How to Discipline Chow Chows

How to Discipline Chow Chows

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Chow chow's make great companions, but not necessarily a great family pet because of their stubborn and territorial ways. Learn how to discipline them here.

The Chow Chow is one of the oldest known dog breeds, with images of them appearing on 2,000-year-old Chinese pottery. With proper training, chows can be excellent companions, but they usually bond to one owner rather than an entire family. They tend to be territorial, stubborn, and suspicious of strangers. Consequently, some chow chows may require more training and discipline than dogs of other breeds. Each dog is an individual, however, and should be treated as such. 

Training Methods

While chows tend to require more discipline than other dogs, confrontational training methods such as hitting, yelling and shock collars are ineffective and can lead to aggression. Instead, use reward-based methods with your dog. A training clicker can help you "mark" good behavior. Then follow a click from the clicker with a reward such as a treat or a walk.

Establishing Leadership

Chow chows require strong leadership, but leadership has nothing to do with strong-arming, yelling or striking your dog. To be a leader for your chow chow, adopt a "Nothing in life is free" program, in which your dog always must do something to get something. This rewards-based training philosophy incorporates training into every aspect of your dog's life, according to The Humane Society of the United States. For example, your dog should get a meal, a play time, a walk or a tummy rub only after obeying a command from you. Giving your dog whatever the dog wants without asking for anything in return easily leads your dog to assume the leadership role, creating behavior problems. This philosophy is easy to practice and nonviolent. Implementation requires only that your dog understand a few basic commands, such as "Sit" or "Stay."


Socialization is key to raising a well-trained chow chow. These dogs tend to be suspicious of strangers, so it is essential to begin the socialization process as soon as you bring your new chow chow puppy home. Expose your dog to a wide variety of people and places. Make these experiences positive by giving your chow treats while they are meeting new people or having new experiences. Dogs are most easily socialized between the ages of 6 and 18 weeks, but socialization should continue throughout the dog's life.

Aggressive Behavior

While it's in a chow's nature to be aloof and suspicious of strangers, aggressive behavior is not normal. Growling, snapping and biting are all serious behavior problems that require early intervention. Dog trainers specializing in aggressive dogs can use reward-based methods to eliminate aggression. However, if your chow chow shows signs of aggression, it is vital to protect people around the dog. Crate your dog when people the dog doesn't know visit, and use a muzzle when you take your chow out in public.

More on Dog Behavior

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Aging And Old Dog Behaviors
5 Things You Should Know About Coprophagia

References & Resources

Canine Behavior; Bonnie Beaver D.V.M.
Dog Sense; John Bradshaw
The Proper Care of Chow Chows; Love Banghart et al.
The Humane Society of the United States: Dog Training: Nothing in Life is Free
For the Love of a Dog; Patricia B. McConnell
The Power of Positive Dog Training; Pat Miller

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