13 Common Mistakes When Scolding Dogs

Dogs are intelligent animals and can understand when we’re angry with them, but sometimes we make critical mistakes when scolding them that can lead to behavioral problems.

Trying to correct our pooch with punishing behaviors will cause more harm than good by leading them down an unpredictable path of mistrust and confusion.

Therefore, we, as dog owners, need to be aware of mistakes we might make while scolding dogs.

In this article, we share 13 common mistakes when scolding dogs.

Using The Wrong Language

human hand scolding a white brown dog

Dogs cannot understand English, and being yelled at in a language they do not comprehend can be confusing and ineffective

Instead, it is important to use tones and body language to convey displeasure with behavior while rewarding desirable behaviors with affectionate praise.

The key is to be consistent and persistent when applying the desired messaging, no matter how far off base it may feel for us humans!

Your dog will likely learn what you want from them much more quickly if you use positive reinforcement training than if you continuously scold them using a foreign language.

Scolding Too Late

Dogs rely heavily on associative learning, meaning punishment and reward must be delivered soon after an action has been taken for behavior to be modified.

Scolding a dog too late is a mistake many pet owners make, as it can confuse the animal.

If an owner scolds their dog after the fact, the animal will struggle to understand why it is being reprimanded and may even begin to distrust its human.

Any discipline must be given promptly to ensure that your pup learns from its mistakes.

Be sure to calmly address undesired behaviors directly, and as they are happening so your pup can learn the right way.

You can have a well-behaved and trusting dog who understands expectations with consistent positive reinforcement and appropriate corrections.

Ignoring The Dog

little brown white puppy looking scared

Ignoring a dog when scolding them may seem like an effective method of discipline, but it can often be more damaging than helpful.

This type of response does not make the dog understand why the behavior was wrong and encourages them to act out because they receive no feedback.

This is especially true for younger dogs who are still learning the basics of obedience.

Acknowledging bad behaviors with a verbal reprimand or body language can show them more clearly what is unacceptable, rather than punishing one instance with all-over neglect.

Dogs require specific communication from humans in order to grasp what their desired behaviors are.

Overlooking this could breed confusion and frustration in both humans and dogs in important conversations regarding good behavior.

Not Being Consistent Across All Members Of The Family 

That’s a problem that needs to be rectified quickly.

Suppose one family member is consistently disciplining and taking action against negative behaviors while another allows adores or rewards the same behavior.

In that case, the dog can become confused and will likely have a hard time distinguishing right from wrong.

In addition, it can lead to frustration and resentment for both the pet and its owners, who will feel like nothing is ever accomplished no matter how hard they try.

Instead of hoping for different results with different people in the household, owners should strive to create completely consistent rules and boundaries in order to help their dogs learn what behaviors are appropriate and which ones are unacceptable.

Being Not Sure Why You Scold Your Dog

brown dog sitting in the kitchen getting scolded by a woman

One mistake many dog owners make when scolding their pets is not knowing why they are doing it.

This unclear messaging confuses a dog and can become irritating if it happens too often.

The owner needs to take a step back and think about what the dog did wrong because that knowledge can help shape the form of discipline used in the future.

Dogs crave consistency and understanding, so taking time to assess the problem, then calmly discussing it with your pup is key to displaying good leadership skills.

Connecting with your pet through positive reinforcement and clear communication will be much more effective than correcting them without explaining.

Not Having Fixed Rules

Another big mistake dog owner can make is a lack of consistency.

Dogs are intelligent and learn quickly, but they need consistency to truly understand what commands you expect them to learn.

If you allow your dog to do something wrong one day and then yell at them for it the next day, this sends confusing signals and doesn’t create any predictable pattern.

Occasionally enforcing rules can lead to a disorganized and erratic schedule that’s hard for your pup to keep up with.

So be sure to give them simple (and consistent!) instructions that will help lay the foundation for a better-behaved pooch.

Scold Them Too Much / Too Often

little brown puppy very scared

While it is important to establish boundaries with your pup and provide a sense of discipline, scolding them too much and too often can be a major mistake.

Not only will your furry friend start to associate negative things with you, but they may become desensitized to your commands if there is no variety in the form of healthy reinforcement.

Consider using positive reinforcement when needed, such as verbal praise or giving rewards like delicacies or toys when they perform tasks correctly.

