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. Denise sexton
    September 3, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I have a German Shepard. Yesterday I have my chihuahua a bath and let it outside. When I called my chihuahua in she nipped at him. Later on that night someone let the chihuahua out of the house and this morning I found him dead in the yard with puncher wounds. You could tell my Shepard bit into him all 4 fang teeth imbedded in his chest and abdominal area. How do I disipline my German Shepard. I have another chihauhau that is only 5
    Pounds. I don’t want this to happen again. What do I do?

  2. stormy
    September 3, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    I would not leave your two dogs together if you suspect your German Shepard of hurting your chihuahua. You can’t discipline a dog after the fact. You either have to catch them in the act or train them before hand how to act.

  3. Max
    January 8, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    I have a lab called max , if you go out side an pat and play with him he turns it into jumping on you growling and biting really hard. I’ve tried everything to stop him
    Put him a lead for a few minutes
    Hitting him
    Spraying him
    Not giving him dinner
    Nothing will work he will keep jumping and biting you until your inside away from him
    What do i do ???

  4. stormy
    January 8, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I would not hit him or deny him food. Is he drawing blood? If not, it sounds like he wants to play. So I’d find some games to play with him. To keep him from jumping up, you can keep a leash on him and stand on it when he’s about to jump.

  5. Jo-Danan
    January 21, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Hi Stormy
    I have a 1 1/2 year old pure breed stuffy x labradoodle, he is generally well behaved and to my knowledge of dog behaviour, will at times exhibit ‘boystrous’ behaviour though over the last couple of weeks has suddenly started becoming destructive, he has completely wrecked multiple flyscreens on door, most recently doing so only two days after fixing them and has chewed on parts of the wooden house (worrying as I am renting). It seems he is acting out during the times that we are not home but have been home for a certain amount of time prior to putting him back outside. We have another dog (labradoodle-his dad) who has never exhibited these behaviours. I am unable to leave bones outside at the moment as we have European wasps swarming our backyard (though the nest is not in our yard so we can not get rid of them) though have been advised not to leave meat out as it attracts them. If you have any advise on how to discipline or hopefully stop this behaviour I would really appreciate it. Also he is being castrated in a weeks time and we are hoping this will help out. What do you think?
    Thank you

  6. stormy
    January 21, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Has anything changed recently? Even things you might not think of as very important?

  7. Jo-Danan
    January 21, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    The only thing I can think of is I went away for ten days and it seems that since then this behaviour has started, we also put a blow up pool in the back yard which he is quite fond of but it does limit the running space a bit more, though we do try and take them for a run every day, weather depending..

  8. Camryn
    January 22, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    My dog chewed up my brand-new jacket what do I do to discipline him I put his pen but that did not work.🐶

  9. stormy
    January 22, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    You have a chance to tell him “no” when you take a way the jacket. But there’s really no way to discipline him later.

  10. heather
    January 28, 2015 at 12:11 am

    I have a 6 month old pitbul coon hound mix and she is vengeful. she likes to play rough and I think she has separatiin anxiety. when ever we leave her alone she gets mad at either me or my bf and destroys that person’s belongings. if we take a trip to the store she chews up my shoes ( I’ve lost 6 pairs since we got her at 10weeks) my bf went to take a shower and put the gate up on the stairs so she couldn’t get into anything upstairs and she chews his new boots! How do we correct this because we are really tired of losing our belongings.. and one time she peed on my side of the bed because I left somewhere.I don’t want to give her away but I don’t know what to do. we discipline her but she just gets scared( she’s not bring beaten)help

  11. stormy
    January 28, 2015 at 6:45 am

    I would recommend crating a 6 month old puppy when you are not at home. Or leaving them in a completely puppy proofed area. It’s quite normal for them to still be chewing a lot.

  12. Bonnie
    January 31, 2015 at 12:01 am

    Nine year old ShizTsu wih good personality is now wetting and soiling carpet and scratching sliding doors to get to clothing to chew and ruin when left alone.

