Dog Discipline – Should We Beat or Hit a Dog as Punishment?

Spanking, beating, and hitting a dog, is sometimes used as a form of dog discipline or dog punishment.

After all, biting a dog’s ear worked for Cuba Gooding Jr. in the movie Snow Dogs. Therefore, will such pain based techniques work for us too? To answer this question, we must consider how dogs learn.

Dogs learn through conditioning.

  • They repeat behaviors that get them good results, and
  • They stop behaviors that get them bad results.

Based on this, there are two schools of thought for stopping problem dog behaviors – reward obedience training and aversive obedience training.

Is It Bad to Beat or Hit a Dog?

Effective Dog Discipline

Spanking, beating, and hitting a dog are all aversive techniques. Pain is delivered to sensitive areas of the dog, such as his ear or muzzle, when he performs a bad behavior.

The argument for this type of dog discipline, is that the pain will discourage a dog from repeating undesirable actions. Every time our dog does something bad, he gets an unpleasant result (pain), which will hopefully dampen his resolve to perform the same behavior.

However, the problem with aversive training, is that it is risky, too personal, and there is no good way to redirect the punishment.

Our dog knows that the pain originates from us, and is not a natural result of his actions.

As a consequence, our dog may end up learning the wrong lessons, including:

  • Hitting, slapping, and biting is a fun game that my owner plays with me. Let me try playing it with him, and with others. A dog may arrive at this conclusion, when the pain is not delivered with enough force. Too much force, however, may result in fear aggression.
  • A person’s hand or face coming toward me, is a bad thing. I should run away from people, or bite the hand or face that is a threat to me.
  • My owner, or a person coming toward me, means pain. I should stay away from people, or keep them away by growling and biting.

If we do not deliver the pain with good timing, with the proper force, and in exactly the right circumstance, our dog may get confused as to why he is getting punished. He may become fearful and stressed, because he is unsure how he can stop the pain from recurring.

As a result, spanking, beating, and hitting a dog may lead to even more behavioral issues, including fear aggression as well as submissive urination.

For these reasons, using physical techniques to punish a dog, is not very good dog kung fu.

If Not Beating or Hitting a Dog, Then What?!


If beating or hitting a dog does not work, then how can we teach our dogs right from wrong?

How can we get our dogs to behave and not engage in destructive behaviors?

The answer lies in the other school of dog discipline, namely reward based techniques. Contrary to what some may say, reward based methods does not just involve “giving food to our dog”. Rather, it allows us to gain pack leadership through the proper control of resources.

We may not realize this, but we already control all of our dog’s resources. For example, we decide when he gets to walk, when he gets to eat, what and how much he gets to eat, when he gets to play, what toys he gets to play with, when he has to go to sleep, what he can chew on, and much more. All we need to do, is teach our dog this fact –

He is NOT in control, WE are.

For example, if my dog jumps on me and bites my hand during feeding time, I tell him that this behavior is unacceptable, by using a no-mark. Then I ignore him, and he does not get his food, until he has calmed down. In this way, he learns that –

  • Waiting calmly for his food in a down position = Get food quickly,
  • Jumping and biting = Food preparation stops.

If he continues with his bad behavior, I say Time-out, and I remove him to a time-out area. This teaches him that if he cannot behave around people, then he does not get to be with people.

We respond to all other bad behaviors in a similar way – by restricting our dog’s access to his most desired resources, and only giving him rewards when he has earned them through good behavior.

Different dog behavioral issues will involve different tactics, but the overall strategy is one of resource control and proper management.

But Dogs Hit, Bite, and Physically Correct Each Other …

A common argument used to justify physical corrections, is that our dogs do that to each other, therefore, it must be natural and right.

It is true that dogs will sometimes hit and bite each other as a warning, or to correct behavior. Dogs also hit and bite during play. They are able to do this, because they have very good control of the placement and force of their bites.

However, dogs are not humans and *we* are not dogs. We do not have the same physical strengths or control as our dog. We do not have sharp teeth or claws, we cannot run very fast, and our jaws are not very strong. In a true physical contest, we would lose to our dogs.

This is why it is a very bad idea to physically challenge stray or loose dogs. Logic dictates that we do not wrestle, hit, or physically engage with unknown dogs, that may be aggressive. Similarly, we should not slap, beat, or hit our own dog either. Rather than do a bad job at pretending to be a dog, we should play to our human strengths.

As a human,

  • We can open and close doors.
  • We can drive to the store and buy food, toys, and other good stuff.
  • We can open sealed bags, cans, bottles, and more.
  • We can reason, build, and develop long-term plans.

In essence, our human abilities give us control of *all* the things that our dog needs or desires. This makes us into natural leaders, because by controlling the pack’s resources, we control the pack.

Finally, when a dog physically corrects another dog, the other dog may decide to fight back.

A puppy may allow an adult dog to correct him initially, but when he grows up, he may learn to respond in-kind with aggression. For this reason and more, I do not allow my dogs to physically correct or bully each other. As pack leader, I set the rules, and I enforce them through the control of resources. If there are any conflicts, my dogs will alert me. I will then do my best to resolve the conflict in a fair and consistent way, which does not involve any hitting, biting, or puncture wounds.

Just because a dog may sometimes hit and bite other dogs, does not mean that hitting and biting is good, effective, or even particularly humane. The assumption or assertion that physical punishment is better because our dogs do it, is a logical fallacy. In fact, there are many things that dogs do to each other and to other animals, that we need to manage, redirect, and retrain. This includes –

  • A dog’s drive to hunt neighborhood cats,
  • A dog’s instinct to guard resources (with aggression if necessary),
  • A dog’s inclination to bully a weaker dog,
  • A dog’s impulse to fight-back, and more.

Does Beating or Hitting a Dog Work?

Pain based techniques may stop problem behaviors in the short term, but it is not the most effective type of dog discipline.

