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How do you punish a dog

 How do you punish a dog

When we decide to adopt a puppy or an adult dog, he becomes a member of the family and it is our responsibility to provide him with quality education, in addition to covering all his needs and ensuring an ideal quality of life free from suffering, fear , and stress. However, many guardians find that the best way to teach their dogs how to behave is through punishment, reprimanding them each time they engage in undesirable behaviors. Phrases such as “My dog ​​knows he got it wrong” reinforces the belief that yelling, hitting, or intimidating dogs is useful and necessary to educate them when this is not the case.

Conventional training, based on correcting behaviors through tools of punishment and threats, generates, among many other negative consequences, a state of constant anxiety in dogs, who, in many cases, discourage their behavior for the simple reason that they are afraid of their parents . This, in the long run, can cause health problems and serious behavioral changes to the animal. To avoid this, DOG57 tells you everything you need to know about punishment and how it can affect your furry education process. Find out how to punish a dog without causing him suffering or a negative experience, don't miss it!








What is dog punishment

In the field of dog behavior and education, any action likely to cause a decrease in the frequency, duration, or intensity of the behavior is considered a penalty when applied after the said behavior has appeared. In other words, punishing a dog does not only mean hitting or physically harming him, many other actions such as yelling at him, immobilizing him, ignoring him, preventing him from reaching a place, or frightening him can also be punishments in contexts.

In turn, punishments, like reinforcements, are divided into two types: positive and negative. Although they both have the same goal, their application and results are somewhat different, as we will see below.

Application of positive punishment in dogs

Positive punishment consists of adding an aversive stimulus to the animal's environment while it performs an undesirable behavior, for example, pushing the leash, pulling the leash, yelling at it, or activating the shock collar. Guardians carry out this type of punishment with the goal that the dog will stop performing the act in question, but most are unaware of the physical and emotional effects that the practices may have on the dog.

On a large number of occasions the dog does not eliminate his behavior or reduce his behavior after receiving the punishment, and this is a clear indication that it is not useful, because the dog does not understand what our intentions are, and therefore does not learn anything that we intend to teach him. A very simple example of this is the case of a dog that barks every time the doorbell rings, and although it is reprimanded for doing so, it barks again the next time someone rings.

Why does this happen? First of all, in this case, the teacher is focusing on trying to prevent the behavior rather than asking why the dog barks when knocking on the door and working out the reason for the behavior. In addition, it attempts to eliminate normal behavior in dog species (such as whether we are reprimanded for speaking), which is frustrating and makes it difficult for the dog to understand what we are asking of it. Finally, keep in mind that by yelling or hitting the dog, the teacher is adding more tension to an already exciting moment, making the animal more upset and may react explosively or even dangerously.

In other cases, positive punishment leads to a rapid decrease in the frequency or duration of certain behaviors, causing teachers to believe that their methodology was the most successful. However, although the result was satisfactory for the human part, it will always have negative consequences for the dog to a greater or lesser degree. If you want to know what they are, we recommend reading our other article "Consequences of Punishing a Dog".



When is positive punishment applied in dogs

When the opportunity presents itself to perform some desired and knowing that it will be punished behavior, the animal enters into a state of conflict, which generates a lot of stress, which can become chronic. Depending on the dog's personality, experience, and environmental conditions, this conflict situation is likely to be resolved in one of the following ways:

The dog learns to prevent certain behaviors in the presence of his guardians for fear of punishment but performs them when they are not present.

The dog completely withholds certain behaviors for fear of punishment, but looks for other alternative behaviors to meet his needs, express frustration, or try to calm his anxiety, which may be more problematic or more harmful.

The dog completely inhibits almost all of his behavior for fear of punishment and enters a state of lethargy and indifference similar to depression, known as learned helplessness.

In all of these contexts, the predominant feeling is always fear, which leads us to the conclusion that the systematic application of positive punishment causes emotional harm to animals and is in no recommended way.











The application of negative punishment in dogs

Negative punishment consists of removing the pleasant stimulus from the animal's environment after the undesirable behavior has been performed. Examples of negative punishment include withdrawing attention from the dog, stopping playing with it, or depriving the dog of a reward.

Negative punishment has always had a better reputation than positive punishment because it is true that it allows certain behaviors to be removed or reduced without the need to frighten or attack the animal., simply based on the idea of ​​letting the behavior fade away by withdrawing the reinforcement. However, negative punishment has a problem and it is often difficult to apply it correctly and requires some experience on the part of the teacher.

 On the other hand, the teacher must ensure that at the moment of applying the negative punishment there is something in the environment that can be removed and that the said stimulus is positive and has a reinforcing role for the animal, otherwise, its withdrawal will have no effect.

 On the other hand, negative punishment is not effective in eliminating any behavior, because the self-reinforcing ones will not be easily extinguished through this practice.

When and how is negative punishment applied in dogs

When we talk about eliminating effective behaviors, i.e. Those that the dog has learned to do and repeat because they have associated them with a reinforcement (eg, barking so that the teacher throws the ball), negative punishment can be beneficial and, obviously, less harmful than positive.

 In this particular case, the penalty will consist of stopping the game completely at the moment the dog begins to bark while keeping the ball. When the barking stops or the animal performs a more appropriate behavior, the game continues. In this way, because the dog does not get what he expects, the association between the behavior and the reinforcer weakens and the former ends up being extinguished.

Myths about punishing a dog

Now that we know the different ways to punish a dog and how you shouldn't do it, we'll review some of the most popular myths to finish understanding these concepts more practically:

"My dog ​​knows he made a mistake"

This is one of the most overheard phrases among teachers, especially when they come home and find that their furry friend is approaching them with his head down after doing some damage in his absence. When punishing a dog, the dog hides its tail between its legs, licks its lips, or lies on the floor, which is often mistakenly interpreted as an apology when acknowledging that it has misbehaved.