  13. Lorena
    February 8, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    I have a 7 week old Pitbull pup, she is really sweet and scared of everything, buuuuut she is reaally troublesome. I got her a pen since she doesn’t understand when we are trying to teach her how to use a training pad, but she gets mad that she’s been put in there and starts trying to break the cage and pooping and peeing everywhere. We’ve tried everything with little success. What can i do to be able to live with her in peace?

  14. stormy
    February 9, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Instead of a pen, I’d try a crate. It’s like a den, a safe place to them. It’s quite possible they’ll protest the first couple of days – perhaps even very loud yelping and barking. Just be sure to not make a big deal before you put them in or when you let them out (don’t get overly excited or spend lots of time petting her and playing right when you let her out) and don’t leave her in there longer than her bladder can handle.

  15. stormy
    February 9, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    I would ask your vet about it. Possibly something in your dog’s health has changed.

    Has anything else changed? Your jobs? People living in the house? Routines?

  16. Karissa
    February 12, 2015 at 4:22 am

    Hello, I have a 4 1/2 year old Brittany, he used to be very good and disciplined. When I was about 5 months pregnant last year I started putting together the nursery, then I noticed every once in a while he would pee on baby’s crib when we left the house, then I noticed he would also pee in the basement sometimes when we would leave the house. Then when baby was born he started digging through the garbages and started peeing all over the house (all of this occurring when we were out of the house). Then I put him in the kennel when we’d leave the house, he was good for a month or two, then last month he started aiming his pee outside the kennel door. And he usually isn’t in there that long. Last week he ripped apart a towel and now he is eating all out food! Well be eating and he’ll walk right up to our plates and eat the food right off of it! He is just so naughty now how can I fix this?!

  17. Lucy
    March 19, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I have 9 month old Great Pyr/ Alaskan Mal mix and he’s very playful. But since we live on a farm whenever we have him off leash he automatically goes after the livestock. I have tried everything, putting him back in the pen once he tries to harm the animals. Not walking him and so on. I have already tried for h to socialize with the animals before he’s let go. What do I do?

  18. stormy
    March 19, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Instead of focusing on not paying attention to the animals, you could try getting him to focus on you. Teach him a command like “watch me” that means pay attention to me. Every time you say it, he should look at you, at your face. (You can hold a treat in each hand with your arms at a T. Say “watch me”. When he looks at your face, praise him and give him one of the treats. Repeat lots!) Also, teach him to come back to you on command and every time he ventures too far from you when there are animals, call him back.

  19. Sara J.
    March 31, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    We adopted a 4-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix a week ago from the humane society . Today he found (of all things) a bag of plastic easter eggs. He took them under a bed and would not come out. He bared his teeth and growled and barked at us over it. I told him no, very loud and sternly several times until I felt it was safe to go near him and then gave him a swat with a wooden spoon. Is there anything else I can do?

  20. stormy
    March 31, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    That’s kind of funny, although I’m sure it wasn’t funny! I wonder what his history is with plastic easter eggs? I wonder if he’s found some with chocolate in them in the past?

    As for what to do … Offer him something even better. Show him his leash or some really good treats – even pieces of hot dog.

    Later you could practice trading easter eggs for treats. Let him have an egg, then offer him a treat a bit away from the egg. When he drops the easter egg say good dog and pick it up. (Being careful! Don’t grab it quickly.)

  21. sasha
    April 1, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    I have a purebred Siberian husky who’s 1yo. She’s generally a very good dog and very docile but she doesn’t pay my 10yo son any mind. I’ve read that they’re pack dogs so I’m sure she sees him as an equal. If I leave them alone, she will hop on the furniture, runs from him when it’s time to go in the crate and has even peed on the floor. He tries but she’ll open her mouth when he gets close so he thinks she’s going for him. She won’t bite, just all show. When I’m there, I tell her “no” or “down” and she’ll behave but I feel like I’m taking away my son’s authority.

  22. stormy
    April 3, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    As my vet says, your dog sees your son as a litter mate.

    I wouldn’t worry about taking away your son’s authority. I’d see it more as reinforcing it.

    Some things your son could try:
    1. Not laugh when she does something wrong.
    2. Always follow through. If you tell the dog to sit, you must make the dog sit before you go do anything else.
    3. Use as stern, deep voice as he can manage. No yelling or screaming.