There are many difficulties and risks that may cause our dog’s behavior to degrade, rather than improve. Using it to stop one problem behavior, may inadvertently cause five other bad dog behaviors to crop up. In addition, the effect of beating or hitting a dog may degrade over time, as our dog gets habituated to the pain.

In contrast, reward based methods are safer because there is little danger of our dog becoming fearful, aggressive, or stressed. We are not delivering any pain to him, but simply withholding the rewards that he has failed to earn.

  • Reward based discipline encourages our dog to figure out how he can get in our good books, because that is the quickest way to get what he wants most.
  • Aversive dog discipline, on the other hand, encourages a dog to avoid us because there may be pain involved.

Ultimately, resource based training allows us to forge a stronger bond with our dog, and makes him into a responsible canine, who works for what he wants.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

~~ [Mahatma Gandhi]

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Comments

  1. stephanie says

    Hi I have a major problem with my pit bull, one day me and my boyfriend got into an argument and our dog felt the need to bite me that’s my number one issue also I am pregnant and now ever since that happened he has been peeing and pooping all over the house. . could you possibly be able to help me on how to get him to stop he was potty trained very well even when he was a puppy he never went potty in the house now hes starting. Would you know of a reason for why he’s acting out. I’m in desperate need for advice specially with our baby coming soon! He never has been mean I think he was just scared and didn’t know what to do but I’m clueless n looking for answers to fix this problem I do not want to get rid of my dog please and thank you

    • shibashake says

      Has there been a lot more stress in the household? Have there been more arguments? Have the arguments been more serious? Have there been other changes in your routine or your dog’s routine? What is your dog’s daily routine like?

      My dogs are very sensitive to the energy of the people around them. If I am stressed, frustrated, or angry, my dog will pick up on that, get stressed himself, and become even more reactive. To calm my dog down, I first need to control my own energy.

      In addition, I also set up a fixed daily routine for my dog and a consistent set of rules. In this way, my dog knows exactly what to expect from me, and what I expect from him in return. Changes in routine is also a common cause of stress for dogs.

      Stress can cause changes in behavior, including soiling in the house and more.

      Finally, dog behavior is very context dependent. A dog’s temperament, daily routine, environment, past experiences, and more will all affect his behavior. This is why in cases of aggression, especially with a baby coming soon, it is best to get help from a good professional trainer. When I was having behavioral issues with my Shiba, we did private sessions with several trainers and it was helpful to have them observe Sephy, read his body language, and guide me on how to redirect and change his behavior.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      More on dog anxiety.

      While people may exercise, chew on their nails or have a drink to relieve tension, dogs tend to chew, dig, lick excessively, pace or housesoil when anxious. Because destructive behavior has many potential causes, a careful analysis of the dog’s history and environment is necessary to help identify the cause of the problem so that effective behavior modification techniques can be recommended.
      ~~[Animal Humane Society]

      In cases of anxiety, it is important *not* to punish the dog as that will only introduce more stress into the situation, and likely make things worse.

  2. kish says

    Hi…
    I have a German shepherd female and her pup whose a rotweiller and shepherd mix…both stay together….

    I have a problem I have 2.tortoise in my garden and the pup seems to hurt my tortoise biting his shell….and tossing it up over….

    I really hit him and chained him with no food and have been ignoring him….

    Have also used the command NO in a very firm way…
    But she doesn’t seem to get it….

    Can someone help

    I Can not let my dog harm the tortoise…

    Thanks
    Kish

    • shibashake says

      Timing is very important when training my dog. To stop my dog from performing an undesirable behavior, I need to be right there to supervise, stop him, and then redirect him into doing something else that is positive. Correcting my dog after the fact will *not* work, because he will not know what behavior he is being punished for.

      Dogs have a natural prey instinct, so they may go after other animals which they view as prey. It is instinctual, and the behavior may also be self-reinforcing because if they manage to catch and “play” with their prey, then they get rewarded for their prey-stalk behaviors, which will encourage them to repeat those behaviors more frequently. Therefore, it is important that I am there to supervise, and prevent my dog from getting to the other animal. In this way, I can redirect my dog and get him to do a positive behavior instead.

      If I am unable to supervise, then I keep my dog(s) separated from cats and other animals he might prey on.

      Here are two articles that talk more about how to retrain and redirect this type of behavior-
      http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/how-do-i-train-my-dog-to-stop-chasing-the-chickens-cat-rat
      http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/chase-this-not-that

  3. Kaley Hatch says

    I have a dog around a year and a half old. I BBQed a full plate of carne asada and was eating it, but left it up on the couch to switch a load of laundry. When I came back the plate was on the floor and every single piece was gone. $14 worth… I am so furious but am not sure how to punish her. I feel like wringing her neck but I am not an animal abuser… HELP!

    • Trent says

      I found that my dogs trained me as much as I trained them. It would probably be much easier to just not leave your food in such an accessible place than to train a dog not to eat yummy carne asada left out unattended. There are ways to make the behavior unrewarding, however. When my dog was younger he loved stealing things from the counter. He’s pretty tall and it was easy for him to snatch food even when we were right there. I read somewhere to try to make the experience uncomfortable by rigging coke cans filled with loose change on the counter. He would knock over the can and the noise it made eventually scared him away from trying to take anything from the counter. That way he doesn’t associate anything negative towards you or your behavior, only towards the behavior of stealing stuff off the counter. Try to leave something that makes it undesirable for her to even check the couch in the first place. I’m not sure what that might be, but get creative. Hope I could help. I’m no expert, but I’ve raised two fairly well behaved dogs and after learning that spanking really didn’t accomplish anything, I stopped and looked for alternatives. Seems like you’re doing the right thing by coming here to find a way to resolve it by other means.

    • Anonymous says

      That one is on you 100%. I hope you learned the food goes on counter and table. A dog can smell a million times what we can, can you imagine how good your food smelled? You set him up to fail?

  4. Leah says

    I just got a dog and since I was new to dog raising I would punish her and praise her like a human child. Whenever she would do something bad I would spank and if she were to do something right, I would praise her and give her affection. I find that there’s a healthy balance between punishment and reward and it’s effective. That way your dog is neither spoiled nor afraid of everything. Articles like these make me think however, and there will always be something new to learn.

