7 ways to discipline your dog

99058668_c2534056f0 There are many ways to discipline your dog. Be careful when using them that you are disciplining your dog while they are doing the bad behavior and not after they’ve quit. For example, if your dog is barking in the back yard and every time you come to the door, he stops barking and you yell at him, he may not get that you are yelling at him for barking earlier. If you yell at him every time he barks at someone, he might associate your barking with other people showing up and assume the other people are bad. You don’t yell at him when they aren’t around, right?

Here are seven ways to discipline your dog from the book How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With:

  1. Distract. Make a loud noise to distract your puppy from whatever they are doing. A loud yell, a slap on the table or shake a jar with a few pennies in it. This should startle him and focus his attention on you.
  2. Scruff-Shake. Grab the fur under his ear on his neck and shake – a “brief but brisk shake”. This works best if you catch them in the act and the scruff-shake is a surprise.
  3. Put-Down. Push the puppy over (quickly but gently) either on to his side or onto his back and lean over him. This reinforces that you are dominant.
  4. Isolation. Say no and then ignore your puppy. Puppies are very social and they won’t like it that you aren’t paying attention to them.
  5. Time-Out. Put the puppy outside for a few minutes and then try the same situation again. Or you can stop playing or interacting with the puppy for a few minutes, if you were part of the situation.
  6. Squirt Bottles. Say “off” or “no” and squirt your dog at the same time. Water guns make this fun for you. Unfortunately many dogs (and cats) find this a fun game as well. Rutherford and Neil suggest using vinegar then, one part vinegar to six parts water.
  7. Sit Command. Right after saying no, say sit. This gives your dog something else to do other than the bad thing. I’ve also found it effective to just say sit. Usually when they sit they can no longer do whatever it is you didn’t like.

My dad used to swat our puppy with an empty plastic milk jug or rolled up newspaper. It was probably the distraction that worked, not the being hit.

To keep your puppy out of trouble but near you, try one of these tie downs. You can put one end under a door to tie the puppy to a nearby door.

What methods of discipline work best for you and your dog?

Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/chainsawpanda/ / CC BY 2.0.

140 comments for “7 ways to discipline your dog

  1. Agapito
    November 10, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Awesome advice on teaching your loved pup behavior. Thank you it works.

  2. Tom
    December 20, 2017 at 4:59 am

    My two year old dog will run off 7 miles to a house that have 4 dogs. I don’t know how to stop him from doing this.

  3. noreen fenrich
    January 9, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    If it is a small dog that has a kennel with a blanket in it, when disciplining the dog, when it is -30, what’s the recommended time to leave it outside.

  4. stormy
    January 10, 2018 at 5:08 am

    Your dog should not be outside when it’s -30.

  5. anonymous
    January 11, 2018 at 12:29 am

    Wow lol u mean abuse? Use positive reinforcement instead. The only one of these that’s okay is the ignore one.

  6. CoRrInE
    February 4, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    My dog just swalloed a piece of Dove chocolate with the wrapper on it. My sister pushed all of the chairs in to the table and she found a way to get up. Later, I was playing with her and trying to get it out of her system quicker and she thought I was going to take her toy and she bit my breast. I was surprised that she did it, but not really because she is a violent dog. She growls at anyone that she has not known as a puppy. I need a way to tell her that swallowing the chocolate and biting me. She also scratched me so bad that I bled and I was so angry. I also need to discipline her a lot more. Can anyone tell me some good ways to do that? Thanks

  7. Gary
    March 14, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    can isolation be putting my dog in the kennel he sleeps in at night for a short period of time?

  8. stormy
    March 14, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    It could be, but the goal is not to punish the dog but to show them that if they play inappropriately, they don’t get to play. So “isolation” should be turning your back during play if the play gets too rough. I could see using the crate if the dog is just way too excited and you need a time out. I wouldn’t leave your dog there very long though.

  9. Mak
    April 3, 2018 at 3:03 am

    I have an 1 to 2 year old husky I just got and she dosent listen to a word I say, what do u think I should do to get her to listen

  10. Debra
    April 12, 2018 at 1:16 am

    When I leave my dog home alone he chews holes in the walls of our brand new home. When I get home, the act has already occurred, so I’m not sure how to discipline him. I have walked him over to the wall and told him no. But I doubt that he understands what I’m upset about. He is 180lb English Mastiff and crating him is hard with his size. Any ideas?

