Oh, how your little guy loves you. He gets so excited when you come home that he piddles on your feet and rips your clothes as he jumps up to tell you how happy he is to see you! You get him outside just in time to finish his three little drips and then he’s off and running. In the wrong direction! But he sees the bunny by the corner of the yard and he just has to get it, although he probably won’t know what to do with it if he does!
After some ridiculously silly antics you get him back inside and after a few minutes of play, you start cooking dinner. A few minutes? Did you forget that he has been waiting all day for you to return and play with him? You must have, so he will remind you as he charges off so fast his feet slip on the kitchen floor, knocking over the water dish which he promptly plashes in and drinks from.
You have been home less than ten minutes and the entire house is in an uproar just because you came home. You’re tired and hungry and as much as you love the little devil, you’re just not into it today. What is your first instinct? Probably a good whack across the hindquarters or even the inevitable rubbing his face in something he did wrong.
That was what our parents did after all, and it seemed to work for them. But time and research has shown us that there are better ways of punishing your boisterous puppy than smacking and other forms of physical punishment. These forms take more patience, but they produce better behaved dogs, and really that’s what you want from all this chaos.
Disciplining a Puppy
So let’s just take a brief moment and learn a few new techniques to help tame the wild beast. First, sometimes understanding his behavior can help us teach him how to behave better. He’s jumping on you and leaving puddles on the floor because you are his sunshine on a rainy day. He will gladly shove you out of the way of an oncoming train because you are his human and there is no changing that.
When children greet us at the door and are all clingy and trying to climb up on us, we typically don’t backhand them. While your puppy is a dog and not a child, his behavior is identical. What he wants is your attention. It is difficult, but when he is acting inappropriately to get your attention, don’t give it to him. At first you might help him get down off of you, giving him the “off” command, but don’t pet him. Tell him to sit and he doesn’t get the good loving until he has obeyed. It will take a little time, but he will eventually get the message that greeting you is good as long as it’s on all fours. Besides, do you really want to beat that joyful exuberance right out of him? Not much in life is that happy to see you no matter how you look, smell, or have been through.
If the problem is piddling, first and foremost they do often outgrow that. However if it is a huge challenge, then the instant you come home get them directly outside, even if that means picking them up to get them there. Charging them outside helps to reinforce that no matter what the pee goes out there. Tell him “outside” during his journey no matter how long or short and reward him when he does it right.
Now that he has peed and torn apart you clothing, he has run off in the wrong direction. He should be on a leash. First to prevent the little incident, and second because some dogs who weren’t trained to as puppies won’t do their business if they are on a leash. Odd, but true. I know some of you can be stubborn and think it’s better to allow them to roam and teach them to come. You will be fighting an uphill battle, but often if your puppy gets away from you the best thing to do is to lie down on the ground and act silly. They don’t really know what to do with that and they are quite inclined to come over and investigate. Never ever chase the puppy as he will quickly turn it into the game of tag and they can play it rather well. And of course, never ever punish the little guy when he finally gets to you. If you do you will inadvertently teach them not to come. They don’t understand that you are upset with how long it took, rather they see it as punishment for coming.
When playtime gets too rough it’s time for a time out. After all, you did forget how long he’s been waiting for you. It’s okay to create a corner and even to call it “time out” for them to be confined to when they are too wound up. A low tone of disappointment and the courage to wait him out (he’s not going to like it, you’re extending his time he has to wait for play) can go a long way in getting him to settle. Every two or three minutes a firm “settle” is all the interaction he needs. When he has achieved his goal, tell him how well he settled when you release him so he starts to understand the command.
The title of this article leads you to believe there are all kinds of punishment techniques and yet you keep reading the word, “reward.” I didn’t forget. For a puppy, who wants nothing more than to be your best friend, withholding a reward is often the best punishment. A brief scolding and refusal to cave to his demands show him that he can not be so needy. Catching him in the act of doing good things is the fastest and most effective way to show him that the good behavior gets him what he wants.
Occasionally, a puppy is just so wound up that they are nipping and freaking and you just want to lock them in the basement until they are a full grown dog. These moments it is perfectly okay to grab your wiggle worm and place him on his back, softly restraining him there until he calms down. This reinforces that you are the boss and it lets him know that his behavior is way out of line. Try to resort to this method for serious offenses only so that it doesn’t lose its impact.
Puppy school is something to be considered. Here, the trainer will teach you how to relate to your dog. In essence puppy school is really human school for learning dog communication. Your puppy will enjoy it, and you probably will too. By completing the homework assignments you keep yourself accountable to his training. The social time is good for both of you, and best of all when he comes home he will be so tuckered out he will actually sleep all night.