5 Dog Discipline Do and Don’ts

By Stanley Coren, Sarah Hodgson

Part of Understanding Your Dog For Dummies Cheat Sheet

No one wants to frighten their dog, but many people do just that, often under the guise of disciplining them. Some people yell at their dog or puppy, though these methods have been proven ineffective. Others are locked into a vicious cycle of physical corrections, though they have no educational value and often instill aggression or make matters worse. If the goal of discipline is to teach a dog better manners, then the effort to communicate as much must be closely examined. Here’s what doesn’t work and why, and what you can do instead:

Dont stare. Unless your gaze conveys deep affection, staring is perceived as confrontational and threatening. Don’t confuse your dog. He’ll learn to fear or challenge you.

Dont chase. Imagine rushing onto another person in the same manner. This technique induces fear or confrontation, not understanding. It’s ineffective in communicating anything, except perhaps that you’ve lost your mind.

Dont grab, drag, or hold. When you grab, hold, or drag a dog, his only option is to defend himself. Though you may contain him in the moment or vent frustration, it will lead to out of control behavior.

Do stay calm, setting the example to model. You should be the one setting an example of how to act in all situations. Give your dog a good example to follow.

Do direct your dog. Your dog can’t read your mind. Teach your dog basic commands, such as to stay, follow your lead, and come.

Do provide alternatives. Give your dog every opportunity to behave well. Provide ample activities to occupy his energy and curiosity. When you discourage one activity (such as jumping), encourage something else, such as fetching a toy or sitting.