How to Discipline a Pet Properly

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Training a puppy may seem easy. In reality, it requires focus, consistency, and patience. Here are a few tips for disciplining a pet that may prove useful.

If you've never trained a puppy before, you're in for a treat.

With those bright dark eyes on you and a tail wagging like mad, your new little pet will be a lot of fun to work with. And how gratifying when it learns to obey your commands and respect authority. Disciplining your puppy becomes a matter of course with results that both animals and humans can expect.

But the other side of the discipline coin is the hard work that will be needed to achieve these results. Puppies, like children, require consistency. You can't train them one day and ignore them the next. You have to do it on a regular basis. Here are some guidelines to get you started down the road to an obedient pet with a satisfied master:

1. Set up a training schedule.

Start while your puppy is still young, perhaps six to eight weeks old. Aim for fifteen minutes twice a day, about the same time each day, like after the morning and evening feedings.

2. Choose a disciplinary method and stay with it.

Using a newspaper to tap your puppy's nose when he makes a mistake is effective; so is using a water bottle to spray him. Some owners opt for a simple verbal response: "No!" "Stop!" "Heel!" These are followed by pushing the puppy out of the offensive posture, such as squatting to urinate or chewing on a sock. Be consistent with whatever you choose.

3. Teach the puppy one thing at a time.

Be sure that trick or habit is completely mastered before starting another one. It may take several weeks before the puppy knows what is expected and delivers the desired behavior faithfully.

4. Discipline through rewards,

too. Discipline does not mean only punishment. Discipline means a training that leads to the desired outcome. When your puppy performs as expected, reward him with words of praise:

"Good boy!"

"Good puppy!"

You may want to toss him a doggy snack as well. Be sure to do this the first several times your puppy does what you tell him, and intermittently thereafter. Positive reinforcement is an effective way to discipline a pet.

5. Have one family member be responsible for training and discipline.

If more than one person gets involved, your puppy may become confused. Still young yet, a puppy may not be able to discern differing voice intonations or even some word pronunciations if children are giving commands. Stick with one person, preferably an adult, who can get the animal conditioned and serve as the primary disciplinarian until your pet is well trained.

Getting a puppy can be fun for everyone. But training him requires serious effort. Ongoing discipline means a concerted commitment by at least one adult member of the family. Keep these guidelines in mind before getting a puppy, because if you can't follow through, you may end up with a sad puppy and unhappy owners.