Dog Education: Punish or Not Punish?

Using punishment to train / educate a dog is a controversial issue among both dog trainers and dog owners. In this article I will try to explain what punishment, types of punishment and why it is desirable to avoid using it.

What is penalty – Well punishment is an unpleasant response of the environment after the animal (the dog in our case) performed a certain behavior.

The most common punishment is a positive punishment in which the dog is given a certain stimulus in response to undesirable behavior. For example: pulling a leash when the dog is walking in an unwanted direction.

On the other hand, a negative punishment is taking something that is pleasant to the dog because of its undesirable behavior. An example: stopping a game as soon as it bites us.

Note that positive or negative refers not to good or bad, but to the question of whether something has been given or taken away from the dog.

In addition to the two types of punishment, there is another characteristic related to how punishment is given:

Direct punishment: When the dog receives the punishment directly from the person. For example, taking food to a dog (negative punishment) or strong attraction in the Gaza Strip (positive punishment). G.
* Remote Punishment: The punishment is given by the mother but the dog has no eye contact with the punisher and does not link the punisher and the punishment, for example: making loud noise (without the dog seeing the source of the noise).
Environmental punishment: This is the most effective form of punishment. The punishment for behavior comes from the environment and therefore does not depend on the presence of a person. For example: touching hot hoppers.

Although the use of punishment for training / dog education is very common among breeders and dog owners, many do not understand the dangers and disadvantages of punishment. The use of punishment, particularly direct and positive punishment, can produce undesirable consequences such as:

* Fear and anxiety of the trainer / owner.
* Increased shyness or aggression.
* Decreased learning ability.
* Decreased motivation and desire to work and study together with the trainer owner.
* When direct punishment is used, behavior depends on the presence of the punisher. This is a big disadvantage. The dog links the behavior to the presence of the punisher and will continue to behave in an undesirable manner when the punisher is not present. More than once you see dogs obeying a trainer well but not someone else. In addition, dogs that have been widely used for punishment will be obeyed but will not do so with joy but out of fear and fear. This will be expressed immediately in their body language.
* The type and character of the punishment depends very much on the character of the dog and its sensitivity threshold. Using punishment requires great skill and misuse can result in the opposite of what we wanted. For example, too harsh a punishment for a dog for aggressive behavior can cause it to activate its defense reflex and may attack more aggressively.
Punishment harms the owner / dog relationship and causes fear and alienation rather than trust and security.
* Punishment does not teach how to behave but only how not to behave. The dog must be provided with a behavioral alternative and not only punished.
* It is much more difficult to maintain behavior acquired over the long term as a result of punishment. Once the dog has committed an undesirable behavior and will not be punished, the behavior will be repeated. This is in contrast to education using positive reward: the dog will always repeat his behavior because there is a chance that he will be rewarded.
* The dog acts by avoiding punishment (it behaves in a certain way to avoid punishment) and not because the desired behavior rewards it.

In light of all that has been said so far, is the conclusion that it is absolutely forbidden to use punishment in the education of a dog?

Well, in the vast majority of cases there is no need to use discipline in order to educate the dog and there are positive methods to achieve the same goal without the need for punishment. This does not mean that in no case should the dog be punished, there are cases in which a dog or someone else is in danger, and we have no choice, but the use of punishment as a main tool for education is incorrect and undesirable for the reasons given above. Also, as part of the basic communication learning, a person / dog must teach the dog the “no” command that will come after the dog behaves undesirably.

If punishment is to be used, we will always prefer negative punishment and, if positive punishment is used, to prefer remote or environmental punishment.

In summary: There are proven and proven methods to educate your dog to desired behavior without the need for punishment. If you still think that you must use punishment, you should consult an expert who will teach you how to punish or find another solution. Beware of informers who tell you that they use a choke collar, a spike collar, or an electronic collar for “repairs” only. Also remember that unwanted behavior (such as furniture gnawing) is just a symptom of a behavior problem. Once we understand the problem and resolve it, the symptoms will disappear.

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