  23. Alyssa
    April 7, 2015 at 1:53 am

    My dog is a Goldendoodle ( Golden Retriever x Poodle) and he will be 1 year old on April 8th, 2 days from when I post this comment. He is so naughty! He goes into my bedroom and takes lets just say shoes, and walks out of my room, lays down and chew on it. I’m in my living room and I see he is chewing on my shoe. So I get up to try and get it from him and he runs away. I have a pool table in my basement (that’s where my bedroom is) and he runs and runs and runs around it like we are playing tag. I can never get it from him! I don’t know how I should discipline him, but I give him a little whack on the side of the head, then 10 minutes later, he is back chewing on something else! I don’t know if I taught him that running around the pool table is a game, in I don’t know how to teach him it’s not. And today, I way running up my driveway (this is the only way to get him inside the house) and he rammed right it my legs making me fall scrape my knees up, rip holes in my favorite work out pants, and to have bloodstains everywhere! Also my mom (I’m 11) was walking down the stairs (I was at school) and he rammed into my moms legs making her fall down the stairs and she had the wind knocked out of her, making her pass out! Also she spilled hot coffee all over her! She was passed out for only 5 minutes, but she still has bruises from when she fell! I just need help on figuring out how to discipline him. Please help! (Also could you give me tips on how to tell my brother to stop abusing my dog? He hits him so hard he whines really loud! I tell him not to and he just says “he has to learn.” That’s not the way to teach him!!!)

  24. April 8, 2015 at 2:37 am

    I have a 1 year and 4 month old pit bull that is destroying my home I rent and he finds ways to rip the floor and brake thing I’m useing a cone to try and stop him is this a good idea?or what do I do he only does this when my wife and I leave for work we work across the street and we come home every few hours plz help

  25. stormy
    April 9, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    This is a hard problem to fix, but you can do it!

    A couple of tips:
    1 – Do not laugh when he has your shoe (or anything else). It’s really hard, but don’t laugh.
    2 – Tell him firmly to leave it (or drop it or whatever term you use). Try to say it with a low, calm voice. Don’t yell or scream.
    3 – Don’t chase him around the room. If he’ll do it, tell him to sit and then walk up to him. If not, try offering him a treat or something that will make him drop the shoe.

    I agree with you, that your brother should not hit the dog. That does not teach them what behavior he shouldn’t be doing. Maybe if you can teach your dog to sit no matter what, your brother can then make him sit to stop any bad behavior.

    Good luck!

  26. stormy
    April 9, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    If he’s chewing things when you are not home, it’s probably best to leave him in a crate.

  27. Michelle Mccurley
    April 9, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    We now have three dogs, a Japanese Spitz with dwarfism (6lbs), a lab x golden retriever mix (50lbs) and we just adopted a rescue dog from a kennel which I work at. We have had him for a week, he is a year old and some kind of lab hound mix. He shows mild food aggression, so we feed him in the back yard (everyone is inside dogs I do believe in “outside dogs”.) sometimes he is even territorial over his sleeping spot. Only towards the golden ret. though because he is 6 mons old and still very jumpy and goofy. What should I do? My GD doesn’t know how to respond to the rescue. Also note, the rescue doesn’t bite, only growls.

  28. Alyssa
    April 10, 2015 at 1:31 am

    Thanks for the info! I do leave him in a crate when I’m not home, and I don’t laugh at him when he has my shoe, if anything I get frustrated. This has helped me a lot! Thanks 😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊 👀❤️🐶

  29. stormy
    April 11, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    I wouldn’t leave them unsupervised together yet.

    Is the 6 month old puppy respecting the rescue? i.e. when he growls, does the puppy retreat? If so, they might just be establishing boundaries. If not, you might want to reinforce the older dog’s wishes. Make the puppy back up when the older dog growls.

    Also, make sure the puppy is making the older dog feel uncomfortable. For example, we had a puppy who would just stare at every dog he saw because he wanted to play. The older dogs took it as an aggressive stare, especially if they didn’t want to play. We had to teach him not to do that by stepping between him and the other dogs and distracting him.

