Puppies of all breeds come equipped with a dangerous weapon: cuteness. Sure, Dobie's adorable puppy eyes and delightful antics secured him a home with you, but you can't let his charm stand in the way of discipline if he exhibits dominant behavior. Proper discipline teaches your pup who's in charge.
Train Him Like Mom Would
Before Dobie came to live with you, his mother took care of putting him in his place. Within the family unit of mother and pups, she established herself as alpha by correcting her puppies and schooling them on proper submissive behavior in relation to the leader of the pack. Mom would do this with a warning growl or snapping at overly eager, dominant pups. An example of putting a mother's techniques to use could be in the case of a puppy who likes to jump up. Firmly, but not violently, push him down and tell him "no" in a strong tone of voice. If he jumps up again, gently take him by the scruff of the neck and guide him down, repeating the command "no!" in a firm voice. Look Dobie in the eye when you tell him "no", holding the eye contact until he looks away.
Dobie craves your attention and will do almost anything to get it, even if it is negative attention obtained by displaying dominant behavior. That's why timeout is a disciplinary action that works well with puppies. When your baby acts out in a dominant or aggressive manner, walk away from him. Ignore him until he settles down and conducts himself in a calm, acceptable manner. Reward positive behavior and lavish attention on him when he acts appropriately. In the article "Dog Training: Positive Reinforcement vs. Alpha Dog Methods," Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, trainer of the Obama's dog, Bo, advises that you should only greet your pup when he is sitting and acting respectfully toward you, and withhold attention if he is misbehaving.
Reprimand Then Distract
When Dobie tries to act dominant, reprimand him and then distract him by encouraging him to act appropriately. This technique takes a step from mother dog's playbook, as you'll want to interrupt inappropriate behavior with a firm verbal command: "No!" For instance, if your puppy tries to chew on your hands or toes, tell him "no" in a strong voice, then give him one of his toys to chew on.
Be Firm, Be Consistent
Sometimes it's tempting to make allowances and suspend the rules, but doing so will only undermine your authority in Dobie's eyes. And if everyone in the family isn't on board with your puppy's training, that will cause confusion, too. Always be firm when correcting your headstrong pup and instruct the rest of the household to do the same. Agree ahead of time which behaviors are appropriate, which are not and how situations should be handled when Dobie acts out. If even just one member of the family doesn't uphold the training that the rest of you give your puppy, he'll be confused as to what behaviors are acceptable and will disregard commands that don't fit in with his agenda.
- Adopting a Dog; John Ross and Barbara McKinney
- DogChannel: Preventing Boxer Puppy Problems
- Web MD: Dog Training: Positive Reinforcement vs. Alpha Dog Methods
- University of Florida Interactive Media Lab: Two Conflicting Training Methods
- Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training; Steve Lindsay
- Akita, Treasure of Japan; Barbara Bouyet
- Jupiterimages/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images
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