Starting Discipline Early

Nobody likes to be considered a jerk, but when it comes to a well-behaved dog, sometimes you have to accept the fact that “nice guys finish last.”

If it was as easy to simply train each dog through treats, everyone would do it, and there would be no dog trainers around. However, I can tell you from 20 years of experience, every dog, regardless of breed, requires some sort of discipline. This being said, I recommend some corrections early in the puppy process.

Now that does not mean to get your puppy home and start disciplining with a leash and choke chain right away. In fact, my theory is, “let a puppy, be a puppy.” What it does mean is establish some ground rules right away. Begin by making your young pup wear a collar right away. Most pups don’t like them, but with time will slowly get used to it. This will enable you to put some sort of a leash or check cord on at an early age, which will enable you to start with some light leash corrections.

When the puppy gets used to your home environment, quickly begin to eliminate behaviors that may seem alright now, but as the pup grows, will turn into an unwanted behavior. Choose certain behaviors that you will not desire in the future, and set the tone right away. Let’s discuss two of the more common unwanted behaviors: barking and jumping up.

Putting a collar on right away will allow a new dog owner a way to establish ground rules.

Barking is something that nobody likes and it sounds so cute when they are young puppies. Keep in mind that this cute noise that a young pup makes quickly turns into that annoying bark that everyone hates.

The key to avoiding this habit is to address this early behavior with discipline. Respond to these early noises with something the pup does not like. A spray bottle with cold water is a great starting point. The key is consistency with this action to be effective.

If this negative action is not getting the response you need, and the pup continues to bark, you have to “up the ante” and start to increase the level of discipline. Do whatever it takes to eliminate the behavior, but make sure to show the dog affection after the discipline. This will help the pup realize that you are not mad at it directly, but upset with the behavior, which is the yapping.

As far as jumping is concerned, once again it is important to realize that this cute puppy trying to get your attention, will soon be that adult dog that is getting your pants dirty. Address this behavior early and give the pup a light knee down. If this does not work slowly increase the bonk down until the pup realizes that you are consistent in your actions. To speed up this process, invite the dog to jump up and give a correction immediately. It also important to show the dog affection after this so the dog understands it is the jumping you dislike, not the pup.

If your dog is an inside dog, another unwanted behavior is going “potty” in the house. I always recommend crate training during this process, which means keep the puppy in a crate when you don’t have your eyes on it. Let the pup outside immediately after taking it out of the crate and create a word for going to the bathroom. Praise the dog after the business is done, which will reward this outside activity.

Crating a puppy is still the best way to help the potty training process.

Mistakes will obviously take place and if the pup happens to go potty inside start immediate discipline by simply raising your voice and take your dog to the area that the accident happened. Repeat the word, “No,” and take the pup to the door and repeat your “potty outside” word. If the accidents continue, raise your voice and begin some sort of discipline to put a little nervousness into the dog. A common practice is to rub the dog’s nose in the area of the accident. Again, depending on the dog will depend on the amount of discipline. The key here is the consistency of the discipline. Every mess the pup makes should result in a correction.

Remember when I say, “It is OK to correct a young dog.” The earlier you start, the less bad habits will form. Keep in mind it is also important to give the dog positive reinforcement for good behaviors. However, if you have to discipline your pup, don’t feel bad. Giving affection after each correction will help show puppies that it is the behavior that you do not like, and not the dog. A well-mannered pup will be a more enjoyable dog in the future!

Shop The Sportsman’s Guide for a great selection of Dog Supplies/Training Aids!

Jason Dommeyer has a lifetime of hunting experience and 20 years experience as a dog trainer. He has turned many pets into expert hunting dogs at Cannon River Kennels ( In addition to training hundreds of hunting companions, he has trained dogs for premier pheasant hunting lodges in South Dakota along with duck hunting lodges in Mississippi and Mexico. His experience also includes both hunting and guiding for upland and waterfowl game from Canada to South America. If you have any questions, Jason can be reached at 507-663-6143 or visit ( He provides dog training tips twice a month.


Leave a Reply

Commenting Policy - We encourage open expression of your thoughts and ideas. But there are a few rules:

No abusive comments, threats, or personal attacks. Use clean language. No discussion of illegal activity. Racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally hateful comments are not tolerated. Keep comments on topic. Please don't spam.

While we reserve the right to remove or modify comments at our sole discretion, the Sportsman's Guide does not bear any responsibility for user comments. The views expressed within the comment section do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of The Sportsman's Guide.