The dream of every new dog owner is a well-disciplined pup that can be trusted in any situation. However, in reality, the behavior of dogs can often be problematic – especially in their formative years – so it takes a fair amount of training and effort to effectively instill this discipline.
While this process may seem a little daunting at times, discipline is essential if you want a well-behaved pup. Fortunately, by focusing on a few simple strategies and avoiding a number of others, you should be able to see quick results.
This guide will take an in-depth look at some of the most important do’s and don’ts when it comes to effectively disciplining your puppy. We’ll also look to answer some of the frequently asked questions related to the topic.
The Do’s Of Discipling A Puppy
Use Motivation And Reward
Learning to understand exactly what motivates your puppy is an essential part of effective discipline. For example, they may respond positively to a range of different things, whether that’s lots of rubbing and petting, interactions with special toys, verbal encouragement, or a handful of tasty treats.
Pay close attention to what triggers the best response from your puppy, and when you notice them displaying good behavior, reward them appropriately. This will ensure that your pooch makes a positive association with good behavior.
Just keep in mind that it’s vitally important to be consistent with the positive reinforcement method. This is because dogs quickly learn which behaviors earn them the most approval and those which don’t.
Puppies learn to respect their owners and positively respond to discipline when they’re subject to clear authority. To assert this level of authority over your pooch, deliver commands such as “sit”, “stay”, and “quiet” in a stern tone of voice.
Many experts and owners believe it’s a good idea to make your dog follow commands outside of training sessions too. A common example of this is asking your dog to sit before giving them their dinner.
If your puppy doesn’t listen to your commands, be persistent and don’t back down. It’s imperative to show them that they have to obey your commands. Just make sure you continue to project and assert your authority in a calm manner, even if they don’t listen the first few times.
As touched upon previously, consistency is key to effective discipline. So, whether you’re rewarding good behavior with a treat or punishing a negative action with the cold shoulder, it’s important to be consistent and offer the same reaction every time the behavior occurs.
Some owners find it useful to assign a specific action for each behavior. For example, some of the less serious issues such as barking could be given a verbal cue such as “quiet”, whereas more destructive behaviour such as chewing furniture could be met with a timeout.
It’s also important to take into account timing. If you hesitate and wait too long to take action, your puppy’s attention may move elsewhere and they could forget what they did wrong in the first place.
Use Professional Help
There’s nothing wrong with getting professional help if your best efforts haven’t proven successful. You don’t always have to figure it out yourself – sometimes using a professional dog trainer or attending training classes is the best option.
If you decide to use professional help but still want to discipline your puppy yourself, there are countless YouTube videos, books, and blogs out there to help you with any issues you may have.
The Don’ts Of Disciplining A Puppy
Shout Or Use Physical Force
There are times when trying to discipline your puppy can be incredibly frustrating – especially when they’re refusing to listen or take anything onboard. However, even in these challenging situations, it’s imperative to avoid using physical discipline or yelling at your pooch.
If you feel like their behavior is getting out of control, don’t ever resort to physical discipline or shouting, instead look to get help from a professional trainer or some assistance from friends and family.
Using physical force can make their behavioral problems twice as bad. What’s more, it can even lead to your dog becoming scared of you, subsequently increasing their anxiety, and sometimes even their aggression.
In terms of yelling or shouting at your dog, this is very rarely helpful. It’ll mainly sound like loud noise, so they’ll slowly begin to tune you out and fail to understand that they’ve done anything wrong.
Even worse, constant yelling could agitate and excite your puppy, making them more likely to engage in negative behaviors.
Ignore Bad Behavior
Needless to say, every puppy will exhibit some bad behaviors when they’re learning to play. Whether it’s nibbling on the edge of the sofa or scratching at the back door, it’s important to teach your pooch from an early age that there are certain behaviors in the house that aren’t allowed.
Therefore, it’s essential to make sure that you don’t allow these behaviors to slide simply because it’s cute or because you think that your puppy will soon grow out of them.
To effectively prevent these behaviors from escalating into anything more serious or problematic later down the line, teach your dog how to play correctly as early as you can in their life.
There’s no denying that training, socializing, and disciplining a puppy is a difficult and time-consuming task. Not only does it take a fair amount of practice, it also requires considerable levels of patience and consistency.
Furthermore, depending on the age of your dog, as well as its breed and natural behavior, it can often take as long as a few months to notice any significant changes in behavior.
With this in mind, you need to give your puppy plenty of time to learn the correct behaviors. They don’t speak the same language as us, so it naturally takes them time to pick up on what’s good and what’s bad.
As mentioned earlier, dogs thrive on consistency and routine, so provide them with all the tools they need to become fully-disciplined creatures.
Most importantly, don’t give up if there aren’t any immediate improvements. Every dog is different, so keep doing all the right things, and the results will soon follow.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is My Puppy Biting So Much?
There can be a number of reasons why your puppy may be biting a lot. One of the most common is that they’re curious and want to test out different things. They may also bite if they’re frustrated or scared of something.
If bites such as these are preceded by a growl, your dog most likely went ahead with the bite because the warning was ignored.
What Age Will My Puppy Calm Down?
While every dog breed is different, most dogs tend to calm down after six to nine months. By this time, they should have reached full maturity, with their excessive puppy energy a thing of the past.
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