This page is a component of the Glossary of the Dog Science, CBC
Dog Training Workshop, and an element of the Dog Science Network
On this website, when we speak of punishing your dog, we just mean that when you find your dog engaged in some forbidden behavior, or immediately afterward, you should take some benign, non-injurious action that will turn the event into an unpleasant experience for the animal, while making him emotionally upset to some degree. How upset should range from just slightly to very much so, depending on how serious his transgression might be.
The purpose of punishing your dog, then, should always be to transform an ongoing act or an extremely recent act of misbehavior into an unpleasant experience. Thereby, making sure that bad behavior will work out poorly for your dog, as you simultaneously guarantee that he will have no opportunity to enjoy misbehaving, and in the process, draw reinforcement for behaving badly.
The dispensation of punishment should never be tied in any way to seeking retribution against the animal for past offenses.
The Four Punishment Procedures Recommended by this Website
This website advocates the use of four punishment techniques, when appropriate:
Punishment can take two forms:
- Presenting your dog with something he does not want when he misbehaves (like being chastised in an abrasive tone of voice).
- Or, taking away something that he does want when he misbehaves (like taking away the pleasant feeling he had before you made him upset with your verbal dressing down).
Never Punish a Confused Dog
You should never intentionally upset or otherwise dispense aversives to a dog who is the least bit confused about just exactly what he did to trigger the correction.
The Three Components Necessary to a Punishment Procedure
There are three things that must be in place before punishment can correctly be said to have taken place. Please read about those three factors and always remember that punishing a response and attempting to punish a response are not necessarily the same thing.