Hit a Dog - Does Hitting and Beating a Dog Work?

One of the most common ways of dog discipline is to slap a dog on the muzzle. When I was growing up, another popular method is to beat a dog with a rolled up newspaper. Nowadays, that has pretty much gone out of style. Instead, it has been replaced by jabbing or poking the dog with a finger, pushing the dog down in an alpha roll, or applying pain through a remote or shock collar.

Does hitting and beating a dog work?

Are these methods effective for stopping bad dog behaviors?

Some people suggest that physical dominance techniques such as these are most effective because dogs are pack animals. As such, they only understand the language of dominance and in particular, physical dominance. To become an effective pack leader, we must hit and beat our dog, because that is the only way to get them to follow our lead.

Is this true? Can leadership only be achieved through pain and physical domination?

In this article, we consider all of these important questions and issues.

Hit Your Dog - Does Hitting and Beating a Dog Work?
Hit Your Dog - Does Hitting and Beating a Dog Work?
Does Hitting or Beating a Dog Work?
Does Hitting or Beating a Dog Work?
Reward based dog discipline is safer because there is little danger for your dog to become fearful, aggressive, or stressed.
Reward based dog discipline is safer because there is little danger for your dog to become fearful, aggressive, or stressed.

Does Hitting or Beating a Dog Work?

When we hit or beat a dog, we are applying pain to the dog. In particular, we apply pain to more sensitive parts of a dog's body, for example, his ears or muzzle. This pain is a stimulus that the dog absolutely does not enjoy. When applied with the right amount of force and timing, an aversive stimulus will cause a dog to stop his current behavior in order to avoid further pain and stress.

Not all aversive dog training involve pain. Some methods, such as shaking a can of pennies, uses an unpleasant sound to discourage bad dog behavior.

Not all aversive methods are equal. Some people suggest that if you shout at your dog, then that is equal to giving him electric shocks because both are aversive methods. This is clearly false.

All other things being equal, pain is a much stronger aversive stimulus than a loud noise. It also carries much greater risks.

In addition, an aversive stimulus can be applied with different strengths and duration. If we hit a dog with more force, it will cause a stronger aversive response. Similarly, we can apply an electric shock for a millisecond, second, or more.

Does hitting or beating a dog work?

That depends on what we mean by work.

It can discourage bad behaviors when applied with the proper force, timing, and redirection. However, pain based aversive techniques are very risky. If not perfectly applied, studies show that they significantly increase stress, lower quality of life, and may even increase dog aggression.

Does hitting or beating a dog work? That depends on what we mean by work.
Does hitting or beating a dog work? That depends on what we mean by work.

Dog Dominance & Pack Leadership

Some people claim that hitting, beating, or other physical dominance techniques are more effective because dogs are pack animals. To become a leader to our dog or dog pack, we must speak to them with pokes, jabs, slaps, hits, and electric shocks. Anything else is just humanizing the dog and treating him like a baby.

Indeed it is very true that dogs are pack animals. This means that they are social beings that should not be left alone for long periods of time locked up in the backyard. Just because dogs are pack animals does not lead to the false conclusion that they only understand the language of physical dominance.

Do dogs try to physically dominate each other?

Sometimes. The concept of dominance exists for dogs, but it also exists for non-pack animals. Lions for example. have dominance over most other animals because they have size, power, and very big teeth. We have even greater dominance not because of our physical strength and speed, but because of our brains and opposable thumbs.

Therefore, dominance does not mean physical dominance.

It is true that dominance can be achieved with big teeth, strength, and speed like the lions. However, the more effective form of dominance is not achieved through pain, hitting, and beating, but rather through the control of resources.

Dogs are not human, and humans are not dogs. We do not have sharp teeth, we cannot run very fast, and in a physical contest, we will lose to our dogs. Instead of trying to poorly imitate our dogs with hits, jabs, and alpha-rolls, we should do what we are good at - gain dominance through the control of resources.

Dogs may stop a behavior when we hit, beat, finger-jab, or alpha roll them not because they think we are a meaner dog, but because they want to avoid further pain and stress. This has nothing to do with being pack animals or even with dominance.

Do dogs try to physically dominate each other?
Do dogs try to physically dominate each other?
Reward based dog discipline results in a dog licking your hand rather than running away from it.
Reward based dog discipline results in a dog licking your hand rather than running away from it.
Reward based dog discipline results in a dog licking your face rather than biting it.
Reward based dog discipline results in a dog licking your face rather than biting it.

