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Why does punishing your dog never work?

Why punishing your dog never works?

Why punishing your dog never works?

Are you punishing your dog? Stop right now. Punishing your dog never works

This is possibly the most discussed topic on dog forums and Facebook groups. Is punishing your dog effective or not, and if punishing is ineffective, what should they do instead to correct the pup’s behaviour? First, you must understand that your dog is your child. It would help if you treated your dog the same way you will treat your child.

Would you hit your child if they do something inappropriate? Especially when you know that your kid does not understand that the behaviour is unacceptable in the first place? You would sit your child down and explain to them why that behaviour was inappropriate, right? Following this, you would expect your child not to engage in that kind of behaviour again. The same factor applies to dogs. As a guardian, you must first teach your dog which behaviour is wrong, which is correct, and how to avoid engaging in the inappropriate behaviour instead of opting to punish your dog.

What does ‘punishing your dog’ mean?

Punishing your dog refers to a behaviour that you would engage in when your dog does something you do not like. It can be a booming noise, tightening the choke collar, giving your dog a shock, vibration etc.   

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Pushing your dog: the types of punishments used

Before I move on to discussing how you should train your dog to not engage in the wrong behaviour, you must understand the different forms of punishment that are in place currently for correction of inadequate or inappropriate dog behaviors:

There are so many punishment methods. There is a chance I may have missed out on a few. Feel free to reach out to me let me know what other punishment methods are used. Unfortunately, there is a chance that guardians may be engaging in such behaviour without even realizing that they are punishing their pup, and that is something they should not engage in. You can also mention them in the comment section.

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Why do people punish their dogs?

The most common reason why people punish their dogs is to stop the wrong behaviour. The most common inappropriate behaviour in such cases are:


People punish their dogs when they lose patience. Patience is lost when the training person is not in the right state of mind.

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For example:


Suppose a person X has to attend a meeting in 10 minutes. He decides to use those 10 minutes to train his dog for a new command. However, the dog wants to play. The dog is not responding to the guardian’s instructions and is behaving distractedly. The guardian gets frustrated and shouts at the dog to pay attention.


Why did this happen?

This happened because the guy lost his patience. He has to attend a meeting in the next 5 minutes and wants to finish the training task before the meeting commences. However, since his dog is distracted, the guardian feels that he has wasted 5 minutes without receiving any return. Thus, he shouts at the dog.

What does the dog understand?


The dog understands that his guardian is angry at him. The dog wants affection, love, and some guardian time. That is in the dog’s right. However, the guardian wants his dog to do something that the dog is not understanding. Such behaviour from the guardian regularly will make the dog fearful of the guardian. This may lead to an increase in aggressive behaviour in the dog. If such behaviour like shouting, yelling, hitting the dog with the newspaper continues from the guardian side, eventually the dog will start to associate the guardian with negative reinforcement. Eventually, when the dog sees the guardian, his first response would be to hide or react aggressively.

Conclusion, is this behaviour from the guardian okay?

No! Such behaviour for training your dog cannot be used to maintain a relationship of trust and love. Such acts from the guardian will only destroy the relationship between them and the dog.

What to do in such cases?

  • If you are feeling distracted, do not train your dog.
  • Do not start the training process if you think you are in a time crunch.
  • If you are upset about something, do not train your dog during that time
  • If you feel angry, emotional, sad etc., do not train your dog.

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When should the guardian train their dog?

The guardian must be in the perfect state of mind for training. An ideal state of mind, in this case, would be defined as a state of mind when you are not feeling overly emotional, angry, castrated, distracted, or are any time crunch. You should at least have one hour completely dictated to training your dog without any clauses attached to it. That one hour should be solely for your dog, and you should not try to multitask during that time.


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Why should you never punish your dog?


With dogs, you have to make sure that your behaviour does not influence your dog in any negative manner. It can be challenging for some guardians to exhibit patience when training their dogs. Humans instinctually feel upset, angry or frustrated when our kids or dogs do not listen to us. However, if you decide to act out your emotions, it may negatively influence your relationship with your dog. Aggressive handling or yanking, spanking, hitting with a newspaper etc., will only hamper your relationship with your pup. These will not contribute to your dog exhibiting any good behaviour. The one thing you must understand here is that negative reinforcement does not work. Some guardians may come across trainers who advertise negative reinforcement. However, my advice would be to show such trainers the door. Such trainers should never be allowed to come in contact with your dog. Keep on reading to understand why you should never punish your dog. Instead, you can use corrective methods.

What happens when you punish your dog?

One of the critical risks of punishing your dog is that your dog may understand or see you as the source of stress and pain. Suppose you always correct your dog via physical correction without offering them a proper redirection. In that case, your dog will associate human hands with punishment.

  • A fearful dog is likely to run. If the dog feels that running away is not a viable option, they will lash out aggressively.
  • If your dog is confident or stubborn, they are more likely to fight you.
  • Your dog may turn extremely fearful, refuse to eat and crouch in the corner of the house.
  • Suppose you are punishing your dog for eating poop or drinking their urine. In that case, your dog may start indulging in such behaviour more frequently. Your dog will realize that him pooping or peeing in the house, or eating it is not the problem. The problem is you finding the evidence. They will try to clear it up faster so that you do not see it and they do not get scolded.

Correction or punishment?

You should never punish your dog. You should correct their behaviour. Punishment does not work. Correction works.

Sometimes, punishment may even have an opposite effect on your dog. Your dog may feel that you are not punishing him. Instead, you want to play with him. Suppose your dog chewed your shoes. You yell at your dog, and you try to take the shoes away. When you yell at your dog, instead of telling your dog that this behaviour is wrong, your yelling means your dog that this is playtime. Your yelling gets your dog excited, who in turn grabs the shoe even tighter in their mouth and turns it into a tug of war match rather than just dropping the shoe and letting you have it.