  5. Sally says

    We have 2 siberian huskies, both female and they are from the same litter. They are now 8 months old. They play fight a fair bit and I’m fine with that. They are mainly outside dogs at the moment. When me and my 6 year old daughter are in the garden the one girl Lumi will not let the other Indy anywhere near us, she will weave in and out to stop Indy getting near either of us and she snarls and growls. We get up and walk away and go inside and they rip shreds out of each other until blood is drawn. Then they are so loving together licking each other’s wounds, and so loving towards us, but it’s getting my dughter really upset that they are fighting. Lumi protects her dinner too, and often will not eat unless she is starving. How can we stop the blood shed?? We give them and always have given them equal amounts of loving and treats. Please help!

    • shibashake says

      Some things that I do with my dogs-
      1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interactions rules and I slowly teach my dogs what those rules are.
      2. I supervise my dogs very well, and redirect them before things escalate into something more serious.
      3. I carefully manage their excitement level by throwing in play-breaks, so that play does not get out of control and becomes something else.
      4. I use gates, leashes, and other management equipment as needed to keep everybody safe, and also to keep all my dogs safe.
      5. I also set up consistent house rules and people interaction rules. I establish structure and a fixed routine so that my dogs know exactly what to expect from me, what to expect from the people around them, what to expect from each other, and what I expect from them in return. Structure, routine, consistency, and training are all very important to keep my dogs safe and healthy, and to keep the people around them safe.

      More on what I do to help my dogs get along.

      However, it is important to note that dog behavior is very context dependent, so each situation is different. Given that the dogs are drawing blood and there is a young girl in the house, I would get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/
      http://www.apdt.com.au/trainers-directory/how-to-choose-a-trainer.html

      When I was having behavioral issues with my Shiba Inu, we did private lessons with several trainers, so we could focus on his more serious problem behaviors. The trainer can observe Sephy in his normal surrounding context, evaluate him, teach me how to better read his body signals, and help me come up with a good plan for rehabilitation.

  6. Destiny says

    I have 1 and a half year old cane corso name Daisy. I am 9 months pregnant and me and my husband are having the hardest time with her. I am with her thru out the day by myself and I feel as if she is testing me to see what she can get away with. This week she has tore thru our trash 3 different times,stolen food right off my plate and refuses to listen to basic commands like sit, go lay down, or stop! She knows better! This dog is just as big as me if not bigger I can not give her the attention she craves right now in my condition I love her dearly I’ve had her since she was 2 months old! She hasn’t been easy to train so I have resorted to spanking her my fear is that this unwanted behavior will continue once the baby gets here which can be any day now! Since I’ve become pregnant she has jealous tendencies and unpredictable behavior and I can not afford to have her injur my child! I don’t want to give her away she is apart of my family but it seems like I have no choice if the behavior continues

    • shibashake says

      Congratulations on your upcoming new baby!

      Given that there will be a baby in the household soon, I would get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      Here are a couple of articles from the ASPCA on how to prepare a dog to a new baby-
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/preparing-your-dog-new-baby
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/introducing-your-dog-your-new-baby

      Stealing food and getting into trash can be self-reinforcing behaviors. If a dog tries to get into trash or tries to steal food and succeeds, then he gets rewarded for the behavior with people food that he doesn’t get otherwise. This reinforces the behavior, and he will keep repeating it because he gets good results.

      I stop my dog from counter surfing or going into trash by making sure that he *never* gets rewarded for those behaviors. If I am not around to supervise, then I make sure there is no food on the counters and the trash is properly secured behind a door. This is very important because if my dog gets rewarded for the behavior sometimes, then he will just keep trying harder because the next time may be the time he gets the special food.

      When I am around to supervise, I give my dog a no-mark as soon as I see him nosing around the trash area or trying to jump up a counter. I then give him an alternate command, e.g. Sit which I have pre-trained him on. If he does it, I mark the behavior and make sure to reinforce it with food and attention. In this way, I redirect an undesirable behavior into a positive behavior, and then reinforce the positive behavior.

      If he does not listen, then I body block him from the area. If he keeps going back to the area, then I keep him out of the kitchen with a baby gate. In this way, he learns that if he tries to jump on kitchen counters, then he doesn’t get to be in the kitchen. This is a negative result to the behavior, which will discourage him from repeating it.

      I also set up a fixed routine and a consistent set of house rules for my dog. I slowly teach him what those rules are so that he knows what I expect from him and what he can expect from me. I motivate him to follow rules by following the Nothing in Life is Free program.

      A big part of my dog’s daily routine includes walks, structured play, and other positive activities to redirect his doggy energy. When I got too busy, I hired a dog walker or did dog daycare. If I don’t provide Sephy with positive outlets for his energy, then he would always come up with many less desirable ways to spend his day. :)

  7. Lee Christie says

    Whipping every time. we got this outof control mongrel really big and we trained him using a leather whip. he got repeated beatings which i admit were pretty harsh if he was a milimetre outa line and it worked. also when i drive or race horses at work we whip them so why not dogs?

  8. stephanie says

    thankyou for this posting. I have a 3 months old puppy who’s crazy about biting and i receive an advice from a friend to hit her on her butt. so I did that, it did help for a week or so but now i think she doesnt like me to touch her anymore. before she would sleep on my feet and asking me to hold her pretty much all the time.
    Can you please tell me how to “undo” this?
    I’m feeling heartbroken right now, I wish I did more research myself than listening to people.

  9. Aaliyah Robinson says

    Hi there! I have an eight month old puppy named Branson. He is a german shepherd lab. We do discipline him by spankings, and he is learning from it. But I feel like he is getting too old to pee in the house. He won’t poop in the house, but he really only pees. It’s really driving me crazy because every time my Dad comes around, he gets excited and pees. He does that ALL THE TIME. (Its even more annoying because me and my brother are the only two in charge out of six people to train the puppy) He isn’t very smart in the potty area and it’s making me insane and I want to get rid of him. Do you think you can tell me why male dogs are slower than females and how I can get him to be smarter in the potty training area? He knows he has to go outside to do his business, but it seems like he just doesn’t care to let us know.