Risks of Hitting or Beating a Dog

One of the key risks of hitting or beating our dog is that he may start to learn that we (and in general people) are the source of pain and stress. That is why it is very important to redirect the source of our aversive corrections.

If we spend most of the time physically correcting our dog without proper redirection, our dog will learn to associate a hand or a person coming near him as a threat. This may lead to several responses -

  1. A fearful dog will most likely try to flee first. However, if running away is not an option or if the dog feels cornered, he will probably try to protect himself with his teeth.
  2. A more confident and stubborn dog will most likely fight back to keep the threat away.
  3. Dogs that are somewhere in-between may choose appeasement behavior such as rolling over and exposing their belly. They may also exhibit other calming signals including lip licking, turning away, etc. Through these appeasement behaviors a dog is indicating that he is not a threat so that hopefully, he can avoid a conflict.

This is why hitting and beating a dog can lead to increased aggression, and loss of trust. However, some dogs may choose appeasement behavior, which is when we say the techniques are working. But even in these cases, there is still a lack of trust, and an increased level of anxiety and stress for the dog.

Reward training is less risky, effective, has long-term results, and builds a strong bond with your dogs.
Reward training is less risky, effective, has long-term results, and builds a strong bond with your dogs.

An Alternative Method to Hitting or Beating a Dog

Instead of applying pain through hitting, beating, jabbing, or poking, we can use a reward stimulus instead of an aversive stimulus.

Contrary to what some people may say, reward techniques can be used to encourage behaviors, train commands, and also stop bad dog behaviors.

In aversive training we discourage a behavior by applying a negative stimulus (e.g. pain), and remove the stimulus to encourage a behavior. In reward training we encourage a behavior by applying a positive stimulus, and remove the stimulus to discourage bad behaviors.

For example, if puppy is biting on curtains we can stop that behavior by taking away some of puppy's freedoms. We do this by using body blocks to get puppy away from the curtain area, giving puppy the "go to your bed" command, or putting puppy into a brief time-out.

Since biting the curtain results in an undesirable consequence, i.e., loss of freedom, puppy will reduce the frequency of that behavior. Instead, puppy will repeat behaviors such as going to his bed, because he gets rewarded for them.

Do approve of hitting, slapping, or biting a dog?

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  • No.
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Unlike aversive training, reward training is a lot less risky, less stressful, and less likely to increase dog aggression. Reward training helps to build a strong bond with our dog that is based on trust, and a good quality of life.

Some people say that reward training does not work on aggressive dogs or stubborn dogs.

This is false.

Truly stubborn dogs respond much better to reward training because when faced with an aversive stimulus, dominant and stubborn dogs are more likely to fight back.

In the show DogTown, which airs on the National Geographic Channel, the trainers use only reward methods to rehabilitate many difficult cases including Michael Vick's fighting pit bulls.

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.

~~[ His Holiness The Dalai Lama ]

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Ultimately, reward based dog discipline allows you to forge a stronger bond with your dog, and helps make your dog into a confident canine.
Ultimately, reward based dog discipline allows you to forge a stronger bond with your dog, and helps make your dog into a confident canine. | Source

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Comments 36 comments

NK 3 years ago

I think what everyone needs to remember is that animals do not understand being punished. All they connect is the bad experience and having to do with you. Dogs also see anger as a sign of weakness, they don't understand it. Dogs need limitations and control, if your dog is destroying things or peeing everywhere think of what limitations it needs in order to have these things corrected. Just like a child if left to its own will get into trouble. We have a Basset hound and I am have set stricked limitations, such as she is not permitted upstairs where our bedrooms are this helps her to understand that we are in control of her environment. Secondely we have taught her commands to help when she is being bad, Leave It is a very good one to teach because any time she touches something she shouldn't we say Leave It in a stern voice and stand with our hands on hips until she releases and then praise her for doing what we ask. I also do A LOT of leash training, when walking and also in the house. I have three children and a 2 year old who is grabby, by having her on leash when they are excited helps her to control her level of excitedness. I also find that leashing inside gives you that extra confidence if you are having trouble controling your temper. We also walk our dog for 45 minutes in the am and then again in our pm. We notice a big difference in her behavior if she doesn't get a walk and is more difficult to control. This Dog has taught me more about myself then I could ever have none, I am naturally a hot tempered person and with three kids on top it can be a struggle to maintain my composure. DO not cross that line just like you wouldn't with a child, hitting does nothing and teaches your dog nothing but to fear you. Training is everything and it gives a lot of satisfaction when your dog actually listens, you just have to bridge the gap of understanding. Good Luck Everyone

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shibashake 4 years ago Author

Hello Marcus,

I am so glad to hear that things are getting better. Sounds nasty about the chemicals. It is a good warning that we should all be careful when having our carpets professionally cleaned.

