How to Discipline a Dog – 5 Reliable Steps to Follow Today

How many times have you tried to train your dog to pick up a certain behavior, but in the end, it was unsuccessful? Found your house with damaged furniture and water spilled all over the floor?

In this post, we will encourage you to overcome all these bad memories and become a successful dog parent. Follow the steps that we will show you, and you will never again wonder how to discipline a dog!

Let’s dive in!

How to Discipline Your Dog – The Right Mindset

We have good news for you! All dogs do all kinds of naughty things repeatedly when they are young.

After all, we need to realize that we did nasty things when we were little as well. In the earliest period of our life, we didn’t know the difference between things we should and shouldn’t do either!

The same goes for dogs, of course. That’s why it is important to remember that discipline takes time and that patience is key.

The younger your dog is, the easier it will be to train them to behave. However, keep in mind that the tips we are going to show you work for both adult dogs and puppies. They may just take a bit more time and effort.

First, let’s cover an interesting question that we see people asking quite often:

Male vs. Female Dogs – Is There a Difference When It Comes to Discipline?

Believe it or not, the sex of the dog significantly affects the ease of discipline!

In general, males require a more energetic approach. They tend to prove territorial independence and enjoy playing and spending more energy.

In contrast to males, female dogs are calmer and often more easily disciplined. They are more loyal to the owner but require more care and attention.

However, this can still largely differ for different dogs. As long as you perform the best possible socialization process and discipline your dog from an early age, the sex won’t matter much in this sense.

Now that we got that out of the way, we are starting with the first step.

Step #1 – Discipline Your Dog at the Right Time

Training your dog as a puppy.

Dogs learn from the early stage of their life. Their attention span is continually growing.

The ideal period to start training is the 7th week of age. During this period, the accent should be on basic commands, such as:

  • learning their name and responding when you call them,
  • understanding the meaning of no,
  • becoming comfortable with you touching their paws and ears, etc.

Introducing your dog to simple commands early on with get their brains working and set a good foundation for later training.

Also, keep in mind that every dog has different nature of understanding. Not all dogs are born the same, and some are simply less intelligent than others. However, with proper training, we believe that every dog can learn to behave nicely.

It is vital to continually train your dog for at least 10-15 minutes each day during the first few months of their life. Developing good habits will make the transition into the adolescent period effortless.

The adolescent period starts from the 6th month of their life. In this period, dog parents should begin to reinforce previously learned commands and work more on socializing in various public areas.

Quick Tip for Puppies – The Crate Technique

The chances are – your dog will have a crate in your home. There are numerous benefits of crate training and having one for your puppy is a must!

One of the most useful techniques you can try implementing daily after the 7th week of age is the crate technique. It’s a method for helping your dog overcome separation anxiety and familiarizing them with their new home.

It is also incredibly simple:

  • Isolate your dog in their crate and close the door for 5 minutes.
  • Take note of the way your dog behaves. Some noise making and attention-seeking are normal. Stay strong and ignore the urge to let your dog out right away!
  • Once the five minutes are gone, open the crate door and reward them. Set aside some playtime after the crate isolation.
  • Slowly increase the time in the crate each day until your dog is fully comfortable with spending time in it.

This simple technique is useful long-term, especially if you spend a lot of time outside the house. However, you need to be aware that it is not the greatest idea to leave your dog home alone most of the time.

Step #2 – Spend More Time with Your Dog

Spend more time with your dog.

We will give you a shocking stat:

Every fifth dog parent is spending less than 30 minutes each week with their dog!

This mistake can lead to serious problems with your dog’s moods. Consequences could be the following:

  • Your dog is often upset and angry.
  • You sense that you are starting to neglect your dog.
  • You see that your dog is developing unusual stubbornness and is losing the will to play.

How to prevent or fix this sort of issue?

We know that time management is hard. However, your dog is your family, and you have to set aside time for bonding activities.

For starters, set up a dog schedule. Take your dog outside for a walk. For example, going to the dog park can help your dog socialize and get out of their daily routine.

In general, outside activities will boost your dog’s brain through activities such as discovering new places and learning new behavior patterns like:

  • exploring new areas around the neighborhood,
  • learn new commands with their favorite toy,
  • meeting new dogs and socializing, etc.

Dog Schedule Example

If you need an example, we will share a dog schedule we created a while back, which can work even if you don’t have as much time for your dog as you would like during the workdays.

This is just a rough schedule for people who work a 9-to-5 job. It’s not ideal, but it will help you understand the main idea of better managing your time with your dog.

  • 7 AM – Wake up and take a quick 15-minute walk with your dog. When you get back inside, set aside 5 minutes for a brief playtime. 
  • 8.30 AM – Let the dog inside the crate before you leave the house. Leave their favorite toy inside and fill their water bowl with enough water for 4-8 hours.
  • 5.30 PM – Your dog is anxious to get outside! Grab a few toys and a leash and do a one-hour training session. You will feel the fresh air and exercise doing you good too!
  • 6.30 PM – When you are both exhausted, get back inside and feed your dog. A big, nutritious meal will help them restore the energy you two spent outside.
  • 9 PM – Take the last walk of the day, which should last at least 20 minutes.
  • 10 PM – By now, both your dog and you are probably getting pretty tired. It’s bedtime, and tomorrow is a new day.

