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  • April Schrader, CPDT-KA

Avoid Punishing Your Dog...It Doesn't Work

Updated: Nov 8, 2022

Punishing your dog for behaviors you don't like will do nothing to help your dog learn what you would rather them do in those situations. In fact punishments can lead to much bigger behavior problems such as fear and or aggression.

You want to make sure that your dog is having positive experiences, but that can be difficult when dealing with unwanted behaviors such as jumping, excessive barking, destructive chewing etc. When your dog does something you don't like such as knock over your freshly brewed coffee, your instinctual reaction is to be upset, frustrated maybe even angry. However responding to your dogs behavior by yelling, clapping your hands or physically punishing them will NOT I repeat will NOT yield good behavior.

Let me explain why punishments will not yield good behavior! Dogs are associative learners, associative learning is a type of learning that happens when two unrelated elements become connected in your dogs brain through a process known as conditioning. For example you get home and your dog has chewed up your favorite pair of shoes, you attempt to "punish" your dog who is now lying in their bed. You in fact have not corrected the chewing behavior at all instead you have corrected your dog for lying in their bed. See your dog doesn't remember chewing your shoe hours ago they only know that while laying in their bed something scary happened (you punished them). In short you have taught your dog that lying in their bed leads to being punished.

When you use aversive training methods you become the dispenser of fear and pain. Your dog will overtime develop negative associations with you, other people, animals, certain situations and even places. When you use corrections/punishments your dog will associate them with who ever is present, or the environment that you are in. These things will become predictors of punishments and your dog will begin to fear them or want to avoid them all together.

Aversive type training methods such as prong collars, shock collars, or choke chains should be avoided at all cost. These methods make training unpleasant for your dog, they increase stress and anxiety, and create negative associations towards people, other animals and even places.

In order to yield the best results training your dog should be rewarding and pleasant for all involved.

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