My dogs send their love and lots of licks.

Marcus 4 years ago

shibashake, Thank you very much. I've found the route of the problem. My carpet has some sort of chemicals in it and I've complained to the property manager. My dog's paw's would swell up. and she'd have trouble breathing, she'd urinate all over.. and so many other things, I believe the previous tenant used EXCESSIVE amounts of laundry detergent to clean the carpet (then professionals came and cleaned it and it just made it worse) my whole apartment glows in the black light. all streaky and nasty looking, Thursday I'm being moved to a new apartment with brand new carpet. She's been at my brothers and hasn't had a problem but within 3 hours of being back here. she'd start to just bite and bite at her paws, they'd get redish and swollen. so I put my bare-feet on the floor(I always wear socks just a germ-a-fobe) and my feet would start to burn and turn red and get puffy/swollen... so I put my hands down on it and then I rubbed my eyes and my eyes got puffy and swollen.. anyway, she's back at my brothers and NO PROBLEMS at all.... It's this place.. poorly done. I pay 1038$ a month for rent and I have a right to be angry. I threatened to break my lease and they offered me a new place with brand new carpet, brand new cabanets, brand new doors. good to go. I really do aprichiate the advice I have this page saved as a home page when I open up my IE it pops up. Thank you so much!!

-This THANKFUL 23year old Infantry Veteran

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shibashake 4 years ago Author

Hello Marcus,

What seems to work well with my dogs, is to calmly no-mark them when they do something undesirable, and then follow-up by telling them what to do instead. In this way, we are teaching our dogs different ways to deal with stress and over-excitement.

For example, first I teach my dog some simple commands. When he jumps on me, I ask him for a Sit instead. If he follows the command, I reward him with attention and a game. If he does not, then I turn away from him and ignore him. In this way he learns that jumping = no-attention, whereas Sit = get attention.

I had a lot of problems with my Shiba Inu when he was a puppy. I also got very frustrated and angry with him, but then I realized that when I was upset, his behavior actually worsened. When I was able to stay calm, he was a lot more likely to calm down as well.

Here is what I do to teach my puppy to stop biting-

Here is a bit more on what I do to train my puppy-

Marcus 4 years ago


Ok I am a Combat Veteran I suffer from PTSD (anger spikes)My puppy is about 6months old I got her in Feb. from a shelter. She will not listen or lean with treats.. She constantly jumps on my couch, pee's all over the house and on my bed. She puts her paws up like she's boxing stands on her 2 back feet. and if I stare at her she will back up growl and bark. I say NO!!!!! then give her a treat when she stops.. 3 months later still no results. (Chihuahua mix) idk what to do anymore, I've been yelling a lot because I'm getting sick of her Alpha behavior. She has started peeing when I yell now. I have spanked her twice but I felt bad so I don't spank her I feel bad yelling but it's the only way she'll listen.I leave her in the Kennel whenever I go somewhere she wont eat when in it, 7-8 hours. she whines for hours.. I'm getting to the point of bringing her back to the shelter but they will put her to sleep so I refuse to, no one I knows wants her.. and I refuse to give up on her, I love her.. but she gets under my skin all I think about all day is being shot at in combat, killing... people dying... WAR.......and when she doesn't listen it sends me into a PTSD craze, I don't want to emotionally scar her so I really could use advice? I'm sick of her clawing me in the face/eye I say NO in a firm loud voice, then reward her when she stops. no improvement. should I start making her sleep in the kennel at night instead of on the couch or bed with me? should i take away all access to the bed/couch? can I lift her onto the couch when I want to love her? I pet her and she'll roll over and put her paws up and start clawing at my face.. the shit really hurts... any advice??

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shibashake 4 years ago Author

Dear C,

I agree with you that rules are important for domestic dogs. Dogs need to learn our human rules so that they can live safely and happily with us.

However, there are many different ways to teach rules to our dogs. Personally, I do not use pain based aversive techniques because they are risky and can cause undue stress.

For my dogs, non-pain based techniques are more effective and leads to a higher quality of life.

As for whether something is right or wrong, good or bad, that is dependent on each person's moral compass, and we each make that decision for ourselves.

4 years ago

I really don't think anyone should abuse or brutally beat a dog in training, but i really don't think Not hitting your dog in a form of punishment is going to help either.

when ever my dog does something bad, i yell and smack him on the booty, he goes to his bed and usually does not happen again.. He's never growled at me or snapped at me, he is my sweet baby and i love him very much.