  11. stormy
    April 12, 2018 at 1:36 am

    You cannot discipline after the fact. You either need to set him up for a failure you can watch or not leave him in that situation when you are not around.

    You can crate a large dog. They just need room to stand up, turn around and lie down.

  12. Abby
    April 18, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    Discipline is discipline!- all of these are good tips lol- and the english mastiff yes you kennel his ass up. Get yourself an extra large kennel which is 85 bucks from petsmart- if you can’t train that dog and make your dogs understand that you are alpha your dogs will walk all over you and run your house- i have 2 5mo pups who are germen shepard huskey mastiff. Who sit stay and come. They are house broke and littermates- BECAUSE they have had positive reinforcement and negitive- you put their nose in it when they do something bad and tell them naughty. You catch them chewing you tell them not yours and give them a toy. when they go potty out side- you give them a treat!. When you leave them home for X amout of time out of the kennel and they had no accident or didnt ruin anything you give them a special treat. That is how your dogs learn.

  13. Nick
    April 20, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    I have a 12 week old puppy who we have had for almost 3 weeks. My puppy goes pee and poop in the house after we have been outside walking for over a half hour. We have tried ignoring the behavior, distracting, and also scolding her but she continues to do this. How can I teach her to not go inside and only outside?

  14. Malorie
    April 21, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    Hello, So I need some advice on how to discipline my dog. She wont listen to me but she listens to my husband. She likes to play too rough with our cat and I tell her to stop and then she comes after me thinking I’m playing and she will bite me as if I’m playing and I try to tell her no don’t bite but she continues to do it. Shes only 7 months old.

  15. Cassidy
    April 27, 2018 at 10:02 am

    Surprised at how archaic and negative these are. Hopeful that people continue to research instead of listening to this article. There are MUCH better ways. Scruffing is scientifically proven as negative. Put downs literally teach your dog aggression dominance. And squirt bottles that have hit the wrong breed in the nose have caused many cases of pneumonia and even death… Plus it’s just mean to teach a dog to fear water. If you are that much in the lurch, find a professional. This person’s dad hitting their dog shouldn’t be used as real advice.

  16. Winona
    April 30, 2018 at 6:27 am

    Some people are just too stupid to keep an animal of any kind. Period. If you are incapable of communicating with non human creatures, or realizing the difference between domestic, wild or farm animal, then simply abstain!! Animals have emotions and feelings, just like us. Do YOU want to be squirted with a solution of water and ??? Use positive reinforcement. Play, treats, tell them they are good boys and good girls. Get excited about good behavior. Ignore bad behavior. Remember, there are no bad dogs or cats, just bad owners. There should be no time out, rather time in their own safe space while you get a couple errands or things done until the next attention session. If you put a domestic animal out in -30 below, you should be shot. Yeeeessshhh. They are not wildlife. WTF is wrong with you people? Then again, that has been a question for the ages……………………………………………………………………..

  17. Nat
    May 1, 2018 at 12:02 am

    Cassidy. I would suggest that your husband doesnt play so rough with the dog. Animals cant understand that they can play with different people differently. Especially if the dog is praised while playing with your husband.

  18. Nikki
    May 27, 2018 at 3:12 am

    Wow I would hate to see how some of your children turn out….. So if my dog pees on the living room floor right in front of my face I’m supposed to just ignore that bad behavior??? No! I don’t believe hitting is helpful but I do believe in a stern no and voice change then ignoring them after. Yes there are a lot of behaviors that can be learned through positive reinforcement but sometimes you have to do active discipline. It’s just a part of learning.

  19. Tab
    June 6, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    I need help with my 9 month old Rottweiler/Golden Retriever mix. We have done everything the vet and trainers have told us, and he still purposely poops in the house multiple times a day. I know it’s not a health issue and he sometimes goes up to two weeks without an accident, then for no reason he’ll start pooping in the house again. Yesterday he peed in my husbands work boots and seemed to know exactly what he was doing. He’ll even crate himself after an accident! Other than these issues, he’s a great dog that plays well with my 3 children. But, I seriously don’t know how much more I can tolerate. I love my dog, but I don’t love the stress he’s causing us. If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to respond!

