plans is because they're too over-complicated," says Steele. "The simpler you can make it, the better your results are likely to be because it's going to be easier to maintain long term."

Steele uses a personal example of working with her German Shepherd to highlight this point. "My dog used to hate crossing the road. If we crossed the road he would bray out, he would grab hold of his leash, and he would squeal and scream and just absolutely hated it."

For years Steele tried to desensitize him to the crossing noise and to teach him to sit and wait while rewarding him for good behavior, but nothing worked. 

What finally did prove successful was dropping treats on the floor as they crossed the road. "Super simple, but it worked and now he doesn't do it anymore," says Steele. "So the easier you can make things for yourself, the more likely you are to see results long term."

If you find that simplifying your training techniques still doesn't produce the behaviors you're wanting to see in your dog, we recommend reaching out to a professional trainer for some 1:1 support. 

Not sure where to start with finding a trainer? Check out this guide to how to spot dog trainer red flags for our top tips on what to look out for. 

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.