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What’s Wrong With Punishing My Dog?©
Daina Beckman
Dog Behavior Specialist
Happy Tails dog Behavior & Training

Positive Punishment or Negative reinforcement is a reaction to an unexpected negative emotional response as the result of an unwanted behavior. You had a negative emotional reaction to something your dog did that you didn’t expect or like. The dog jumped on you and you hit him or kneed him.
This is a nice professional way of saying the dog owner is using abusive methods to train the dog. Dogs who hare trained with discipline or punishment as most Americans define it as it relates to dogs, end up having all kinds of psychological and behavioral problems.
Some of these training methods are:
Choke Chains
Prong Collars
Hitting the dog with your hand or an object
Kicking the dog
Kneeing the dog
Stepping on the dogs feet

Spray bottles
Choke outs
Alpha rolls
Scruffing
Shaking
Forcing the dog to face something he is afraid of
Tying the dog up and leaving him there alone for long periods
Yelling at the dog and forcing him into a kennel
These methods absolutely destroy the trust your dog has in you as well as the overall dog/human bond.

You may obtain a temporary suspension of the unwanted behavior. When the behavior reappears it is to late to impact the earlier punishment, and so you must increase the severity or force to stop the behavior which is again suppressed and so now you have a cycle.

These methods constantly tell the dog what you don’t want leaving him to eliminate hundreds of possibilities until he happens upon what you do want. This would be like punishing a 3 year old for coloring on the table, the wall, the floor or where ever without ever telling them they should color on the paper.

These methods can make your dog hand shy, ducking away from the approach of the human hand reaching to pet him or take hold of his collar or hook a leash on the collar. The conclusion in the dogs mind is to bite hands to make them stay away.

Your dog could develop avoidance aggression. This is when your dog learns to predict aversive stimulus (when you are going to punish) and takes avoidance action. Bites you first before you initiate the punishment. For example the makes the association between you raising your voice and then something bad happening to the dog. So one day you raise your voice because you are upset with another human, the dog bites you. He is not protecting the other human, he doesn’t comprehend the language you are communication to the other human he merely knows that you yell then hit him. He hears the same tone, similar volume, smells the same pheromones and decides to protect himself.

 

You will absolutely damage the dog/human bond. Your dog will learn to keep emotionally away from people, and will be responding out of fear and worry, not loyalty. In many cases dog become so confused by punishment that they become aggressive, get depressed, develop anxiety disorders, post traumatic stress, fears, worries and phobias, and obsessive compulsions.


The association the dog is making with the punishment may not be the association you intended. If you are delayed even a few seconds after the behavior your dog will make an association with something else. For example. Say the dog pees on the floor and you punish him after the fact. During the punishment your 2 year old is in the same room and at the time you attacked your dog he was looking at the 2 year old. Do this a couple of times and it is possible the dog will associate your displeasure with the 2 year old being in that room.

You will most likely have problems with a reliable recall. Would you want to approach your boss if every time he was displeased he cut off your air way, pulled a gun or hit you?

There is a Cuban proverb:
Inside every head a world. That world is created by genetics, senses, environment. The point is to try to understand a situation through the eyes the senses of the other beings mind. What is there interpretation, what is set of information is effecting their response?

It is what your dog thinks that matters.

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607-698-9122

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