Risks Of Using Positive Punishment In Dog Training


Using positive punishments while training dogs is an aversive method. A lot of scientific study done on dog training and using positive punishments show that using such aversive methods may have certain risks and many undesirable outcomes. These studies also say that using these techniques or methods are not the best for your dog’s welfare. There is no scientific data to back the concept that using positive punishments can make dog training easier or more effective than reward based techniques. In fact, dog experts actually recommend dog owners and trainers to use as much reward based techniques as possible while training their dogs and avoid any methods which include aversion.

Increase in fear, aggression and stress are some of the most commonly reported issues which occur due to the use of positive punishments while training dogs. Some of the most commonly used positive punishments are hitting or kicking the dog, using prong collars, shock collars, yelling at the dog etc. The more people use positive punishments in training their dogs, the higher is the risk of their dogs to respond aggressively. This not only puts the owner and his or her family members at danger but also poses as a threat to visitors, other pets, strangers outside the home etc. According to studies, people who use positive punishments also report behavioral problems in their dogs.

A lot of time dog owners and trainers claim that using positive punishments are more beneficial in effectively training dogs especially the ones meant for work like guard dogs for sheep. This leads people to use aversive methods like shock or prong collars However, no scientific data backs this claim and in fact, using such methods does more harm than good. Certain positive punishment methods like shock collars are hugely problematic for any dog’s welfare. Such concerns have lead dog experts to call out for a ban on such aversive methods throughout the globe. Many of such techniques have already been banned in certain places.

The “American Veterinary Society for Animal Behavior” has stated that – “Research shows that dogs do not need to be physically punished to learn how to behave, and there are significant risks associated with using punishment (such as inhibiting learning, increasing fear, and/or stimulating aggressive events).

Therefore, trainers who routinely use choke collars, pinch collars, shock collars, and other methods of physical punishment as a primary training method should be avoided.”

Again, there are a quite a lot of people who firmly believe that the only way to tame and train aggressive dogs is through positive punishments. However, this is not at all true. In fact, studies show that using aversive methods actually increases the aggression in such dogs which can be dangerous for the owners as well as other people around. These studies state that the main reason behind the aggression of dogs is fear and anxiety; using positive punishments and other aversive methods does nothing to address these important factors which is the cause of aggression in the first place.

For instance, if you punish your dog for growling at you or anyone else, you are not actually addressing the reason behind its behavior. Like your dog could be growling because it was afraid, or it did not want to be petted or even because you were taking away something it wanted like the food bowl. When you punish your dog it does learn not to growl however, its underlying issue remains unresolved. Punishing your dog will never make it learn and understand that it is okay to be petted or someone is taking its food bowl away only to refill it etc. Hence, the next time chances are that your dog might just bite you instead of growling.

If your dog is growing at you, do not try to punish it. Instead stop and look around for reasons that could possibly make your dog angry, anxious or even afraid. Try to find a solution to calm your dog bg resolving its issue. A lot of times, finding out what is bothering your dog is quite difficult. Take the help of professional dog trainers at such times. Even if an aggressive dog is trying to bite you, do not move forward to hit or kick it instead be absolutely still.

Using any kind of positive punishments can be extremely harmful for fearful or anxious dogs. Punishing such a dog will only increase its fear and anxiety. Using such aversive methods could also make your dog become afraid of you because they associate you as the source of punishment. In such situations it is the best to seek out help from a dog trainer which will be beneficial for both you and your furry friend.