By Jessie McDowell, Marketing Content Specialist
Raising a puppy, I had daydreams of us being best friends, always together and living in perfect harmony. My puppy would walk right beside me as we strolled in the park, and I would toss a Frisbee that he would catch in mid-air and bring back to me. Instead, most of the time my dog has something in his mouth he shouldn’t, he drags me along by his leash and, not only can I not throw a Frisbee, he can’t catch it either. My dog and I have great bonding times, but I also have to be prepared to react correctly when he doesn’t live up to my unrealistic expectations.
How should I react when he has puppy antics like eating my shoes and having an accident in the house? How do I discipline him without being a mean mom? How can he learn, and I not overreact? I talked to the experts and scoured behavior sites to find a solution.
Communicate like a dog
Yelling at your puppy will not help, and it won’t make you feel very good either. Dogs don’t understand your yelling, and it may do harm to your relationship. Avoid the urge to yell, and avoid the situation. You may need to take a moment to get your temper under control. Speak in a calm, even tone to your dog to get their attention and distract them from bad behavior.
Catch them in the act
Dogs may not understand why you would be correcting them, even minutes after they have done something wrong. They may not know what behavior you are trying to correct unless you catch them in the act. It can be tough, but it is the only way for you to truly make an impact. If they went through your garbage before you got home, there is no real use in disciplining them now.
Channel energy elsewhere
You may have the urge to treat your dog like a child. Though they are a part of your family, they don’t behave like children, and timeout may not work. You need to divert their attention away from their mistake by not reacting to their misstep and reinforcing the correct behavior. If they chew on your hand, move your hand away and replace it with a proper toy and praise. It may take a while, but they will divert their action to the proper chew toy just because it is more fun.
Stick with your boundaries and consequences
You have to stick to the same discipline technique every time your dog misbehaves, or they may not learn. Inconsistency is very confusing to dogs, and they may forget all that time you spent teaching them the skills in the first place. Discipline the same way, every time, to make sure your dog corrects their behavior and is on the right path to being a “good puppy” just like you had pictured.
A great way to start the proper training with your pup is to start with the PetSafe® Easy-Walk Harness for your fun walks! You can also the PetSafe Pawz Away® Pet Barrier for your indoor areas that you want to teach your pet to avoid.
The biggest lesson I learned about my reactions to my puppy is the need for patience. To have a great relationship and be productive, I need to step back from the situation as a human and react in a way my pup can understand. Of course I will be frustrated, but if I focus on the big picture, maybe we can finally learn that Frisbee trick.
Here are some great resources to help you get started with your new relationship with your dog: