So often when we say the word punishment or correction when referring to training dogs and stopping bad behaviors, people immediately assume physical pain or “time-out.” It’s often viewed as unfair and unnecessary without ever having an actual conversation. This conversation is about correcting/punishing dangerous unwanted behaviors, not about training new behaviors, so be mindful of that before you pick a side.
If we could solve the unwanted and dangerous behavior immediately, safely, and effectively through use of treats and love, we would. But it doesn’t work that way. Those that think it does may not have encountered the dogs that we deal with daily. These dogs are often labeled untrainable, and many are on death’s door when they arrive with us for training if the behaviors aren’t stopped. Using properly timed and applied punishment/correction, we can help dog owners eliminate bad behavior. We help owners learn how to properly use the leash, prong collars, e-collars, pet convincers, bonkers, squirt bottles, even penny cans to eliminate those bad behaviors. THEN we can help them teach the good stuff, using all that fun positive reinforcement that everyone adores along with tons of guidance.
There are people out there that can’t even think about teaching their dogs to do simple obedience commands because their dogs are running into the street, stealing stuff off the counter, or barking like mad when someone walks by the front window. Many dog owners can’t walk by other dogs or people with their own dog without their dog trying to attack.
We’re not afraid to teach you how to make it absolutely suck for your dog to do those things. Why? Because once we stop that bad stuff, we can help people learn how to include their dogs in their lives in a positive, healthy, fair, and fun way. Dog owner’s lives are changing so dramatically by first learning how to properly correct/punish their dogs. An effective consequence can mean the difference between life and death for these dogs – meaning, if they don’t stop that dangerous behavior, they’ll be given up, rehomed, or euthanized.
But - there’s a HUGE difference between implementing an intolerable consequence to stop a dangerous unwanted behavior and causing physical pain because your dog doesn’t understand what you want from them. If you’re correcting out of anger/frustration and don’t have it in you to be able to guide your dog in the right direction, then you’re just an asshole. If you’re one of those people that screams at their dog, but aren’t willing to take some time to learn how to address the problem appropriately, with understanding – not anger, then we won’t work well together.
We harp on this because there are people out there that cringe at the words “punishment” or “correction,” yet they yell and scream at their dogs every single day, or shove their noses in messes the dogs have made because the owners are angry about it. Folks openly admit to us that they hit their dogs repeatedly when they come home to a mess, when their dogs don’t listen to obedience commands, or when their dogs do dangerous things like run into the road or steal from the trashcan. They say they love their dogs so much, but that’s not what we hear. Unfortunately for their dogs, these are not people we work with. Why? Because if people can’t separate their own anger from their dog’s lack of understanding what’s expected, they will never learn from us. Teaching the dogs is the easy part. Teaching humans that we must be fair and loving leaders is the hard part. Fair means not being angry, even if we have to correct for a bad behavior. Loving means knowing when to set boundaries for our dogs so that they don’t repeatedly make dangerous mistakes that could cost them their lives.
All of our clients know and understand that to have a well-balanced dog there’s a lot of work involved. While correcting is important, there’s so much more to our programs. Our clients learn how to provide clarity to their dogs. Punishment is often the first step with many of our behavior modification cases. But they do so without being angry, upset, or frustrated. Those that are unable to do so are non-clients.
There’s a difference between loving leadership/appropriately timed discipline and just being a shitty human.