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Puppy Discipline – What Works and What Doesn’t

Puppy Discipline: Disciplining Your Puppy The Right Way

Puppy-Discipline---What-Works-and-What-Doesn'tPuppy discipline seems to be a vague term among puppy owners and although it has never really been defined, most often, puppy discipline usually involves (just to name the most common) yelling, throwing things at a puppy, or some form of water torture such as a spraying your puppy with water for undesired behaviors and training mistakes (such as housebreaking issues).

After you start training your puppy, there are times when your puppy seems less interested in training and your commands and more interested in giving you a quizzical stare. When this type of behavior occurs, some trainers recommend a series of disciplinary measures including yelling, pushing a puppy’s face in his “mistake”, or throwing a puppy into his crate or pen. None of those disciplinary measures work on a puppy especially yelling. So, should you ever discipline your puppy by yelling? The answer is simple, never. Just to be clear, yelling does not include the word “no”! Yelling is done in a frustrated, angry, and loud tone, usually accompanied by a lot of words, of which you should not use on a puppy. That kind of tone will only confuse and frighten your puppy.

It’s important to remember that even after repeated training and retraining, puppies will make mistakes before and after training and like us, can be affected by sickness, being tired, overwhelmed, or by distractions such as their favorite ball sitting in the corner. While it’s frustrating when you make time out of your busy schedule to train your puppy, your little one needs to be able to learn to respond to you without the fear of puppy discipline.

I can’t stress enough that yelling at a puppy that is not paying attention is not the best way to get its attention, nor is it the best way to train a new puppy or use puppy discipline. Puppy discipline never means yelling at a puppy to get them to look at you when they are distracted, tired, or overwhelmed. While it may get their attention for a short time, the damage far outweighs the benefits.

If your puppy seems anxious, scared, or timid, chances are, your puppy has felt your frustration and in some ways may be reacting to it. Especially if you have ever seen your puppy cringe, back away, or even pee in front of you. If your puppy is yelled at enough times during your training sessions, your puppy will not only not respond to your commands, but develop a common fear-based behavior which is running away from you, or bolting.

Rather than using yelling as puppy discipline, try these simple steps to get your puppy’s attention back:

  • Only train your puppy for 15 minutes at a time. Any longer and your puppy may feel overwhelmed.
  • Take a break. Go cool off. Don’t allow yourself to get angry at the puppy.
  • Always talk to your puppy and give training commands to your puppy using a calm voice and consistent language.
  • Take your puppy outside (on leash).
  • Throw the ball around or your puppy’s favorite toy. Let your puppy burn off some energy.
  • Think about trying the training in a different room, or an area of the room you are in when you first started.
  • Reward your puppy often (food is a great motivator) for the desired behavior using treats and praise.

Then, try a training session again. Chances are your puppy is less likely to make a mistake or want to forgo training if their needs have been met, they sense you are no longer frustrated, and no longer associate you as the owner that wants to dominate and hurt them by yelling at them.

Puppy Discipline: What to do when your puppy acts up or misbehaves while you are training? Don’t give your puppy negative attention!

  • For example, if your puppy cries or whimpers to get out of his crate after he has been outside and you let him out (right at the time he is crying or whimpering), you are reinforcing that his crying and whimpering will get you to respond to his negative behavior. Rather, be patient, or walk away, wait until the crying or whimpering has stopped, and then, let him out. Be consistent.
  • If you catch your puppy peeing or pooping on your floor, say No! in a loud voice, put a leash on your puppy and immediately take them outside. Clean up the floor when you are sure your puppy has finished outside and put them back into their crate after you have played with them.
  • Another example would be when your puppy runs off with your shoes. Do you immediately give chase? By running after your puppy you are giving him the impression that this is a game and it’s ok for him to run around and disobey your pleading with him to stop, while you chase him all over your house. Wait until your puppy stops and then take the shoes away. Chasing a puppy around just cements the negative attention and just maybe what will motivate your puppy not to listen to you when he gets a hold of your socks next time and you give the command to – drop it!
  • Give your puppy positive attention when he is behaving correctly in the form of praise, a good belly rub, or a favorite treat. And give him praise right after he completes the behavior, not later. Your puppy will start to understand that he will only receive attention when he behaves correctly.

Puppy discipline shouldn’t be a negative experience for your puppy. By applying the techniques above, you will have a puppy that learns his commands faster, misbehaves less, and causes you less stress while training.