Telling a dog off, and wellbehaved dogs.

(80 Posts)
Nettleskeins Mon 18-Mar-19 14:25:56

Since taking my puppy out for walks I have met a few people with older dogs, giving me "tips" on how to stop bad habits. Including, pulling sharply on leash to make dog stay to heel, spraying water in dog's face when it barks at cats or other dogs, telling crossly dog to get down when it jumps up when pup so never jumps up on the table eats food etc. Aversive methods. Dogs seem happy and contented, but could this be because most of the time the owner is actually soppy and loving and has forgotten that their empathy with dog outweighs the brief strictnesses or basically dog is older and now behaves better anyway/has worked out what is acceptable.

All the training I read and receive in person mentions the importance of positive behaviour methods on puppies, but do most people resort to tugging on the lead, shouting Leave it or Get Down and NO.

Is so called"bad" behaviour basically developmental and if you can get through it, puppy will usually turn out fine if he likes you,gets enough sleep exercise and play and wants to please you, without aversive/corrective methods?

OP’s posts: |
Nettleskeins Mon 18-Mar-19 14:34:26

to make it a bit clearer..."bad habits" in dogs not owners.

although you might think from the above that it is the owners who have the bad habits

OP’s posts: |
missbattenburg Mon 18-Mar-19 14:44:16

but do most people resort to tugging on the lead, shouting Leave it or Get Down and NO.

Every single time I have done this it has been because I have failed or lost my temper and it has never, ever done any good. In some cases it made things worse.

As an example: Battendog went through a puppy phase where he would run all over the sofas, upset coffee cups, anger the older dogs and generally behave like an arse. Most the time I would call him into the kitchen and shut the baby gate to give him time to calm down.

I felt under pressure from others in the house to 'solve' it because he'd been persisting with this for a little while and one day shouted at him to "get out". The shout was loud and deep and, if I am brutally honest, was unconsciously (?) intended to dominate or bully him into doing as he was told. It was accompanied by me leaning over him, pointing the way - none of which he could understand, of course but all of which was probably pretty scary.

He got out but the next time he behaved like a lunatic it was 100% worse. I stood up to move to the kitchen to call him and he froze with a flinch.

I lost my temper and it made him worse because it added fear into the situation.

I cannot stress enough how working WITH him, being consistent and patient has resulted in some of the very best behaviours. He still has his moments but is turning into a steady, well behaved and well liked adult dog.

The only things I would change from his puppyhood are the times when I failed to maintain my cool or find a fun and enjoyable way to show him what I wanted. I wish I'd had more patience that he would come good with time.

missbattenburg Mon 18-Mar-19 14:46:11

p.s. the other day I still told him to "piss off" when he jumped up onto the kitchen side but was too close to the lit gas hob for (my) comfort. I don't really count that. I wasn't attempting to train him in that instance and he wasn't bothered by by slightly-cross, slightly-amused swearing!

Besides, sometimes I think he is telling me to "piss off" using his own language grin

adaline Mon 18-Mar-19 14:59:28

Of course positive reinforcement is the best way to teach a dog to behave but I don't think there are any dog owners out there who haven't gotten incredibly frustrated with their dog just not doing as they're told.

Mine is in the middle of his teenage phase and some days he drives me absolutely mad. Barking at absolutely everything, jumping, ignoring every command I give him - it's bloody hard sometimes. I don't know anyone who hasn't shouted at their dog at some point or another. Even now when mine whines and barks I do just say "will you just SHUT UP!"

They really test your patience, especially when they go from being well behaved to teenage hooligans overnight. It's also really bloody hard when other dog owners (who have managed to blot out the puppy years) look at you like you're a shit dog owner because your dog is being a dick!

Florescentadolescent Mon 18-Mar-19 15:05:49

Dogs are like humans, lay down the right groundwork when they're young and they'll grow into nice adults. Indulge them when they're young and they'll grow up to be dick heads.

OverFedStanley Mon 18-Mar-19 15:11:49

45% of dog training in control and management so not putting the dog in the situation where they can give the inappropriate behaviour eg if your puppy eats stones remove access to the stones much better than shouting "leave it" or "no". Also re Adaline post C&M heps a lot with the frustration that owners feel. If you have a teenage dog that will bark at every other dog he sees walk in a quiet place and reward the calm distance view of other dogs- get this behaviour learnt before hitting the areas that are a major trigger.

One of my puppies would bark madly at crows in the garden - the solution ask the puppy to wait at the door I go out first crows fly off and then no barking smile Now he is grown up(well he thinks he is at 2) he no longer needs to bark at crows)

50% of dog training is building up a bond with your dog eg eye contact, checking in to you at regular intervals, best games are with you

5% is actual training eg giving a behaviour on a command.

Noone ever animal or human learns by aversive methods, they may stop briefly what they are doing but they do not learn WHAT they should do instead.

