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  • April Schrader, CPDT-KA

My Dog Only Listen to My Spouse

Have you ever wondered, "Why does my dog listen to so-and-so, but not me?" It's not an uncommon scenario in many households - the family dog seems to prefer one person over others when it comes to following cues and behaving. The reason behind this phenomenon can often be linked to the concept of the "punisher."

It's crucial to understand that dogs have their own perspectives, feelings and reactions, so what seems like a well-intentioned correction to us may be punishing from the dog's point of view. While it may not be obvious, using a stern voice or shouting at your dog can indeed be perceived as punishments. It's important to keep in mind that it's the dog who determines what they find punishing, not us.

So, let's delve into the dynamics of this situation, the role of the punisher, and how to create a more positive training environment for your furry friend.

My dog only listens to my spouse
A woman desperately wanting her dog to listen to her

The Punisher and Its Impact: In the context of dog training, the term "punisher" refers to a person who uses aversive methods, whether consciously or unconsciously, to correct their dog's behavior. These aversive methods can encompass verbal corrections, stern tones, intimidating gestures, and even the use of training tools like prong collars or even shaking a can of pennies. Although the intention is to maintain discipline and teach obedience, the result will often differ.

So Whats the Problem with Being the Punisher? Being the "Punisher" in dog training can lead to various problems and challenges, which can have a negative impact on your dog and the overall training process. Here are some problems that may arise from being the "Punisher":

Fear-Based Responses: The individual who uses aversive methods, consciously or unconsciously, may become a "punisher." Dogs often respond out of fear rather than understanding, which can result in differential behavior. This fear can lead to avoidance behaviors, stress, and a breakdown of trust between you and your pet.

Inconsistent Behavior: Dogs may become confused due to inconsistent responses from the "Punisher." Inconsistent training methods can lead to mixed signals, causing dogs to struggle with understanding expectations.

Aggression: Using punitive measures to train dogs can lead to them reacting with aggression or defensive behaviors. When a dog perceives a threat, they may react aggressively to protect themselves.

Avoidance Behaviors: Dogs may start avoiding the "Punisher" altogether to escape punishment. This avoidance can extend to avoiding cues and interactions with the person they associate with punishment. Using these methods, can lead to negative associations with training itself, this can make them reluctant to engage in learning activities.

Lack of Enthusiasm: Dogs trained with punishment are less likely to show enthusiasm and excitement during training sessions. Their behavior becomes more subdued, and they may not engage as willingly in training activities.

Bridging the Gag!

Positive Reinforcement: Prioritize reward-based training methods that focus on high value rewards and play as motivators for good behavior.

Consistency Across the Family: Ensure that all family members are on the same page and using the consistent cues and training methods to prevent confusion.

Avoid Aversive Tools: Steer clear of punitive methods such as shouting at your dog, using a stern voice, using shock collars or prong collars. Opt for positive, fear-free methods instead.

Remember "corrections" don't have to be harsh in order for them to be punishments to your dog. Being the "punisher" in your dog's training can lead to unintended consequences, and it's essential to consider the impact of your training methods. Positive reinforcement, clear communication, and consistency are key to building a strong and positive bond with your dog. If you ever find yourself in need of guidance or professional assistance with your dog's training, don't hesitate to reach out to us at email: or text/call: 301-231-1907. We're here to help you and your dog on your training journey!

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