Correction methods:



Dogs work by associated learning. It is much easier to train your pup to learn a specific behaviour if they get a reward after that. Another fact you must bear in mind is that a dogs’ attention span is 45 seconds. They will forget things within a short time. This is why you must correct the behaviour immediately when displayed. Suppose you are 30 seconds late in correcting that behaviour. In that case, chances are your dog will not register your action as a correction in their mind. Thus, correct immediately.

When you get your puppy or new dog home, keep an eye out. Your dog will most likely engage in negative behaviour during the first few weeks. The moment you see negative behaviour, say a stern NO. Remember, the NO should be told within 30 seconds of the dog engaging in inappropriate behaviour. Also, redirect the behaviour, so your dog understands what they are allowed to do.

For example, suppose your dog chewed up your umbrella. By the time you notice that the umbrella has been chewed, it has already been half an hour. Now, if you tell your dog no, it will not have any effect. Therefore, you must keep a strict eye on your dog so that you can correct the behaviour immediately. Suppose you decide to correct your dog half hour late when your dog is engaging in playtime; this will only teach your dog to not engage in playtime. This will not teach your dog that chewing the umbrella is wrong.


Use corrective methods to train your dog


Work on trading

You can teach your dog to trade. This works if your dog does not understand your commands. This should be employed in conditions if your dog is unaware of the command ‘drop it’. Suppose your dog has your shoe in their mouth. Instead of asking your dog to ‘drop it’, a command which they are unaware of, get your dog’s favourite treat and hand it out to your dog. Your dog will drop the shoe and take the treat. You get your shoe back; your dog gets a treat. It’s a win-win situation for both and does not involve you punishing your dog.


Eventually, your dog may start bringing you your shoes and giving them to you in exchange for a treat. This is a comparatively acceptable behaviour compared to your dog chewing up the shoes or umbrella. You can use this tricks while you are training your dog to understand the ‘drop it’ command. When your dog learns the ‘drop it’ command, use the ‘drop it’ command to signify that the dog must drop the item. When your dog lets go of your shoe following the ‘drop it’ command, reward them with a treat.

Always reward

If you want your dog to understand new commands and follow them every time, you also have to make efforts from your side. Whenever your dog follows your command, praise, shower with affection, offer some treats, etc. Do something positive for your dog in return. This will cement it in your dog’s mind that when they do something favourable, they get positive reinforcement. This will encourage good behaviour in your dog.

Personal experience

I live in a place where more dogs live on the streets than humans living in houses. Many of these dogs have been deemed feral by the people living around me. However, what I see is that these dogs are misunderstood. It recently came to my knowledge that one dog was deemed feral to the point that people were leaving their houses with sticks in their hands, afraid of the dog. On asking, they told me that the dog would charge and try to bite them. They failed to see that the dog had his tail tucked under him at all times. This was not an aggressive dog. This was a scared dog. All I had to do was do the dog, crouch near and offer him a treat. He ate the treat from my hand and decided to trust me. Now, he’s a part of my pack, which involves a lot of other dogs who have been deemed feral but are misunderstood.

The lesson learned is that the dog was not inherently feral. He was beaten up by humans, due to which he started viewing humans as an entity that would always hit him. Most dogs under such conditions become scared and try to avoid human contact. However, sometimes they misunderstand the situation and think that someone might hurt them when the reality may not be so. This leads to the dog harming someone who might be innocent.

It is not only the responsibility of the dog guardian to behave in the proper manner with their dogs. It is every human being’s responsibility to display a little more compassion and a little less frustration towards these voiceless souls. You must understand that dogs are misjudged and most often misunderstood. I could win over an alleged feral dog by offering him just a little bit of love and affection. Now when I get out of my house, I have him greeting me almost every time. He will come to me, ask for affection, belly rubs, pets, etc. This is the dog the world should have seen. Unfortunately, it was the fault of humans that the dog was seen as feral. All of this I achieved within three days.



Dogs cannot process things as minutely as humans. Therefore, telling your dog that he should not chew the shoe half-hour later will not work. Due diligence is a must on your part as a responsible guardian. If your dog is a young puppy, it will take them at least a year to learn all of the right and wrong behaviour, which they should not engage in. If you are getting an older dog, you may retrain the pup. Your dog may have picked up on bad behaviour depending on the circumstances he has been in before. Your dog may already be coming to you from an abusive family. You do not start the training or correction the moment your dog gets home. The first step in long-term training is gaining the trust of your dog. First is the faith, second is the training. Punishing your dog is never the solution. Once your dog trusts you and believes what you say will not hurt them, the training process can commence.

Being a dog guardian is always associated with a learning curve. Whether this is your first dog or 5th, you will always learn something new with every dog that enters your life. You have your friends, family, relatives, etc., to look forward to. Your dog only has you. Therefore, do not punish your dog if he/she does not pick up your instructions at once.

Suppose the situation arises where your dog seems distracted all the time and is unable to pay attention. In that case, it may be due to an underlying medical condition. Your dog may be feeling under the weather and experiencing constant discomfort due to a medical issue. Therefore, in case of continuous distraction or if your dog suddenly develops aggression, go to the vet and get your dog checked. Once any medical issue have been ruled out, the training process can start.


Train your dog the right way


If you have queries pertaining to this blog post or any other blog posts on The Happy Puppers, feel free to reach out to me on my social media channels. Alternatively, you can also leave your comments in the comment section. I will be happy to help. If you found this post informative, please subscribe to The Happy Puppers so that I can send you notifications regarding the new posts the moment they are released.

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