The Truth About Dog Training

April 3, 2017
As a dog owner with over 25 years of experience, I can attest that having a dog is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in my life. The companionship and joy they bring is incomparable.

Are you the proud owner of an adorable dog? Do you consider yourself to be a master when it comes to having knowledge about how to train your dog? Does this information come from a fellow dog owner and things that you have heard all your life? If so, the chances are that half of the things you believe to be true are myths and lies.

A lot of absurd myths float around about the proper way of training your dog, how much time it takes, and other intricacies of the process. Some of these lies have been around for so long that they are now said with such certainty that you feel as if you don't have an option other than believing in them. It is as if they are set in stone, unchallenged and ever-living.

Let us debunk some of these lies so that you become more informed and less overwhelmed than before about the process of training your dog. Here are 10 of the most popular lies that we all believe in. Buckle up for some of these facts may shake up all that you believe were the truths about dog training.

Lie #1: Old Dogs Can’t Be Trained

This myth is deeply ingrained in the minds of dog owners everywhere. People firmly believe that they can't teach an old dog any new tricks. Such a belief has been passed down from generation to generation and is now considered to be such a concrete fact that people don't even try to train their dogs after they enter the prime of their lives.

However, this notion is a lie. Dogs can learn a trick or behavior at any age. While it is true that teaching a puppy is easier and correcting an action takes a longer time than teaching the proper way to behave in the first place, the fact remains that the act of training is possible. Even if your dog has believed itself to be the pack leader for most of its life, deep down, every dog wishes to be a follower rather than a leader, so your dog would be happy to pass down the throne to you and enjoy its remaining life relaxing.

If you wish to train an old dog, be ready to put in a little more energy than in the case of puppies. However, to say that once dogs reach a certain age, they are untrainable is a ridiculous lie which you should not believe in.

Don’t let this lie bring you down. If you feel as if your dog is exhibiting a bad behavior or habit, get to work and change it.

Lie #2: Small Dogs Are Easier to Train Than Large Dogs

If you have ever asked your family or friends for advice about which dog to get, the chances are that they would have mentioned the fact that small dogs are easier to train than large dogs as an argument for getting the former.

Contrary to popular belief, size is not a factor when it comes to deciding how easy it would be to train a dog. In reality, it has more to do with the breed and individual personality of a dog. Some breeds have a natural predisposition to be dominant and assertive and, hence, are hard to train. Similarly, others are submissive and have no problem adapting to their owner's command. Such traits can be found in dogs regardless of their size. You may end up owning a large dog whose training is marked by ease and speed or a small one who is demanding and bossy enough to make the act of training it a seemingly never-ending one.

Therefore, you can't draw conclusions about how easy or difficult the process will be based on the size of the dog. Research about the breed – that is the most you can do – and leave the rest up to fate.

Lie #3: Dog Training Is Time-Consuming

Such a statement may have been true in the olden days, but it is not an accurate depiction of the modern process. This is because dog owners did not have access to proper information and instruction in the past. On the other hand, thanks to an array of online videos that can be streamed, the act of training your dog is now comparatively easier and faster.

Now, dog owners are aware that a well-trained and obedient dog is not a product of hours and hours of work but requires quality training in the form of daily exercises and a proper reward system. You can successfully manage a hectic life and train your dog. It is foolish to assume that there is a trade-off amongst the two.

Don't view your beloved pet as a complicated animal whose training will sap you of all your energy. Your dog is your friend and it does not require a lot of your time.

Lie #4: Puppy Schools Are the Best Way to Train Your Pet

People tend to believe that puppy schools are the best way to teach pets the proper behavior. However, the truth is that such institutions are not the best approach to tackle poor behavior in pets or even to instill a good habit.

One of the key reasons behind their ineffectiveness can be assessed based on how little effect the school has on dogs compared to the amount of fee charged. Moreover, the classes have a high demand among dog owners, which translates into overbooking of classes and, hence, wastage of time.

Since the most progress your pup will make in four weeks' worth of courses is responding to sitting commands, you are better off training your pet at home. Not only will it save you a lot of money, but it will also allow you to train and bond with your loyal companion at the same time. Not to mention the fact that training your pet yourself helps establish you as the pack leader.

Therefore, don't waste your energy and resources on puppy schools. You are better off without them. If you do wish to explore this option, you are at liberty to do so, but don't expect drastic results. It is better to use such platforms to build a foundation and take up the role of being your dog's trainer yourself.

Lie #5: You Can Only Have One Alpha in the House

Becoming the pack leader is immensely valuable. Dogs are biologically predisposed to stay in groups and follow a leader and when they don't see anyone assume the role, they take it upon themselves to be the dominant and assertive one in the equation. Therefore, it is integral that you establish yourself as the pack leader early on in the relationship.

However, a common myth is that only one family member can be the alpha. This belief is flawed. A dog can view multiple people as pack leaders depending on their attitude and how they deal with things. How do you do this? By training them to respect all humans in your home or even in general. Such a process may be tardy, but it will prove to be effective.

A dog can have multiple masters and can realize that all of the family members are its owners. All you need to do is establish a leader like a persona. Know what you are doing, and a calm dog will welcome you. Failure to do so may lead to nasty bites and an aggressive dog.