    Thank you.

  10. Kirsty says

    Hi there,

    I have a 20 month old border collie x. She went to puppy school as a young pup and eventually stopped her terrible habit of running away (which is also dangerous as we live on a main road). She has recently (suddenly) started doing this again for no apparent reason. If the front door is left open she will take off up the driveway when in the past she was just happy to lie in the fresh air. She will not come back to us when called, we have to try and grab her and coax her back inside. It ends up being a bit of a stand off with her watching us – every step we take towards her, she steps away from us. She is walked daily, is well socialized, regularly talked to and played with. I am not sure what brought this on. Please help!

    • shibashake says

      As I understand it, dogs often run out open doors because it is a self-reinforcing behavior. I.e. a successful escape rewards the dog very well with an interesting walk outside, where he gets to smell a lot of interesting things, chase squirrels and cats, meet new people, and have the freedom to go wherever he wants. Therefore, the more successful escapes a dog has, the more likely he will repeat the behavior, because each time he escapes, he gets rewarded with a really fun outing.

      When my dog was young, he was less certain of himself, so he preferred to stay closer to home. As he matured, he gained confidence, and became less afraid of exploring farther afield.

      For dog escapes, I teach my dog door manners, *and* I am also very careful about not leaving the door open unless I am there to supervise and have him on-leash.

      For coming when called, here are a list of training techniques from the ASPCA. With my dog, I usually start recall training in a very low stimulus area, e.g. inside the house or my backyard. In this way, there are fewer competing external stimuli. After my dog is really good at coming when called in the backyard, then I *very slowly* increase the environmental challenge.

      What is your pup’s routine like? How long are her daily walks? Border Collies have crazy energy, so they usually always have more energy to spare. :)

  11. KovutheCollie says

    Hi I have a 3 month old border collie that will not stop biting me, my family, and my roommates kids. I don’t think he does it out of aggression, but he bites our hands while we try petting him. I do not hit him, but I’ve tried holding his muzzle closed, not paying him any attention, and putting him in time out. Nothing has stopped and it seems to be getting worse, especially around more people. I want to expose him to all sorts of people and things, but it’s getting difficult because of his biting. Suggestions please?
    –Devin

  12. Shiba Inu says

    Hi,

    I have Shiba Inu and she is 13 weeks, two weeks ago she peed on the carpet and I hit her and took her to the backyard. I thought she will stop doing that but kept doing it and everytime she does it I punish her and take her to the backyard. Then she started to poop but in the kitchen when I am not around her, after couple of times she is now eat her poop as if she wants to hide what she did. How can I correct that? Is 13 weeks still too young to understand and to get hit or punished? I feel bad because I hit her and she started screaming and afraid she what I did might effect her personallity and become an aggresive dog and never listen to me and keep doing what she is doing.

  13. sally says

    hiya we have recently got a 4month old labrador and he is a lovely dog and i love him to bits but i have never had a pup before and am finding it a little frustrating when trining him as he challenges me a lot like when im out walking him he constantly pulls i pull him back and also hold his mouth firmly but not hurting him and tell him no but then he keeps doing it so i keep persisting with what i am doing but he still keeps doing it its frustrating and i dont know if im dong right or not please help thankyou

  14. Kaitlynn Chadwell says

    Hi, I have a husky mix who is 3 years old and my boyfriend and I are having a hard time disciplining him. We tell him no and slap him and there are times where he growls and even snaps at us. My boyfriend is at his wits end with this, and as am I. We love him very much but need a way to discipline him and be safe about it. We have only had him for part of his life, we got him at a year and a half and he had less than basic training when we got him.

  15. Josh says

    I just got a new dog, and he isn’t that friendly with my poodle he is 1 year old shepherd. How can I make them get along?

  16. Mikayla says

    Hi I have a 1 year old mixed female dog and she seems to have a problem with where she should go to the bathroom. I have potty trained her already giving her set times of when she gets to go out and even when she gets to eat and she was doing just fine and then one of my siblings moved out so I moved into their room and it was like she turned into another dog. She will go to the bathroom in my room and in my room only even after I just took her out and she did potty when I took her outside not even minutes before the incident. I tried the method of putting her in timeout and even used her no word which is “bad”. But she just keeps doing it. It confuses me because she only does it in my room but never in any other room in the house. She’s never had a problem with this room before and I’m worried it’s me that’s doing something wrong. Please help…

    • shibashake says

      Changes in routine and living conditions, can cause stress and confusion to the dog, which may cause changes in behavior or set-backs in potty training.

      I *do not* use timeouts for potty training mistakes. When dogs poop or pee in the house, it is often because they are stressed, confused, or do not know that they are not supposed to go in a particular room.

      If my dog is confused because of changes in environment or is still learning, then I calmly take her to where she is supposed to go, and then reward her extremely well for it so that she will be motivated to go there in the future. This teaches her where to go for her potty.

      With potty training my dogs, I find that close supervision is the most important thing. I need to supervise my dog closely so that if she makes any mistakes, I can no-mark and take her out immediately. Then I can reward her very well for doing her business outside. The more I minimize mistakes inside and maximize successes outside, the more quickly my dog will learn what I want her to do.

      If it is because of stress, then it is not really a potty training issue. I start by always being calm and patient with my dog, and try to identify what is the source of her stress, e.g. is it from being alone, is it from being in a particular place, is it because of my energy, etc. Once I identify the source of her stress, I can find ways to reduce her stress triggers, help her manage it, and help her stay calm through desensitization and counter conditioning.

      Timeouts are often used to stop or discourage certain behaviors. Dogs have to pee and poop, so we do not want to discourage those behaviors, but simply to teach them where to do it.