  30. sharon
    April 17, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    I’d like to caution the loud noise or newspaper form of discipline. I’ve seen more dogs ruined, hiding under beds in thunderstorms, peeing when they hear loud noises or just not being able to be used for hunting because of the fear of the loud noise. Make your voice deep and firm – but don’t startle or scare them into proper behavior. Just as you don’t like your boss to manage you with fear and intimidation neither does your dog or child. No one likes a bully.

  31. suzanne
    May 3, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Our 9 month old is getting frisky with everything. If we walk out the room he will jump straight on the sofa and get amorous with the cushions. If he is in a room with my.son who is 14, he turns really naughty and won’t take any authority from him. He is starting to get aggressive if he tells him off. Help!! It’s now where we can’t leave the room without putting him in his cage until we return.

  32. bronagh
    May 12, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    I have two small dogs aged four from the same litter. One is a lhasa apso / terrier cross and the other a chihuahua / terrier cross. They sleep and play together however, the chihuahua cross is very aggressive to the lhasa apso cross and regularly growls and attacks her. She regularly growls when they are both eating as well until her sister gives up her food. I have tried to discipline this in forms of saying no, taking away treats and tapping her on the nose. Nothing is working though. She continues to bully the other dog routinely and I don’t know how to make it stop.

  33. Claudette
    May 14, 2015 at 11:18 am


    I have a pitbull and he is a terrorist. He has pulled 4 curtains through my windows and destroyed them, he constantly pushes the black bin over and pulls all the rubbish out, he digs holes everywhere and pulls my grass and my plants out, he chews and destroys everything, he takes my razors out the bathroom, anything he can get his mouth on and at night when I put him outside he sits at the door and just stares… I take him for walks, I play with him every chance I get, I discipline him but nothing seems to work…

    Help… 🙂

  34. May 22, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Hi I have a 2month female
    German spietz x puppy she loves to bite when she plays how do I discipline her in a way that she won’t try and attack anyone plz

  35. Devyn
    May 29, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    I have a 1 year old sheepadoodle, we adopted him when he was 5 months old, recently he has started distroying anything he can get into if we aren’t looking, he also takes my clothing out of the hamper and takes spatulas and spoons out of the sink (he is really tall so it’s easy for him to reach things) but takes these things and takes them into the backyard through his doggy door when we don’t see him… I’ve tried everything! I’m tired of finding my shoes in the backyard. He doesn’t even touch my husband’s things…he’s Definitely a mommas boy…

  36. Tammy Winder
    May 31, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    We have a 2 yr old siberian husky. She has a habit of getting food off the counter, even when she has food in her dish. How do I train her to not take food off the counter? Thank you

  37. Carmen
    June 3, 2015 at 1:12 am

    My dog Daisy and Zoey keep running down to the road and nearly get hit by a car. We tried fences, shockers, and everything. I’ve even got a ruler and swatted them too on the behind. And even making them sleep outside or go in the dog house… Well it’s just not working and I need some help because if not I’m probably gonna lose my dear Daisy and Zoey.

  38. Britt
    June 9, 2015 at 3:35 am

    I have an 8month old bullmastiff x ridgeback and she consistently barks throughout the night. How do I stop her from doing this? She also chews EVERYTHING and as I have just had a little one I find I have no time to take her for a walk so I’m afraid this is why she chews. Help?

  39. Tawna
    June 17, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    I have a four year old Siberian Husky, I have always let him on the couch. My husband and I just bought a new house and new couches so he doesn’t want the dog on the furniture anymore. I agreed to keep him off and we didn’t have a problem for the first 4-5 months. The dog suddenly stared getting on the couch when we weren’t paying attention. My husband gets very angry and takes disciplining the dog a little too far. This dog has not growled, showed his teeth, or bitten in his entire life until he felt threatened by my husband. The dog bit him and drew blood so my husband kept attacking him. I was not around to stop the situation. I told my husband that that is not the proper way to handle the situation and he is going to make the dog aggressive. He won’t listen. He thinks that if the dog continues the bad behavior it’s because he’s not scared enough of the consequences, so me “babying” him is not helping. What should I do to stop the dog from getting on the couch and how do I explain to my husband that he is not helping but making the situation way worse.