My close friend doesn't believe my form of discipline works even though my dogs respond well to it, and in result her dog growls at her and snaps at her, her dog jumps on her glass table to sleep and is very disobedient, her dog will not even let her brush his coat.

I don't abuse my dog and it annoys me when ppl all over the internet say that if u hit ur dog its abuse, hitting your dog in the slightest way is not abuse, its discipline.

I would never think you should Hurt your dog, hit them too hard or exaggerate their punishment in any way, i hit my dog slightly on the butt and yell when he does a bad deed and he behaves so well.

The good things i do for my sweet hearts is much more then any times i have to resort to punishment and they don't fear me, my babies run to me every time i come home and cry if i walk to another room without them.. i love them very much so honestly i just think it depends how you handle it individually

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shibashake 4 years ago Author

Recall has to do grabbing our dog's attention. When a dog is outside, there will be more distractions, and it will be harder to grab his attention and vice versa.

I usually start recall training inside the house and in the backyard where it is quiet and there are fewer distractions. I call my dog, make a lot of noise, move around a lot, and try to be really interesting to my dog. Sometimes, I run in the opposite direction, which will often cause a dog to chase us. When my dog comes, I make a very big deal out of it and reward him with high priority treats as well as his favorite game.

Once I have a solid recall in low distraction places, then I slowly increase the challenge. Using a long-line can also help with recall.

Dogs that are independent and have high prey drive will be more difficult to train. Dogs that are more people focused will be easier to train because they will more naturally give us their attention.

Here is an article which outlines all of the recall methods-

fiorano 4 years ago

I do have a question and I know this is quite an old article. My dog listens quite well, but when he sees another dog he does not care what anyone says or yells. He'll run from me and the more I yell the more he doesn't care. When he comes to me 10 minutes later am I supposed to give him a cookie and praise him? Because I have done that without much success. Yes he comes back but he knows that he'll get a cookie after he's had his fun either way, sop why come back immediately?

In contrast I decided do switch to punishment. When he didn't come back I'd yell at him, even slap him on the butt. But after that it even got worse, he doesn't want to come at all because he's probably fearing the punishment. What am I to do, always have him on the leash? (we take walks at the mountain)

animallover 4 years ago

I am sorry however I completely agree with Lara's argument. Animals in general should not under any circumstances be physically punished.

Honestly what the hell gives anyone the right to physically hurt another living creature.

It would not surprise me neither bother me if a dog did turn and attack his or her owner, you only need to watch the news to witness this.

People and animals alike can only take so much and will sometimes eventually snap, sometimes this can be fatal.

Its really all simple...respect animals and they will respect you!!!

Animals as well as humans should both be respected as they deserve to be treated that way.

In society

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shibashake 4 years ago Author

Hello Mary,

My dogs also get excited when we come home. Usually, I just ignore them until they calm down. Once they calm down, then I give them attention and affection. In this way, they learn that -

jumping and barking = get ignored

sitting and being calm = get attention and affection

I also noticed that when I come home from walking one of my dogs, the other ones will come over and sniff her mouth and butt. I imagine that the smells tell them where we have gone, and to some extent, what we have done. Dogs often jump to smell and lick our mouth, for the same reasons.

Another thing that may help, is to desensitize a dog to us leaving or coming home.

Mary Nazarian 4 years ago


Great article! I have an 8th month old Bassett Hound girl! She is so sweet and follows orders. She slips here and there, I feel that happens because she still is a puppy. The biggest concern I have is, when my husband and I leave the house for an hour and come back she goes crazy. I am not too sure if it is excitement or anger. She has a VERY musical bark so she barks non stop for about 2 minutes and crys too. She also jumps up and down. She calms down after about 5 minutes. We leave her in the house with out maltese whom she gets along with very well. Does she have separation anxiety? Will she grow out of it? If not how can I train her to be at ease.

Thank you

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shibashake 4 years ago Author

"I use positive reinforcement on most occasions. "

Glad to hear that you also prefer the use of positive techniques.

As for using forceful techniques, some people may not want to hear this but ...

1. Studies show that if we are aggressive, our dog will be too.

2. Studies show that applying pain to a dog can significantly increase stress, which in turn will lower quality of life.

3. The best results come from providing our dogs with a good quality of life. Training and doing commands are only a means to an end. The end is always to provide a good quality of life for our dogs.