Step #3- Use Training Time Effectively

Use training time effectively.

Be assured that your puppy has quite a limited attention span, just like a toddler. What you need to do is adapt to the way your little buddy’s brain works.

Challenge yourself, and try to use less than 25 minutes at a time to teach your puppy a new command. Doing this will significantly improve your training skills and creativity.

Also, keep in mind that multitasking is not your dog’s strength. Mixing different commands in the same training session will most likely confuse the puppy.

The 5-by-5 Formula

Here is a simple method we have developed that can help make training easy and efficient!

For every basic command you two are trying to learn, try the 5-by-5 formula: five quick learning sessions lasting five minutes each.

The basic commands are respectively:

  • sit,
  • lie,
  • heel,
  • come,
  • and stay.

Always pronounce the command clearly, and in the same manner. You don’t want to confuse your little friend.

Whenever you say a command, do everything in exactly the same order. For example, show your index finger and say sit down. It is important not to forget any of these steps, which could lead to confusion and make training even more difficult.

Now, here is a quick overview of how to train your dog through an example of one particular command.

How to Teach Your Dog to Sit Instantly (5 steps)

Most importantly, try to practice this step indoors, at least for a few starting sessions. Your dog’s attention gets easily divided in busy areas with lots of distractions.

  1. Stand in front of your dog.
  2. Move their favorite snack slightly in front of their eyes to the top of their head and say sit clearly while using your index finger.
  3. If the dog successfully sits, give them the treat and pet them. Also, you can add another type of reward by saying Good boy/girl! out loud while you are petting them. It’s all about building patterns that your dog will learn to love!
  4. Take one step back and repeat the first two steps several times (as long as your dog is engaging fully in training).

Let’s keep going with our next step!

Step #4 – Be Aware of Your Role!

Teaching a dog to give a paw.

Most dog parents underestimate their position and forget that they play a vital role in the proper development of their puppy.

Why is that?

We should know exactly what we expect from our dog. We also need to be able to build a reliable system of rewarding our dog for good behaviors and overcome the fear of letting our dog know when they do something wrong. Failing to do so could be a problem if you want your dog to be more obedient.

In other words, there is a problem if the dog thinks he is the leader of the pack. He will become stubborn, reject training, and will, at one point, become borderline impossible to discipline.

Therefore, you need to practice with your dog repeatedly and build the correct patterns from the early days. It’s a learning experience for you, as well as your dog!

If you are limited on time, then enrolling in some training programs isn’t a bad idea. Keep in mind that this way, you will miss out on developing those crucial habits that we talked about before.

However, combining professional training with a consistent routine at home is the best thing you can do for your dog.

Here is a surprising stat: studies show that only 4 percent of dogs in America take discipline classes!

The average cost of the classes is around $50 an hour. The average cost range per week is about $400. The typical course takes approximately 4 to 9 weeks, depending on intensity.

If you can afford professional help, it is a great way to go about discipline.

Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.

Step #5 – Stop Using Aggressive Training Methods

Using reward based training for dogs.

Being aggressive (or even physical) with your dog should never be an option! Instead of yelling at your dog, try to understand their behavior and approach the training calmly and patiently.

Especially when they are little, dogs are little balls full of energy that you need to channel properly.

It would help if you awarded the good behaviors instead of punishing the bad ones. Doing this will make your dog learn how to respect the rules and build the correct habits from the beginning.

Once you start noticing results in your dog’s behavior, let your friend know that you are proud of them through playing, petting, and giving them a treat or two! It will improve your relationship since dogs generally love to make you happy whenever they can.

The Difference Between Aversive and Reward-Based Learning Methods

The aversive learning method consists of creating fear and pain to make your dog develop certain behavior patterns. It consists of the following actions:

  • aggressive sounds (for example, yelling at the dog);
  • physical corrections (hitting the dog, pulling the lead, etc.);
  • using aversive training tools (shock collars, prong collars, etc.)

You can quickly realize why such an approach can never be a good thing, and it could even make the dog start to see its owner as a threat.

On the other hand, as the name states, reward-based training involves giving a reward. Usually, it is the best way to establish a positive relationship and build trust over time.

For example, you can use your puppy’s favorite food as a reward. It’ll boost motivation and help build patterns faster.

However, be very careful with the training intensity! We shouldn’t expose puppies to too much stress, be it physical fatigue or mental exhaustion.

For that reason, both learning methods become bad options if we use them incorrectly.


Learn how to discipline a dog isn’t a hard thing, as long as you develop a plan and stick to it. Try to understand the way your puppy thinks and the things they appreciate. You will discover a better approach to raising a dog full of trust and love.

Now, we would like to hear from you. Which of the steps above do you think are the most important and effective?

Please leave your comments below right away!