Should you Hit a Dog when Training or any other Time?
This is a question that comes up often in dog training
discussion groups. The reality is that hitting your dog to
get it to obey used to be the norm. But you will not find it
these days in most training manuals, which begs the
question, does physical punishment work in dog training?
First we must look at the psychology involved. Dogs are pack
animals, which means they instinctively live in groups with
one dog being the dominate leader, just like their relatives
the wolves do. Usually the dominate dog grabs its dominance
through force and strength, so technically there is some
logic in thinking that forceful training methods will work.
However, besides damaging the trust needed between dog and
handler, such methods often have other risky consequences.
For example, once an "Alpha dog" thinks you are trying to
dominate it with force that may mean it will choose to try
its own hand (paw) in the game and dominate you.
A dog's natural reaction to being struck is either to submit
or to fight back for its place in the pack. If your dog
decides on option B you could be nursing a dog bite
afterwards. Making the dog aggressive is one of the biggest
risks in hitting your dog to get it to obey. On the other
hand, if a dog is naturally submissive such harsh treatment
may lead to shyness or fear biting.
On top of the stated risks, the other reality is that
teaching your dog this way is unnecessary. The same way dogs
and other animals have a pack mentality, they also have a
desire to please those that they accept as authorities. Your
dog loves to see you happy with it and will do pretty much
anything to make that happen.
This is the reason positive reinforcement is much better
option than hitting your dog. Rather than punishing a dog
for bad behavior, it is much more effective and sensible to
help it understand what you want and to do the desired
action, then to praise it for good behavior. This is also
much more humane.
So start to focus on what your dog is doing right instead of
what it is doing wrong. Each time your dog exhibits the
behavior you want to see, praise it or give it a
dog treat to
let it know it is doing the right thing. You will soon find
that praising your dog with positive behavior is a much
happier way to make it a well-behaved un-aggressive member of
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