7 Dog Training Myths Debunked

7 Dog Training Myths Debunked

We think everyone needs to know the truth about these common dog training misconceptions. Some of these can be sensitive subjects, especially #5, #6, & #7 because they are often spread by people who are well-meaning, but misinformed. If dogs could talk, I wonder what they would tell us about these myths! Tell us what you think by commenting on our Facebook post!

Our Certified Trainer Lori working with a dog

Our Certified Trainer Lori rewarding a dog during training.

Myth #1: They will grow out of it.

There aren’t many things more adorable than a tiny puppy pawing at your legs when you walk in the door. It’s so hard to say no to these little bundles of cuteness especially when they are just so excited to see you because they love you so much and want nothing more than your affection. It’s less adorable though, and can even be dangerous when these puppies grow into bigger dogs, but still jump at you and your guests.

From jumping up to nipping, going to the bathroom in the house, or chewing things that they shouldn’t, puppies can grow into wonderful, well-mannered dogs, but it is up to you to teach them right from wrong. Puppies learn everything they know about the world from what you present to them. Prevention is the best method when it comes to canine behavior and you can set them up for success with training. Stay tuned for our next blog post on solutions for biting and jumping puppies!

How Cold Nose Lodge Can Help:

Classes like our Puppy Kindergarten are a great start. In our Puppy Kindergarten Class, we concentrate on dog socialization and basic manners and commands. An open dog playtime is also included in each class. If classes won’t work for you, we also offer private training, including Puppy Head Start. Doggy daycare, which we offer every day of the week (including weekends!) is also a great way to ensure that they learn proper social manners. Stop in or call us at (610)965-3647 to schedule training or daycare today.

Myth #2: It’s too early to start training my puppy.

If our first myth sounded all well and good to you, but your puppy is just too young to start, you may be surprised to hear that a minimum age for training is an outdated notion. We are often asked, “When should I start training my puppy?” In fact, we wrote a blog post addressing this question! In short, dog training begins as soon as you bring your puppy home.

Training isn’t all sit and stay, much of it is accomplished in simply teaching your dog daily routine and what is and isn’t acceptable in everyday life. As for formal obedience training? The sooner you begin, the easier it will be.  As long as they are 10 days beyond their first distemper and bordetella vaccinations, we love seeing puppies even at just 8 weeks old in our Puppy Kindergarten classes!

The impression used to be that we should “let puppies be puppies” and start training after 6 months. I feel as though this insinuates that training is not an enjoyable activity for dogs. Dog training is not only about teaching your dog what you want them to do, it’s about strengthening your bond with your dog!

How Cold Nose Lodge Can Help:

At Cold Nose Lodge, we love making dog training easy and fun. We even incorporate games into our classes that you can continue to play at home! During every class, there is an open playtime where your puppy is able to play with the other puppies. What could be more fun and cute than that? We would love for you to stop into our boutique so that we can meet your new addition! Give us a call to enroll in Puppy Kindergarten at (610) 965-3657.

Myth #3: It’s too late to start training my dog.

Contrary to the proverb, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks! Not only can you get that old hound dog to muster up some pep and learn to “shake” and “roll over,” you can absolutely break bad habits that your dog has unfortunately picked up. From adopting a dog with no prior training to undoing the damage of not understanding just how important ongoing training is, all it takes is dedication and perseverance. You can have the relationship with your dog that you envisioned. Whether that be taking them on relaxing walks or not having to constantly apologize for their behavior. We want to help you strengthen understanding and communication between you and your dog and help you to have the best possible life together.

How Cold Nose Lodge Can Help:

We offer free half-hour dog training consults with our on-staff certified dog trainer. These sessions are intended to assess your dog’s current training level and help you decide on the appropriate next step. Whether that be private training or one of our group training classes, we will offer you a personalized solution. Call us at (610) 965-3647 to schedule a consult or  register for training.

Myth #4: My dog is untrainable. It’s just the way they are.