  20. Celina
    June 6, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    My dog Zoey, when I try these techniques, she always thinks it’s a game. Also even when I give her exercise she still has so much energy. She constantly bites our couch and I don’t know what to do. Zoey will also go after my sister and she is 10. I need help!

  21. Excnge
    July 23, 2018 at 6:03 am

    Hitting a dog is NEVER acceptable. It is your job to train the dog or puppy properly. Not to hv him/her train you to get it correct what u expect. Dogs love your acceptance and praise more Tran their own food. You can’t use a whole conversation or sentence for example to express to your potentially best friend to get a point across such as saying things like “don’t get on the couch”. The dog hears the word “don’t “ which he probably interpreted as “no” and he then hears in the same sentence “get on the couch “. Now the poor babe is confused while you are ignorantly thinking of a way to punish! The dog heard the word don’t so he didn’t a and I’m in same same sentence heard ‘get on couch’. by you Now rightfully confused. Two demands you hv gun in two seconds to one who is not human. You should throw a shoe at yourself hitting yourself in head an go caca and put your head. toilet until you hv some sense enuff to tie yourself to a chair before getting proper training before getting a pet of any kind. Even a roach! I’m willing to help ANYONE. Endorphmia1@yahoo.com or endorhmia1@gmail.com. This is for the love of your pet and the purposes of putting you through unwanted strain. No charge and if cooperative, I will be willing to speak to you be phone as well after I see u show true love for no charge I know txting can be a headache. Cumbersom and misinterated and I don’t have the time to go back over each txt and proofread it. Regards,

  22. Leah
    July 25, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    My puppy is 3 months and doesn’t listen to anything we say. He consistently bites after being told no several times . Pulls and bites on leash whenever being walked . When tod to “come” he wonders off and away. When left home alone for a short period of time he destroys they house and when left in his crate he barks very loudly till the point the neighbors hear and complain. I love my puppy but what should I do.

  23. Tiffany Dodson
    August 13, 2018 at 1:19 am

    My dog is making a mess when he gets mad at one of us for not playing with him or something like that and my family has no idea how to discipline him. How do you think we go about this?

  24. Rene William
    August 18, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    All of you guys commenting saying it’s abuse are the cause of society being the way it is. Don’t forget dogs are animals not humans! Dogs don’t belong in couches, sofas, beds, nor around the dinning table when families are eating. It’s more than ok to use all of these ways mentioned above.

  25. Super
    August 29, 2018 at 6:57 am

    Excercise, discipline, praise. IN THAT ORDER! You should not be disciplining a dog that doesnt get adequate excercise. Its unfair to them and will also make them resent you. Also ppl saying this is abuse are the same ppl whos dogs get hit by cars, get into poisonous foods and terrorize your neighbours cuz their dog doesnt listen to command bc their owners “dont believe in discipline”. Discipline is mandatory for their safety and societies. You dont discipline your dog because your hitler.. you discipline your dog bc you love them and realize in order to keep them safe, you need them to follow orders. Children are no different. Ppl calling this “abuse” are the reason societey is failing and bullying is a pandemic. Get a clue.

  26. Bob
    September 2, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    I have a question? If your dog is thinking he is dominate what should I do? Everyday he jumps gates, bites us and does more how could I make him know im boss.

  27. xShard_x
    September 20, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Thank god I have a sassy poodle that only listens to me cx

  28. Jes
    December 20, 2018 at 12:57 am

    Hey guys. I have a 6m/o daschund and she’s honestly the best dog I could ask besides this one issue which is that she is constantly barking at other dogs aggressively while I’m walking her. She’s absolutely quiet, cheerful and playful when we’re at home. Idk where this constant need to bark so aggressively comes from. I haven’t reallly dsiscplined her except w ignoring the behaviour (hoping it’s just go away). However it’s turning into a struggle to take her to dog parks or just on a walk without these barks as I live in a congested part of a big city

  29. Beb
    December 21, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    Any idea on how to get your dog to not bark at everything that moves outside when he watches them from in the house? I have a 8 month old lab that does that.

  30. Jeff Cain
    December 25, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    I have a 2 year old German Shepard puppy who just turned 4 months and she’s grazed I ten me twice, and has acted aggressive towards me, is camera shy. I adopted her from a animal shelter and she appeared to be malnourished when I got her, and she wouldn’t look at me when I first met her. She’s tried to escape from two dog parks where we live twice, and has gotten out of her cheap animal shelter collar twice, but didn’t run away. And she’s extremely picky with what dog food she eats and she has to eat in complete privacy in her crate.

