How to Discipline a Dog

Skylar Dial
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Discipline Does Not Equal Dominance

Disciplining your dog is easy when he’s doing a job you like such as retrieving the paper, but what about those times when he really gets it in the neck for something that’s totally unacceptable?

Punishment is a tricky tool to use with a dog. Punishment usually means to inflict pain or suffering, to make a person or animal feel bad or guilty, to correct behavior. Physical pain from jerking a dog on the collar, or being smacked on the nose can be considered to be punishment but in reality is only correcting a dog by using pain rather than rewarding him for doing what you want.

Use Positive Reinforcement

As a dog owner, there may be times when you need to discipline your pet. Although it’s not something that you enjoy doing, it’s important to remember that training involves incentives as well as punishments. If you only use punishment, you are likely to harm your dog. However, if you only use positive reinforcement, you will have a problem since most of the rewards that you give to your dog can be seen as freebies. Your dog won’t know why he’s getting them.

The ideal method is to use positive reinforcement as a reward for desired behavior while at the same time disciplining with the use of negative punishment.

Let’s take a look at how to discipline a dog using this method.

For example, you can start by going outside for a walk with your dog. As he’s walking on the leash, you can clap your hands or give a command such as “please” at the same time. As soon as your dog does the walk command, you can give a reward such as high value treats or praise.

Concentrate on Timing

Timing is extremely key when it comes to disciplining your dog. Many people don’t really understand that point. For example, you have told your dog not to jump on the couch. But when you get home your dog is on the couch with its feet up. The first thing you are going to react to is your anger because your pet disobeyed. That’s exactly when you should not punish your dog. In this situation, it’s of more importance to understand why your dog is behaving inappropriately. Is it trying to tell you something? Is it hurt? Did your dog not understand what it’s doing is wrong? You need to ask yourself why the dog behaved the way it did and only after that, think about the punishment. Once you have established the cause of your dog’s behavior you will be able to determine the right punishment and time to administer it.

Use Praise, Treats, and Toys

To discipline your dog, you must have a handle on his or her language. Dogs associate being disciplined with being punished. This means punishment can actually increase the likelihood of a negative behavior happening again.

Know the language of dogs. When dogs act out in a negative way, they are communicating something, even if it's in a language you don’t understand. They may be bored, hungry, overly excited, or stressed. In order to figure out the motivation, you need to have a general idea of the dog's behavior and personality.

Be Clear and Consistent

Owning a dog isn’t just about feeding it, playing with it or taking it for a walk. Punishing it when it misbehaves, disciplining it and training it to respect you and your home is just as important. You should always be aware of the rules for disciplining your dog and you should be consistent if you want your pup to behave.

The best way to discipline your dog is by using verbal commands and consistent body language. This means you should never abuse your dog or hurt it in anyway. This means you should avoid biting or hitting it and you should never use weapons to frighten your dog.

Verbally disciplining your dog will also teach it boundaries and standards of behavior. When you're disciplining your dog verbally, it’s much easier to use consistency and you don’t have to keep physically exerting control … every time it misbehaves. Also, verbal discipline makes your dog realize that it's not just for its obedience that you're training it. You're also training it to respect you.

Attend Training Classes

One of the best ways to learn how to train a dog the right way is to attend a training class. There are a lot of dog trainers out there, and it’s important to attend training classes with an experienced and reputable trainer. A good training class will include dog training instruction and/or hands-on training. Training classes can also be a great place to network with other dog owners and share ideas and information.

Online classes and video sessions can be a great resource for dog owners who aren’t able to find a training class locally. Doggy Dan also offers some great videos and manuals and can be a great resource if you’re looking for a good place to start.