AYWYP: Week 24 – Disobedient dogs

What to do when your dog is disobedient?

Each week I start to plan my posts before I sit down to write them. This week, knowing that I intended to write about, I thought I would do a video of me telling off my puppy for being disobedient. Bad dog! Something like this one:

Bad dogs!

However, there is a fundamental flaw with telling your dog off. They do NOT understand the concept of ‘being naughty’.

What does your dog understand?

Your dog understands when you ask them to do something, if you are clear and consistent. For example, if you say ‘sit’ they should sit. Or they should go into a down on command, as discussed last week. But imagine saying to your dog “Now I’m just off upstairs and I’m leaving this food item on the side, so don’t eat it, OK?” What will they get from that? Hmm.

Likewise, if you say to your dog “Why did you eat that food I left on the side? You know it wasn’t your food!” Can you honestly think that your dog will grasp your meaning?

disobedient puppy
Not guilty

Dogs will listen to you going ‘blah blah blah’ and not take much notice. Unless you say their name. Or ‘biscuit’. Or ‘sausage’. They are good at picking out key words. Research has shown that dogs understand around 200 words. Pretty clever. But we say around 5000 words PER DAY! Well, women do anyway.

Body language

What dogs are really good at understanding is body language. If you have a deaf dog, as many people with elderly dogs do have (or if you have a dog with white hair, such as a Dalmatian) you can teach it sign language relatively easily. This is mainly because dogs really focus on how we are moving and pick up on subtle cues and expressions.

Amazingly, dogs are able to read our facial expressions, even though their own expressions can look very different. They know what our angry face looks like and how we become tense, making ourselves tall and threatening. They react to that, cowering away in fear.

Canine body language poster from Lili Chin at doggiedrawings.net
What do dogs say?

Try taking the time to understand what your dog is saying to you. Looking at the chart above, can you see where it says ‘your dog is lying to you’? Or the picture of the dog planning something naughty? Have you heard about the dog that that is unkind? No.

Dogs are not mean!

The reason we love dogs so much is because they are pretty straightforward creatures. Your dog will not try and annoy you. Their goal in life is to please you, so that you will feed them, fuss them and keep them company. If a dog is aggressive, it is nearly always afraid.

Quick quiz for you

After all that, when do you think you should punish your dog? Here’s a quick quiz for you:

handling disobedient dogs

One more thing: please sign the petition to ban prong collars?

Weekly Focus Challenge

When has your dog been disobedient?  What did you do?  Could you have done things differently? How might you handle the situation next time? Have you done the quiz?

Please share your thoughts and a photo? You can do this in the AYWYP Facebook group, or buy the workbook to keep your own record. Details below.

Buy the Workbook

The Workbook – A Year With Your Puppy is available to buy. It was written and designed to be a hands-on, interactive book for you. It will help you survive the first year with your puppy, but also act as a memento of that time and the journey you have been on. You can write notes and stick in pictures of your puppy throughout the year. Lovely!


Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.  If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME, by filling in your email address below?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.


NB: I am not a dog trainer, or a dog behaviourist, just a dog breeder and owner. I can only offer my opinion, based on my experience.

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