The truth is that these physical postures and facial expressions are simply the way dogs have to “calm” another individual when they notice they are upset or feel they are in danger, and in no way is this an admission of guilt or an apology. Furthermore, and very important to keep in mind, dogs can only relate punishment to an event that occurred immediately before or during its application. Therefore, if you scold your dog when you get home, the dog will never understand the reason for the punishment, because it will likely have been hours since he bit the sofa or peed on the carpet.




"My dog ​​misbehaves out of revenge because I punished him"

Many guardians associate certain undesirable behaviors of their dogs with a feeling of resentment or with the guardians wanting to "harass" them. The truth is that emotions such as hatred, retaliation, or remorse are exclusively subjective and human, so your dog will not feel them.

If, after being reprimanded, he commits the unwanted behavior again, it may be because the punishment has not been applied effectively or because there is no good communication between the dog and the teacher.

Punishment tools don't hurt the dog.

Another phrase you hear often, especially among advocates of traditional training, ensures that tools such as chokes, serrated or electric collars are not painful to the dog if used correctly. However, there is evidence of various types of injuries that these tools have inflicted in dogs, from burns to tracheal collapse or suffocation.

No matter how experienced you are in using them or how much professional advice you have, these hoops always pose certain risks to the animal, both physically and of course emotionally and psychologically.




How do you correct a dog

It is possible to educate a dog without punishment using respectful and empathetic work methodologies that rely on positive reinforcement. Today, many dog ​​schools, trainers, and professional behaviorists use behavior modification techniques and exercises that adapt to each dog's specific situation, putting their overall well-being first and understanding their natural needs and behavior as a species while helping guardians do so. Create a healthy bond with your fur.

A good assessment of the methodology used by a professional is essential and, if possible, ask for references about their work or have a previous interview with them before putting fur education into their hands.

Now, if what you want is to learn yourself to correct your dog when he does something wrong without using a penalty, then using positive reinforcement is also the best option. Positive reinforcement consists of reinforcing desirable behaviors and ignoring undesirable ones. In this way, the dog understands what we like and dislike, while we strengthen the bond by rewarding "good behavior." Similarly, in those cases where ignoring the behavior does not work because it is self-reinforcing, we can include alternatives that we consider appropriate.. We have a clear example of this in puppies when they are in the process of biting whatever they find. Instead of punishing or ignoring the dog, we will offer him a chew toy and reward him when he starts playing with it. In the following articles, we talk in more depth about teaching puppies and adult dogs:

How do you punish a dog when it urinates

Dogs may urinate in the home for a variety of reasons, including separation anxiety, cognitive dysfunction syndrome, or feelings of fear or excessive excitement. In the case of puppies, it is very common for them to urinate indoors, as they still lack complete control of their sphincter and need to pee more frequently.

Whatever the reason, a dog should not be punished for urinating in the house, this is not an effective method, plus it can cause fear in the animal that it will likely start hiding to urinate without being seen. The ideal, in this case, is to track the frequency of urination at home and to be fully aware of the context in which it is doing so to determine the cause. Once you're done, introduce more aisles into your furry routine, take him across large, quiet areas and boost him with his favorite food or toy every time he pees on the street. If a puppy can't get out yet, don't miss this article: “How to Teach a Puppy to Pee in Bed?”.



How do you punish a dog that bites

Biting is a normal behavior of dogs and is part of their natural way of playing, both with us and with other animals. If we punish a puppy or an adult dog for being too rough while playing, we can create some frustration in them, which they are likely to release by gnawing at other things within their reach or getting annoyed with us. The best option in these cases is to teach your furry friend from a young age how to prevent his bite, that is, to avoid using his mouth extensively when he plays with us, and for this, it is necessary to always offer him an alternative that he can chew yes, like a toy, and you strengthen him every time he uses it.

On the other hand, if your dog is behaving aggressively or violently towards other animals or trying to bite a family member, punishment is strictly contraindicated, as it can add more stress to the situation, which is uncomfortable for the dog. possibility of an attack. To work on this problem, it is a good idea to get help from a professional who will advise you and help you understand what your furry friend feels and wants to express with his behavior.

How do you punish a dog who breaks things

Biting and smashing things are great entertainment for dogs, especially for younger, more harmful dogs, and while it's annoying to us, destroying toys, slippers, or furniture is perfectly normal behavior, so it doesn't make sense to them for it. Showing destruction or yelling at them or hitting them on the snout with what they broke will in no way help, even less if some time passes between the behavior of the dog and the arrival of punishment.

Puppies and dogs that tend to get bored when left home alone or suffer from separation anxiety are most likely to break things down, either for fun or to reduce their stress levels. In these cases, we should always avoid leaving valuables or things that could be swallowed within their reach, bearing in mind that those things that smell more than us (our clothes, TV remote control, blanket, etc.) are the things. that stings often. Once you've created a danger-free space, present your interactive furry toys that motivate him and keep him distracted. Stuffed toys, olfactory mats, robots, or natural snacks are great options to meet your dog's relaxing needs. Of course, if you give him a toy or snack that can crack or have small pieces that the animal can break or swallow, always do so under your supervision.

As you can see, it is not recommended to punish your dog because of the consequences it may have. Negative punishment can only be applied in very specific cases and always under specialist supervision. The ideal is always to use alternative methods that maintain the animal's well-being, as well as strengthening the bonds between you.
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