In this blog I explore how to discipline your dog.
1. What do we mean by ‘discipline our dog’ - Do we mean how to tell it off?
The good news is - You will never need to tell off your Dog.
From their first breath to there last - a dog is not capable of being naughty. Only humans have the mental capacity to be deliberately doing the wrong thing. They cannot understand our notions of good and bad. Dogs are always doing their best.
If my dog is doing a behaviour I don’t like, I must ask myself:
“how did I accidentally set up this pattern of behaviour for my dog?”
Because it will always be something that I have taught my dog. Something I have accidentally set up or allowed or encouraged - and unwittingly practised with them.
2) If my dog is perfect, who is it that needs to learn the right behaviour? Who needs the education and discipline?
I need to discipline myself to:
Check my thinking - eg “my dog is being naughty’.
Remember that my dog is just doing their best in every moment.
I need to learn:
Why my dog is doing these behaviours I don’t want.
I need to understand how I might be part of the pattern of behaviour.
I need to learn what its best not to do with my dog.
I need to understand what a dog is looking for.
And learn what behaviours of mine would support my dog to get everything right!
3) Example where I think my dog is being naughty:
My dog chews the furniture. I believe they should not, and that I somehow have to explain to them that this is bad. I might look online for how to discipline my dog to teach them not to do this. I will try everything - reprimands, ‘Nooooo’s’, consequences, etc. The behaviour might continue, and in the end I might get frustrated and imagine that my dog is being really ‘bad’
4) Same example where I don’t think my dog is being naughty:
My dog chews the furniture. I know I am responsible for all my dog’s behaviours. I wonder why this has happened and how I have let this happen?
Maybe I have left the dog in the wrong place, or the furniture in the wrong place?
Maybe I have often given my dog things to chew and its become a pattern of ‘what we do’. Unfortunately my dog can’t distinguish between ‘things we chew’ and ‘things we don’t’.
OK - so in this example, what do I need to do differently?
- Don’t imagine my dog is being naughty, or has done anything bad.
Ask myself how we got into this pattern of behaviour?
Work out what I could try changing:
For Notice how I am responding when I see them chewing the furniture - are they looking for the response? Maybe use the crate more when I’m not there to help my young dog not chew furniture, especially while we change the pattern? Not give my dog so many things to chew so it is not such a go-to behaviour? Longer walks? More walks? More supervision for a while? A room to chill in without chewable furniture when I can’t supervise?
How To Discipline Your Dog: Summary
Your dog is never to blame. Your dog cannot be naughty. Your dog cannot get it wrong.
This is good news - you will never need to discipline your dog.
It turns out it is me that needs the behaviour review!
Stop myself imagining that my dog could ever be bad or naughty.
Reframe things: Why is my dog doing the behaviour?
And how might I accidentally contributed to the pattern?
What might they need to get it right ?
And what behaviours of mine do I need to change?
How can I be consistent with these changes every day.
So my self-discipline = my dog’s success!
I get it right, so that my dog can get it right.
Sometimes I might need some help to get it right for my dog and I.