How to Discipline a Dog When He Misbehaves

by Elle Paula
    Never strike or hit your dog.

    Never strike or hit your dog.

    Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

    Discipline is not the same as punishment. Punishment carries a negative connotation, while discipline is an important tool in training your dog. Proper discipline teaches your dog what behavior you expect from him and which behaviors you will not tolerate. If incorrectly administered, however, discipline can cause neurotic behavior and behavioral problems.

    Use "No" Correctly

    “No” is a disciplinary word, so use it with care. When disciplining your dog and telling him “no,” never use his name to get his attention. Your dog should only associate his name with positive reinforcement. When your dog misbehaves, get his attention by standing in front of him or gently touching his neck with your fingers, then tell him “no” in a stern voice. You want to be firm, but not too angry.

    Don't Ever

    Never hit or strike your dog with your hand, a newspaper or anything else. Dogs don’t understand that the hitting is meant to correct a behavior. Instead, your dog will just become afraid of you. If your dog has a potty accident, never rub his nose in it. Dogs generally don’t urinate or defecate out of spite, so they don’t understand when you do this. Never lecture your dog in an attempt to discipline him. Dogs only understand a few commands, so a big speech serves no benefit. Consult a veterinarian or a licensed trainer before using any shock or training collars. When used incorrectly, these collars can make discipline worse.

    Always Do

    Use a positive, but stern, tone of voice. Screaming and yelling instill fear, while a stern, assertive tone shows leadership. Put your dog in a time-out when he misbehaves. Have a small room, such as a laundry room or bathroom, set up with no toys or anything that your dog can destroy. When your dog misbehaves, bring him to the time-out room and close the door. Wait 10 to 30 seconds. If your dog isn’t barking, let him out and then act like nothing happened. If he is barking, wait until he stops for 10 to 30 seconds and then let him out.

    Positive Reinforcement

    Dogs respond exceptionally well to positive reinforcement. Instead of focusing on disciplining your dog when he does something you don’t like, focus on rewarding him when he does something you do like. Praise your dog when he goes to the bathroom outside. Give him a treat, praise or his favorite toy. In order to be effective, the positive reinforcement must come within seconds after the favorable behavior.

    Photo Credits

    • Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Elle Paula has a Bachelor of Science in nutrition from Framingham State College and a certificate in holistic nutrition from the American College of Healthcare Sciences. She is also a licensed aesthetician with advanced training in skincare and makeup. She plans to continue on with her education, complete a master's degree program in nutrition and, ultimately, become a registered dietitian.

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