If you have never had a dog before, you have probably encountered any number of people who are all too willing to share their “expertise” with you when it comes to training. Some will tell you that an immediate, stern correction for bad behavior is best and that a dog who isn’t punished will never learn how to behave properly.
They’re wrong. There are any number of methods of training a dog. In fact, if you type “how to train your dog” into Google, you’ll get nearly 55 million results. The fact is, though, there is no such thing as a “good” training method that involves punishment.
Here’s Why You Should Never Punish Your Dog
There are never good outcomes from using punishment as a way to train a dog. It creates many more problems than it solves!
1. If You Punish Your Dog, You Could Make Him Fearful
If your only method of training is to punish bad behavior, he is going to view you as a tormentor, not as a beloved friend and companion.
2. Your Dog Wants to Please You
It is in a dog’s nature to want to please his human. If you punish him constantly, he is going to become frustrated, because he has no idea how to please you. It’s so much better to reward him when he gets something right – he knows that he’s made you happy, because you’ve petted him, or given him a treat, or told him that he’s a good boy. He’ll want to repeat the behavior that earned him the reward.
3. Sometimes, He’s Just Being a Dog
Your dog is not trying to be spiteful – many behaviors are perfectly natural for dogs. They are, for instance, hard-wired to want to chew, and they’re not going to understand why your slippers are not fair game. So rather than shouting or scolding, just take away the object that is not allowed, and replace it with a toy.
4. Constant Punishment Can Build Aggression
The more you punish, the more fearful the dog will become. At some point, he may become so afraid that he is a danger, if not to you, then to others. A visitor with a loud voice, for instance, could be perceived as someone else who is gearing up to punish the dog – and although he might think “I can’t bite Mom or Dad” (if you’re lucky), he could very well think that he owes no loyalty to a stranger. Then, because of your constant punishment, someone else could get hurt.
5. It Makes for a Bad Relationship
Punishment does not lead to a healthy relationship with your dog. You should be able to trust one another, but if you are consistently punishing, your dog is not going to trust you. He’s going to be a bundle of nerves, just waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the next punishment to happen. That’s not the kind of relationship you want to have.
6. There are Better Ways
Positive reinforcement always works better, and that’s the main reason that you shouldn’t punish. You’re going to be much more successful with training, and have a much better relationship with your dog if you reward the behavior you want instead of punishing the behavior you don’t want.
Of course, there are other reasons not to punish. These are the main ones, though.
The Final Word
When you get right down to it, there is one hard and fast reason why you should not use punishment as a training tool – it doesn’t work. You didn’t get a dog because you wanted a cowering, fearful subordinate. You wanted someone that you could share your life with, play with, take for walks, and snuggle up with at the end of the day. For that to happen, your dog needs to be able to trust you, and no dog is ever going to trust a person who is constantly screaming at him, slapping him, or otherwise making him feel as though he is somehow less than deserving of love and affection.
The best training methods involve rewards and positive reinforcement, never punishment. So put down that rolled-up newspaper and pick up the treats. Then get to work on showing your dog how to please you. That’s how you’ll end up with a best friend and loving companion who is strong and confident, and a good canine citizen.