Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Punishment and puppies

Alright, so far we have basically covered when the pup is good to leave it's mom and litter mates, kennel training, and punishment. When I discussed punishment I sincerely believe you should not do any form of punishment when teaching commands until the dog is around 5 months because you want that dog to realize that it's fun to do what you ask of it not to fear you. Punishment for things such as chewing on items that are not theirs is a different story. I believe I made the mistake of using physical punishment when it was unwarranted so I warn against this. I'm not saying that a dog may not need a good little reminder every now and then but it's how and when you do it. Minor infractions shouldn't be dealt with in a physical way. Again, do not punish your dog unless you catch them in the act because they simply will not understand what they did. The dog can read you and they will be able to tell you are angry but they will not understand why unless it is as they are doing it. My biggest problem was trying to punish Trigger when he was a puppy because as soon as I raised my voice Coda would come slinking over and roll onto her back or lick my face as if saying 'I don't know what I did but I'm really sorry.' She just didn't understand that my anger wasn't directed towards her. I think my punishment on Trigger when he was a puppy was to harsh too. I use to spank him for his bad behavior(chewing, clawing the wall, etc) and he would collapse like he had been shot. He was a sensitive puppy compared to Coda because when she got spanked she just looked at me like 'that's all you've got.' The other problem is that it didn't stop Trigger from doing it again so physical punishment was almost completely detrimental to his training where as it worked great with Coda. My point is that in the future I will not be using physical punishment unless it is a serious offense such as barking at a guest, biting, or aggressive behavior. There are just better ways to train.

A few last notes on punishment. NEVER EVER hit your dog with an object! It is harmful to your dog and will mess them up psychologically so rolled up newspapers are out! Try using a replacement method. If your dog brings you your shoe or is trying to chew it up, grab their toy and act like that toy is the best thing in the world. The pup is pretty much guaranteed to drop your shoe or other object and go for the toy. Praise them like crazy when they do it. I also used cardboard to keep them from chewing up furniture (puppies are notorious for this because their teeth hurt and wood tastes good to them). You have to supervise this though (which you should do with everything they chew). Lastly, never punish your dog from above or behind because you can startle them into biting plus swatting them on the butt does little to get your point across. A swift tap on the nose (not too hard because the nose is very sensitive) or grabbing their scruff like their mom would and a little shake will get it through (this scruff shake is for puppies, not adults). The best way to punish really is to startle the puppy if you can. I just learned that swats on the butt (just like with kids) mostly are a waste of time. For the most part they don't even sting and the dog essentially just gets annoyed with it instead of realizing it's a punishment. I will talk about the forms of punishment I used throughout my dogs training over the last 4 years and you will be able to see where I set myself back or did something right. It has been a learning road for all three of us (plus trying to teach my husband).

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