dog discipline

It seems that dogs may have evolved from wolves and at some point developed a close relationship with man. When they began to live together man would have benefited from dogs in several ways. Perhaps one was that dogs, through superior hearing and smell, could have provided early warning of invaders either man or beast. I’m sure this was a very valuable to man and is why dogs to this day bark at intruders friend or foe.

So here’s my question: Is it ethical to yell at or discipline a dog because they are barking when someone or something comes into its territory? Aren’t they just doing their job and isn’t this a genetic trait that is part of your dogs character? It seems different to me than teaching them not to eat off the table and go to the bathroom in the house.

Ethics aside, it’s pretty pointless to yell. Dogs interpret your yelling as you joining with them in sounding the alarm (just like dogs in a pack all join in the barking). So the dog thinks it’s doing the right thing. Most dog trainers will tell you that the cycle of dog barking, human yelling, dog barking again, human yelling again, … is a pointless & unproductive loop. (But a very common one.)


For male dogs, urinating on trees, furniture, carpets, etc. is scent marking their territory, and an important instinct. Yet we train them not to do it.

Savagely attacking intruders who come into their territory is also an instinct, yet we train them not to do it, so as to avoid trouble with the postal carrier.

Most of the ‘training’ we do to animals is adapting or overriding their genetic instincts. But we do it, in order for their species to live in harmony with ours.

It’s a genetic trait for babies to cry loudly, isn’t it? But as soon as possible, we teach them to ask for what they want, :slight_smile: instead of cry (crying when hurt doesn’t count).

But what you (or the owner, whoever) want to do with the dog/pup is to train it when to bark and when to keep quiet. I’d start with the Canine Good Citizen classes at a dog obedience class near you. In many places, these are held in school gymnasiums, armories, and other such places with large rooms. A dog with a CGC certificate (regularly scheduled testing is available everywhere there are obedience classes) is welcome almost anywhere.

You can see CGC testing, as well as lots of other useful and/or interesting stuff at a Responsible Dog Ownership Day, which will be September 17th.

Here’s a

from the page describing Responsible Dog Ownership Day. The page offers a search function to find the one nearest you.