Your Dog Training Questions: How Can I Let My Puppy Know When Behavior Is Bad?

I’ve said time and time again that you need to be a leader to your puppy for him to understand what kind of behavior you expect. But how do you communicate this to a puppy? After all, you can’t reason with your puppy. But don’t worry, because it’s not as hard as you think.

Your Question:

You’ve said before that you can’t scold a puppy. So, if I can’t scold the puppy, what do I do?

– Jennifer

My Answer:

To potty train your puppy correctly, you must be proactive and not reactive. What this means is you must take the time to do what needs to be done so your puppy has NO accidents. It won’t be enough for you to react negatively to every accident for your puppy to understand what you want.

Part of the reason for this is that dogs have very short attention spans. Puppies and dogs only have a 1 to 1.5 second window of opportunity after they take an action for you to be able to praise or correct them effectively. After that short window, they will simply be unable to understand what you are trying to tell them. They will literally be clueless to what they did a few seconds before and therefore won’t understand why they are being praised or told “no.” Knowing this, you can understand how confusing this must be for a dog.

It’s important to understand this about dogs: even if you can catch them in the act, scolding just won’t work. The only way for your puppy to succeed is to set them up for success. A regular schedule of feeding, exercise and trips outside is how you accomplish this.

Jim’s  Nose to Tail Puppy Training is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your puppy understands what you expect of him because you know how to teach him.  You empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.  The result – one awesome puppy and one happy family.

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

What’s YOUR dog training question?
Use the comments below to ask .

2 replies
  1. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:


    Most all dog problems are stress related. Stress in dogs results from feelings of anxiety, insecurity and tension. Perhaps there is not enough structure, routine, leadership, training and exercise in your dog’s life to provide him a stress-free environment/lifestyle. Understanding stress as it relates to your dog problem is too complex to guess at without an extensive sit-down evaluation.

    This issue needs to be addressed sooner than later though, so you might want to consider giving us a call to set up a private lesson set so that I can adequately evaluate and recommend a solution based on your dog, your home and your family.

  2. Elizabeth Milner
    Elizabeth Milner says:

    I have a new dog, 2-3 years old, that we just adopted from the pound. He’s very sweet, however, he’s been showing aggression toward my seven year old son. Twice the dog has snapped at his face when he’s done nothing but sit there. I don’t want to give this animal up since we literally saved him from being euthanized, but I can’t have a dog who’s a threat to my child. I also have a 13 month old baby boy and I’m afraid that the dog may get aggressive with him too. What can we do to ease this animal’s attitude toward my kids? Please help!

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