How To Discipline A Dog 101: What Works and What Does NOT!

A little girl and her dog

Is your dog feeling cheeky these days? (yes, I just really needed to use the word "cheeky"). Or did you just adopt a puppy that you can't control? Well, fear not my friend, we have the solution for you: tips about how to discipline a dog!

First of all, we'll tackle a technique that doesn't work, which is: beating or hitting your dog. Then, we'll go on to tips that can actually help you discipline your dog is a more civilized method.

How to Discipline a Dog: What Doesn't Work

Brown Pitbull dog smiling

When you hit your dog, you make him wary of you and of other people.

Some people try to discipline their dog by beating or spanking him, and that is definitely not a technique that we suggest. You see:

  • 1. We are not savages.
  • 2. This "technique" if I might call it so (even though I'd prefer us to call it what it is, which is animal cruelty), has negative effects on the long term.

Which negative effects you might ask?

Well, when you try to discipline your dog by beating him, you naturally hit him in sensitive areas, such as the ears or the muzzle.

And even though the beating will associate his bad behavior (for example chewing on your shoe) to a negative result (pain you are giving him for chewing on your shoe, you heartless µ^#¨$); on the long run, your dog may become fearful of people, and even bite them or be aggressive towards them, you included (but you would have deserved it, sorry not sorry).

Not convinced? Here’s a video that explains it all:

How to Discipline a Dog: What Works

White Bulldog lying down and sad

Reward your dog for good behavior.

But, fear not. Beating or hitting your dog might not, but there are other, more "human" methods of discipline, that actually have positive long term consequences on your dog.

It has already been proven that dogs, and animals in general, learn faster if they're trained using positive reinforcement for their good behavior, instead of negative reinforcement for their bad behavior.

How can you do this? Easy, here are some tips that will definitely work on your dog's behavior.

Show Your Dog That You're the One in Control

Black Labrador Retriever dog standing

Control is everything!

Your dog needs to know that you are "the one who knocks" (sorry, had to add that Breaking Bad reference).

You can use your dog's favorite things, such as food and toys, as leverage.

I'm not telling you to starve your dog (I'm not a monster, and I believe neither are you), but to use what your dog loves as a way to reward him for his good behavior (as opposed to punishing him for bad behavior).

Here are some examples of how you can implement this technique:

As you can see, there are many way to reward your dog for his good behavior, which will create positive results on the long run.

Reward Your Dog for Good Behavior

Side view of a white Husky on a leash

Reward your dog for listening to your orders.

Nothing pleases a dog more than a reward or a treat for doing something good.

So, always have on you pieces of fruit or vegetable (check our article about fruits and vegetables that your dog can eat to know more), or dog cookies, to treat your dog during a walk.

For example, if you meet someone, order your dog to "sit" to greet that person, and then, reward him with a treat.

This will not only help your dog learn to walk while on a leash and greet people properly, it will also create positive connotations for your dog.

Socialize Your Dog

Brown German Shepherd looking at the camera

Don't forget to socialize your dog.

A dog who is used to people and other animals will be better behaved around them than a dog who is not socialized.

Make sure to meet people when you take your dog on a walk for example, or have some friends over and let them play with your dog and give him treats too.

Organize play-dates (yes, like for children) with people who have other dogs, so your best friend gets acquainted with other animals.

Praise Your Dog

A young German Shepherd standing in a park

Your dog craves praise from you.

Just like treats, praise works like a charm on dogs, and animals in general (okay, maybe not cats).

So, always make sure to praise your puppy when he does something good. This way, you reward good behavior instead of punishing him for bad behavior, which, in turn, will become less likely to happen since your dog craves your praise.

In the End...

White Staffordshire puppy with a black eye waiting for owner’s command

Always take good care of your dog.

Remember that your dog is an animal with feelings and emotions, and should be treated with love, just like any other living creature.

Your best friend is also sensitive to negative or positive outcomes to his behavior, so make sure you always reward good behavior instead of punishing him for bad behavior, this way, your dog will always want to get his treat and behave in a good way.

If you feel that this isn't working, taking your dog to a training course or an animal behaviorist can work too.

And as always, treat your dog well (please)!

Do you have more tips about how to discipline a dog? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author Houda Laabadi

Hi, I’m Houda, a fulltime writer, traveler, and self-proclaimed dog person. I also make lame jokes, write poetry, and love eating weird food in faraway countries. Did I mention that I was a dog person? Yeah, give me all the puppies please.

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