99.99% of the time we can teach our dogs positively without using punishment!
The story of the punished Pitbull; why we should not use punishment:
I once was working with a Pitbull puppy who was very sweet and energetic. I taught the family force free positive reinforcement training techniques to train him but with his level of arousal they often left him in the backyard or in the den with very little contact or interaction with them.
About 5 years later, they came to me because they said he was aggressive and had bit people without warning. During our session, his owners shared with me that they had hit him on the nose every time he growled or showed signs of “aggression”.
While we trained together he took treats from me and did not lunge, growl or bark. Although, I was careful, he never showed any sign that he would attack. We decided to remove his pinch collar and put a harness on him.
As his dad was putting the harness on him I gave him treats. When the dog heard the “snap” of the harness his eyes instantly got big and he lunged towards my face. I was able to turn my head and no one was hurt. However, that action showed me that his punishment for growling had led him to learn not to give a warning sign before lunging. He was punished for showing that he was uncomfortable. Eventually, this dog had to be euthanized.
Sadly, pet euthanasia may have been prevented with positive reinforcement, compassion and empathy.
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