I started out with aversive techniques, mostly leash corrections. I took many private lessons from a trainer, and practiced doing leash jerks on a chain link fence so that I could get the technique and force exactly right. This technique got 'good' results at first, which is to say that my dog followed the commands. However, things degraded fairly quickly after a short while.

My dog got habituated to the corrections, and always tried to fight back. Ultimately, these forceful techniques caused more problems than they solved, and this does not even take into account quality of life issues.

big d 4 years ago

I've tried both ways. Im sorry to say, But hitting a dog for severe infractions has always diverted the bad behavior. Some of us don't have hours and weeks to spend "training a dog the right way." I rescue older animals from the pound, most of them have real problems. I use positive reinforcement on most occasions. The best results come from force. Sorry that most of you don't want to hear this, but it is the truth with older pound dogs.

DogsRgreat 4 years ago

I get your point but I have a reply.

You said that ear biting is play but I guess she didn't know that :).

She understood what I meant.

I don't have to fear her hurting me because no matter what I know she would never try to. She has accidentally hurt me but she is a dog, dogs have teeth and claws and they don't always know that our skin breaks easily. ( For example, she has scratched me by offering her paws so many times)

You may be right that 'Teaching out dogs to treat us like any other dog, will likely cause accidents with bad consequences', but I don't think that will happen with her because she doesn't treat me like she treats other dogs. She does not like other dogs and would never play with one and if she did she would soon be fighting.

Another thing, I think in all her life I have only bit her a couple times, disipline is usually a wap. (Never on the head though! I just wanted to say that because I think many people do hit their dogs on the face)

Don't get me wrong, I give her a LOT of treats in training! Discipline is only a type of training, it is for when she does something wrong. treats and praise are for when she obeys and for training new things.

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shibashake 4 years ago Author

Biting a dog's ear is one of the most dangerous and risky things to do to a dog. Why?

Because when we bite a dog's ear, we are placing our face right next to our dog's teeth. As you say, this is how dogs play with each other, so our dog may 'play' with us by biting our ear or face in return.

Unfortunately for us, our skin is thin, sensitive, and our face or ear will not fare well in play-biting.

Just as dogs are not human, we are not dogs. Teaching our dogs to treat us like any other dog, will likely cause accidents with bad consequences.

Even if we decide to ignore all of the scientific studies, and ignore all of the risks, there are less dangerous pain based aversive methods that can be used.

Even dominance or aversive based trainers do not recommend biting a dog's ear.

DogsRgreat 4 years ago

I have a very dominant dog and I slapping is a great discipliner. Yes, some dogs might get afraid, submissive etc... but it works great with her. We have a great bond together and she is not afraid of me. We wrestle together, play fetch, have games of tug-of war and go running/walking and biking together. She loves humans!

I will give you an example of how pain works. Once while playing she tried to bite my neck. I just bit her on the ear. It worked liked magic, she instantly knew what I meant and she calmed down. (When she tried to bite me it was not aggressively, she was just doing some rough play)

I can assure you that dogs themselves do not teach each other what to do by giving them treats. For example, once when my dog was a puppy she was annoying an older dog, my dog bit the dogs tail, the older dog snapped at my puppy.

It really depends on the dog for what type of training you use.

Lynzi 5 years ago

It's sad to see that people will cling to violence - even that of a simple spank - when the data is there to prove it isn't any more effective than more calm and learned techniques. Hopefully in a few generations this need to train and teach with violence will peter out as we aim for a higher understanding of the world around us.

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shibashake 5 years ago Author

Hello kmo_9000,

You bring up a really good point which is that the level of pain applied is very important.

- Too much pain and the dog may become overly fearful, aggressive, or just shutdown.

- Too little pain and the dog will just ignore the stimulus.

In particular, to properly execute a pain correction we need to apply exactly the right amount of pain to cause an aversive response but not more and not less. This makes it difficult to implement properly.

In truth, it is even more complicated than that. Different dogs have different tolerances to pain so the "right" amount of pain is different for different dogs.

In addition, dogs may also become habituated to pain, so the "right" amount of pain changes with time.

This is why pain techniques are risky, and difficult to implement. And this doesn't even take into account timing, execution, and redirection.

In short, pain based aversive techniques have many points of failure, and even small mistakes can cause big unwanted consequences.

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shibashake 5 years ago Author

Hello Colt,

"I understand that pain increases stress, but don't other aversive methods do the same? Certainly, when a dog does something wrong, "stress" and "fear" is the desired effect?"

That is a very good point. I think all types of "punishment" even the non-aversive ones can cause stress. However, the degree of stress and type of stress is very different.

