Should You Punish Bad Behavior?

Should You Punish Bad Behavior

Ah yes, a great controversial debate. Should you punish a dog for unwanted behavior, or do you redirect them to a desirable one? Can you fully train a dog using only food and other rewards, or will that mean they'll only listen if you have food?

In my experience, you cannot train a dog without consequences. I know great trainers who use nothing but positive reinforcement. But none of them have ever actually won nationals, ever. And their dogs are typically older (4-6) before they're ready to compete at that level for the first time. I've had discussions before about a dog obeying commands whenever using positive reinforcement-only training and some of them are 100% confident in their dogs. And others will flat-out admit that their dog won't listen in every imaginable scenario and that they're fine with that because they don't believe in using corrections on a personal level. But they all agree they work, and you can train a dog faster using corrections. With that aside, let’s move on to the rules and theories of using corrections.

Don't hit your dog...ever

That isn't a correction. That is animal abuse. Would it work? Sure it would. But if you abuse your dog to make it listen, you shouldn't have a dog. There are tools, techniques, and experts that can help you. You just have to let yourself be educated. This goes for the old rolled-up newspaper thing as well. You're not making your dog respect rules. You're abusing your dog and making it afraid of you.

To correct a dog, you need tools. Fur savers like the ones made by Herm Sprenger are a great choice for softer dogs that don't need a lot of corrections. For harder dogs with nerves of steel who are driven or hard pullers and would simply ignore a correction from a fur saver need a step up to the Herm Sprenger prong collar, they're hands down the best in the world. We have a few articles on how to use these tools if you need help using them properly.

Lastly, and one reserved only for people who are working with qualified professionals or are one themselves is the remote trainer aka e-collar. You will likely do more harm than good if you attempt to use one yourself with no training. Oddly enough, an e-collar can give the gentlest correction of the three collars we've discussed when using low-level stim training. You'd be surprised at how many people with an ill-fitting prong collar on their dog will be upset with you for using an e-collar because they don't know you have it at very low settings that a dog can just barely feel.


You cannot correct a dog for doing something unless it's while they're doing it or immediately after. By immediately after, I mean no more than a second. The same goes for rewards. You need to mark the behavior with a clicker or say "Yes" immediately after for a reward or mark the behavior with a "No" and correct it while the dog is doing it or immediately after. Timing is crucial in training. It's crucial when rewarding your dog, and it's downright unfair if you have bad timing when correcting a dog because they'll have no idea why they've just been corrected. If you come home to your furniture chewed up? You should've crated your dog if they're a puppy/dog under 2 years. Sure, you cannot use a crate at all, or only use it for 6 months, or a year. Just know that if anything happens, it's your fault. If your dog gets into something toxic or chokes on something he was chewing on while you were away, and he had free roam of the house? Your fault. You cannot correct behavior you weren't even there to see. It's unfair, and your dog won't know what he did wrong.

Motivational Training

Realize that motivational, positive reinforcement-only training is a nearly complete system. It can almost stand on its own. Corrections are not an entire, complete system. I mean, you can use corrections and force to teach everything. Colonel Konrad Most's books rely on this kind of training. So did William Kohler. Both are regarded as the fathers of modern dog training. But these books are very old. They even detail animal abuse to teach dogs such as if you find a dog chewing up something, tape it inside of his mouth and make him carry it as a punishment. I want to say how insane that is, because it is insane, but they were making up dog training from nothing. This is all they had and all they could think of. Well, as of me writing this, it's 2022 and we have discovered much better methods to teach dogs. Motivational Training was a game changer. Learn it and read about it. Buy videos about it. Work with trainers who use it. This is 99% of dog training, positive and rewards-based. The other 1% is corrections. If you master positive reinforcement, you may still need corrections, but they'll be very rare. And that's the point of corrections... not having to use them unless you need to.

Thank you for the read. Please leave a like and share if you found this informational.

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