If you just read the last myth and aren’t convinced, I’m talking to you! Maybe you have tried training time after time and nothing seems to stick. Maybe you can’t get your dog to focus long enough to try training in the first place. You don’t just have to live with the fact that your dog clobbers guests when they walk in the door and you don’t have to give up on walks because your dog drags you down the street. Those are just two common examples of poor behavior that we see. We have dealt with numerous unique training issues with varying degrees of severity. Whatever issue you are having with your dog, let us help you start moving in the right direction. Just living with an issue is not fair to either of you and there is hope!

How Cold Nose Lodge Can Help:

Our trainers have studied canine behavior for years and can teach you the methods you need to succeed. If your dog needs obedience training, but just seems to have too much energy to focus, they may be a good candidate for doggy daycare. At daycare, they are able to play with other dogs and expend their extra energy. Oftentimes, this helps them focus on training, whether it be at home or in one of our training classes. We also offer boarding school for owners who want to start training, but don’t have the time.

If you feel like your dog knows what you want them to do, but disregards you, chances are that they don’t understand what is expected of them. I know sometimes it really feels like they are purposely doing the opposite of what we want. This is especially common in dogs who have learned that the rules are flexible or vary from person to person. Let us help you find what works for your dog and start retraining them in a way that they understand.

If you’re not sure where to start, we offer free half-hour dog training consults with our on-staff certified dog trainer. Whatever training path you choose, know that your dog is not untrainable. With patience and dedication, your dog can be trained! We love to see improved communication and relationships between owners and dogs once we teach owners methods that work specifically for them. Call us today at (610) 965-3647 to start!

Myth #5: You need to be the alpha/dominate your dog.

The logic: Wolves live in packs ruled by an alpha male who retains his status through continuous aggressive dominance. Dogs descended from wolves. As owners, we must be the alpha in order to rule our pack.

The truth: In the wild, wolves live in families where the mother and father are pack leaders (called “parents” or “breeders,” not “alphas”) with their pups’ statuses based upon birth order. There is no fighting to the top, pups naturally follow their parents, mature, and go on to have their own families. Everyone is taken care of. The misconceptions about wolf packs originally stem from a 1940’s study by where captive wolves from various places were forced to live together. These wolves were in an unfamiliar and unnatural habitat. They fought for resources and one male and one female (dubbed alphas) won out. Later studies of additional captive wolves extrapolated these faulty theories. However, after numerous studies on wolves in the wild, the very scientists that ascribed to these theories have renounced them.

Also the truth: Dogs are not wolves.  In fact, we now have evidence that dog domestication predates our development of agriculture. How amazing is that? They are our best friends, 15,000 (and some studies show perhaps up to 40,000) years in the making! Genome mapping is also showing us that their domestication is more complex than we originally thought and their dissimilarities from the wolf are vast.

We’re very thankful that the truth about these misconceptions is gaining steam! In fact, you can’t research “dominance dog training” or “alpha dog training” without wonderfully researched articles condemning the practice shooting their way to the top of the results. This is not to say that we don’t want owners to be strong leaders, in fact, I think we can take some inspiration from wolf packs! They are solid family units that communicate flawlessly and operate based upon trust and respect. These tenets are the very foundation of the positive reinforcement dog training we practice at Cold Nose Lodge.

How Cold Nose Lodge Can Help:

If you’ve been practicing dominance dog training and are open to rethinking your methods, let’s talk! During a free half hour training consult, we can talk more about why positive reinforcement training is more reliable and better for both you and your dog. If you’re ready to jump right in and start training, attend one of our classes! Call us at (610) 965-3647 to get started.

Myth #6: Prong and shock collars are valuable training tools.

Would you rather have your dog behave as you’d like them to:

A. Because they understand what you’re asking of them, and oblige because they respect you.


B. Because you are hurting them and they want the pain to stop, or they know you will hurt them and comply out of fear.

When it’s spelled out in it’s simplest form doesn’t the choice seem obvious?  I know we all love quick fixes and instant gratification, but not only are shock and prong collars not worth the damage to your dog, oftentimes they are ineffective.

