So you just brought home your cute, fluffy bundle of joy. It’s all fun and games until you realize how sharp those teeth are or how very often your puppy has to go potty!
We have hit some of the basics of training in other blog posts, elaborating on doodle behavior stages, but let’s explore the topic of discipline more in depth, as well as troubleshooting some common complaints from doodle owners.
It is important to let your dog know when you are displeased with something he is doing so that he can learn proper manners and be a positive addition to your family.
Know How Sensitive Your Doodle is Before You Verbally Punish or Discipline Him
First of all, you need to get to know your particular dog. Many doodles are sensitive and
intuitive by nature (thanks to their Poodle heritage) so they would be overwhelmed by harsh
correction. If your dog startles easily to loud noises and/or lays down or rolls on back when
scolded, then he is a sensitive soul and light, quick verbal correction is likely enough to teach
him to be well-behaved.
Goldendoodles and Labradoodles in particular tend to be very eager to please so a short “no” or other negative marker may be effective. Sensitive dogs often respond well to positive reinforcement and simply “ignoring” any unwanted behavior. For example, if your dog jumps to get your attention, simply turn the other way and completely ignore your pup. When your dog settles and/or sits, then reward with praise and affection!
Some doodle breeds may have inherited a little more stubbornness from their “other” parent. Bernedoodles and other working breeds are known to have a little more of a “what’s in it for me?” attitude when it comes to training.
Herding breeds such an Aussiedoodle or Sheepadoodle are very intelligent and trainable but can also present an extra discipline challenge simply because of their high drive and energy.
Returning to the case of unwanted jumping, a more stubborn or even more zealous dog may
continue jumping over and over again despite being ignored. In this case you may need to up the ante by moving your dog to a different room or otherwise physically separating yourself from him until he settles, and you can try again.
It will also likely take more than one try! But be consistent. If you firmly separate your dog each and every time he jumps on you, even the most stubborn pup will learn that he can only be with you when he has all four paws on the ground!
While we mentioned a few broad breed differences, each individual dog has their own
personality so pay attention to his cues and body language more so than breed description.
We always recommend starting with the most gentle form of correction. If you have tried a gentle verbal correction a few times and it seems to be having no effect, then it makes sense to move on to other stronger forms of discipline.
Lightly Scolding / Verbally Punishing Your Doodle in the Moment Works Best
Timing is everything when it comes to disciplining a dog. Many popular older methods of training a doodle used harsh physical punishment and/or punishment after the fact (i.e. rubbing a dog’s nose in a potty accident).
Recent research has shown dogs live in the present moment and as such a quick, gentle correction in the moment will be significantly more effective than a harsher punishment after the fact. When it comes to house training, it is very important that you catch your dog right as he or she begins to squat in the house.
Finding the accident even a minute later is too late for your pup to make the clear connection to the unwanted behavior. When you do catch your dog doing something in the moment, a “startle correction” is often beneficial to get his attention. Yelling or screaming at your dog is unnecessary. As mentioned previously, some more sensitive dogs will respond to any type of negative verbal command.
But if your doodle is a little more resistant, then a louder correction may be helpful. An example would be clapping your hands loudly while saying a stern “No!” The idea is not to frighten your dog, but to immediately grab his attention and give a slight startle. If your dog cowers, then the correction was too strong. Catching your dog in the moment is highly effective. Even better is anticipating his next move!
Take counter-surfing as an example. Even if you catch your dog right as he jumps up, you may actually be a hair too late. Particularly if you are saying “No!” right as your dog is swallowing the piece of chicken he snatched as he is simultaneously being corrected and rewarded.
If you have a doodle with a counter-surfing problem, carefully watching him for the moment
right as he eyes the counter just before jumping is actually the prime time to correct him. In
some particularly challenging cases, shaking coins in a tin can, banging a pan or an otherwise loud/sudden sound may help if your dog seems to not be responding to other gentler attempts at correction.
Finally, it is important to not only correct, but also to redirect your doodle. For example, your
dog may learn to not jump on you more quickly if you give him something to do when he wants your attention such as placing him in a “sit” command or having him retrieve a favorite toy for you. Always remember that dogs act on instinct and simply do what comes naturally to them.
Your dog may realize you are not fond of him jumping on you, but unless you give him another task to perform, he may not know what to do with his excited energy! The same is true when it comes to other unwanted behaviors such as play-biting, chewing and barking.
For example if your dog is barking at a cat out the window—yelling at him will not do much
good- he may not even hear you anyways. A better tactic would be to get in front of him,
physically blocking his view of the cat (or other stimulus) as much as possible while attempting to redirect his attention to you.
Having him perform a “sit” or other command for a treat may be the distraction and redirection he needs to avoid fixating on the cat. We often recommend teaching your doodle a simple “look at me” command where he is rewarded with a treat for turning his gaze and attention to you. This ensures that he can be easily redirected even on walks or other extra-exciting situations.
In conclusion, we recommend knowing your individual dog and starting with gentle, but
consistent corrections. Some dogs respond well to simply ignoring negative behaviors and
rewarding positive ones. Other dogs may need a firmer correction that grabs their attention.
Make sure you are timing your corrections at the exact moment of your dog’s negative
And finally, redirect your dog by giving him a positive behavior he can perform to
replace the misbehavior. We hope these tips help get you off on the right track with your new pup! If you're looking to take in a pre-trained doodle, we offer 4-week, 8-week and 12-week training programs.
Jenna and the JLDD Team