Punishment over Reward


New Member
Okay, this is going to sound really bad. All the lessons I've seen here are based on reward and I was wondering how bad you think the use of punishment is. Now before you all kick me out :msntongue: , I don't mean kicking your dog or hitting your dog with a stick and sending him flying or anything. For instance, when I caught the little rascal chewing on my shoes I gave him a little slap on the butt which sent him yelping away. I probably hurt his feelings more because I'm sure I didn't hit him that hard.


New Member
I personally don't have a problem with just a small smack on their butt, but I use a rolled up news paper. You don't want the dog afraid of you or your hands. I also told them that they were smacked with the puppy whacker for getting in to ____. It took my dog 4 times before I could get him to stop the bad action by just saying "I'm going to get the puppy whacker!".


Honored Member
Staff member
I prefer a verbal "punishment." It's more of a startling distraction than a scold, therefore it gets the dog's attention without making them scared of you directly. I use a sharp, "Ah-ah!" to discourage any unwanted behavior, and most of the time that's all it takes. At first, some dogs have to learn that the "Ah-ah!" is meant to make them stop permenately, and it takes further training, but I've never really used physical punishments. I have used leash corrections in the past before learning of other methods, which were beneficial but not the best method for the dog. I don't think tapping your dog's hind end(tapping--just a step above touching) is animal cruelty.
The thing is, most problems can be easily fixed by giving the dog something to look forward to rather than avoid. Therefore, the dog can more easily understand that he gets a reward by not doing something bad, but can have trouble comprehending that he gets punished for doing something bad. Positive experiences are better for the dog and you, and your relationship. People can often be inconsistent with punishments, so it confuses the dog more than it helps.


Experienced Member
I agree that a verbal "ah-ah" or something sharp is often quite effective. Some people however try this but it comes out more as yelling which often only seems to escalate the behavior as the pup gets more excited. I often combine the "ah" sound with a body block at first, stepping into their space (i avoid using my hands as it gets pups excited if it's used to shove/push.) For some people, the use of a shake can (can filled with pennies) can be a good distraction.

Overall I feel punishment is ok, but it's often easier to focus on what you want the dog to instead of just telling "no." For example, if a dog is always begging at the table, you could instead teach it to lie down on a dog bed away from the table and reward that like crazy. Or if the dog steals everything in site, just teach the dog "leave it." Just remember with any punishment to remain calm and in control, yelling and getting frustrated will not teach the dog anything.


Experienced Member
The secret to training a dog

The best advice I ever got, through all the dog activities I've ever done, was in response to a person asking " How do you train a dog ? "

The answer was " The secret to training a dog to do anything is...... forming a strong bond between owner and dog "Dogs by nature want to please us, and therefor also don't want to displease us. Once you have formed a strong loving bond with the dog, a simple word or sound ( like fickla and Tx mentioned) that tells the dog you are displeased with a behaviour is enough to teach them they did wrong and are more likley not to repeat that behaviour.
In an extreme rare situation I have slapped one of my dog on the hind leg, to correct the behaviour immediatly and let them know I have zero tolerance for that behaviour. The last time I recall, was 2 years ago when Talin and Arlie got into a vicous fight over a bone. BTW they have never had a fight since.
I believe verbal corrections are all thats necessary 99.9% of the time.
My 3 dogs at various times have trained in agility, flyball, canine frisbee,and some home obedience, but the thing that forms the strongest bond between owner and dog is doing tricks, it builds confidence and knowledge in them, but more importantly is fun for dog and human, which is necessary for bonding. As well as the occasional cuddle and just talking to them while you watch tv !.


New Member
I agree with the verbal reprimands. I don't too much think a small tap just to scare a pup will harm him/her or any way, but once my puppy got used to the tone of my voice, training from there on out was much easier. Just by changing my tone, she knew what she was doing was wrong and stopped.


New Member
If you believe in positive and negative reinforcements in training a dog to behave, punishment and rewards go hand in hand and there should be positive and negative consequences for your dogs.


Experienced Member
I never hit my dog.
She is too afraid of being hurt, it took me so long to get her not to be scared when she sees a sudden movement of my hand (yeah, adopted dogs... :)), I don't want her to think that I would hurt her.
When she ruins something, I act like I'm really sorry about it (even if it's only a rubber), and make her know she did something bad.


New Member
Please remember that the opposite of reward is not punishment...it is no reward. :dogsmile:

It is absolutely possible to train without any type pf physical punishment whatsoever. My dogs are all trained this way, and all seem to learn just as well. In fact, I 'd be willing to assert that my dogs are much better behaved than many dogs I know that have been "punished" in various ways. (I am not talking abuse, here.)

I have trained horses, chickens, hamsters, a goldfish, my blue and gold macaw, as well as other creatures...for many of these species, physical punishment is simply not possible.
My chickens took one day to learn several tricks, and only 2 days to learn to pick the queen of hearts out of a hand with numerous number and face cards. The only things used were treats and a clicker.

So please read up on learning theory, especially the concepts of positive and negative reinforcement, and positive and negative punishment. You might be surprised.

A couple of good books:
Excel-erated Learning by Pamela J. Reid
Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor

Both available in paperback, or your library probably has them or can get them for you. Amazon has them available. And look around, there are a lot oaf good resources available.

By the way, I don't think that you are being abusive to your pet, I just feel that there simply are better ways to teach. I never had to strike my children, either, and they grew up to be solid citizens.

Good luck with your learning and training!


Experienced Member
there's a great article in this month's whole dog journal about punishment based training. they support positive training as I do but it was enlightening since i have a traditional training background. if you are applying a light correction or not painful enough so that that dog will actively work to avoid it you are setting yourself up for failure. the dog learns to ignore the correction so that more and more force/pain is needed for it to work.

there's an entirely different issue with poisoning cues. the latest research shows that even a very light tug on a leash can poison the come cue. after much systematic testing and review using even very slight pulls on the leash develops an emotional response to the leash where desired behavior success/accuracy goes down and attempts at offering behavior by the dog get fewer with time. so unless you are committed to punishment based training and doing it right and painfully enough you will fail.

this was where i didn't realize i was failing. i am committed to rewarding and encouraging with positive means and punishing by removing what the dog wants like going forward on a walk or my attention. for this reason alone i have a better chance of success with positive training. however i am destined to fail with averive training because i am not going to be harsh enough to use aversive training correctly. I never really thought of it that way before but it holds true for every dog i ever trained. it was interesting.