‘Punishment is part of dog training’ is a statement you will never hear us say. We believe, this is an outdated false principle followed by some dog trainers, who are not necessarily up to date with their researches and methods. Many years ago trainers and training methods enforced punishment but as researches continue, researchers and scientists have come to the conclusion that punishment can actually be very counterproductive. It rather confuses the dog and destroys the relationship and trust between you and your dog. You could say punishments can create more problems than it solves. Your dog might stop the unwanted behavior after being punished but you lost your loyal friend who now does not want to be close to you. You have increased the dog’s fear, hence also aggression and are no longer his chosen leader.
Speaking about leadership in the dog world, training methods tell us that we have to become our dog’s leader or as it is also called, leader of the pack, to be obeyed. Let’s take a closer look into that. Many years ago, while observing wolves, researchers concluded that to become the leader, the wolf would use force to prove he is entitled to the post. A more modern research by Roberto Bonanni of the University of Parma has taken a closer look into the pack leader issue in free-ranging packs of dogs in Italy and found that leadership was a very fluid thing. For example, in one pack, which had 27 members, there were 6 dogs that habitually took turns leading the pack, but at least half of the adult dogs were leaders, at least some of the time. The dogs that were usually found leading the pack tended to be the older, more experienced dogs, but not necessarily the most dominant. The pack seems to allow leadership to dogs, who at particular times, seem to be most likely to contribute to the welfare of the pack through knowledge, that can access the resources they require.
Correction vs. punishment
Correction is when you give a command to show your dog that you disapprove of the behavior that is happening. Punishment is what some would use after showing disapproval. A command indicating that you do not like something your dog is doing is fine. It could be a ‘No’ or even a ‘SHH’ whatever it is say it every time with the same firm tone and your dog will eventually understand that you disapprove. Best scenario is that your dog will stop and do the right thing, now rather reward the correct behavior than punish the unwanted. If not try to redirect your dog to do the right thing or wait till it happens and then reward.
Timing of correction matters
If you decide to correct a dog or even punish a dog for something that might have happened while you were out of the house when you come home, you are doing a huge mistake. Your dog does not have the same sense of logic that we humans have. Your dog will not connect your disapproval to something that happened a while ago, your dog will connect it to whatever is happening at the time you expressed your disapproval, which could be being happy to see you or bringing you his favorite toy. Now you have confused your dog and expressed your disapproval at a total different situation. Even if your dog looks guilty, it because your dog heard that you are mad but does not understand why.
Therefore always go for rewarding positive behavior and let go of punishing bad behavior, with the loving bond you and your dog will have, your dog will love nothing more than to please you and accept you as a trustworthy leader who knows what is best for your dog.
Read this article to show you how your dog would stand by you against people you dislike.