  31. Cameron
    January 9, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    I feel like these are very effective! You should NEVER hit a dog no matter what the situation is. If anything, that’ll either make your dog scared of you, or it’ll become aggressive towards you. And a little tip for people who get their dogs from shelter: take your time with them. They just came from one place to another and you can’t expect them to open up right away. If they’re scared, they will show that they’re scared. Before you try to do anything with your dog, make sure they’re comfortable with it. Don’t be surprised if they bite you once or twice while getting used to living with you. But you also need to train them. Show them that it’s not okay. Don’t give up on them just because they “seem aggressive”.
    You adopted/bought it, it’s your responsibility. Don’t make a decisions to get one until you KNOW everything you need to know about owning one. I could write a whole paragraph on this but I feel like no one would read it.

  32. Ruby
    February 11, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    I get the angle but am personally not a fan of shoving treats down my dog’s throat. There has to be ways to discipline and stop the undesired behavior, or else your dog WILL NOT LEARN that no means no, and worse, won’t listen to you if there isn’t a piece of cheese hanging from your hand. I’m a first time puppy owner, my pup is 10 months now, and I can tell you when I was relying solely on positive reinforcement there was no way to say no, so both of us ended up getting confused and frustrated and it brought me to tears multiple times. Now, he walks damn near perfect on the leash, listens to me, respects me. For a stubborn little Aussie like him, it’s remarkable. The bond strengthens. This is not dog cruelty, this is dog TRAINING. Im not bad mouthing positive reinforcement either. But there is a harmony that exists when you use positive reinforcement to teach him the desired behavior, and once he knows it like the back of his paw, disciplining when he CHOOSES not to listen to you. It’s a simple correction. Lets him know its not ok to ignore you. Just my experience.

  33. Linds
    February 21, 2019 at 12:00 am

    Guide, and control, (see the book by David Ryan of this title) and you have how to train your dog. Any problems, get hold of a good reward based professional and they will show you how to work with your dog to overcome issues. Dogs should attend training classes anyway, with a reward based trainer. You can get to working trials level using this method, you really don’t have to hit dogs. That just shows a great lack of knowledge. Yes, dogs need guidance and we can take pride in a well trained, happy dog.

    Hitting a dog is not acceptable behaviour and says more that the owner wishes to suppress behaviour, rather than take time and patience to train their companion.

  34. Sarah Estes
    February 28, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    I am relieved to know using a squirt bottle is okay! I will try it.

  35. Fleur
    April 2, 2019 at 12:18 am

    Absolutely! These are good starting points to begin training your dog. I have had two dogs in my life, one found on the street as a teen and the other from a shelter with me now. Both received xompliments on their well manners when people watch them but I still have my trials! Believe me, its not easy and MANY dog trainers worth their salt will tell you there is no one-size-fits-all style of training. Sometimes there is a mix. Purely positive and just positive training is good for SOME dogs. Rarely most. Dogs have personalities and that requires flexibility to figuring what works best for your pup to behave. Positive training is something I use but not all the time. Negative reinforcement has its place and sometimes the dreaded physical correction(taps on the nose) is required when all else fails. I feel this has to be said but to those reading this comment do NOT be afraid to discipline your dog how you see fit or best to the situation. There are alot of simple Shirleys in the dog community who dont like aversive techniques in dogs and think all positive is the way. Thats fine, they can train their pooch however they want. But do not confuse physical discipline with abuse! Its a common gross exaggeration from people who simply dont like aversive techniques and attempting to manipulate others into thinking the same. I hear many of dog owners going through this. Abuse is abuse plain and simple but disliking a discipline style is NOT abuse and should not ever be stated from emotion. There is real abuse going on and no need to muddy its definition with someone just because they’re against it.
    Try different methods and tailor what works best with your pup. Often you will find the best ways involve immmediate praising or correction when possible. Have patience and remember its a learning process for you the owner and the pooch. With time and CONSISTENCY, you’ll see great results.

