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.

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

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

86 comments for “7 ways to discipline your dog

  1. stormy
    August 12, 2015 at 12:57 am

    If it’s happening a lot, I would keep him on a leash all the time for a while. (And if that’s too much work, you could try it for 30-60 minutes/day until he gets used to going where ever you go – you are in control.) This will have an additional benefit of tiring him out as he’ll have to pay attention to you for long stretches.

    You could also try putting some treats in a plastic bag in your pocket and carrying them around all the time. The treats can be small ones.

  2. jashaun
    September 14, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Try putting a cold or warm towel over their head

  3. Disbatch
    December 19, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    If I witness anyone using any of the above with the exception of the sit command I will smack the shit out of them.

  4. Noah
    February 5, 2016 at 1:04 am

    See, my parents thought the real way was to rub the dog’s face in its own crap, while saying, “WHAT IS THAT? HUH? WHAT IS THAT? STOP IT! BAD!” hurt the dog in the process, and lock her in our basement.

  5. Veronica
    February 14, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Some of these suggestion sound abusive.

  6. Tony
    April 13, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    I agree with Noah. I put my puppy pit bull’s nose in her own fecal matter once, then the second time her mouth. Not once since has she peed nor pooped in the house. Two months now.

  7. Deadeye
    May 9, 2016 at 11:48 am

    How many times did your parents stick your face in your diaper when you pooped???
    Right…The dogs don’t like it either.

  8. sandy
    May 13, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    I have a 6 month old male GSD .He is very friendly ,super agile,always sniffing and putting things in his mouth like stones ,leaves ,twigs,mud (we live in a mountain valley)we are worried he might swallow something harmful.So when outside ,we are forced to keep him on leash,is that the right solution??since we cant always keep an eye on him and we do feed him thrice a day also a few days back he got bitten by our neighbour’s 7 yr old dog,nothing serious but because of that i think he has become more anxious,distressed; he starts barking the moment he is left alone be it 2mins,and when we happen to leave him alone in the house he would not stop barking & would pee and poop all over the place its so frustrating.Can u suggest me the right way to discipline him and also how to deal with his anxiety issues.

  9. stormy
    May 13, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    If there are not poisonous substances outside, I wouldn’t worry about him putting them in his mouth.

    I would crate train him and leave him in a crate when you have to leave him inside. Dogs find crates safe and secure spots as long as you don’t over use it.

  10. Desiree Sheridan
    June 6, 2016 at 2:40 am

    My Standard Poodle broke my shoulder in 10 places to include the rotator cuff, I did not puppy train him. He was 2 when I adopterd him. FOr five years it’s been misery. He continues to hurt me and pull me. All the above, I have tried. He knows what he is doing and he can be a perfect gentleman, a freaken show dog on leash… after he’s been severely scolded. Tonight, I am home and burs-ted into tears and crying out of pain and frustration, He knows he’s been bad. It’s war when we walk and I’m out of energy. I can’t do this any more. After 5 years and medical injuries, I’m at the end of the leash and ready to let go and find a home with a Male owner. BY the Way, other than this, he’s the perfect inside dog.

  11. Jake Morrison
    June 18, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    I have a 5 month old Maltese yorkie terrier who just can’t used to using the washroom outside. I take him out every 2 hours and he still pees and poos inside. We’ve tried pee-pad training too but it didn’t work. We just want to at least bark to let us know he needs to go out

  12. Jenna
    June 20, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    I have a Pomerania who is 8/9months old he is a rescue dog he been brilliant up till two weeks ago he has started growling,showing teeth and he has even bitten myself and wee girl he not broken the skin but l do not know what do. I have a cage for him and he been put in it when he been bad l do not want to give up on him as 98% he is great dog. He got of his leash and ran away and when we got him back he had been hurt we not sure what happened to him but he had operation and he healing nicely and been fine like l said until two weeks age please help.

  13. Destiny
    June 27, 2016 at 1:56 am

    I have a 8 month old puppy. Lately he’s been acting a little crazy. Anytime he does something wrong and I yell at him he thinks I want to play and will start running around, jumping up, biting me, and running in circles like he does when he wants to play. I’m not sure what to do since anything I do he thinks I’m playing. He will only do this to me and not my boyfriend. Any suggestions?