Ultimately, it’s best to find the right balance between scolding and praising so that your pup feels secure while still having respect for you.

Putting Their Face In Urine Or Feces

Dog owners often make the mistake of putting their faces close to their pet’s urine or feces when scolding them.

Unfortunately, this can backfire.

Not only does it create a negative association between pet and owner, but it can also exacerbate misbehavior in the long term.

Research has shown that dogs that experience such punishment, along with physical punishment, are more prone to fear and aggression than those who experience just verbal rebuke.

Sharing a loving home with your pets requires being proactive in setting boundaries and providing positive reinforcement for good behavior.

A comprehensive understanding of animal behavior will ensure successful dog ownership.

Taking the time to learn how best to train your dogs will lead to lasting relationships and healthy households for humans and their canine companions.


big light brown dog getting scolded

Yelling at your dog might seem the logical way to scold them, but it’s one of dog owners’ biggest mistakes.

Studies have shown that yelling and using aggressive tones are ineffective in disciplining dogs and can have long-term negative consequences on their behavior.

Prolonged exposure to loud, harsh tones can make a dog more anxious or fearful and impact their level of trust. Instead of yelling at your pet, try calmly telling them “no” or redirecting them with a treat-based reward program.

When gentle corrections are used with positive reinforcement, dogs will understand better, and you will build a better relationship with your furry friend.

Scolding Your Dog For Accidents In The House

Scolding your dog for accidents in the house will not help them learn to control their bladder or bowels. 

Disciplining your dog for having accidents in the house can be tiring, especially when it’s a common occurrence.

However, instead of scolding them for their mistakes, try giving them positive reinforcement when they use the bathroom in their designated area.

This will help encourage them and ensure that they understand where they are expected to go potty.

Additionally, if you can catch them right away after they have had an accident and then take them outside to finish, that teaches the dog that this is where they should ‘go’ rather than on the floor of your home.

With repetition over time, they should pick up the habit better.

Your dog deserves lots of patience and love while they are actively working on learning how and when to use their restroom area.

Hit Or Kick Your Dog

white black dog laying in the middle of newspapers

Dog owners must be extremely careful when expressing disapproval or displeasure with their pets.

Too often, people make the mistake of thinking that physically disciplining a pet will be more effective than other methods, but this could not be further from the truth.

Physically hitting or kicking a dog can have drastic consequences, including causing physical injury and damage to their trust in humans.

It is essential for dog owners to find alternative ways to correct unwanted behaviors, like positive reinforcement, as any kind of physical punishment should always be avoided.

Not Letting Them Growl

It’s easy for owners to forget how important it is for a dog to be able to express their emotions.

When we reprimand our dogs, some of us tend to inhibit their ability to growl, which can often have dangerous consequences in the future.

Not allowing them to show fear or displeasure may instead cause aggression as they become unable to vocalize their feelings and react instead with snapping or biting.

A growl is also essential as it serves as a warning that the situation is escalating and, thus, should be resolved through negotiation.

In summary, not allowing a dog to growl can effectively lead them down a path of misbehavior and unrestrained aggression later on.

So it’s best for owners to stay mindful when scolding their dogs, taking into account how best they can express themselves.

Not Being Patient

little brown dog gets scolded

Dog owners need to understand that dogs aren’t hardwired to immediately know why they’re being scolded or how to behave correctly after only hearing commands from their owners.

They require time and patience as you work together so both you and your pup can learn the ways that most effectively allow for positive training outcomes.

That being said, consider that your pup may become distressed and easily scared in situations like these because of their inability to fully comprehend what’s happening.

So keep calm, be patient, and remember that this situation could have been easily avoided if you’d trained them properly beforehand.

When it comes to training a dog, using positive reinforcement and corrections is much more effective than punishing or scolding them. 

Positive reinforcement involves rewarding good behavior with rewards or treats and ignoring negative behaviors.

On the other hand, correction involves pointing out an unwanted behavior while at the same time guiding the dog in the desired direction. 

Correcting unwanted behavior requires patience and consistency but ultimately leads to better understanding between you and your pup. 

Instead of relying on scolding, dog owners should try to use positive reinforcement and correction when dealing with misbehaving dogs.

It’s been proven to be an effective method of training that yields long-term results.

Before You Go…

You now know the mistakes when scolding dogs.

If you want to learn more, read the following article too!

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.