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Why Isn't Punishment An Effective Training Method For Puppies

by Wayne Booth

posted in Pets

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Have you recently received a new puppy? For many people, this is a very joyous time in their life. Unfortunately, it's not always fun when you are raising a puppy simply because they can become very unruly and are also hard to train. It could be simple things like teaching them not to chew on literally everything that is in your household, or teaching them how to not go to the bathroom on your carpet or floor. It can push you to your emotional limits, causing you to want to punish them every time that they make a bad choice, but this might not be the best way to train your puppy. Here are a few reasons why punishment is not an effective training method for puppies, and what alternatives exist that may prove to be much more beneficial.
Why Punishing Your Puppy Is Not The Best Choice
Starting with a simple example of a puppy that is chewing on a piece of furniture in your home, your first inclination would be to use a rolled up newspaper, smacked them on the nose, and tell them in a very affirmative tone that they have done something wrong. Obviously, the dog is not going to understand the words that you are using, but your tone will speak volumes. However, is smacking them on the nose, or swatting them with your hand, actually the best choice that you can make?
Alternatives To Punishment
There are a couple different alternatives to actually physically striking the dog in order to get your point across. We have already mentioned that the tone that you use is very important when you are trying to train your puppy. This applies to any problem that they may be having which could be biting, scratching, digging, or not waiting to go outside in order to relieve themselves. In conjunction with your negative tone, the alternatives that you will want to use will include removing them from the situation, all the while telling them in a strong condescending tone that they have made the wrong choice. It doesn't matter what words you use, but your actions need to be fast, quickly addressing the issue and removing them from the situation. You could take them to a different area of the home, or if it is a problem with potty training, take them outside and then begin the second stage of the process.
Rewards For Improving Behavior
Once you have removed them from the situation, you will want to immediately reinforce the bad behavior with presenting them with the option to do something good. Once they are in the new location, you can ask them to set, or lie down, something that they already know how to do, and when this is accomplished, you can reward them with a positive tone and some form of treat. By doing this quickly, transitioning them from the bad situation to a good one, and then following that up with a reward, they will become aware that making good decisions leads to rewards and praise from their owner, and theoretically through this process, the need to be praised and receive rewards will carry over to the problematic area. This can inspire them to avoid doing the bad things, hoping to do good things in order to receive positive input from you. Once done several times, and done on a consistent basis, you should start to notice a definite change in their bad behavior, transitioning them into something good.
The reason that this particular strategy does not work all of the time has to do with the lack of consistency on the part of the owner. The transition needs to be immediate, which is why in the early stages of raising your puppy, you need to be there as much as possible. By giving them an appropriate toy to chew on, or placing them outside where they can actually relieve themselves, and rewarding them once the good behavior has been accomplished, they will begin to understand. As long as this form of positive conditioning is used on a consistent basis, you can avoid the need for punishing your puppy in order to train them, if philosophy that many dog owners are adopting today.
About the Author: Wayne Booth is owner of Canine Behavior Specialists, in Nashville, TN where he helps people train their dogs and solve behavior problems. Wayne has been teaching people how to become Professional Dog Trainers since 1990 and he is the Training Director of the Canine Behavior Specialists Network,
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