Positive Punishment Training: A Humane and Effective Way to Train Your Dog

Advances in animal science and the understanding of canine behavior and cognition have led to the development of effective and humane training techniques. Comparing methods can help you decide which one is right for you and your dog. Reinforcing any behavior makes it more likely to be repeated. For example, when you ask your dog to “sit down” and then add a cookie to the image, sitting becomes a behavior that is likely to be repeated.The dog is motivated to behave in a particular way when the results are rewarding.

In a positive punishment training program, the dog's undesirable behaviors are punished by adding an aversive touch. Some of these include loud and sudden noises (e.g. cans with coins and air horns), a spray bottle, a “bracelet” for the chin (one blow), a muzzle, and holding the dog to the floor.The dog obeys the signals learned to avoid punishment. The biggest advantage of a positive punishment training program is that it can quickly stop unwanted behavior.

Dogs avoid behaviors that cause pain and unpleasant results. However, frequent positive punishment can stop behaviors in general.The dog stops offering behaviors because it is too risky. Who wants to crush the dog's personality? Aerosol bottles and milkshake cans are startling, but they don't teach your dog acceptable substitute behavior. The dog obeys in the presence of these objects instead of learning to obey the owner's verbal cues.Positive reinforcement training uses a reward (treats, compliments, toys, anything the dog finds rewarding) for desired behaviors.

Because reward makes them more likely to repeat the behavior, positive reinforcement is one of the most powerful tools for shaping or changing your dog's behavior. Punishment may teach a pet that something is unpleasant, but it doesn't teach a pet what is desirable.Training should focus on reinforcing what is desirable and not on punishing what is undesirable. While reinforcement can increase the behaviors we want to train, punishment can only decrease the behaviors we want to stop (see Reinforcement and rewards). For punishment to be an effective training tool, it must occur 1 or 2 seconds after the undesirable behavior, it must have the appropriate intensity to interrupt the behavior but not contribute to fear, and the desired behavior must be encouraged and rewarded immediately.In theory, this is logical, but in reality it is difficult to meet these criteria.

Punishment is often delayed and of little intensity. If a single word or noise fails to bother your dog, then you need a different strategy and you need to set him up for success rather than failure and subsequent punishment.It can be very frustrating when your dog disobeys an order, and sometimes you might be tempted to show your anger or disappointment. The most common punishments against dogs and cats include throwing objects at them, pulling a choke collar or a spiked collar, intimidation with a finger, electric shock devices and physical corrections such as lifting objects, kneeling, pushing, punching or holding with a pin.Training should focus on teaching the pet the desirable response rather than punishing what is not desirable. Punishment is not a very clear process for dogs as they easily misunderstand what they have done wrong.

In the home training example, you should teach your dog to eliminate outdoors instead of indoors. While other training methods can teach your dog how to behave, positive reinforcement will help guide him while maintaining his confidence and strengthening your relationship.Some pets view mild punishment (walking away, looking into the eyes, talking to the dog) as a form of attention which actually reinforces unwanted behavior. If your dog isn't as motivated by treats, a toy, caress or short game can also be very effective rewards.Positive punishment (the application of unpleasant stimuli) is applied to reduce behavior and not to discipline the pet. For example if you let your dog out every time he barks at a noise in the neighborhood you're giving him a reward (access to the yard) for the behavior you want to discourage.For dogs these signals are designed to make another dog stop being assertive; in short they tell him “stop yelling hitting or punishing me”.

These techniques can cause fear and inhibited reactions and suppress a dog's actions often only in the short term.

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