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.
(C) Jim Burwell 2010

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