Amount of stress is also dependent on the temperament of the dog and many other factors, e.g. does the dog understand why he is being punished.

The thing with pain based techniques is that pain is a very intense stimulus and can trigger a threat response. When dogs feel that they are under threat, they may fight, flight, or appease.

A frequent fight response may lead to an aggressive dog and a frequent flight response may lead to a fearful dog.

Noise aversion techniques such as shaking a can of pennies does that have the same level of intensity as pain. Dogs often don't like the noise, but it is less likely that they will see it as a threat.

It is even less likely for dogs to see withdrawal of attention, or freedom as a threat.

This is why pain based techniques tend to be the riskiest because mistakes made, even seemingly small ones, can cause even more behavioral issues. This was starting to happen with my Shiba Inu, which was why I looked into alternate methods.

Thanks for the good and civil discussion. It is a very refreshing change.

colt45 5 years ago

Interesting, thank you for the article and as well the informing replies.

I understand that pain increases stress, but don't other aversive methods do the same? Certainly, when a dog does something wrong, "stress" and "fear" is the desired effect?

I would think, if done right, this would teach the dog to respect you? My dog doesn't fear me, in fact we have a very loving companionship, but he does fear me when he does something he knows is wrong. I don't hit him anymore because he RARELY (maybe once a year) does something wrong and when he does the guilt and fear he expresses is enough punishment for him. Of course, I do scold him a little.

I can't argue and say that hitting your dog is great on a scientific or psychological level, but from my own personal experience I have never had any problems. However, to maybe support your point, my dad did used to beat one of our dogs and he developed a nervous bladder. He would also be very frightened if you raised your hand at him. He wouldn't act aggressively though, but I did feel bad for him. I think this had something to do with over-doing it though. I don't beat the living daylights out of my animals, the pain I inflict (when teaching them) is very mild compared to how my dad would hit this dog. So yeah, in a sense I do agree with you hitting your animals is bad, I don't particularly enjoy it.

But, in my case, a gentle smack (just enough to sting my hand a little) on the hind quarters or has been sufficient in my pets.

If I can see a dog that has no behavioral problems whatsoever $6, and has never been hit, then I will become sold on your point.

The risk you mention though makes sense, but only because there is a fine line between what is an acceptable "hit".... If I hit my dogs as hard as my father did, I have seen how that ends up. He didn't "abuse" them, but he would hit them pretty damn hard when they did something wrong.

Again, I am not trying to prove anything, I kind of see what you are saying but then again I think there is a level of what is acceptable when it comes to hitting dogs.

A gentle but firm smack (just enough to sting the palm of my hand) and a firm "NO" has always been sufficient for me.

I have seen the negatives of "over doing it" though.

Anyway, thank you for the article and sort of "opening my mind", I never really thought about it. I can't say I entirely agree with you but I have given it thought nonetheless, and I see where you are coming from.

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shibashake 5 years ago Author

Dear Colt,

Reward training includes both positive reinforcement and negative punishment. Negative punishment techniques, which include timeouts and much more, can be used to stop unacceptable behaviors.

In addition, there are also non-pain based aversive techniques. Some examples include smell aversion or noise aversion.

There are many alternatives to using pain based techniques which are the riskiest because pain is a strong threat stimulus which increases stress, and may trigger a fear reaction.

"The question is, if a dog does something wrong and you send him to "time out", how does he know what he is in time out for? "

As you say, with dog training, timing is extremely important. When my dogs do something unacceptable - like biting on me or others, I non-mark them (No or Ack-ack). The marker is useful because it can be executed at once, while the dog is performing the behavior.

Usually my Sibes will stop doing whatever it is they are doing then, at which point I will give them an alternate command. If they follow that command, they get rewarded. This teaches them which behaviors get them rewards, and which are unacceptable.

My Shiba Inu is more stubborn, so he will sometimes keep going even after the no-mark. When that happens, he gets taken directly to timeout. Since the consequence happens right after the no-mark, he understands what the timeout is for.

This is similar to how "good" or a clicker is used as a mark for good behavior. Similarly some trainers may also use a no-mark before implementing an aversive correction.

Timeouts and other non-pain based techniques have worked very well on my Shiba Inu, who is a stubborn and challenging dog. With one of my Sibes, I did not even have to use timeouts at all. She is very clever and has learned that she gets more of what she wants by following house rules.

With my new Sibe puppy I only had to use timeouts a handful of times, mostly for initial hand biting, and then for some play humping.

