How to punish your dog

How to punish your dog

Is your dog misbehaving and you think that punishing him will solve it? Punishment is a basic element for education that we must know how to use so that it has an effect and does not become counterproductive.

Punishing your dog should always be an educational act so that he understands that what he has done cannot be repeated. Keep in mind that using violence to punish him can be a step backwards and the only thing you will achieve is to make him aggressive and distrustful. Below, I will explain what to do when your dog misbehaves, when to apply the punishment and how to carry it out.

When to punish your dog?

The punishment should be carried out immediately after the dog has done something inappropriate, never after a while, since he would not understand the reason for your anger. Or what is even worse: your dog could associate the punishment to something he has done before and that is not necessarily bad.

Punishing your dog at the wrong time will only make him fear and distrust you over time. Let’s take an example: imagine that he pees in your bed when you are not there and you don’t see him for hours. In that case, the best thing to do is to assume that it is late and that using punishment as a tool is no longer effective. Wash the sheets, change the mattress and next time be more careful not to leave any doors open if you are not inside. The formula is clear: the punishment must be immediate and very little recurrent.

How to apply a punishment?

The vast majority of owners do not know how to correctly punish their dogs. Here are some guidelines that experts in animal behavior recommend to follow so that punishments are effective, clear and precise.

You must keep in mind, first of all, that if punishments are too constant, your dog will get used to them and they will stop working. Education must be something premeditated, never impulsive and irrational. Try to calm down if he repeatedly repeats the same thing, and think that mischief is also part of his nature, or is it that you never did it? You are a family, and your furry one, sometimes, will also do something out of place, but compare that with all the good he gives you.

Don’t think that by punishing your dog too much you will earn his respect, you will only earn your fear. Never hit a dog, never spray him with water, and never use anything that might frighten him, such as sticks or bars made of newspaper. Needless to say, spiked collars or electric collars are tools of torture, not education.

Be an actor

The best punishment is to play a character who does not agree with what has just happened, even if it sounds strange. To get your dog to react to his mistake, the most effective mechanism is to exaggerate your reaction a bit right after he makes the mistake, and most importantly, to temporarily deprive him of something he likes that he was using at the time.

Let’s take an example: Imagine that your dog was playing with you with a ball and he bites you to get it out of your hand. What should you do? Very simple: Make a loud sound, take the toy away and don’t play with him for a few hours. What’s more, don’t look at him, don’t smile, don’t do anything, just walk away and leave him alone, without his toy, so that he understands that this bad attitude has made him lose something he liked.

Punishments should be free of any kind of cruelty. Although sometimes, in frustration when you see that the vase or sofa that you liked so much has been smashed to pieces, you would give him a spanking on his ass, keep in mind that this is not the best option, because you will end up having regrets, because your dog will be very scared, and because violence, no matter how small it is, only generates violence. Remember that dogs break things, they all do and will, your responsibility is to assume that this will surely happen, and that when it does, the best thing to do is to use your voice, not your hands.

Create a key word

Using your voice is good, but never say a long sentence, such as: ‘Did you realize that this is terrible what you just did?’. Obviously, your dog will not understand. Make up a word and use it only in the moments when you have to apply the punishment. Try to keep them short and not difficult to say out loud, such as ‘Ah’, ‘Eh’, ‘No’, ‘Que’, ‘Ei’, etc.

Don’t repeat it too many times. Just say it out loud once, after he’s done something wrong, and point your finger at him so he knows you’re saying it to him. Obviously, don’t get carried away by his charms and kindnesses: dogs are tender, sweet, and when they know they have done something wrong, they make a face that makes us feel tender. It is important that after telling him the word you have chosen, you do not laugh or cuddle him. Doing something like that will be contradictory and confusing for him, right? Resist and kiss him a few hours later.

Turn your back on him

When your dog gets heavy, bites your hand or pulls your clothes, turn your back on him. With this you are transmitting, even if it doesn’t seem like it, a lot of information: he won’t get your attention if he keeps doing the same thing. Go somewhere else, and don’t come back to him for a few minutes.

Leave him alone for a few minutes in a space where he does not have visual access to you or what he wants. Never lock him in small spaces where he may feel confined or suffocated, this could increase his anxiety and make the punishment applied extremely counterproductive. Remember that by acting quickly and appropriately in the face of bad behavior, you are helping him and yourself.