      Here is more on what I do to potty train my dogs. However, not all pooping and peeing in the house is the result of potty training. It can also be the result of stress, physical issues, and other factors.

      When I try to change a particular behavior in my dog, the first thing that I do is try to understand why my dog is performing that behavior and what my end goal is. Once I understand these things, I can come up with a more effective plan for changing her behavior.

  17. Alyssa Willson says

    My Shar-pei/Boxer mix will be 1 year old in March. He is very hyper and does not listen to no, ignoring, or smacking. He constantly whines non-stop even if I had just fed him or took him outside. I will yell at him an say NO! but he just continues to do whatever he was doing. If I smack him on the nose he thinks I am playing with him, and sad to say I have honestly punched him (not THAT hard) but he still just sits there an whines or climbs on people. I am about ready to honestly get rid of him because I can’t even focus on my homework because of his constant whining and barking.
    Any tips that will help me keep my dog will be greatly appreciated!

    • shibashake says

      What I learned from my dogs is that their needs and tolerances are sometimes very different from mine. Therefore, in the beginning, they don’t know what my very human rules and preferences are. It is up to me to teach them these things, and to properly motivate them to learn and follow my rules.

      I find that my dog learns best when I am calm and in control of the situation. If I get angry, stressed, or frustrated, my dog will pick up on my energy, get stressed himself, and his behavior will get even worse. I make the best progress when I stay calm and teach my dog that he gets what he wants most by first doing some simple work for me. This is also called the Nothing in Life is Free program.

      Here is a bit more on how I trained my puppy.

      In addition to setting up a fixed routine and teaching my dog a consistent set of rules, I also try to understand his needs and redirect his energy towards positive and productive activities. My dogs are all pretty energetic, so I take them out on walks every day, I play structured games with them, we do obedience and grooming sessions, and they also have supervised play sessions together.

      Here is more on how I exercise my dogs.

      Consulting with a good professional trainer can also be very helpful. I visited with several professional trainers during my difficult period with Sephy (Shiba Inu).
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  18. aroofa says

    Hi I have a year old malti poo and he barks when ever the door bell rings or at anyone who come home including my family members how do I get him to stop

  19. Lily says

    Every time i let my dog out of the house so he can go pee and get some exercise he digs a hole under the fence and he leaves for about 2 hours. Then he comes back. One of the neighbors brought him back one day and threatened to kill my dog if he continues to get on his yard. My mom made me tie him up outside in the backyard so he wouldn’t leave anymore but I don’t want to leave him tied up outside if it rains. Is there any way to get my dog to stop leaving the yard and wondering around the neighborhood?

  20. Haru says

    hi,
    i have a 3 months old beagle, who keeps biting carpets, towel and sofa
    She knows when i say NO it means she is not allowed to. Most of the time she immediately look away. But she sometimes grab the towel then run away from me, knowing that she is wrong. When i try to take it away from her, she doesnt give it to me without fight.
    I tried slapping her, giving her time-out outside. I think she knows she is wrong but she is just too naughty just like a little kid.
    Any advice (other than to be patient until she grows up)?

    there is also some issue with the night potty training
    i often take her outside on leash in the middle of the night for her to go potty, but she keeps getting distracted and want to play instead of going potty (although we are already playing the whole evening). This is so annoying that sometimes i put her back in her crate and then let her to have her potty inside her crate, then she is miserable for the night begging me to not letting her sleep in her wet bed (then i had to clean her crate in the middle of the night which is very exhausting)

    Thanks in advance

    • shibashake says

      If I get angry or frustrated with my dog, he usually picks up on my energy, gets even more stressed-out, and acts more crazy then before. Some things that help with my dog –

      1. I try to stay very calm. I have things planned out for his various bad behaviors so that I can be calm, decisive, and consistent.

      2. If I try to pull things out of his mouth, my dog will pull back as well. This is because he thinks it is a fun game of tug, which actually rewards him for his bad behavior. In this way, he learns to repeat the bad behvaior more because he gets a nice game out of it.

      During the training phase, I make sure to puppy proof my house so that there are no towels or other tempting objects around for him to bite. If he does get something, I simply hold the object still (I do not tug back or in any direction). I hold it still close to his mouth so it becomes a very uninteresting activity and he lets go. I am able to do this because I stay very calm, and I train my dog to have good bite inhibition and not to bite on me. Do not do this with dogs who are aggressive.

      3. As I understand it, dogs may look away or show other calming signals when they sense that we are angry. This does not mean that they understand *why* we are angry or what we want them to do. They only know that we are angry and want to calm us down by showing us that they are not a threat.

      When my dog bites on something he shouldn’t, I calmly no-mark the behavior, and redirect him onto something that he can bite on (e.g. his chew toy). Sometimes, I make the chew toy more desirable by adding food to it. When he redirects, I mark the behavior (Yes) and reward him by playing a fun game with him. In this way, my dog learns that chewing on his toys is a lot more rewarding than chewing on my curtains.

      Here is a bit more on-
      Bad dog behavior and how I deal with it.
      How I give timeouts.
      How I potty trained my puppy.
      How I trained my puppy.

  21. May says

    Hi,

    I have a 6 months old pugshire (a mix breed between a pug and a yorkshire), and he loves to play, run and chew things, which seems normal for a puppy. When he was 3 months old I started to teach him the basics (sit, lay down, wait, high-five, no-mark and positive mark), and he proved himself a very good learner.
    But now that he’s a little bit grown up, he doesnt seem to understand anymore. When I tell him NOT to do something, he stops and waits for me to move away and then start to do it again, or just ignore the no-mark and keep doing the wrong thing (chewing flip-flops) until I stand up and grab the thing away from him.
    I’ve tried to “harden up” the no-marks using a water spray, touching his neck/nose, not giving him attention, but he keeps chewing my flip flops. Last week I lost my mind when he was chewing a sock and slapped him twice with the sock in my hand, he cried a bit and never again got close to the place where I put my socks.
    I’ve read your post and felt really bad about slapping him again, but slapping was the only way that he seemed to understand that he must not chew something, specially my flip-flops (he already destroyed 4 pairs!)