I have learnt not even to try to change these peoples views just a cheery wave and walk away - with my happy contented well trained dog at heel at my side smile


steppemum Mon 18-Mar-19 15:12:47

well, I am not sure that I agree with you about the instructions.

Leave it! is a taught instruction to drop whatever is in their mouth, leave what they are touching. It should not be an angry shout. It is actually a brilinat comand to teach a puppy, my friend has a lab and was well taught leave it as a puppy. Now if you jsut say leave it in a calm voice she immediately drops what is in her mouth and looks to you for the next instruction.

Down is alos a taught instruction. You teach the dog that Down, or Off, means 4 feet on the floor. Again a taught instruction, that you can then use when they jump up.

NO is a useless instruction as it is non specific. Dogs don't understand a negative instruction, so instead of saying NO, you shoudl say what you want the dog to do. That is why leave it, (or Drop) and Down work.

Also, there is a place for a verbal warning. As puppies, their mother will use a sharp yap to tell them they have overstepped the mark, and dogs do this with each other. So using a short verbal AH, when they are not doing what they should do, will (hopefully) make them pause and look at you, so you can give the instruction you want.

My dog is far from well behaved, he came as a rescue, so teaching him has meant undoing many things as you teach new, and it is a long slow slog, and of course at times we get frustrated and shout. My dog ignores me when I shout which is even more frustrating!

Warmhandscoldheart Mon 18-Mar-19 15:14:31

You'll meet lots of dog owners with their 'helpful' little tips hmm
Your pup will learn more from positive reinforcements than being negative. As @missbattenberg said it can make it worse.
My DDog has a loud deep excited back so if I shout at him he thinks 'let the games begin'. He then zooms around like a demented being.

OverFedStanley Mon 18-Mar-19 15:33:55

I never teach "leave it". Leave it is a non command for a dog. It would be better if the dog is approaching something to do a recall, if you want the dog to stop to ask for a down, if you want the dog to drop something it has picked up to ask it to return to you and drop it or drop it where it is.

In the example you give above your leave it command is a drop command - very different thing to the average leave it.

"Leave it" is usually just a scary shouty command that means nothing to a dog. I was observing a puppy class and the instructor told the owners to shout leave it so the puppies got used to being shouted at! madness

Also, there is a place for a verbal warning. As puppies, their mother will use a sharp yap to tell them they have overstepped the mark, and dogs do this with each other. Actually mothers do not give a sharp yap at all - they usually walk away from annoying puppy behaviour.

Consider instead of doing a negative aaaahaa noise you give a positive noise. So have a noise a kissy noise is good and every time you do it you give the dog a treat. Your dog will here this noise and come happily to you every time you do it. Calm happy and stressfree because the noise means good things. When your dog is doing something you dont like kissy noise and dog comes to you bad behaviour stops everyone is calm happy and stress free- way better than stressing the dog out with a negtive telling off noise but same outcome

OverFedStanley Mon 18-Mar-19 15:35:04

omg I am ashamed here obviously means hear!!! blush

missbattenburg Mon 18-Mar-19 15:40:15

It is an interesting point about a verbal warning because I would argue that - in the way most humans use it - it is not a warning at all.

To be a warning, surely there needs to be a foundation experience/knowledge that the noise is followed by something unpleasant. That seems to be the point of a warning.

With other humans this works because we can explain that the unpleasant thing will follow "if you do that one more time I will leave". But you cannot explain this to dogs so would need to show it - which basically means a few repetitions of making the warning nose and following it with the unpleasant thing. If you haven't done this, then the dog doesn't know the noise precedes the aversive, so (if it works) the noise must BE the aversive, not a warning at all.

steppemum Mon 18-Mar-19 15:56:36

Ok, we mean different things by leave it.
I mean that the same as Drop, which is they drop what is in their mouth. But no instruction should ever be used at a shout, it is a calm instruction. I don't mean the that when they get vaguely near something you shout leave it to get them to avoid it. That has always seemed to me to be meaningless
The same as you use to get them to drop the ball they are bringing back etc.
I do use it if he is trying to eat something, as then it is already in his mouth.

and I guess we mean different things by the warning too. That was probably the wrong word to use. What I mean is really - look at me, so you can give the next instruction. But it is something that I use when he is going off track, so I can put him back on track.

When I go AH he always pauses an looks at me and then he gets the instruction and if he doesn't it, he gets a treat.

missbattenburg Mon 18-Mar-19 16:12:35

What I mean is really - look at me, so you can give the next instruction.

Ah, this makes perfect sense and sounds like it works well.

I also use "leave" on a walk. In the same tone as every other cue. I suspect Battendog understands it to mean 'if you stop what you are doing and come straight to me, you can have a treat' but the result is the same.

If he already had something I needed to take off him we have "thank you" which we have practised to mean 'let go and I will give you something much better' - even if it is exactly the same thing (ball) but now flying through the air which is fun times!

Doggydoggydoggy Mon 18-Mar-19 16:51:45

I think it depends on how sensitive the dog is and how harshly you correct really.

