Naughty to Nice: The Better Way to Train Your Dog

Naughty to Nice: The Better Way to Train Your Dog

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As much as we love our adorable pups, sometimes they’re straight up naughty. Whether it’s digging through the trash, playing too rough, tackling guests to the ground, or relieving themselves in the middle of the living room, all dogs need correction at some point.

But how do you teach right behavior without damaging your relationship? Turns out, one of the best methods for pet discipline is known as “negative punishment.” While this might sound harsh, it’s actually a great alternative.

Positive Punishment

Most dog owners may be used to swatting the nose or “rear end” of their pet, or possibly yelling “No!” with a stern finger. Others may use shock or choke collars to train their dog to obey. All of this is known as “positive punishment.” In other words, an incorrect response produces an unpleasant consequence. You are “adding” (+) something the pet doesn’t want.

The downside to “positive punishment” is that it can damage the relationship and cause confusion for your pup. Animals are very present minded. In order to correct a behavior, your pet needs to be caught in the act or immediately after. Imagine you’ve been gone all day, and your puppy relieves herself on the carpet. If you punish her for the action, she won’t necessarily correlate the “accident” with the punishment, and will often just wonder why you are upset with her.

Negative Punishment

Many owners and trainers have been using “negative punishment.” Negative punishment is when you remove (-) something that the dog desires. Often this can simply be your attention.

If you are rough-housing with your puppy and she bites a little too hard, most pet owners will become stern and give the pup a lecture on why they can’t bite that hard. But your attention and energy is the one thing your pet wants most, so in a way, this is actually a reward for the puppy. Instead, upon being bit, you can immediately get up and turn your back to them, ignoring them for 15+ seconds. She will begin to correlate “hard bites” with “play time is over.”

Another example is a dog that jumps and barks when you prepare to throw the ball. If you walk away with the ball or put it in your pocket whenever the dog jumps and barks, the dog will begin to learn that jumping and barking makes the ball go away.

Here’s a video of a trainer showing what “negative punishment” might look like…

Of course, it’s also important to reward good behavior with a treat and lots of love and affection. Using this combination of “negative punishment” and “positive reinforcement,” you’re much more likely to train your pet in a gentle way that teaches right from wrong, while also maintaining trust in the relationship.

What has worked best for you?

Got some training tips that did the trick for your pet? Comment below and let us know your favorite “teaching methods.”