    Is there anyway to teach him without slapping?

    • shibashake says

      When my dog chews on something she shouldn’t, I no-mark, and then I redirect her onto something that she can chew on (e.g. her chew toy). If she redirects, I mark the behavior (Yes) and then I reinforce it by playing a fun game with her. Very quickly, she learned that – Chew on toy = Fun game and affection – which made toy chewing a lot more rewarding.

      If she keeps going back to my shoe, then I body block her away and get her to do something else. If she absolutely will not leave it alone, then she loses access to that room. If she escalates her behavior by scratching at the door or biting on me, then I put her briefly in a timeout area.

      This teaches her what things are ok/good to chew on, and what things are not. In general, I also start small and give my dog many chances to learn the right behavior. I only *slowly* escalate my response if she escalates her behavior.

      I try to be fair, consistent, and calm. I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program to teach my dogs to follow house rules.

  22. Jessica says

    Hello,

    My little jug is coming up to a year old now and still poos on the kitchen floor. Unfortunately we live in a flat on the first floor. There is a garden, but without being on the ground floor, our door leads to the stairs, not straight to the garden, so we do not have immediate access to the garden. At night time, Shae is kept in a crate. In the morning, she is eager to go outside and when I take her into the garden she poops and wee’s like clockwork and I praise her with treats and verbally also. Howevever, 20 minutes after being back in the kitchen (free to roam the room) she often goes on the floor, even after I have just taken her outside. It’s very frustrating as I never see her in the act so cannot scold her at the time. She won’t do it in front of me unless we are outside.
    I work in the day and put her back in her crate from around 9am to 4pm. As soon as I get home, I take her out in the garden or for a walk and she goes again like clockwork and she is praised and knows that she is doing a good thing because she runs over to me to get treats every time she goes. But then throughout the evening, when she is free to roam the house, she often has an accident, (several) in the kitchen, and I never catch her in the act.
    This has resulted in her being locked away in her crate as punishment, because I cannot trust her out of her crate. I do not know what to do anymore. I am losing patience and struggle to understand why she cannot grasp to only go outside.
    Also, sometimes, either during the night or in the day, she will poo in her crate. She does not seem bothered by fowling her own area, where she sleeps. This doesn’t seem normal to me… she is never kept in her crate for a long amount of time (7 hours at the most- over night) When she poos in her crate, it is usually throughout the day, when she is in her crate for an even less amount of time.

    She also whines a lot when she is in her crate (never at night time because she is in the routine of bedtime, but if I ever put her in there during the evening for a time out etc, she whines very loudly) and I fear that the neighbours will complain. I have tried to correct this behaviour. By scolding her with sharp words, by shouting, slapping her on the nose, ignoring her, I even got one of those evil anti bark shock dog collars which I used only once because of the distress it caused her. I only bought this as a last resort and I am ashamed that I got it… but NOTHING HAS WORKED. I love her but she is a nightmare at the moment and I do not know what to do.

    Any suggestions would be very appreciated. Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      1. Potty training

      When potty training my dog, supervision is the most important thing. I am always right there with my puppy so that I can no-mark and take her out when she tries to go in the house. Then, I go with her outside, and reward her extremely well for it – with not just food, but also affection, and her favorite games. I do not let my dog free roam until she is fully potty trained.

      I have found that with potty training, it is important to not only maximize successes, but also to minimize mistakes. More on how I potty trained my dog.

      2. Crates & Timeouts

      I *do not* do timeouts in the crate. Crates can be useful for training, management, and safety, so I slowly crate-train my dogs, and I make it into a very positive experience for them. My dogs go into their crates to work on their chews, to get some alone time, to relax, and when I need to transport them in the car. They enjoy being in there, and see it as a safe and happy area.

      More on what I do with timeouts.

      3. Pooping in the crate

      Some dogs, for example pet store or puppy mill dogs, are caged for long periods of time at a young age. As such, they are *forced* to go in their crate. Ultimately, this becomes normal behavior.

      We can retrain the behavior but it will take supervision, time, effort, and patience.

      Finally, consistency is very important in dog training. I set up a fixed routine for my dog, which includes a lot of exercise and people time. I set up house rules and a consistent set of consequences so that my dog knows exactly what to expect from me, and what I expect from her in return. I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program.

      Consistency helps my dog to learn more quickly, it reduces stress and problematic stress behaviors, as well as helps with building confidence and a strong bond.

  23. Rebekah Kell says

    Hi, I have read a couple of your blogs on dog aggression.
    I have a 16 month English Bulldog (male) who has always been friendly with other dogs and enjoys socialising with other dogs.
    I live in a 3 floor flat, and my upstairs neighbour has an alsation cross male dog. My neighbours dog is usally off the lead in the close while mine remains on the lead. My neighbours dog usually barks and runs towards my dog – however my dog has started barking aggressively back. – so now my dog has started looking for my neighbours dog when we leave the flat.
    Today the alsation dog came running down the stairs and sniffed at my dog in the face and my dog tried to bite my neighbours dog a few times. My neighbours dog didnt try to bite back. I had to physically restrain my dog by pulling him back and in the air by his harness.
    I am at my witsend beacuse i feel my dog is not allowing me to be the dominant one.. he is very stubborn and this is completly out of character.

    What can i do please?

    • shibashake says

      We all have social boundaries and our dogs have them too. For example, we do not allow strangers to charge us, come into our space, and then sniff our face. Similarly, some dogs do not like having their personal space violated either. This article from Suzanne Clothier talks more about dogs and social boundaries.

      In addition, a leashed dog cannot run away and cannot avoid the other dog, so his options are very limited. More on on-leash aggression.

      Different dogs have different social tolerances, so I observe each of my dogs carefully and identify situations which causes them stress. For example, my Shiba Inu does not like unknown dogs sniffing his butt. Here is why. Therefore, I protect him and make sure that there is no butt sniffing unless he is totally ok with it.

