How NOT to train your dog
There are a lot of books, websites and magazine articles on dog training. Lots of opinions by many different minds on the subject. One subject that comes up is what punishment is acceptable to most trainers. Is punishment even necessary? Instead of delving into various training methods, I’m going to touch on how NOT to train your dog.
First, why would you even consider physical punishment might be necessary? Where did this thought come from anyway? Since children came before pets, waaay back in our human history, I am going to take the reasonable approach that the idea came from some cultures that deemed it necessary to punish children.
As a child that lived with severe punishment myself, (emotionally and physically) today we would call it abuse, I witnessed animals being severely ‘punished’ as well. I too was guilty of this at times, being far too severe in my punishing of misbehaving animals that were in my care.
Before you all turn away in disgust
remember I mentioned that I was a child of emotional and physical abuse?I saw the error of my ways in this, many many years ago, when my sons were very young. I realized that I was teaching by example and I did not like what I saw in myself.
My parents were deeply entrenched in Church teachings, based on Christian principles (supposedly). Too many Christian based Churches then and now, use the Bible as their reasoning for corporal punishment for children. There are a few verses that the Christian churches point to, that they say tell them hitting a child is commanded.
Verses like ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ or ‘thy rod and staff, they comfort me’ and a couple of others. Somewhere in the translations, people thought it was a God given command to hit a child! Not so at all! A little back history, if you do some research, will show you that the rod and staff mentioned, were used to ‘guide or seperate sheep, goats or cattle’, not to hit them with it!
Jesus, in the New Testaments, clearly states that if anyone purposefully hurts a child , that it would be better if that person had never been born (I am paraphrasing). Jesus took this behaviour very seriously! Children are precious and are or should be considered a Blessing! The Bible has many instances of where the Word says that a child should be taught to be the person that he or she will become as adults.
Not beaten…. taught!
Naturally, with an attitude that gives permission to hurt children, (this seems to me) to also seemingly give permission to hurt animals for many with this mentality. Its not just the Christian communities that were and often still are guilty of this, but other cultures too.
China, India, Pakistan, and Thailand to name just a few, are known as having existing cultures that encourage dis respectful treatment of animals, birds and fish. Not all people in those countries, of course, there are many good and kind people as well.
Islam, supposedly teaches fair treatment of animals, yet there is much cruelty in their culture too. I’ve seen some graphic videos of Muslims beating dogs, camels, donkeys and horses, pictures that I can’t unsee! Of course, there are many good people in that culture as well.
We live in a messed up world of our own making. God designed and created Planet Earth as beautiful, humans have and are messing it up.
By now you are wondering where I am going with this, right? I am getting there….
Why is it ever okay to beat a horse, beat a cow, beat your dog, and so on?
As a parent, I promised myself that I would NEVER hit my children. I was so in love with my babies and remembered how harsh my parents had been with me and my brothers. I remember how fearful and angry I became.
I mostly kept that promise, choosing to discipline my sons by taking away things they enjoyed or having them sit in a chair for a period of time, along with a scolding. As children will do, they pushed their boundaries. As they got older as young teens, time outs were just not effective, and we turned to physical exercise like push ups and running laps!
Twice, our two sons, chose to play with fire,
in the Barn of all places, after being taught many times how dangerous fire could be. One day they both got a firm spanking along with much scolding, after discovering the evidence. We even took them to a recent house fire in our local town, and explained to them how dangerous fire could be.
The second time, yes there was a second fire episode! The spanking obviously did not have the intended result! They almost lost control of the fire and it scared them enough that neither one tried it again. My husband and I found evidence of melted plastic containers in one of our barns and confronted the boys about it.
When asked why they had persisted in starting a fire, the answer was that they were trying to learn how to put out fires! Yikes! Thankfully, all ended well.
Ironically, the main instigator, my youngest son, became a volunteer Fireman at age 17, a Paramedic at about age 22-23, and a full career FireMedic some years later (Fire college trained Fire fighter and Paramedic). Our other son, chose a safer career in Computer Science (programming) via a University degree. We are proud of both of them. But I digress.
My point with this story is, that hitting your children is not discipline. Discipline is teaching your children boundaries and helps your children to learn to control themselves. Hitting your children is not necessary to raise them into valued respectful adults.
Why would it be necessary to hit your dog?
If children can be raised well, without physical violence on their persons, then surely all animals can be trained without violence too?
How NOT to train your dog, then is to say:
- Never physically hit or kick your dog
- Never scream insanely, in anger at your dog
- Never grab your dog to shake him in anger or for punishment
- Basically NEVER injure your dog in any way! Screaming insanely at your dog is also harmful. Harmful in destroying his confidence and his trust in you.
◊ Sometimes it can be useful to give a dog a sharp tap with your fingers or toe/heel to get his attention, to prevent having your dog getting into a fight with another.
◊ Sometimes it can be useful to grab a dog, very quickly, and force him or her onto the ground, in a submissive position. Why? It’s how dogs discipline other dogs. I have used it with dogs that are bullying other dogs and won’t stop by any other means.
I have used it to stop a vicious fight or two between two dogs. This method should only be used by a confident dog handler and only in extreme circumstances.
◊ Sometimes, it can be useful to give a firm tap, light spank, with fingers or toe when you catch a dog in the act of peeing or pooping in the house but ONLY by a confidant dog handler and ONLY if you have exhausted other methods of house training for that dog. Some dogs are extremely stubborn about house training and must be caught in the act.
◊ Sometimes a short sharp scolding, is necessary to reinforce to your dog that what he or she just did, greatly displeases you. Dogs live to please you, you are or should be their Trusted Leader. I mean short! Not a long drawn out screeching, shouting, swearing kind of episode!
◊ Shock collars, while causing discomfort and can cause pain, should not be used in obedience training as a rule. They have their use, in teaching a stubborn dog to stay within home boundaries. They have their use in teaching a dog to stop a dangerous behaviour, like chasing vehicles, livestock etc.
It should not be used as a punishment, but rather as a conditioning tool. Your dog should not know that you have caused the discomfort, but rather that when (for example) he steps over the property lines, uncomfortable things happen. What’s better? A uncomfortable shock from a collar, or being run over and killed by the vehicle the dog is chasing?
The whole point of training a dog, or any animal
is to teach them to live within our rules or to teach them a skill. A fearful dog can never be fully trusted. Using methods that instill fear, will result in a dog that does not trust you.
The dog should be only be ‘fearful’ of losing your good opinion of him or her. Your dog, when handled well, should want to please you. There must be a bond, of love. Not Love as in ‘spoiled rotten’, but in Trust, Respect, and Affection.
Whew! That was quite a train of thought! So whatever training you choose to do, whatever trainer you choose to follow, how Not to train your dog, is simple. Choose a method that does not use physical punishment. Choose training techniques that teach your dog that you are his or her trusted Leader. It can be that simple.