  14. Elaine
    October 11, 2016 at 4:05 am

    I have a two year old Pomeranian Yorkie that’s gotten worse in the last month, I slept on the couch and woke up to him peeing on me, now whenever I take him out he won’t use the bathroom outside but instead waits to go inside when no one is looking. He constantly pulls his leash when we go on walks and he doesn’t come when called anymore, I don’t know what’s going on

  15. stormy
    October 12, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Some things to try.
    Establish hierarchy: make sure you sleep higher. So you sleep on the bed/couch, he sleeps on the floor.
    Don’t let him wander around the house by himself until you get the peeing in the right place down. Tie him to you with a leash.
    Use lots of treats as rewards when he comes when called. Even if it’s just from the end of a 10 foot leash. And every time you call, make sure he comes to you before you move on to something else.

  16. Rachel
    November 3, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    my 10 and a half year old pitiful and lab mix pees in the house when nobody is in the house. can someone plz tell me some suggestions or what’s best way to discipline or how to avoid? . if u have an answer, can u plz email to me – hanxiao0412@gmail.com. thanks

  17. Brianna
    November 5, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    I have a 6 year old miniature pincher that keeps digging in our backyard. I guess ever since we put the bricks along the fence(because he used to dig under the fence and escapes), he now starts digging in the yard. We tried putting rocks by the trees and this big large hole, but he moves the rocks and digs away. We also tried putting hot sauce and spicy seasonings on it, too, but that didn’t work either. I really don’t want to get rid of him, but I also don’t want him to keep messing up our yard. What should I do?

  18. stormy
    November 5, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    I would crate him when you are not home. Lots of questions for you too: is it every time you leave or only if you leave for longer than a certain period? Does he ever have accidents when you are home? How often does he go out when you are home?

  19. stormy
    November 5, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Have you tried experimenting with different toys that are fun to play with? Maybe some thing he can chew on or a puzzle that dispenses treats? Or build him a sandbox or place you are ok with him digging and hide a few toys in that area.

  20. Jojo
    November 12, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    I tried to do #3 put-down, and he stared humping me -_-

  21. stormy
    November 12, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    Haha. Hold him down until he stops wiggling. Many dogs will give a big sigh and their whole body will relax. That’s when you can let him up.

  22. marla
    November 19, 2016 at 6:41 am

    my dog is a yorkeypoo snazer mix she is also a resque she keeps running to our fields were there are cow and doesn’t always come back when I call her. because I love her I set boundys and try to discipline the way I know how (time out) I nned some atviece also I live on the same land as my parents and they do spanke that’s how they were raised very loving so please don’t get wrong idea.

  23. November 19, 2016 at 7:31 am

    your wright my comment does need moderation my spelling is not good. so here goes my dog is a youkeypoo snower mix a family member resqued her and gave to me. my family has a big peace of land and we raise cows. I have my own place on there land my dog is a inside dog and I take her outside every day to play and parents have finced in backyard and she plays with dogs too. here the thing my dog runs off to fields were the cows are at and that’s a NONO I’m trying to teach her boundreys (the cow nerly ran over her this time) inside my discipline is time out but it’s hard to do out side my parents do spank there dogs at there house but I don’t want that for mine because it scears her so hoew do I stop her from running off to the fields and get to come back when I call her. if I half to discipline outside what is the best way to do so?

  24. Caryn
    November 19, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Hi, we have a 16 month old chocolate lab we adopted from a rescue (6months ago). He’s really an amazing dog however, he grabs every thing and likes to rip whatever it is apart. We’ve tried the can thing, squirt bottle….being firm and saying NO and DROP IT. Etc. But nothing. Not to mention he chases our 2 senior indoor cats whenever he sees them so now they stay in the basement and won’t come out unless he’s in his crate. Any suggestions? I’ve had a dog growing up so I know it takes patience…. But my husband never did. So he’s about ready to give up…. Any advice would be appreciated!

  25. Liliana
    November 19, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    my dog is a male lab. he is about 18 months. my mother refuses to discipline him because he is just “expressing his feelings and he will grow out of it” but i refuse to allow him to destroy my house and my things because he is not having the best day. i am not waiting for him to grow out of it because he needs to know that what he is doing is not allowed. we dont have enough money for a trainer and she wont let him go to timeouts. i have a single pair f shoes not destroyed by him, and our house is falling apart because of him.