Very honestly, timeouts together with other resource control methods have worked very well on my dogs. I started with aversive based methods, mostly leash corrections, and that did no go well with my Shiba Inu.

colt45 5 years ago

I don't think there is anything "risky" about teaching a dog which behavior is unacceptable. If the dog experiences fear, then that's the whole point, that's what keeps them from behaving badly. I read Shaun's comment. He also said, before that, "The only time she will show a sign of possible fear is when she knows she did something that is wrong." Rightly so, don't you think? Isn't that the point?

What may be risky is the way some people implement these methods.

Point is, I've always taught my dogs by gently, but firmly, hitting them when they did something wrong. And, every dog I have ever had in my life has been more well-behaved and listens much better than any other dogs, who's owners allow them to do what they want with no boundaries or punishment.

With all the success I have had, it would be more "risky" for me to not use the techniques I have used since as long as I can remember. As far as quality of life goes, I don't think it could be any better.

Imagine a society where, we never punished anyone for doing something wrong, but only rewarded them for doing what they were expected to do. But I do read where you said "if not perfectly applied", which makes sense. If aversive techniques are done wrong then yeah, I agree with you, they should not be done at all.

The question is, if a dog does something wrong and you send him to "time out", how does he know what he is in time out for? The positive of "hitting",if done instantly say, during the act of negative behavior, it is pretty clear to the dog what he did wrong. And let's be honest, is a "time out" really going to stop a dog?

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shibashake 5 years ago Author

Dear Colt,

I am glad that things worked out well with your dog. However, if you read some of the comments above your will see that not everyone has that same experience. Here is what Shaun says of his dog -

"I can literally open my front door when I walk in the house, she will drop her stance a couple inches, and put her head down to almost the ground."

As I said in the article - aversive techniques can 'work' but all the data and studies show that it is also very risky and increases stress in dogs.

As you have pointed out, it also causes fear which *can* cause loss of trust.

Does this mean that it totally removes the ability of a dog to experience joy? No. Dogs are resilient, more so than we are.

Does this mean that it will unbalance and cause aggression issues with every dog? No, but it is more likely to happen when we hit, spank, beat, or otherwise apply pain to our dogs.

Point is - Why use these more risky techniques when there are more effective, less risky techniques that lead to a great quality of life.

colt45 5 years ago

oh yeah, I forgot to add... none of the dogs I have owned have ever bit or shown their teeth at anyone. The dog I have currently, I can literally reach my hand in his mouth while he's eating and he won't bite me. No, he's not sad, deprived, or frightened. And he gets more positive reinforcement than anything else, I'm just saying the point is, I've had some fine dogs and I do "spank" them when they deserve it. Just like I was spanked when I was a kid, I learned real quick what NOT to do. And I didn't turn out scared or aggressive.

colt45 5 years ago

Every dog I have owned I have disciplined with a firm, open-handed slap. No aggression issues, no anxiety issues, no negative "fear" issues. My dog knows when he's doing something wrong. He's the happiest, kindest, care-free dog. And he listens, real well. In fact, he's so smart that I don't usually punish him anymore, because in the rare instance he does something wrong, he KNOWS it. and by his expression he feels guilt, (and probably fear) which is punishment enough. Of course, I give him a good scolding but I no longer have a need to hit my dog. Point is, I've always done it, and it's always worked. I have always had the finest dogs. When he was younger and learning, hitting him allowed me to teach him what kind of behavior was unacceptable. Just like spanking a child. And no, my dog has never rolled over on the ground, tried to flee, or bite back. I'm sure he does feel fear when he does something wrong, but rightly so.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 5 years ago Author

Dear Kanasai,

Why all this anger?

If you feel that beating and shoving sticks up your dog is the right way to go, then that is your own choice.

Striking out at others will not change the data or scientific studies that show that such techniques are risky and leads to high levels of stress for the dog.

If you are concerned about the morality of the issue, that is solely between you and your God.

Hope you calm down and have a nice day.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 5 years ago Author

Dear fatter,

There is no need to personally attack me. I am simply reporting on the interesting research that I have found on this subject.

If you still want to beat your child and dog that is your own decision to make.

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shibashake 5 years ago Author

There are many other forms of "punishment" that are a lot more effective and has longer lasting positive effects. Research has shown time and time again that corporal punishment is risky and frequently causes more problems than it solves.

