Dog Training: The Trouble With Punishment

dogs in appropriate training class without punishment

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We all want to be good dog parents, and part of that is training our dogs to be well-behaved. Training is meant to be a positive bonding experience between humans and their pooches. Few people intend to make things unpleasant for their dogs during training, with one notable exception: when punishing them.

By definition, punishment is meant to be unpleasant. However, it’s extremely disturbing that this unpleasantness is overly frequent and overly extreme.

Insufficient socialization and frequent or extreme punishment are the two major reasons why dogs become wary of people. Wary dogs tend to stay away from people and may react aggressively when approached. Sadly, many uneducated trainers resort to punishment, which is really defeating the purpose of training to begin with.

It’s much easier to teach your puppy the rules of the house or to show them what you want them to do and to reward them for doing it than it is to continuously punish them for unwanted behavior. You especially don’t want your dog to develop a fear of humans.

Punishment Means You Need To Adjust Your Training Style

girl training her puppy

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Frequent punishment is an indication that your training philosophy isn’t working. Time to change to plan B.

Rather than punishing your puppy for mistakes they have made in the past, you should concentrate on teaching your puppy how they should act in the present moment.

Remember, it’s much more efficient and effective to reward your puppy for doing it the way you want rather than trying to punish your dog for the many ways they might be doing it wrong.

Punishment Sabotages The Human-Dog Relationship

man throws frisbee for dog

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Repeated punishment drives a painful wedge between dog and human that progressively divides and destroys their relationship.

If you’re having trouble, seek help from a professional trainer. You can often sign up for low-cost group obedience classes or check social media or websites like Meet Up for dog obedience clubs that meet in your area. Many of these classes and meetups can be done online during the pandemic. Also, ask your vet or groomer.

There’s never a need for extreme punishment. Why would any person treat their best friend like their worst enemy? Don’t do it. If you are getting frustrated and feel the need to punish, it’s time to call in a professional and get some help.

What To Do Instead

woman training a dog on a beach at sunset

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It’s better to reward the behaviors you want to see, instead of punishing the behaviors you don’t want to see.

There are times, for your dog’s own safety, you’re going to need to send them “away” or “outside.” They may knock something off the counter and break glass on the floor, and sending them outside is not a form of punishment, but for their own safety. You may have to put a leash on your dog and literally walk them outside in an emergency.

Separation from the pack is more than enough punishment for any dog. You don’t need to accompany it with angry words and harsh tones or physical strikes.

Do not punish by sticking your dog in their crate or kennel. That should always be a calm place to relax and never be associated with bad memories.

There are so many resources out there for pet parents these days. If you are feeling frustrated, please reach out for help and advice. It’s never okay to strike an animal, and harsh words in mean tones are not going to accomplish your goal.

Do you think people overuse punishment when training their dogs? What training methods do you recommend instead of punishment? Let us know in the comments below!

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