A well-trained puppy is the dream of every new pet parent, but there’s no need for it to be just a dream. Proper training and supportive encouragement are the best ways to help a dog understand good behavior from bad. Of course, there will be mistakes as your dog learns, but if you know how to discipline a dog and redirect him, you’ll have the best behaved pup on your street.
The good news is that dogs tend to be fast learners. If you can work with him on obedience training, disciplining a dog should be reasonably simple in the immediate moment and for the rest of his life! Before you begin, it’s important to learn the do’s and don’ts of how to discipline a dog. You want to make sure the punishment matches the action and you don’t do anything to harm the bond you’re currently building with your pet. Here are some tips to get you started on the right foot . or shall we say, paw.
The Don’ts of Disciplining a Dog
Don’t physically discipline your dog: You love your pets like family, so you’d never want to hurt your dog. It goes without saying that you should never lay a hand on your dog to discipline him, even if you’re extremely frustrated. There is a never a reason to hit, shake or intimidate your dog. If you’re ever feeling like the discipline is getting out of your control, it’s time to hire a professional trainer or ask for assistance from your friends or family members. Physical discipline also can make the problem worse. Dog’s struggle to connect the punishment with the action they committed, so they are likely not to change their negative behavior, but rather become fearful and less prone to listen.
Don’t yell or scream at your dog: Your dog understands the difference between your normal voice and shouting voice, just as you understand the difference between a bark and his play sounds. However, if all the disciplining you do just sounds like loud noise to your dog, he’ll eventually begin to tune you out. Or, even worse, yelling could agitate or excite your pup, which might encourage negative behaviors. Keep a calm voice and use clear, simple commands.
Don’t rub your dog’s nose in an accident: Sometimes it takes a puppy a little while to learn where it’s acceptable to relieve himself. Since dogs often mark their territory in many places outdoors, it can be hard for puppies to learn not to do the same thing in the house. The smell they leave is a way of communicating with other animals. Even if they understand that they aren’t supposed to go in the house, they may not understand the severity of their actions. Don’t punish your dog by rubbing his nose in his accident. This can create an anxiety issue or break the bond between pet and owner. Clean up the mess and redirect your dog outside.
“To prevent frequent urination in the same household spot, remove the scent of previous urine marks with a good enzymatic cleaner,” recommends Vetstreet.
Don’t allow play that isn’t okay: When a puppy is learning, he’s not always going to have the best behavior. There’s so many tempting things in your home, and it’s important for you to make it clear which items belong to him and which ones are off limits. One of the most common behavioral concerns for pet parents is chewing. If you want to keep your shoes safe from your dog, keep them out of sight or restrict your dog access to certain areas of your home. Don’t allow a behavior to continue because it’s cute or because you think he’ll grow out of it. Teach him how to play properly from the very beginning.
The Do’s of How to Discipline a Dog
Do reinforce good behaviors: In an ideal relationship with your dog, you don’t have to worry about discipline any longer and can simply praise him. There are many ways to positively reinforce good behaviors, and your dog will especially like getting healthy treats when he’s done something right. The more you encourage your dog, the harder he’ll work to make sure he follows the rules and keeps you happy.
Do catch your dog in the act: To successfully discipline a dog, address a behavior or action while or immediately after it happens. You can’t reprimand your dog for something he did in the past. He simply won’t understand why you’re disciplining him. You can, however, teach your dog if you catch him in the act of doing something wrong. This doesn’t mean you should booby trap your house, waiting for your dog to slip up. It simply means to be on the lookout and respond quickly and appropriately to his behavior.
Do consider your dog’s health: If your dog suddenly begins to urinate on your carpets and furniture after being successfully house-trained for quite some time, there’s a chance that his behavior is the result of a medical issue, such as a urinary tract infection. Since you’re not a mind reader, a trip to the veterinarian’s office is necessary. Dogs don’t like to soil their home areas, so consider this a potential sign of an internal problem.
Do redirect your furry friend: When you’re learning how to discipline your dog, one of the best routes to take is redirection. First, stop your dog in the act of whatever he’s doing, then give him a different, pet parent-approved option. For example, if you walk into a room and notice him chewing your shoes or hairbrush, swiftly tell him “No!” and take the item out of his mouth. Once your dog is calm, present him with an actual chew toy. When he’s munching on the toy, make sure to reinforce the positive behavior with lots of praise.
Disciplining a dog can be tough, but remember that you’re helping him learn to be the best version of himself. If you treat your pup like you would a child, you will start to see that you’re teaching him how to be a grown up. The time you spend training him properly will not only improve his behavior, but also the bond you share. Make sure to always be patient and invest time in your dog’s training so you’ll worry less about how to discipline a dog and spend more time enjoying his company instead.
