The use of punishment in dog training

Discussion in 'Dog Training: Principle and Practice' started by editor, Jun 19, 2014.

  1. editor

    editor Administrator

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    This is one from the Totally Dog Training archives, but may be a useful reference as it's a topic that comes up again and again, both here and on various Facebook pages. I have read a number of FB threads recently disparaging force-free training. Which I think is a shame, because many of the posts in these threads are full of myths and cliches.

    I have tried to provide an objective overview of punishment in this article. The use of punishment in dog training

    I know that people sometimes think that I am a positive-only trainer, and for the record I am not. However, this sums up my philosophy for the ethos of this and my other websites.

    [size=12pt]Most of the techniques and exercises on this website don’t use punishment or ‘correction’. Not because I believe that punishment is always unacceptable, but because most people don’t want to punish their dogs, and because most people don’t need to.[/size]
     
  2. Julie1962

    Julie1962 Registered Users

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    We do punish, we take toys away when play becomes too rough and we tell Elsie off by removing her from the situation when she is too rough with Betty. Betty would tell her off herself but is more likely to hurt Elsie than we are telling her she is a naughty girl and removing her from the situation.

    We are not adverse to clapping - hand on the dogs back and bring hand down on hand that gives them a fright while not contacting with them and they react like they have been smacked and stop the behaviours. Sometimes a shock works better than a treat I think especially when they are doing something dangerous to them or others.

    I have also been known to throw key down when wanting quiet too which I would guess would be categorised as punishment.

    I would love to say we only use positive treat based but that for us is not practical, if we did it we would have chaos.
     
  3. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    [quote author=Julie1962 link=topic=6656.msg112252#msg112252 date=1411540101]

    We are not adverse to clapping - hand on the dogs back and bring hand down on hand that gives them a fright while not contacting with them and they react like they have been smacked and stop the behaviours. Sometimes a shock works better than a treat I think especially when they are doing something dangerous to them or others.

    [/quote]

    What behaviours do you use this for? And how many times do you have to apply the shock until you no longer see that behaviour?
     
  4. Julie1962

    Julie1962 Registered Users

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    When Elsie is getting too rough with Betty, she tends to grab her back as she walks by and rather than let Betty hurt her (even a 5lb Chihuahua can do serious harm) I will clap it reminds her no more and usually only needed once a day as a reminder. She is young she will remember on her own eventually. Also when either of them start chewing cables or anything dangerous, we say no but if that doesn't work they get the clap treatment. I can't say how many times but I can say we have only lost one laptop cable and the corner of the foot stool in 3 puppies lives. So IMO looking at damage some have done it works.
     
  5. editor

    editor Administrator

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    I think that this is a very common viewpoint Julie. However, recent evidence would suggest otherwise. Studies have shown that dogs trained by positive reinforcement and whose owners avoid punishment/aversives, are actually more obedient than dogs trained using some punishment (I'm not talking about abuse here, just everyday punishment used by many perfectly nice dog owners :) )

    Perhaps more importantly, the same studies showed dogs trained using this everyday punishment were significantly more aggressive than those trained without. This is one of the many reasons that so many service dog training protocols have been switched over to positive reinforcement training

    Here is an article about that evidence The evidence for Positive Reinforcement Training I'd be interested to know what you think of the article, and if it raises any questions in your mind.
     
  6. Julie1962

    Julie1962 Registered Users

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    I absolutely agree positive methods are best, what I have problems with is putting that into practise when you have an exuberant juvenile (7 months over excited 25lb of puppy) grabbing the back of a tiny (delicate 5lb) of dog (she can put entire back in her mouth). I could fetch and offer treats and do things calmly by that time Betty may be injured or have hurt Elsie badly, or I can do my clap and stop it instantly. Neither dog is hurt my way.

    I think if I had Elsie alone I would be doing everything right and no punishment but I have to protect Betty too, and Elsie is lovely don't get me wrong not deliberately hurting her but in play and excitement could hurt her accidentally.

    I am at no point recommending punishment ideally I would be completely positive in my methods just in the moment that goes out the window and I have to act quick.
     
  7. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    If you wanted to deal with this in a positive way, it wouldn't be about going to get and then offering a treat. You'd have to teach the dog to come away, sit, or perform another behaviour, instantly, on cue and until you have that trained, just calmly lead her away from the mistake (you are getting over there anyway to do the clap/slap on her back, it's probably quicker to just put your hand on her collar).
     
