Often we witness pet parents punish their dogs in order to make them behave. But is it really the correct option for doing so? If you succumb to punishments while training your dog or behaviour management, you may be doing more bad than good to your dog as well as yourself. 

What is the punishment?

Punishment is any intervention aimed at minimizing the occurrence of an action or behavior. Punishment commonly used by dogs includes throwing objects at them, bending the collar collar, or collar with a prong, finger threats, electric shock devices and physical adjustments such as lifting, kneeling, pushing, teasing or pinching.

Punishment is not accompanied by pain or abuse, but an increase in the means of punishment is often abusive. However, by definition the penalty should be imposed by a reduction of the code of conduct or abstinence and if that does not happen the penalty does not apply and must be suspended. On the other hand, any intervention aimed at maximizing action or behavior is defined as strengthening.

So if the behavior persists even though the owner believes it is a punishment, then punishment does not happen.

Can I punish my pet for unsavory behavior?

While punishment can work to reduce those unpleasant behaviors when used within 1 to 2 seconds, if not properly administered they can exacerbate existing problems and create new ones. Appropriate punishment is used to degrade morality and not to punish an animal. It should be treated while behaving, and actually as it begins. Punishment should be sufficient to restrain the behavior and set a time to match the behavior. Punishment is usually executed too late or as a further rebuke. These timely punishments include fear but not improvement or deterioration in problematic behavior.

When the problematic behaviour ceases to exist, the punishment is wrong and unnecessary because it will cause the animal to associate the punishment with anything it does at the time and it is unlikely that it will be associated with an action that took place in the past. The dog should instead be immediately rewarded for the new behavior that is taking place.

Punishment directed at an animal by humans should be avoided at all costs. Painful and inevitable punishment is inhumane.

On the other hand, punishment in the form of booby traps or avoidance devices that lead to unintended consequences may be effective in the event that each time an animal attempts to behave and does not interfere with the owner’s presence. In fact, the animal is afraid to repeat that behavior or to enter a place and stop that behavior or avoid that place altogether.

Why is my pet committing a crime?

Pets can feel guilty if they can’t predict that you will be punished or if you are unhappy. The appearance of guilt is actually an attempt to appease a person, because an animal can predict future punishment. However, this is not the same as admitting wrongdoing.

Dogs often show interesting movements such as bowing, ears down, tail wagging and twisted eyes. In a dog these traits are designed to make another dog less powerful; in short, the dog says please stop yelling at me, hitting me or punishing me. This is not the same as admitting guilt, remorse, or understanding the cause of punishment.

A pet can make a crime (horrible, humiliating) because of your tone of voice, your posture or your actions. Pets can also become guilty if they learn the conditions that lead to punishment. For example, if an animal hears that whenever you enter a room where the bed is dirty or where the damage has been done, that you have become a dangerous person, you will soon learn to avoid it or show attraction in similar situations.

However, this does not teach your pet that chewing or contamination method is undesirable, because during chewing or grounding there were no side effects. It can take more thinking and language skills than any other pet to learn that the punishment you are now giving is for action that took place minutes or hours ago. In fact, if your pet is punished for pollution or vandalism, it would not be uncommon for your pet to “commit a crime” if you experience dirt or damage within a few days of birth, or have been bred by another pet at home.

Punishment stops my pet’s misbehavior. Why can’t I use it?

When you impose a penalty, it only works to establish the character where you are. In fact, a pet can quickly learn that if you do not have that attitude it does not lead to punishment and will soon learn to stand up and watch. Some pets see minor punishment (pushing away, eye contact, talking to a dog) as a form of attention, which reinforces the undesirable behavior.

Another serious concern is that the use of corporal punishment (hitting, stabbing, pinching, rolling, or grabbing an animal’s collar) can cause unnecessary discomfort and increase the animal’s fear when touched in the same way in the future.

Another problem is that pets can become confused or quarrelsome if they cannot see that the approaching hand represents a friendly act or other form of punishment. Pets should always view the approaching hand as a good deed (stroking, handling or playing) – the hand is a friend. This is especially true for cats where any form of human punishment can increase fear of man.

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