Lie #6: Positive Reinforcement Is the Only Option

Many dog owners are of the view that dogs should be trained solely via positive reinforcement, i.e., by giving rewards when they exhibit a proper behavior or perform the right action. While there is no denying the effectiveness of such an approach when teaching your dog tricks and good behavior, it is wrong to assume that it is the only approach.

In reality, such an approach may not be as fruitful when teaching your beloved pet about the action it is not supposed to do. Just like when you teach a child, you reward them for their good actions and punish them for their bad ones, a dog is to be treated in the same way.

Mind you, this does not mean shouting at it. You need to earn your dog's trust and respect. After you have done so, you can put your pets in timeout or deny them treats when they do something against the rules, like peeing in the house or breaking something. Once you adopt this approach, you will notice that your dog will become considerate and more unlikely to break the rules than before.

Hence, negative reinforcements are just as important as positive ones when teaching a dog the proper way to act. Make sure you don't use either of these approaches incorrectly for they could, then, yield disastrous results.

Lie #7: Training Lessons Take a Huge Chunk Out of Your Wallet

One of the many misconceptions about training dogs is that the best training experiences and methods are always the most expensive ones. The foundation of such a myth is based on the amount of money dog owners are known to spend on puppy schools and pet behaviorists. If you consider such vessels to be the most efficient of all, you will naturally assume that the task requires a hefty amount.

External help may prove to be beneficial in laying the groundwork more smoothly than if you do not seek any help. However, the fact remains that as a dog owner, you can learn all the tricks of training your dog with the aid of videos available online and via an array of dog training sites which offer free advice on the matter. Moreover, if you train your dog without much external help, you get to cherish the memories while learning the art of leadership. It can be said that the best way to train your dog is not only the cheapest method of all, but it is also the most enriched with experiences and memories.

Therefore, if you are worried about how expensive owning a well-trained dog will be, don’t worry. You have been led on to believe in a false assumption. Don’t let it stop you from getting a dog.

Lie #8: Treats Should Not Be Used for Training

It is a popular belief that dog owners should not use treats at all to get their dogs to listen to them. While it is true to say that one should not become dependent on treats to get their dogs to listen to them, it is also true that treats are an excellent way to instill the basics of correct behavior.

A reward is always the best way to show a dog or even a person that their actions are welcome. While such rewards may not always be in the form of food, it is wrong to eliminate them out of the equation altogether. What you do need to learn, however, is to provide a reward when the need truly arises and not when it will not yield any benefit.

It is crucial to learn the art of slowly removing the need of treats after a given action is performed. One way of doing so is by giving these treats sporadically once a positive behavior is established so that your pet doesn't form any expectations about being giving one every time it performs the action.

Use dog treats, but don't use them in abundance. Be smart about the system, and you will have no issues.

Lie #9: Destructive Dogs Are Dumb

Another popular notion deeply engrained in the minds of dog owners is that dogs that indulge in destructive activities, like gnawing on furniture, breaking vases, or being chaotic in general, do so because they can't get the hang of the training you are trying to provide them with.

The truth is the very opposite. Destructive dogs or those who don't comply with your wishes are, in reality, smarter than dogs who do. The cleverer they are, the more difficult it is to make them give up which, in turn, serves to be a source of a headache for the trainer.

If your dogs portray such behavior, it is your cue to drop whatever practice or approach you are following and try something new. Remember that the key to working with smart dogs is to be smarter than them. Try to understand the reason behind their behavior before you change things up.

Don't give up on your pup. It will learn and you will find out more about dealing with troublesome teenagers while training your dog. Hence, it's a win-win for all.

Lie #10: Work Hard. Repeat.

People seem to think that if they put enough energy into the act of training their dogs, it will yield a fruitful result. While that may be the case with some dogs, the key to effective dog training is not how much hard work you put in but how smartly you approach the situation.

If you persist with a wrong approach and work day and night in changing your dog's behavior in a way which would reflect your hard work, you are in for a rude awakening. Training is not just about putting in your energy. It is about putting in your energy in the right place. For example, if you work hard in trying to teach your dog to pee outside rather than inside the house by giving it a treat every time it pees outside, you are not doing anything to discourage the bad behavior of peeing in the house. In your dog's eyes, it isn't faced with a consequence if it does pee in the house. In such a case, regardless of how many times you treat it, the chances are that you may still walk in one day to a stain on your favorite sofa and a dog that doesn't look guilty about it.

Therefore, make sure that although you work hard, you do so while being smart about it. Don’t repeat a flawed training method day after day and expect fantastic results.


All in all, the fact that such lies exist shows that you should not believe everything you hear, regardless of how firmly a given statement is accepted by many. It is not wise to let such opinions come in the way of providing the best form of training to your dogs.

Always look up the facts when you hear about them from a source which is not credible. This act will help you avoid practices which, at the end of the day, may yield unsatisfactory results.

Train your dogs and provide them with rewards. Be smart and strategic about the time you spend teaching your pup the do's and don'ts of life, and play your part in shaping an obedient dog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * is a blog and journal where we, a group of canine lovers, share our experience in caring for puppies and dogs.
Copyright © 2023My Puppy Story. All Rights Reserved.