Punishment and the straw man

Punishment in Dog Training

I can hear the wails already. What did i say wrong?
Ahh i imagine you have read other websites .. you are forgiven … Oh your a “dog trainer” ? And you are cringing .You should know better.
Whats wrong with punishment?

For some reason a lot of people including so called experts or academics will tell the unsuspecting public that punishment in dog training is outdated and doesn’t work. Which in turn has filtered through to punishment has no place in child rearing.

The Australian Veterinary Association spokes person and media personality Dr Katrina Ward, states

Punishment is never the solution to control a particular behaviour. It only makes the problem worse.Katrina Ward


I would like to know how and with what expertise Dr Ward can make this blanket statement?

There are statements saying “there is no scientific evidence”to demonstrate that punishment stops a behaviour. Or that punishing an aggressive behaviour only stops the precursor of that behaviour but leaves the motivation intact.

Unfortunately or fortunately all three statements are wrong ,incorrect not worth the breath with which they are spoken.
Animals have an innate ability to connect subtle cues to what will happen next and how to react to it.

Pavlov researched this for 30 years. As he said so eloquently

It is not the sight of the bear that kills the dog, it is the claws. If a dog had to wait for the claws to grab him, there would be no dogsivan pavlov

So the sight of the bear must trigger certain behaviours in the dog or the dog dies. So if the dog attacks the bear and the bear hits the dog with its claws does this mean it only stops the precursor behaviour and the dog is still rearing to fight? NO.

The dog will do one of 4 things. It will start to behave in a way that wont cause confrontation with the bear .If The bear only attacks when the dog shows aggression towards the bear the dog learns and behaves in certain ways.

  • Inhibit its aggression
  • avoid bears entirely
  • attack earlier in the sequence
  • freeze

As you can see only one behaviour in that list is aggressive. And that is the dog will attack the bear earlier .Its not inhibited its a all out early assault on the bear.
So therefore why do behaviourists and vets and the like say it only inhibits the precursor to the attack eg growling,shackles up .
The trick is to let your dog know that what he is thinking isn’t going to work. You have to get him before he goes over the edge so to speak. Watch your dog . Learn what he is saying from his body language. I don’t need ANYONE telling me what i do doesn’t work. Because it does.

Another fallacy that is dribbled about is that “punishment doesn’t stop behaviour”. Its strange that is said because on one website they will say don’t punish your dog because it will stop all behaviours and on others they mention it doesn’t work. And i might add these sites all portray the feel good wrap you up in cotton wool have a great time utopia of dog training. If they could just stick to facts rather than saying what suits them at the time we all would be a lot better for it.
By definition Punishment stops behaviour
I don’t need a government grant or a university degree to know what i see. For over 12 years I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. Ive seen how dogs react. That’s why i say my training is “predictable ,reliable and consistent”
Still don’t believe me ?

I have 2 scenarios i use in my course for basic obedience.

You go out on a Friday night, get drunk ,dance on the tables, have a great time enjoy yourself maybe even make a fool of yourself. The next day you have a hangover. You groan to yourself that’s the last time you are drinking. In a couple of hours the hangover goes. The following Friday you do it all over again. Why? Because the enjoyment of drinking outweighs the consequence of drinking. Now lets say that every time you drank in excess at 1 am the following morning you needed to get your stomach pumped at the hospital. Would you go out on Friday nights and drink in excess? The consequence outweighs the enjoyment of what you were doing.

Do you drink drive?? No ..Why ? Because the punishment that you could receive far outweighs the act of driving while under the influence.

Punishment is there for a reason .It stops behaviours, any behaviours ANY. As long as the punishment is greater then the behaviour that caused it that behaviour will stop. Its that simple. YET they say it doesn’t work so why use it.

How did they come to that conclusion ?

Ill tell you how… Because their ideology prevents them using aversives on a dog. And because they wont or don’t use them they defend themselves by saying it doesn’t work “therefore we don’t use it. So give me another option ?? THAT WORKS

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment