How do you discipline a dog?

How To Discipline A Dog

Dogs need to understand what type of behaviour is acceptable to their humans and what is not.  Plenty of people worry about how to and if they should discipline their dog.  Your dog does not instinctively know right from wrong, similarly to toddlers.  The earlier you start teaching these lessons, the better. Read up on how to humanely and fairly discipline your dog.

  1. Start Right Away.  Teaching your dog right from wrong should begin early, in the puppy stage if possible, but it’s never too late.  Start to teach your dog the moment he arrives home with you.  The teaching process is something that will carry on for the rest of your dog’s life.
  2. Don’t just say “NO” to your dog.  Yelling “No” at your dog will solve the immediate problem, but there is a follow through too.  Teach your dog which behaviour you prefer to see from them and give them plenty of praise and rewards when they demonstrate the desirable behaviour.
  3. Good Behaviour Requires Practice.  Showing your dog the most desirable behaviour does take practice and that means that you need to show them what to do in order to be rewarded.  Spend time with your dog daily so that they understand what is expected from them.  Dogs want nothing more than to please their owner, so time spent practicing the good behaviour is very important.
  4. Give Praise and Rewards. Your dog is much like a child and understands the reward system so corrections such as using the word “no” are frustrating to dogs.  They better understand rewards for good behaviour and will start to make better choices once they know they will get praise, attention and rewards.
  5. Teach Your Dog an Alternative Behaviour. Every negative behaviour that your dog displays should be replaced with a positive one.  Your dog then learns that the alternative behaviour yields a rewarding payoff.  One example would be that if you find your dog chewing on something that they should not be chewing on, you would take it away from them and replace it with a chew toy.
  6. Use Distraction and Interruption.  Interrupt any unwanted behaviour and let your dog know what they should do instead.  Always offer choices instead of punishment.
  7. Impose Limits.  Installing a baby gate will prevent your dog from entering into rooms that you don’t want them to be in.  Similarly, if you do not want your dog to jump up on people, put them on a leash and stand on it so that they can greet people but they don’t have enough slack to jump up.
  8. Offer Consistent Potty Training. Watch your puppy for signs that he or she needs to go and act on them by letting them outside immediately.  The best thing to do is prevent accidents so that your dog does not experience anger or upset from you.  Puppies have no idea that they are not welcome to urinate on the floor in your home.  It is up to you to teach them.
  9. Work on Understanding.  Your dog does not speak your language, but he does follow cues including tone and body language.  Be clear when you speak to your dog and make him understand what it is that you expect of him.

Training your dog is a process and discipline should be swift and not too harsh.  Always use distraction and reward if possible.  Dogs are extremely sensitive to tone and do not want to be hit or smacked, so this is something that should never be done. A firm “NO” on the other hand is a humane way to let your dog know that what they just did was not desirable.

Happy training!

I have been training dogs and studying their behaviour for over 10 years. I have a Certificate in Dog Psychology, Behaviour & Training. I have a particular passion for helping other dog owners. You can follow my talented Border Collie Frankie on Instagram (@BorderCollieFrankie) and on Facebook (@TheK9Superstars)

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