  8. Julie1962

    Julie1962 Registered Users

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    You make that sound like I am touching her when I clap, I clap just above her back never contact so it's not a slap at all.

    But you have a good point I may have to put a collar on her indoors, I don't usually because when they go in their crates they have to have them off and it has been easier to leave them with their leads. Also hate that ridge in the fur from constant collar wearing but I will get over it, just me being fussy.
     
  9. editor

    editor Administrator

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    It's a common source of confusion I think, the difference between training and management. Treats (i.e. luring the dog or distracting him from his bad behaviour) are not a good way of managing difficult behaviours, they are best used as Julie says, as part of a training programme.

    A house line can be a very useful aid in managing a bouncy young dog. Attach a short trailing lead to the dog's harness or collar whilst he is indoors to help give you that extra bit of control over him. There is an article here that might help Using a house line
     
  10. Julie1962

    Julie1962 Registered Users

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    Now the house line looks like a very good idea ! May try that one as even if I leave her collar on I need to be quicker to get hold of her than I am capable of doing but the line could well be a big help.
     
  11. Stacia

    Stacia Registered Users

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    How does dog tell another one it doesn't like its behaviour. It either growls (go away) or gives a quick snap. It doesn't go and find a food reward!
     
  12. editor

    editor Administrator

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    That’s true. Dogs don’t have the skills or knowledge to use behavioural science to alter one another’s behaviour. They sometimes fight and harm one another, they sometimes sniff one another’s bottoms, neither of which are useful behaviours for us to emulate.

    A dog isn’t really capable of teaching another dog to retrieve, to sit, to recall, or any of the other things we expect our dogs to do. In fact they are pretty poor at many of the skills we excel at. So I don’t really think we should be using dogs as role models for trainers :)

    Deciding what methods to use in training should surely be based on what is most effective and least harmful?
     
  13. Stacia

    Stacia Registered Users

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    Well, I am not advocating that we growl or snap but I do think the waters are muddied by too much behavioural science. We can lost sight of what we are hoping to achieve with the peripherals. I also think we can baffle a dog, a dog needs clear and well defined commands and body language and reward for getting it right.
     
  14. Julie1962

    Julie1962 Registered Users

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    Absolutely agree with that.
     
  15. JulieT

    JulieT Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    [quote author=Stacia link=topic=6656.msg112329#msg112329 date=1411564147]
    How does dog tell another one it doesn't like its behaviour. It either growls (go away) or gives a quick snap. It doesn't go and find a food reward!
    [/quote]

    Most dogs, at least in my urban environment, get this wrong. They are overly aggressive, or overly timid. I meet very few dogs who give an appropriate response to another dog's error, and I see lots of quite mad behaviour as a result. And a lot of reactive and badly adjusted dogs. I'm super careful about which dogs get to tell my dog off.

    But, I'm not a dog and I don't have a dog to dog relationship with my dog. I ask of him far, far more than another dog would. That's the biggest difference.
     
  16. Stacia

    Stacia Registered Users

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    I was thinking more of the bitch and the puppies! The adult dogs you meet have probably had their natural behaviour changed by us humans. One of my German Pointers was called "The Headmistress", we used to walk with a group of dogs and if any of the dogs were deemed to be not behaving, she would just walk between them and order was restored.
     
  17. editor

    editor Administrator

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    I totally agree with this. However, having spent many years using traditional methods, and now a decade or so using predominantly science based methods, I firmly believe that the latter are the best way of delivering the aims that you state above. :)

    Far from waters being muddied, I think science has cleared up a huge amount of confusion, myth, mystique, and downright nonsense from the dog training scene.

    This is not just my opinion, and this article takes a look at the evidence
     
  18. Julie1962

    Julie1962 Registered Users

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    I don't doubt that how we treat our dogs now is far from how we treated them when we got our first in 1984, Barbara Woodhouse was popular back then. I think I realised early on harsh methods did not work as well as bribery, it's more recently some of that has been scientifically proven.
     
  19. editor

    editor Administrator

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    Re: The use of punishment in dog training

    Eek! I think I know what you mean, but please lets not confuse training with bribery! :) :)
     

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