With these collars, when your dog does something that you don’t want them to do, you apply pain. Every time you hurt your dog with these methods, they suffer an increase in cortisol. The chronically elevated cortisol caused by long-term stress  can lead to health issues that significantly shorten your dog’s lifespan.

Additionally, your dog is not the only one in danger. When a dog is confronted with a sudden surge of pain, it’s common for them to not understand where it’s coming from. Will they think it came from the child standing next to them? From another pet? From you or a guest? It’s impossible to tell and impossible to predict how they will react. Even the sweetest dogs may redirect and bite or even attack whatever they perceive to be hurting them. A dog may tolerate the maltreatment for a long time, what will be their breaking point? How much animosity will it take until they decide enough is enough?

If you’re using a prong or shock collar, please try to remember that in getting a dog you were looking for a best friend and companion that you should be treating kindly, not hurting.

How Cold Nose Lodge Can Help:

At Cold Nose Lodge, we are a prong-free facility. We completely understand if you were led astray to believe that a prong collar is a good option for your dog. No judgement here, just come into our boutique and do a trade in! If you trade in your dog’s prong collar, we offer $10 off your purchase of any harness in our boutique! We will help you adjust the harness for your dog to ensure a perfect fit. If you choose one of our no-pull harnesses, we can also show you where to clip the double sided leash and how to make walking your dog more manageable. We also have classes where you can learn loose leash walking and offer private training. As for shock collars, whatever poor behavior you were trying to banish with them, we can address and come up with a training solution. Just give us a call at (610) 965-3647 to get started!

Myth #7: Positive reinforcement training won’t work for my dog.

In positive reinforcement dog training, we reward dogs for behavior we want them to repeat. It’s easy to see how positive reinforcement training works for puppies learning basic obedience, but what about “stubborn” dogs who have bad habits?

If you have a dog with poor manners or bad habits, you may not be able to see how positive reinforcement could work for your dog. After all, what are you supposed to reward when your dog is not doing what you want them to? Just because we reward behaviors we want dogs to repeat, it does not mean there aren’t any consequences for bad behavior. We simply do not use any unkind, aversive methods.

In the aversive dog training that we do not use, when a dog is not behaving, a negative stimulus is added and then ceased when the dog obeys. In positive reinforcement dog training, our method, if a dog is not behaving, a positive stimulus is removed and then returned when a dog complies.

Whether that positive stimulus is your attention, affection, toys, going out to the yard or anything else that your dog loves, we can use access to these stimuli to shape your dog’s behavior. Unlike in averisve dog training, where a dog can build a tolerance to the punishment, in positive reinforcement training, a dog learns how to appropriately behave in order to have access to things that they love.

This creates a win-win situation where once you “shape” your dog.  You get a friend that behaves as you want them to, and your dog gets to live a full, fun life by your rules. We love to teach owners how to facilitate this understanding with their dogs and avoid methods that can cause loss of trust.

How Cold Nose Lodge Can Help:

If you feel that you have a stubborn dog, chances are that they just don’t completely understand exactly what is expected of them. This happens for a variety of reasons, including a  lack of consistency or using a method that just doesn’t work for your dog. Whether you, your family, or your guests have accidentally taught your dog that your rules are flexible or you’ve taught them to sit on the command, “Sit. Sit…Siiiit.” instead of “Sit,” your dog can be retrained. We absolutely feel that positive reinforcement training is the most reliable, safe, and effective way to accomplish this. You can be assured that we work we every client individually to come up with the best training solution for their dog.

Our training philosophy at Cold Nose Lodge is:

We believe dog training should be based on a relationship of trust, not fear. For that reason, we use positive reinforcement, redirection, and luring to train dogs at the Lodge. The use of physical corrections and other aversive training methods (choke chains, prong collars, etc.) are prohibited in our training programs.

Call us today at (610) 965-3647 to schedule a free half hour consultation with a trainer if you’re not sure where to start, or to enroll in one of our training classes


We hope that you’ve learned something new! Comment us on our Facebook post to let us know what you think. Don’t forget to like us for more posts like this, CNL news, and of course adorable pictures of dogs that we can’t resist posting.