      The more positive social encounters my dog has, the more confidence he builds, and the more calm and relaxed he will be while meeting other dogs. The opposite is also true. This is why I always try to not only maximize successes, but also minimize failure. I try to be consistent about protecting my dogs from unwanted attention. They know that I will take care of things, and they do not need to do it themselves.

      Luckily, my neighbors realized that getting charged by unknown dogs is upsetting and dangerous, so they are more careful about leashing up their dogs now. There are still some loose small dogs sometimes, but those with larger dogs are now more responsible about managing them.

      More on what I do with my dog, when we see other dogs during walks.
      More on how I socialized my Shiba Inu to other dogs.
      More on the “friendly dog”.

      In cases of aggression, it may also be a good idea to consult with a professional trainer, so that we start off on the right foot, and keep everyone safe.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  24. Erin says

    Hi,
    I am only a young first time owner, 17, of a beautiful 9 week old cavoodle Bonnie. She is not our first family dog, we had two extremely well behaved and loving golden retrievers that my Dad raised. Dad used the technique of hitting them on muzzle forcefully with a stern word or growl to discipline them
    He is very persistent that I do the same with Bonnie when she nips and growls, jumps on the coach, cries and other undesirable behaviors.
    I hate doing it, though I see it works as a stern no doesn’t scare her at all as she quite fearless.
    I give her lots of cuddles and still use rewards when training her though I don’t want her to fear me or other humans but I also want her to know that I the one with dominance.
    What other methods would you suggest?
    Thank you

    • shibashake says

      Yes and no are most commonly used as markers. They communicate to our dog what is desirable and undesirable to us, closest in time to the behavior. For a marker to “mean” something, it needs to be charged. For example, if yes is always followed up by a food reward or with affection, then when we say “yes” our dog knows that something good is on the way. In this way, Yes is used to ‘mark’ a desirable behavior. Some people may also use a clicker or beeps to mark behavior.

      Here is a bit more on markers.

      For shaping a dog’s behavior, we can use aversive training or reward training.

      Hitting a dog is an aversive training technique. We add a ‘bad’ stimulus that the dog does not like when he does something undesirable, and take away the stimulus when he does what we want.

      I use reward training on my dogs. In reward training, we add a ‘good’ stimulus that our dog likes when he does something desirable, and take away the stimulus when he does something we don’t want. For example, if my dog does a Sit for me, I may reward him with food, a toy, or a game. If my dog bites on me, I may withdraw my attention. If he persists, I may temporarily take away his freedom with a short timeout.

      Here is more on how dogs learn.
      Here is more on how I deal with bad dog behaviors.
      Here is more on dog dominance and bad behavior.

  25. Luke says

    Hey i have a husky x border collie. Hes approx 20 months ad has started an annoying new habbit of running away when i walk him to bed. I usualy give him about 7km run or so as he tows me on the skateboard so is not because of lack of exercise. I let him in the house each night for social time but when i walk him outside to put him to bed in a seperate fenced off area he runs off on occasion into the bush and usually doesnt come back untill morning. How do i punish him when he returns? Is there anyother way than having to just secure him each time on the 30m or so between house and his fenced off yard. My other dog always walks offlead into yard fine and this boy used to but now he takes a dash for freedom on occassion.
    Also they both have a tendency to get aggressive with other dogs every now and then. I let them run off lead at the beach and they play with other dogs fine 90% of the time but the second another dog shows the slightest aggression or annoyance he has a go at biting them. I think he is too used to being top dog at home and can impose this heirachy in public with random dogs no matter if its twice his size

    • shibashake says

      Dogs repeat behaviors that get them good results and stop behaviors that get them bad results.

      When he runs-off, he gets rewarded with more freedom, so that reinforces the running off behavior because it ‘works’. Punishing a dog when he comes back to us will be counter-productive because he will likely associate the punishment with the most recent behavior, i.e. “coming back” behavior, which is a good behavior that we want to encourage.

      At night, when I need to crate my dog or put him in an enclosure, I make sure to reward him very well for it. In this way, he learns to associate going into his enclosure with rewards and positive events. Also, he is more likely to settle down if he has something to work on before sleep. Each of my dogs has his/her own sleep area. In this way, my adult dogs can rest without being pestered by Lara, my young Husky. Also, there will be no conflicts over resources.

      If there are multiple dogs in the same area, we need to make sure there is absolutely no aggression or conflicts over food, toys, space, and other resources. Here is more on how I desensitize my dog to his crate.

      As for getting along with other dogs, different dogs have difference boundaries and social tolerances. My tripod Husky, Shania, gets overwhelmed more easily, so during play-time I supervise closely, I have smaller play groups, and I manage excitement levels by using play breaks. My Shiba Inu likes playing with friendly dogs, and will stand his ground if challenged (even by big dogs), so I pick his playmates carefully so that everyone can enjoy themselves.

      Conflicts may also arise over resources such as balls and other toys.

      Here is more on my experiences with dog parks.

  26. Dan says

    My Dog growls and snaps suddenly. he is healthy,fine and very understanding. I am yet to see another dog like him. I have noticed that he snaps when he is sleeping and someone pats him or plays with him, he gets angry when we tell him to do something in a strict tone. I see there is a pattern here but I’m confused! Please help. Where as he is completely different when he is in another place i.e that is when he is not inside the house he behaves very well.
    Does it have something to do with him feeling that he is the owner of the house

    • shibashake says

      Some dogs may show aggression when startled awake, especially from a deep sleep. This is also known as canine sleep aggression.

      Let’s face it, negative reaction to sleep disturbance is certainly not uncommon, even in human beings, so it’s only natural that the same thing can occur at times to dogs as well.

      The best rule of thumb is to not ever surprise him by waking him from a deep sleep with a touch.

      Instead, the best way to deal with it is to call your dog’s name loudly or clap your hands first to waken him.
      ~~[CBS Philly]

      I motivate my dogs to follow rules and commands, by using the Nothing in Life is Free program.

