Dogs are a lot like children: they love to misbehave, but over time with a lot of hard work you can teach them to follow commands.
At least that’s the theory. In reality, even a fully grown dog will develop some bad habits that will drive you up the wall – again, just like children. But what if I told you that the way you punish your dog for acting out is just reinforcing their bad behavior?
That’s what dog behavior expert Cesar Milan says in a recent video explaining why he never punishes his dogs. Cesar is known around the world as “the Dog Whisperer,” so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s talking about.
But why is punishment bad? Doesn’t it teach dogs to stop repeating bad behavior? Cesar says no, in fact it mainly just lets you vent your anger and frustration without teaching your dog anything.
Instead of lashing out, he recommends dog owners practice “exercise, discipline and affection.” Keep your dogs busy so they won’t act out, teach them discipline using commands, and reward them with affection when they behave.
The key to following these steps effectively is learning the 4 types of punishment and reinforcement.
Cesar uses 2 key techniques when he’s training a dog: positive discipline, which adds something to your dog’s behavior, and negative discipline, which takes something away.
Positive reinforcement is very straightforward, it involves rewarding your dog for doing something good. This could mean giving your dog a treat when they behave, or a pat on the head when they’re friendly to strangers.
Positive punishment is a little different, it involves adding something to a situation to correct your dog. If your dog is licking your furniture, spraying a sour-tasting spray on the legs will automatically train them to stop.
Negative punishment relies on taking something away to stop bad behavior. If your dog is aggressive when you step between him and his food, taking the bowl away gives him nothing to growl about.
Finally, negative reinforcement involves taking something away to help discipline your dog. If they bark at squirrels all day, drawing the shade down will stop them from acting out.
Combine these 4 kinds of discipline and your dog’s bad behavior will stop before you know it!
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