One day, probably soon, your dog will do
something wrong. He might steal your T-bone steak off the kitchen counter. He
might leave a little present in your closet. What do you do? First, don�t lose
your temper. The best solutions to most dog discipline problems are patience and
Preventive steps can make all the difference dog discipline. For instance, take
him outside for a potty many more times than you think he could possibly need
until he develops some control. Never tempt him with a steak left within his
reach. Don't leave your closet ajar. If he never gets the idea, he won't do the
terrible deed and make you miserable.
Stage 1: Verbal
No matter how careful you are, your dog
(and you) will make mistakes. Try to catch him while he's still merely thinking
about doing something wrong. From the start, discourage his potential trespasses
as though you were a mother dog. Issue a low growl, or "No," with the warning
message, "Don't you dare. Don't even think about it!" He'll probably reconsider.
Be sure to give him verbal praise when he responds correctly.
The next best way to correct him is to catch him in the act. If puppies make a
housebreaking mistake during the first week in the new home, don't scold. Just
take the offender outside and praise him when he does his business in the right
place. For older puppies, a good sharp scolding is in order when they make a
mistake, whatever that mistake was. Surprise him so he's taken aback and links
the reprimand to his action.
Scolding after the act is virtually useless, but we sometimes slip up and do it
anyway, because it makes us feel better. The dog, however, rarely makes the
connection between the punishment now and the great fun then.
Stage 2: Environmental
Correction / The Set-Up
Environmental corrections can bring
miraculous results. To the dog, it feels like someone's watching him all the
time, so he'd better behave. It�s a great way to train him and instill dog
discipline, as long as he doesn�t become skittish because of the technique, so
proceed within reason. Environmental set-ups work particularly well against
mischief. Many dogs are smart enough to figure out that they can get away with
things when you're not home. But, luckily, dogs are predictable�they do what
feels good and stop doing what doesn't feel good. So you can set up a situation
where the environment makes the dog feel lousy.
Here are some examples of successful set-ups suggested by professional trainers
for certain misbehaving pooches:
One dog got his kicks rummaging through the bathroom garbage and strewing the
shredded contents everywhere, especially when his owner wasn't home. The owner
cured him of this nasty habit by sprinkling a little hot pepper in the first few
layers of miscellaneous tissues and papers in that garbage can and then left for
work as usual. It took the dog exactly one experience with the peppered garbage
to cure him for good.
A dog that liked to steal things off the kitchen table never did it again after
his owner put a piece of linoleum on the table. About half of it hung over the
edge. Then he put tin cans filled with pebbles and several other miscellaneous
noisy but harmless items on the linoleum so that when the dog jumped up, the
whole pile came tumbling down on him. That surprised dog did not risk another
Set-ups are powerful medicine and can be very frightening, especially to
submissive dogs. We highly recommend that if you are having a problem with your
dog, you ask a professional trainer to evaluate your dog's personality and
suggest the right type of set-up to use. Be sure that no real harm comes to the
Stage 3: Time Out
Just like for kids, time-outs work for
dogs, too. When your dog makes a big mistake, scold him and put him in his crate
for 20 minutes. Ignore him while he is inside. After time is up, let him out and
forgive him completely. Cheer him up with a little petting or play time.
Some trainers don't like to use crates this way. However, many owners find this
technique invaluable as an aid in solving a dog's discipline problems. Try
saving the time-out for serious mistakes, like biting too hard.
Stage 4: Physical
We highly recommend that, except for collar
corrections, you use physical corrections only with the guidance of a
professional trainer. Physical corrections must be done properly to work, and
even then, they aren't effective on all dogs. Some dogs only return violence
with more violence. And for some dogs, physical correction is terribly
frightening and can damage their confidence.
Don't ever hit your dog, not even with a rolled up newspaper. It does absolutely
no good whatsoever to push his face into a pile of poop. The only thing that can
accomplish is to make him a poop eater.
For dogs older than four months, you can use a chain or pinch correction collar
as a dog discipline tool. The collar correction is handy for problems around the
house or when you're out for walks�whenever you can be there personally. An
important warning: Never leave a correction collar on an unattended dog! He
could choke and even kill himself (many have done so)!
Collar corrections consist of a quick, snapping pull, followed by an immediate
release. Dragging on a correction collar can cause the dog to become immune to
its effects. Constant pulling can even damage his throat. If you don't already
know how, see a professional trainer to learn successful collar correction
Other forms of physical correction
Most dog trainers use several forms of physical correction as needed. These may
include scruff shakes, alpha rolls and taps on the chest or under the chin. Some
use throw chains, shaker cans and squirt guns. Consult a professional trainer to
learn how, when, and if you should use these corrections on your dog.
Many dogs need physical correction at some
point in their lives, especially during adolescence when they tend to challenge
authority. However, inappropriate use of physical correction can trigger dog
aggression or create a fearful animal. Use verbal correction whenever possible,
but learn some physical correction techniques appropriate to your dog just in
case you need them