Dogs are understanding. Often, direct, concise words and gestures, and negative punishments – temporarily taking away things he likes – are enough. Ignoring the behavior is also an effective method, for example, if when you come home he jumps on you a lot and gets hysterical, ignore him so that he sees that this is not the way to receive you. The only thing we should never ignore is aggressive, chronic or unpleasant behavior that may cause discomfort to you or others.

Reinforce the positive attitude

Don’t just react when he does something wrong. Reinforcing positive attitudes or behaviors is infinitely more effective than applying any of the punishments I have described above. Give them small rewards when they do something that is very good: like peeing or pooping in the street the first few times, or simply when they have done something you have asked them to do. Is there anything nicer than seeing your dog happy and content knowing that what they have done is right?

Needless to say, if your dog is very aggressive with you or with others, the best thing to do is to contact an expert to work with him properly and gradually. These cases are more complex, and although they do not need to be solved with violence either, they often require time and knowledge that the vast majority of owners do not have.

What to do when a dog misbehaves?

The first and most important thing is to breathe easy and be patient. A dog is not a human, so words are not much use when they are said quickly, and even less in an angry tone. You must think about why he has misbehaved, and then act. For example, let’s know what to do in some situations:

How to punish a dog when he urinates?

Nobody likes to come home to find urine and/or feces all over the house, but why does your dog do that? It is possible that he doesn’t go out enough for walks, or that he is still a puppy and therefore still has these “accidents”.

What steps to take? Well, let’s see. If you have caught your canine relieving himself in the house, then tell him “NO” firmly and clearly, but without yelling at him. From then on, start taking him outside more often, or teach him to do his business in a tray.

How do I teach my dog to use the litter tray or soaker?

The ideal is to start when he is a puppy, although as an adult he will also learn it, it will just take a little longer. Basically, what you have to do is to take him to where you have the tray or soaker as soon as you see that he is about to relieve himself, and place him inside.

To help him understand what you want, it is helpful to take some urine or stool sample and place it in the tray or on the mat.

How to punish a dog when he runs away?

A dog that runs away is usually an animal that does not get as much exercise as it should, that does not feel comfortable in the house where it lives, or that has gone out in search of possible prey (perhaps a bird). It is very, very important to take him for walks several times a day, as well as to play with him so that he can have fun and be entertained. In addition, you should avoid shouting and tension in the home.

What to do then? First of all, we must ask ourselves if the animal is receiving the necessary care. It is not enough to give it water, food and a roof to protect it from the cold. A dog needs to live in and with a family that loves and respects it, and that really cares about its welfare. If this is fulfilled, then nothing needs to be done except to put some netting so that he cannot go out.

But if at home the screams and tension are constant, the most advisable thing to do is to ask for help.

How to punish a dog when it fights?

Dogs are peaceful animals by nature, but sometimes insecurity and/or fear make them react aggressively. If this has happened to your friend, calm down. It’s hard, but believe me, it’s the best thing to do. You have to be very patient, especially in these situations, because if the furry one notices your nervousness, he will feel even more tense and the situation will become more complicated.

Therefore, put the leash on your dog and get him away from there as soon as possible. If you can’t stop him, ask someone else to take his collar (better if he is wearing a harness) and put the leash on him. Then walk away, and when you are in a secluded area, throw pieces of dog treats on the floor. This will help him relax.

Don’t worry: if at least two minutes have passed between the end of the fight and the moment you give him the treats, he will not associate them. In any case, it is preferable to consult a positive dog trainer to find out why your dog behaves like that and to tell you what to do so that he becomes a calmer and happier animal.

My puppy is acting out, what should I do?

Puppies are rebellious in themselves. It’s normal for them to bite and even lunge at you. But it is your responsibility to teach them that this is not okay, and again, with patience. Without patience nothing will be achieved. To teach them that biting the human is wrong for example, you have to do the following:

If they have bitten your hand, don’t move it. They will soon let go.
Once you have retrieved it, leave them alone and ignore them until they relax.
When you return to him, pick up a toy and play with him (and your puppies).
Don’t make any sudden movements. If you do, you will imply that this is okay, and they will do it with you, with the consequent risk of hurting you.

My dog misbehaves when I’m not around, why?

There are several possible reasons: he is bored and/or sad, or he has separation anxiety. In any case, what you have to do is to make sure he burns up his energy before you leave, either at home playing with him for a while, or taking him for a walk or a run outside. Also, when there are about 10 minutes left before you leave, don’t say anything to him. This way, you will help him to be calmer.

If it is a dog with a separation anxiety problem and it is serious, that is, if when you get home you find broken furniture or chewed things, do not hesitate to consult a professional.


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