This article was co-authored by David Levin. David Levin is the Owner of Citizen Hound, a professional dog walking business based in the San Francisco Bay Area. With over 9 years of professional dog walking and training experience, David’s business has been voted the “Best Dog Walker SF” by Beast of the Bay for 2019, 2018, and 2017. Citizen Hound has also been ranked #1 Dog Walker by the SF Examiner and A-List in 2017, 2016, 2015. Citizen Hound prides themselves on their customer service, care, skill, and reputation.
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It’s always exciting bringing a new puppy home, but it takes patience, consistency, and lots of love to raise a well-trained puppy. Unfortunately, behavioral problems are one of the top reasons dogs end up in animal shelters.  X Research source Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 3(2), 93–106. Salman, et al. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. 2000 However, by using methods such as reward-based training and/or crate-training, you can help break the puppy of any initial behavioral problems. By properly training your puppy from the beginning, you will create a delightful member of the family and prevent problems.
I t’s important to learn how to discipline a puppy. There are means of humane punishment that will teach your pooch he did wrong without hurting him. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key to proper puppy training and discipline.
Bringing a new puppy into your home is fun and exciting, but it can also be a frustrating challenge. Getting angry at your pup is not going to fix anything. Before you bring your new friend home, you need to understand that training him initially will be quite a challenge.
There will be times when you feel frustrated or angry, and that is a sign that you and your puppy need a break!
Learning how to discipline a puppy sounds simple, but there are proven methods that work and are 100% safe and humane. Disciplining your puppy should not be done by shouting or physical punishment. Instead, positive reinforcement, patience and consistency are key to this fundamental task.
How To Discipline A Puppy
Consistency is Key
When you train your puppy, you’ll be saying the same commands over and over again. Right when you think he finally gets it, he ends up doing the exact opposite of what you want him to do. It makes you want to just give up or try something different.
In order for your dog to understand what is expected of him, you need to be consistent. More so, everyone in your house must be on the same page. If you’re using one set of commands while another member of your family uses something completely different, your dog is only going to get confused.
Before you bring your dog home, have a family meeting. Work out a training schedule, and discuss what will be expected of the dog. Are you only focusing on recall training and some simple commands? Or will you be expecting more from your Fido?
Once everyone is on the same page, you will know that your dog is hearing the same commands from everyone. This will make training much easier and give you a better chance for success.
Your puppy needs to understand that you’re the boss. Learning how to discipline a puppy means learning how to be an authority figure to your new pet without scaring him. Dogs are pack animals, which means that they naturally look for the leader of the group. If there is no noticeable leader, they may try to fill that role themselves.
You need to be confident and assertive. You are the boss, not your dog! Think of the way that a confident leader projects themselves. They stand up straight, speak clearly and act with confidence. You need to act this way in order for your dog to understand that you are in charge.
And remember, DO NOT use baby talk! Think about how you would feel if someone asked you to do something while speaking baby talk? You wouldn’t take them very seriously, would you? If you speak baby talk to your dog, he’s not going to understand you or take you seriously. There’s a time and place for using dog-speak with your puppy, but training and disciplining the pup is not that time.
Use Positive Reinforcement and Redirection
When you think of discipline, you probably think of someone raising their voice and using physical punishment. When you’re learning how to discipline a puppy, neither of things should even be on your radar. Studies have shown that using aversive training methods like these is extremely detrimental to a dog’s mental and physical well-being.
I know it can be difficult to stay calm, especially when you’re frustrated with a naughty puppy. It’s important to keep your mood calm, because your dog will sense your frustration and become agitated as well.
Encourage your dog’s good behavior with positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement training using praise and rewards (usually treats) to encourage your dog’s good behavior. Instead of scolding him for doing something that he shouldn’t, reward him for doing the things that you want him to do.
But, what should you do when your dog is doing something wrong?
Learning how to discipline a puppy isn’t about scolding and spanking; it’s about learning to distract and redirect him. As you will see in my video guide above, distracting your dog with something he’s interested in (like a squeaky toy) is a very effective way to get him to stop misbehaving.
Let’s say your dog is chewing on something he shouldn’t be or jumping up on someone walking through the door. You can distract him with a favorite toy, a dog treat or some attention. Once he’s distracted and doing what he’s supposed to do, it’s time to reward him with some praise and affection.
Long story short, learning how to discipline a puppy isn’t really about ‘discipline’ at all – or at least not in the traditional way we think of discipline. It’s about being consistent and patient, as well as correcting unwanted behavior in a positive way.