Dog Training and Punishment – No Thanks!

Dog Training and Punishment – No Thanks!

Dog training and punishment seem intricately linked don’t they? Yet there is one fact that every dog owner should know.

Dog Training and Punishment Will Not Work.

Wonder why? Read on for the facts on punishment along with the negative effect it can have on your dog and your mutual relationship.

As a new dog owner you could be forgiven for believing that punishment will change the behavior of your dog. He does something that you don’t want him to repeat, punish him and your dog won’t do it again.  Makes sense right? I’m afraid it’s not right, in fact it’s very wrong indeed.

bad dog - dirty sad english bulldog being scolded by wagging finger

bad dog – dirty sad english bulldog being scolded by wagging finger

What is Punishment?

Common punishment during dog training includes spraying a dog with water, rattle cans, pinch collars and even physically taking the dog by the scruff of the neck and shaking him. Some dog trainers excuse the use of these methods because they do not physically hurt the dog.

Ask yourself for a moment here, what have our dogs done to deserve being treated in the ways described above? Why do we think that the best way to communicate with the ever loyal canine species is to hurt and scare him?

When you have an answer in your mind, read on.

Why is Punishment So Popular?

Whether you are looking for dog training tips on the internet, employing a local trainer or reading a book from a well-known dog writer you are highly likely to encounter the subject of punishment.

How did the act of punishing dogs become so popular though? Why have we ever thought that threatening, scaring and even hurting our dogs would prevent a repeated behavior?

The answer is quite a distressing one. We think that punishment works because dog trainers have told us it does. In much the same way that hitting a child was once said to prevent an unwelcome behavior happening again, we have been taught that hurting or threatening a dog will do the same thing.

Today’s Opinion on Punishing Dogs

Thankfully over the last few years we have learned, through careful study and kind scientific testing, that punishing dogs is not the best way to deal with problems. In actual fact we have learned that punishment does nothing at all to improve the behavior of our dogs.

We have found out that punishing a dog can have devastating effects on the health and well-being of the animal. The act of punishment can also wreck the trust and relationship between owner and dog.

A Damaging Effect!

Before we move on to what you can do I would like to reiterate how damaging this type of dog training is to a dog and the relationship between the two of you.

It teaches your dog to be confused and scared of you.

By punishing a dog you are showing the vulnerable animal that you are inconsistent, volatile and downright frightening. Is this really how you would like to be seen through the eyes of your dog?

Punishment can cause aggression.

Any dog that is scared, hurt or threatened enough may eventually resort to an aggressive response. This is usually a response to confusion and fear, it is the result of punishment making the dog believe that he has to defend himself – from you, how sad is that?

It does nothing to stop the behavior being repeated.

This is something that many dog trainers still need to learn. Every time a behavior is punished after it has been carried out, the act has been practiced. Therefore as is the nature of learning, a practiced behavior gets stronger and no matter how severe the resulting punishment, the act is still stronger than ever. 

Punishing a dog does not deal with the reason for the behavior.

When we punish we have little true understanding of what is happening in the dog’s mind, if we did we would not be issuing a punishment. We should be putting far more effort into understanding why a behavior happens because only then can we really change it.

What Can We Do Instead?

Instead of punishing a dog for carrying out a behavior that is natural to him we can actually teach him to do something more useful instead.  This is really easy because dogs generally repeat anything at all which brings a response that they enjoy.

Positive reinforcement is the act of adding a reward to a behavior which we would like the dog to repeat, in addition we stop any kind of reward as the dog does something we would like him not to learn. If we make a habit of this type of canine coaching then there will be no space for punishment within our dog training at all.

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