I don’t agree with never disciplining.
Literally no animal lives by ‘reward good, ignore bad’.
They ALL discipline ‘bad’ behaviour.
Even tiny creatures like ants have been filmed discipling misbehaving ants!

Some dogs wilt at a stern look, others barely register a sharp leash correction.

It has to be geared to suit the individual dog.

I have no hesitation in telling my dog off whatsoever.
Apart from other dogs (she is dog aggressive) I have no real problems.

Since telling her off for nastiness with other dogs she is getting better.
Not cured, but much better.
Make of that what you will.

It does go against current behavioural advice but I am firmly in camp praise + discipline.

NicoAndTheNiners Mon 18-Mar-19 16:58:23

I think I'm lucky that my dog is very tuned into me, wants to please me and seems quite clever.

She has perfect recall, walks to heel and sits on command. She also seems to understand "no" and very importantly "get down that end of the bed". grin. But I've never shouted no at her, don't think I have. But I was calmly firm with her when she was a puppy.

I've never done the yanking on a lead method of training. Saw a dog trainer with a previous dog who did this and we never returned. Found a nice positive reward based trainer instead.

NicoAndTheNiners Mon 18-Mar-19 17:00:38

I think tone of voice is more important than volume.

Friend of mine has a badly behaved dog and when it's running amok she's chasing it screeching the dogs name and "no". But in such a tone of voice that I'm sure the dog thinks the owner is joining in and having fun and it just revs the dog up. Dog never realises it's getting a bollocking and carries on.

Nesssie Mon 18-Mar-19 17:02:28

Doggydoggydoggy I agree. I got told that saying 'no' and disciplining is useless/harmful etc But surely if you catch your dog in the act of going through the bin/chewing a chair leg etc, then telling off in that exact moment is much more effective than going to get a rope toy to redirect the chewing etc etc?

adaline Mon 18-Mar-19 17:02:50

I definitely agree that environmental management is important. So if you have a dog that steals food, don't give them the opportunity. Baby gates are great to stop dogs getting into the kitchen or into the dining area while you eat.

We also use a house line to manage unwanted indoor behaviour - so to stop him jumping at guests or at the table. He now sits on the sofa while we eat without us needing to use the house line. We also use it when guests arrive so he can calm down before greeting them.

Much better to stop the behaviour than to have to try and calm a hyper dog!

Doggydoggydoggy Mon 18-Mar-19 17:17:36

I think so nessie

I cringe when I hear of people for example, shouting at getting home and finding the chair chewed because by that time, the dog has no idea.
So discipline at that point is at best confusing and at worse cruel.

But seeing the dog with teeth on the chair?
A sharp NO! or AH! or whatever right at that exact moment of mischief I think it’s fine then immediate forgiveness, no grudges.

Doggydoggydoggy Mon 18-Mar-19 17:19:36

And also, using the toy to redirect example, some dogs can learn to be naughty in order to deliberately get the reward.

Eg put teeth on chair then I get tuggy or hop on sofa then hop off for my biscuit.

OverFedStanley Mon 18-Mar-19 17:28:52

Nessie the point to remember is that telling off may stop the behaviour at that time. So yelling No will stop the dog raiding the bin at the time you yell at the dog


The dog does not learn what he should do instead so the dog will still raid the bin probably when you are not in the room, because he has learnt it is dangerous to raid the bin when you are around.

The dog will still raid the bin.

I would redirect from the situations you suggest then control and manage, think what an idiot I have been to leave the bin out - just remove the bin or get a dog proof bin! Life is too short

I would love to see evidence of ant disciplining each other! Again this is a human viewpoint.

OverFedStanley Mon 18-Mar-19 17:33:29

doggydoggydoggy I would love to know who your postive trainer was as they have given you some very basic views and made rookie errors in what they have told you.

Eg put teeth on chair then I get tuggy or hop on sofa then hop off for my biscuit

If a dog I was training put his teeth on a chair I would ask for another behaviour and reward that with a tuggy -so ignore the bad and reward the good)

Teeth on chair I would ask for a down and reward reward. Then release ask for down and reward the down. It is very clear to the dog the reward is for the asked behaviour.

If dog jumped off sofa no reward ignore, If I asked dog to jump off sofa reward. I would then reward for being in a down on the floor off the sofa

Babygrey7 Mon 18-Mar-19 17:34:23

It depends on the dog breed maybe?

I did puppy training with my greyhound-cross, she got very scared and nervous from all the shouting

If I tell her off gently (asking "do you think you have been a good girl? Hmmm?) She will already feel excruciatingly embarrassed. Shouting would just frighten her.

But I have seen people with gundogs, whose dogs can take any kind of bollocking.

It depends on the breed I think. My mum's lurcher ran away from home when she was scolded once (jumped in the van with a builder) grin

Doggydoggydoggy Mon 18-Mar-19 17:37:00

overfed I’m not following.
What views are you referring to?

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