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Puppy of the Month

Bear is a 6 month-old Labradoodle.

 

Favorite Activity:
Joining the family for rides in the van.

 

Life's Ambition:
To wear all the shoes she has stolen.

 

Favorite Socialization Spot:
The children's bus stop.

 

OS Certified Trainer™:
Patti Hight of WOOFS! Dog Training Center LLC.

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Why Punishment is So Yesterday

What's out?

In dog training, the term “punishment” covers a range of aversive methods like the alpha roll, scruff shakes, pinning, spray bottles, shake cans, leash corrections, ear pinches, the use of shock and choke collars, and anything else that hurts or intimidates a dog.

Whatever the label, fear and pain have no place in dog training—or in any kind of animal training. Here’s why:

It’s outdated. Using punishment as the primary method of training is like using a cassette player in the age of the iPod. Positive reinforcement is the cutting-edge, progressive, and fast way to train a dog. Period. 

It’s unnecessary. Everything you could ever want to teach your puppy, from perfect house-training to a bulletproof recall, you can teach easily with positive reinforcement training techniques. Punishment only gives a dog information about what you don’t want him to do and leaves a training void that can be filled with other undesirable behaviors. Positive reinforcement training teaches your dog what you do want him to do and eliminates the need for punishment. That being the case, why would you choose anything else?

It’s counterproductive.
Punishment comes with unintended and hard-to-control side effects. Say a puppy growls at another dog. His owner jerks the leash and tells him “no!” in a stern voice. But the puppy growled because he was uncomfortable. Remember, he’s a dog; he doesn’t know it’s rude, he just shows how he feels. Now when he sees another dog, he’ll still be uncomfortable—more so, in fact, because he now associates seeing other dogs with his owner’s anger. So he hides his discomfort; his early warning signals have been turned off. The next time he feels deeply uncomfortable, he may escalate by biting.

You want your puppy to tell you how he feels about things. That’s the only way you can change any negative feelings he has. In other words, you want him to warn you that he’s upset. Much better that he warns you with growling than by acting on it with biting.

It’s unfair. Dogs are not people. They don’t know our rules or understand English. They do doggie things for doggie reasons. They jump up not to annoy us, but to greet us. They pee on the carpet not to drive us crazy, but because it’s absorbent. They pull on leash not to give us tendinitis, but because they like to go places fast. Punishing them for being dogs is hardly fair, especially when they can be positively trained to do everything we want.

So, what's in?

Positive reinforcement training methods based on canine behavioral science.

The training tools. Things that motivate dogs: Food treats, toys, praise, and life rewards (leashes put on, time on the couch, balls thrown, etc.). Don’t like a behavior? Don’t reward it or remove a reward or your attention.

Positive training methods. Are recommended by every reputable, professional organization and expert in the field of canine training and behavior from The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and from Dr. Ian Dunbar to Karen Pryor and Victoria Stillwell.

Positive training is fast, effective, and fun for you and your puppy. Need we say anything else?

For more information about positive reinforcement training visit:

Karen Pryor's Clicker Training site

Dog Star Daily

American Humane Association