The cost of punishment

keep-calm-and-give-me-spaceI’ve never been the type of person  to publicly shame anyone nor hate anyone who doesn’t agree with my view on dog training (or anything in general). Yes I will definitely challenge you to support your argument with facts, but I won’t ever shame you or judge you in any way. We all have our reasons for why we use or don’t use resources available. Just because I choose to use positive reinforcement training doesn’t mean I don’t know about aversive techniques. Just as a reminder that I am a behavior analyst so I deal with behaviours every day (since 2008). I am also educated in the field (both human and dog) with a masters degree in Psychology (also CBT certified and working on becoming a board certified behavior analyst BCBA).

I know for a fact that punishment doesn’t get to the bottom of the issue. It stops unwanted behaviours for a short term and it usually manifests as another unwanted behavior. When you use punishment without teaching coping strategies or alternative behaviors, you are not ‘fixing’ the issue. And the great thing about science is that you can disagree with me all you want BUT facts don’t lie. You are intimidating your dog or your child and forcing them to act how you want them to act without teaching them why. You are also bullying them to respect you. They don’t respect you. They are scared of you. And that raises issues and concerns as that isn’t humane. WHY would you want to do that? Why cause trauma, anxiety, fear, aggression or self injurious behavior in your children or dogs? Or in absolutely worst case scenario, why cause physical injuries to a dog?

Are humans that desperate to train their dogs at a cost of getting injured? I don’t think so. Why are dog trainers allowed to hurt our dogs without consequences? Why sign up to use aversive training techniques, physically injure a dog when one doesn’t even know how to properly use aversive techniques? I wonder how many dog trainers actually know how to properly use aversive methods? As when using reinforcement, timing is crucial when it comes to using aversive methods as well.

Another issue that other trainers have with positive dog trainers is how we all ignore and redirect behvaiours. That isn’t true. There are other strategies used in addition to that to minimize unwanted behaviours and teach wanted behaviours. I’ve deal with tons of aggressive, reactive, fearful, anxious dogs. I’ve used antecedent interventions (that is what happens before behaviours) to safely interact with dogs, to minimize aggression, increase confidence,  you name it, I’ve dealt with it and used it. And also, as a professional in this field, I am aware of body language in dogs, my own body language and health concerns that aversive training may cause. I’ve never physically punished a dog or used aversive training methods. Just ask any of my clients who learned so much from me. My favourite strategy is counter conditioning along side with graduate exposure. It’s a humane way to deal with EVERYTHING that causes negative reactions.

Please say no to anything that will injure your dog. Or your child. Please say no. If it feels wrong, it is wrong.

The cost of corrections:


  • Physical punishment (i.e., hitting, shakes, swatting): fear of humans, especially hands or approaching humans, which may cause bites
  • Collar grabs or dragging dogs: –  can cause fear of human hands and humans approaching the dog and this can be a problem if you need to grab your dog’s collar for safety one day
    – can cause aggressions with whoever tries to take off his or her collar or try to reach for the collar (i.e., vet or a kid who tries to pet the dog near a collar)
  • ecollars, prongs, chocke collars: physical damage do the dog
  • Alpha rolls (flopping the dog over onto his back to show dominance or that you are the boss)
    Can cause injury to dog
    – Can confuse all the other dogs around if this is done in the public
    – Can confuse confusion to the dog you are preforming this on
    – It can cause fears in dogs
    – It can make dogs urinate every time they see their owner who does this to them
    – It can cause stress and anxiety in dogs
    – It will teach your dog that you as the owner are unpredictable and it won’t make the behavior stop
    – Dogs are not your subordinates. Please teach your dogs behaviours you want them to engage in.
  • Yelling/screaming:
    – Can cause confusion, fear/anxiety and stress in your dog
    – Yelling won’t get your dog to stop doing what the doggie is doing, but it will teach your dog that you are unpredictable in your anger and your doggie will fear you
    – And some dogs will ignore you
  • Spraying water or vinegar:
    Can cause aversion to water (imagine how hard it will be for you to give bath to your dog  or your dog might be scared of drinking water)
    – Your dog might to learn to only obey you when you have spray them
  • Negative Reinforcement:
    – Can cause dog to shut down
    – Can cause anxiety, fear & stress in dogs
    – Can cause aversion to toys, treats, outdoor activities (depending on when you use negative reinforcement)
  • In using positive behavior training world, discipline the dog means teaching the dog right from wrong. You can teach your dog by reinforcing behaviours you want to se and ignoring and redirecting behaviours or actions you don’t want to see.  Every situation is different. But punishing a dog for acting out of fear will create more fear and more aggressions in the future. It’s science. It’s been proven. And remember that punishment is a short solution.

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