  36. Brian Wilson
    May 14, 2019 at 3:08 am

    Yall need to stop being so sensitive and spank your dogs. Saying that is doesnt work just is not true. I have spanked every dog i have ever had and all of them hsve been perfectly well behaved and dont give me these issues. There is a difference between beating the crap out of them and a firm spanking. None of them hsve ever been scared of me and been loved. They are dogs.

  37. olivia
    May 16, 2019 at 12:20 am

    I need to find a way to discipline the dog fast. My older brother has anger issues and is starting to wack the dog not so lightly. I hate it and fear it will escalate. Cannot get rid of her and don’t want to leave her. The spray bottle and sit command do not work on my dog and when I distract her with noise and such it is just that; a distraction and she doesn’t learn for good. Please give me advice or I will be forced to leave her at a shelter.

  38. M Naudé
    June 2, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I have had dogs all my life and I find most of the above advice true. However, we only ever used the squirt bottle as a last resort. We had this Jack Russell who would bark at the most inopportune times, around 2 am. Unfortunately the neighbour’s bedroom was right next to the gate she would stop at to bark down the street and our bedrooms were on the other side of the house. So we gave the squirt bottle to the neighbour and for most times it worked and she stopped barking except the last night she was caught barking. She wouldn’t stop and got sprayed so many times that the neighbour spraying her down came to realise that there might be something else going on. Upon inspecting and looking down the street some people were busy breaking into another neighbour’s truck and in the process of removing it’s wheels. Needless to say, the next morning our dog got a huge bone instead!
    For all those complainers, I hope you enjoyed this story. Dogs are pack animals and they live in a “societal structure” where they need to feel safe and also know where they fit in. If they don’t know where they fit in and one moment they are on top and the next they are at the bottom, then they get confused. As long as your discipline is always the same (not abusive, like kicking, etc.) and strict then you should end up with a well behaved and adjusted DOG. There is a joke that you need to train your dog like your child (or vice versa); however, remember that this is still an animal that was domesticated by humans and your dog is not a child but a companion. If you don’t like it then get a cat, .

  39. Jordan Carpenter
    April 15, 2020 at 4:32 am

    Hi! My family was finally able to afford a puppy a few weeks ago, when we found a huskador for $50. Hes super sweet and he is a VERY good dog, but hes very rough when he plays and he tends to accidentally hurt us… I was just wondering, does the newspaper thing work? I dont want to risk aggression in his later life so I feel its safer to ask someone abt it with experience.

  40. Anny
    May 23, 2020 at 1:15 am

    My dog rarely steals food from the trash (When the tradh is on the floor, my dog just goes for It and steals meat and otger things) but when she does, she gets agressive and bites almost everyone (Except my dad, I don’t know If she bites If, she usually has a lot of respecr for him) really hard, It’s currently 01:58 am andshe was inside ’cause she sleeps inside the house, and the trash was on the floor (Idk y) like, she stole a piece of meat and sitted on the couch eating It, and when I triet to grab It she barked and bited me (Like, she never bited me like that because she usually respects me [Not a lot, just enough for not biting me everytime, like she bites my sister] ) I couldn’t get close to her without her getting really defensive, when I finally took the meat, I put It in the trash and took the trash out of the floor, but then, she was still agressive and defensive, I couldn’t even pick up the sheet (Mine, wasn’t even close to her) off the floor that she started barking hard and trying to atack me, then eventually, my sensitive and dramatic ass started crying so my mom came to see what was happening and tried to gett her off the couch to sleep outside (She has a little house outside with a blanked, food and water, we also have another dog that she likes to sleep with), she wasn’t moving even with food, she would get defensive (Like, really) and we couldn’t touch on the couch she was sitting without getting atacked by her, then she jumped off the couch and went to my sister room ( That lazy b didn’t even move a muscle to help us and was always complaing because of the noise [She is like this, don’t worry, It’s nothing new] ), eventually, I picked up a blanked and put It in the floor (I was holding it though), she calmed a little down ( She was suspicious and took a little time to make her sit on the blanked, we put her outside after, ( I did give her a little taps [ Like that thing with cats, not strong enough to hurt her, It was just little taps on the head )
    What can I do to make her stop this ? She is a chihuahua so we don’t have to put her down (Like big dogs, we have a big dog too but It’s a sweetheart) because the bite doesn’t hurt that much (But It depends, can still hurt, and I didn’t want to test the pain of her bite so I can’t really tell If It would hurt or not)

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