      Here is more on dog dominance and bad behavior.

  27. Laura says

    My roommate has two dogs, and when ever she leaves the the dogs or dog goes into my room and chews up my under ware that is in my laundry basket and pees on my bed and pillows. why ? And what can be done to prevent this action?

    • shibashake says

      Dogs do not know what things are acceptable to us, and what things are not. They do things that are natural to them as dogs. When I get a new puppy, I have to teach her my human rules and motivate her to follow those rules through things that she cares about, e.g. food, affection, toys, play, walks, and more.

      This is what I do to potty train my dogs, so that they learn not to poop and pee inside the house.

      While my new dog is still learning the rules and getting used to her environment, I make sure to supervise her closely so that I can teach her what behaviors are ‘good’ (for people), and what behaviors are ‘bad’. During this time, I close the doors to non-puppy-proofed areas, and use baby gates or leashes as necessary.

      More on how I train my puppy and how dogs learn.

  28. Yasmin says

    Hey my dog does not want to sleep in her own room she scratches the door and cry’s so she has to sleep with me what should I do for her to sleep.

    • shibashake says

      Is this a new puppy? My puppy usually likes being very close to her people, especially in the beginning. She has just been separated from her mother and litter mates, so now she looks to me to protect her, give her affection, give her play, and give her protection.

      In the beginning I sleep with my puppy at night. Then as she grows and gains confidence, through training and socialization, I get her comfortable with sleeping in a crate.I put the crate in my room, next to the bed.

      As my Husky puppy got older, she became more independent. Now she is fine sleeping on her own, and actually prefers being downstairs where she can prowl about and have more fun.

      More on how I trained my puppy.

  29. amy says

    hi, my dog digs up plants and I have tried disciplining him by smacking him and putting him in a low stimulus, isolated area but he has not learnt the lesson. any thoughts?

  30. anastasia says

    i rescued a puppy a couple of days ago and im training her to stop biting us and ny year old daughter. i tap her nose because she gets too rough with her. should i stop or is there an alternative method. she also won’t eat her puppy food and cries whenever we are eating. i want her to eat since i just rescued her, any tips to get her to eat?

  31. Lawrence says

    Hi,

    My dog just bit another dog in the face whilst on a walk. We walked straight home, under a tight lead and verbally told her off, then at home she wah banished to her bed. Is this the right response?

    Molly is a 18 month old jack russel cross pug and is a bit if a handful!

    She’s a lovely dog and very loving dog to me and my GF but is not very friendly to other dogs. Especially on the lead.

    Do I avoid all dogs on walks? I try and approach all dogs with a calm vouce to tell molly its not a threatening situation, but we still get nasty behaviour deom her.

    Is there a different approach? Any ideas would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Lawrence

  32. AD says

    I agree with positive training however if you watch dogs interacting with each other they are CONSTANTLY using physical correction on each other. I even watched my dog once gently try to correct a puppy, the puppy did not listen, my dog “slapped” him (pawed) lightly, puppy still did not listen… then “WHAM”, puppy got slapped. The puppy got it and walked away. Did that make the puppy fearful? NO, the puppy learned his lesson and moved on. Dogs are constantly using physical force on my dog if he is being innapropriate, and my dog learns the lesson and becomes more apropriate (approaching a dog respectfully rather than in a hyper manner). I do believe in positive training but sometimes the dog needs a firm reminder of “NO!”

  33. Huiying says

    Hi, I have a dog which is almost 2 years old and he still does not like to pee in his potty. I recall when he was about 7months old or so he would go to his potty to relieve himself but then we sort of moved his potty to another place which I think it kinda confused him so we shifted it back to the original place but ever since then he wouldn’t relief himself there anymore. He does his business like almost everywhere and anywhere of his house. I’ll just bring him to the area where he peed at and let him smell it and then hit his muzzle and bring him to his potty to let him know that’s the place he should be relieving himself at. I’ve been doing this for the past 8 months and it doesn’t help. I’ve tried the reward based dog discipline but it didnt seem to help much. Is there anything else I can do to get him relief himself at the place he should soon?

    • shibashake says

      Dogs may not generalize potty training exercises across different houses or indoor locations. For example, my dogs are fully potty trained in my house, but this does not mean that they will be 100% safe in a different house, especially if there is a strong smell of other dogs, cats, and other animals.

      When I move to a different house, I do a refresher potty training course if necessary.

      The key with any kind of potty training is supervision. We need to *always* be there to catch our dog in the act, and then teach him what where we want him to go to do his potty. As you have observed, hitting him after the fact isn’t going to help, because he will not know what behavior he is being punished for. In addition, hitting a dog can result in submissive urination.

      Here is more on how I potty train my dogs.

  34. patricia says

    hi, i have a 7 month old boxer-bullmastiff, i bought him off of a friend only about 2 weeks ago. He’s overall a good listener. These are my issues 1. He runs for the door whenever someone opens it and when i end up catching him he fights me to bring him back in, even tho i take him outside almost every hour because i feel it is cruel to make puppys hold their pee(or number 2), also i am 6 months pregnant and its a struggle. 2. he will take anything, and i mean everything he can get his paws on, run it right into his kennel and chew it until i notice what hes doing and he looks at me with sad eyes KNOWING that hes doing something wrong ! and 3. i have a 1 year old cat, and i just cant seem to get him to get along with her, he will chase her, he will bark at her, anything i am constantly, CONSTANTLY trying to get him to ignore her, she barely ever comes out of my room because she knows that he will try to get her, she will let him sniff her, and shove her with his snout, but once he starts getting rough she tries to get away and he chases her and pounces at her, its starting to drive me mad !! I am scared that if i don’t get him to get used to her soon, and he realizes she isn’t going anywhere and he doesn’t constantly have to be trying to get her, that he might get too rough and actually hurt her… please help!

  35. BOB says

    hi I have a 3 month old kelpie who bites me all the time I’ve tried slapping and time outs but he’s still doing it. any advice?

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