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Many people involved in dog training are confused about what punishment actually means. It doesn’t necessarily mean hitting your dog, or scruffing and shaking them. Punishment is defined as something that reduces the likelihood that your dog will repeat a particular behavior.
There are two types of punishments: positive punishment and negative punishment. Positive punishment is when you add something to your interaction with your dog, such as giving them a tug with the leash, or yelling at them. On the other hand, negative punishment is when you remove something from that interaction, such as a treat, a toy, or even yourself! It’s obvious at this point that negative punishments cause less harm than positive ones.
Does punishment work? Some may argue that it does, but there are many problems with using punishment when training your dog.
1. Punishment causes stress and anxiety in your dog, and can damage your relationship with them. Your dog may become shy, or aggressive, or they may shut down so they are less likely to learn anything else.
2. Punishment doesn’t necessarily result in a permanent change in your dog’s behavior, especially if you don’t apply that punishment regularly.
3. Timing is critical if you are going to use punishment to train your dog. The punishment must be applied immediately your dog has done the wrong thing, and that isn’t always easy. Also, if you are a moment or two late with that punishment, you may find your dog doesn’t understand what behavior you are trying to stop.
4. If you find you need to keep punishing your dog, then there is something wrong with your training method. The punishment isn’t having the desired effect, and your dog will soon become afraid of you.
In Summary – Avoid punishment by setting up your dog for success. It makes more sense to reward your dog when they do the right thing, so they are more likely to repeat that behavior. It also means your relationship with your dog will be based on trust and companionship, rather than fear and anxiety.
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