  40. Rose
    July 5, 2015 at 7:04 am

    My pure bred golden retriever is 5 turning 6 in August and we are trying to train her to go out and come back with out a leash and all she does is run for half am hour sometimes really late at night. Tonight some drunk people were walking by and that was even worse. Any ideas on how to train her? We have tried rewards and calling her name and punishing her after which I read now is not effective. How do I discipline her I’m the act if she’s far away from me besides saying no which also doesn’t work?

  41. stormy
    July 6, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    You could try treats. Always give her a treat when she does come when you call. You could also try putting some food or treats in a glass jar with a lid. Shake it when you call her. When she comes, give her a treat out of the jar. I’d start inside or on a long lead and eventually move to outside with you also outside.

  42. Gabby
    July 16, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    I have a 5 month Rottweiler and she destroys everything. She doesn’t do it while we’re there she only does it when we’re asleep. I’ve tried smacking her with newspaper, and stopped giving her treats. But it only made it made it worse. What can I do to stop here tearing and breaking everything ?

  43. stormy
    July 20, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    I would put her in a crate when you are sleeping.

  44. Heather
    July 29, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Hi I have a 1 1/2 year old pittbull german shepard mix. Her name is Bear ( already had name when I got her) anyhow shes a runner! If she sees an opportunity to dart she will!!!! The hard part is catching her when she does get out! How do I properly discipline her when I do finally catch her! Ive spanked her on the behind but my mom thinks I shouldnt. I dont want to praise her for being naughty but I also dont want her to hate me!????? this seems to be the only problem I have left with her!!! Is there a way to make her stop darting/running??

    Idk please help!!!!!!!!


  45. Alyssa
    July 30, 2015 at 4:58 am

    My dog is a 1 1/2 year old lab mix. We just adopted him from an animal shelter, and aside from housetraining, the dog has not learned much really. I’ve been trying to teach him recall commands for 3 weeks now, but at times, even with treats, he won’t respond to his own name. He has a very strong chase instinct, especially towards cats, he pulls on the leash(broke a chest collar doing this is), he is very mouthy and jumpy, and barks whenever people leave the room. He thinks the newspaper to the nose method of discipline is a game, and he doesn’t seem phased by being ignored or yelled at. My family is on their wit’s end and we cannot figure out a way to get him to respond without treats. What am I probably doing wrong and how can I fix it?

  46. Joe
    August 3, 2015 at 12:23 am

    My hound/labretriever likes to get up on the counter and sniff for plates and food… One night plate of chicken he we are there telling him but when he got it he got defensive and snaps and bites back not wanting to give up. How do I discipline him in the act or when he gets a piece from the counter?

  47. stormy
    August 3, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Was he house trained or did you train him? If so, what methods did you use?

    When calling him with treats, be sure to act really excited. Call his name multiple times, crouch down a bit, and make sure your body language is inviting. Play it up. Be excited.

    The next thing I’d try is getting a long lead – at least 20 feet – and calling him and then pulling him to you. You could also see if a toy or something is more rewarding to him than food.

    If he responds well to treats, eventually you can use them less and less.

  48. stormy
    August 3, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Don’t punish her when you finally catch her. She’s already forgotten escaping through the door at that point and just remembering the fun of the chase.

    I’d work on making her sit by the door whenever it is open and not going through until you say ok. You can practice with her on a leash!

  49. stormy
    August 3, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Put a long leash on him that trails after him whenever he’s in the kitchen. When he jumps on the counter, use it to snap him back.

    Alternatively, you can trap him by putting something out that is tied to a loud noise maker. Then when he grabs the chicken, the cans (or whatever you tie to it) clang on the floor, make a lot of loud noise and scare him. If you use this tactic, the first time has to work.

  50. August 11, 2015 at 1:27 am

    I have a 1yo lab mix who enjoys stealing items off countertops and running so we’ll chase him. Ive tried the treat trick to trade it out but whenever i run to go get the treats, the item ends up destroyed by the time i get back. I assumed its because he wants to play/ get our attention but even after wearing him out by playing with him, he still does it. Any advice?

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