Many people want their dog. But new dog owners often realize they’re not up to the task.
Renowned German dog trainer Martin Rotter reveals three teaching mistakes that are harmful to your dog.
His approach: You can’t train every dog the same way, every team of human dogs is different. But one should never humanize them too much and not treat them enough.
It’s a common problem among pet owners: you want a dog or a cat and once the animal is there you don’t quite know how to handle it.
“There are three fundamental mistakes in the relationship between dogs and humans,” Martin Rotter told Business Insider.
Rotter is perhaps the most famous dog trainer in Germany. Through his stage appearances and television shows, he has influenced millions of Germans in their dealings with dogs. His approach: You can’t train every dog the same way, every team of human dogs is different. That’s why he called the training method developed by DOGS – Dog-Orientated-Guiding-System.
Even if every dog and every owner is different, in his opinion there are some mistakes that dog owners keep making.
1. Humanizing dogs
The dog is the best friend of many dog owners. There is nothing wrong with that either. However, Martin Rotter cautions against humanizing the dog too far. “It raises expectations that a dog cannot live up to expectations. A dog cannot think and act like a human.”
In fact, a common mistake in dog training is that we display human emotions to the dog and thus misinterpret them. A 2009 study, for example, suggests that dogs’ supposedly guilty appearance when their master scolds them is a much greater fear. Contrary to our human expectations, dogs don’t necessarily perceive guilt when they do something that we humans didn’t want.
2. Consistency in dealing with dogs
The dog gets food only twice a day, but due to Christmas, it is exceptionally allowed to eat for the third time. What the master sees as a gift, at worst, can spoil years of training.
“People make the rules, but then they treat it very leniently,” says Rotter. Of course, the dog does not know that today is Christmas – and the third meal is an exception. In the following days, it can happen that the dog suddenly begs for food again, although the owner thinks he stopped doing so long ago.
3. Low exercise dogs
Owning a dog comes with responsibility. The dog should be walked several times a day, properly fed and occupied by fun. “Dogs need physical and mental exercise,” says Rotter.
It cannot be overestimated how well a dog and owner can exercise regularly. A study by Uppsala University indicates that dog owners have a longer life expectancy than people without a pet. “We know that dog owners are generally more active than previous studies, which may explain these findings,” says Tove Fall of Uppsala University.
Depending on the breed of dog, the amount of a dog’s physical and mental challenge can vary. In his book “Dogs busy with Martin Rüttel,” the dog trainer introduces games to prey, smell, move and think for each team of human dogs.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider in February 2020. It has now been reviewed and updated.