  26. Jessica
    November 23, 2016 at 6:22 am

    Desiree Sheridan I have a 3 year old Standard Poodle. He is exactly the same. Walking him on the lead is hell. He pulls and jumps beyond control. When he was a puppy I took him to 3 training classes, he/we were told that he is overly dominant and extremely difficult to train. I had to rehome our lovely whippet because I thought the poodle was going to kill it. He woke me this morning at 2am, it is now 6am, I’ve put him in his dog bed lots of times – I’M EXHAUSTED. The last time I put him in his dog bed and pushed him onto his side make him lay down because he won’t listen to the command.. He started growling at me!! I’ve worried in the past that he’s going to attack me. I shouted at him (but not too loudly as its 6am) then put him in the garden for a few minutes of time out. Now he’s locked in the kitchen with light off. But I feel really bad. I hate telling him off. I just want things to be nice. I think possibly male standard poodles are naturally overly dominant – maybe to prove they’re butch! But seriously Desiree Sheridan I know how you feel. Its really tough because they can be so lovely.

  27. Jim
    November 25, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    The loud noise works well and is NOT abusive. Also, gently pushing the puppy on their side (not violently, just roll them over and get their attention) works well. My dogs have never been abused and are all very loving and obedient.

  28. Michaela Morgan
    November 26, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    My boyfriend has a 9 month old labradoodle and he doesn’t listen at all. He’s a very energetic, happy dog but he just don’t obey. Every walk, he wants to pull away or try running away. We tell him to sit and he won’t. Bath times are the worst. His whole body will be in the tub except his head and he won’t put it in the tub so we can wash it. Plus, he act like he’s scared of everything. We were told that he’s untrainable and now we’re not to sure what needs to be done about his behavior.

  29. Charlotte
    December 20, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    I had a similar situation today where my dog is potty trained he uses the bathroom outside but when we don’t pay attention to him he barks like crazy and then whines i give him a treat to make him feel better but then he POOPS and PEE in the kennel or outside of the kennel so then we discipline him but its not working.

    Please help !!!!

  30. Kim
    December 28, 2016 at 12:13 am

    Desiree and Jessica…I have two beagles who are serious pullers. I don’t care what anyone thinks I got them prong collars. I tried other collars and a harness. The collars did not work and seriously bothered my dog’s trachea. They learned how to back out of the harness. The prong collars are fabulous and they don’t hurt the dog unless I yank intentionally with the leash. Which I have done to let them know I mean business about the pulling. It only took once or twice and they quit that pulling.

  31. Laura
    December 29, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    My dog is only 5 months old and keeps hopping the fence and she isn’t supposed to, I catch her in the act and spank and tell her no, but she just keeps doing it… any suggestions?

  32. Chloe
    January 8, 2017 at 1:29 am

    A time out is a good punishment. It takes a working progress but its not abusive and definitely doesnt make yiur dog agressive. I started by showing them what they did wrong then tying them on a chain for an hour. Eventually they leartn and never did it again.

  33. Ayushi Singhal
    January 14, 2017 at 6:32 am

    I have a 4 month labrador….she keeps biting and growling at me…when I shout or touch her she gets more aggressive ..what can I do to control her??

  34. TBoll
    January 24, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    My dog is a 5 1/2 yr old yorkie/bichon. If we don’t say goodbye to him before we leave the house he will mess in the house. As long as we make a point to say goodbye and pet him before we leave the house, he does fine. I say fine, but really he just stays laying on the back of the couch and doesn’t move until we get back.

  35. Lisa
    February 17, 2017 at 5:45 am

    Hi, I have a 12 week old gsp/bouvier cross who is CONSTANTLY trying to dominate her sister. I’m afraid she’ll hurt her. She is like this with all dogs. She has been well socialized in her short life so it’s not that. We’re teaching her commands but so far nothing stops her. How do I keep this from becoming a real problem?

  36. Nunya
    April 5, 2017 at 5:02 am

    Dogs are dogs not humans
    They can take more then over sensitive humans can
    Discipline them to give them more to do then be lazy.g

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