When we hear the word “punishment” we relate it to something negative, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Positive reinforcement has been shown to work in both humans and animals : motivate and incentivize, but without ignoring mistakes.
It could be said that this type of discipline is a “disguised punishment” because ultimately the goal is the same: to improve behavior. Well, in the face of our dog’s bad behavior, what is the best punishment?
Types of punishments to avoid
There are negative punishments (if we really want to define them that way) that must be avoided at all costs, because they do not lead to a better behavior of our animal but which, on the contrary, can damage the dog both mentally and physically.
- Physical punishment. It is never too much to remember that physically punishing a dog is mistreatment and does nothing but harm the animal and fill it with fears. Furthermore, the dog may become more and more accustomed to this punishment, making him understand less and less what we expect from him.
- Verbal punishment. Yelling or insulting your dog will not make him obey. Remember that he does not speak your language and that he will not understand better just because you scream as loud as you can.
- Lock him up. Locking up the dog when he does something bad will not improve the situation much. The animal will not understand why you are doing this and will cry, increasing its anxiety and concern. You will get the same effect if you let him out on the balcony and on the terrace and you don’t allow him to come back in. He will still feel locked up.
Negative punishment does not lead to anything good, quite the contrary. The dog may get used to it and begin to believe that it is completely normal, thus not favoring any kind of learning. Furthermore, the bond you have established with the animal will be irreparably compromised, as it will begin to relate your presence to something negative.
Fortunately, there are other types of “punishments” that will help your dog learn lessons he will never forget.
Positive reinforcement, the perfect punishment
It was a mother who invented the method called the green pen. Tired of seeing how, although she marked them with a red pen, the mistakes her daughter made in her homework did not diminish, she decided to use a green pen to mark everything she did well. The more green signs there were, the better the work was. It was a real success!
In this it constitutes the so-called positive reinforcement: rewarding what you do well instead of punishing for what you do wrong.
When you try to teach your dog to obey a vocal order such as “come”, it is normal that the first ten times you ask him that order, he will respond correctly only once. If you get angry the other nine times and deprive the one time the dog has done it right, it will make no sense for the animal to obey.
However, by rewarding his successes, however few, you will incentivize him to be obedient and everything will prove easier.
In any case, there are occasions when we need to get our dog back. How should it be done?
Verbally, using a firm but not rude tone of voice. Let’s look him in the eye and hold him gently by the neck so that he doesn’t drift away while we speak to him. Don’t make it last too long: the reprimand must be short enough.
Educating a dog from the first months of life is essential to make him have an impeccable behavior over the years that will pass by your side. Teaching him with love through positive reinforcement based on perseverance, perseverance and patience is undoubtedly the best way to educate a dog and avoid having to punish him in the future.
There are many myths about the best way to teach a dog not to break objects, not to go to the house or anything else. However, it must be remembered that any attitude that causes fear in your dog will not help him improve or make you more bitter, even causing the opposite effect.