"Research has shown that to a considerable extent children learn by imitating the behavior of adults, especially those they are dependent upon; and the use of corporal punishment by adults having authority over children is likely to train children to use physical violence to control behavior rather than rational persuasion, education, and intelligent forms of both positive and negative reinforcement;"

"If You're Aggressive, Your Dog Will Be, Too, Says Veterinary Study at University of Pennsylvania"

dogsarentdumb 5 years ago

Dogs arent dumb... My dog expects a cookie when she sits and gives me her paw. If she pisses in my house.. she gets yelled at and a slap on the ass. Dogs know of consiquence of theor good and poor behavior. society today even frowns uppon correctly punishing our children, thats why this generation is nothing but animals. School teachers and every adult can tell you of disrespectful brats they incounter on the regular. Its plain and simple... if your bad... you get a smack, if your good, you get cookies and kisses. A child can understand this and believe it or not so will a dog.....

Memories1932 5 years ago

What an excellent article. I am totally against aversive training. Only positive,reward based training should be used. It's a shame that some dog trainers still use aversive training and make a lot of money doing it( for example the one who has his own show on tv, which unfortunately is a very popular show.) I think that aversive training should be banned. Can you imagine if someone had a program on tv about how to beat your kids so they will be well behaved. Such a show would never be allowed, so the ones for dogs should not be allowed either. Thank you for this very important information,hopefully now people will realize that only positive training methods should be used.

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kblover 5 years ago from USA

"Since dogs are not capable of rational thinking, how do you stop an unwanted behavior, such as running off when called, with positive reward?"

Since when are dogs not capable of rational thought? They not capable of *human-like* rational thought (in some aspects), that doesn't mean they are completely irrational. Only when acting on emotions since emotions in dogs, as in humans, are irrational (i.e. you don't think "oh I am going to feel happy or scared" you just do)

The whole concept of operant conditioning (which, yes, is why corrections work) is about using a dog's ability to make rational choices about his behavior.

As far as your question, the answer is...manage until you condition the behavior of staying by you, not running out the door, whatever, strongly enough so that the dog can resist the instinct/whatever that's pulling him to run off.

Obviously, if the dog isn't responding to your call, the training wasn't complete or wasn't conditioned strong enough to overcome the distracting stimulus. Otherwise, your recall would have worked.

Put the dog on a long leash for control while teaching her what recall is and the signal you want her to pair with the behavior. When she starts coming to you, encourage her and praise and reward when she arrives at you, then do it again. Make a game out of it. Dogs tend to like games since they often play amongst themselves.

Sometimes the key to using corrections is to not have to use them at all.

It has nothing to do with "humanizing dogs", it's teaching them what we want and then continuing to practice/burn the skill in the dog's mind. Any organism that learns behaviors learns this way. The only differences are the behaviors they are best/easier to learn, and the method of "explaining" the behavior.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 5 years ago Author

Positive reinforcement is paired with negative punishment. As you say, positive reinforcement helps to reinforce/encourage a behavior and negative punishment helps to punish/discourage a behavior.

Both reward training and aversive training are based on operant conditioning principles. Here is an article on how dogs are not human, and how they learn.

Here is an article on dog obedience training

Sbentjies 5 years ago

Since dogs are not capable of rational thinking, how do you stop an unwanted behavior, such as running off when called, with positive reward? Calling the dog's name seems to have no effect and she has been trained on this. I am tired of the humanizing of dogs. Sounds simple but they are dogs, we are not. I'm going to get a book on understanding dogs, because I really don't.

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shibashake 5 years ago Author

"The point I want to make is that although violence should not in general be promoted, it is still an effective tool if used in proportion and conjunction with other methods, by the right people on the right animals."

I agree with you that violence should not be promoted - not with other people and certainly not with our companion animals.

"As a final point, let me say that there are many people out there that use exessive violence against thier pets, and nobody is going to be doing anything about it anytime soon, because an animal cant call the police and ask for help, and the world is usually to busy with other matters anyhow. "

Sadly that is true. The existence of violence towards animals, however, does not mean that we should all give up and start acting in that same way. Instead, it should spur us on to spread the word about other more effective methods of dog training, and the risks and dangers of hitting or beating a dog.

"What resourse do these people have to incorporate this inevitable violence into thier relationship with thier pet to minimise or even turn it into a responsible benefit?"

That is a very interesting point. Someone who grows up in an environment of violence or in an environment of animal violence may not really see that there are other more effective ways of interacting with a dog. After all, there is nobody around to provide an opposing view.

However, I also believe that there is an acceptance among most if not all cultures that kindness and peace is the preferred state of being. This can be seen in the teachings of most religions.

Most people do not enjoy hitting or beating their dogs. They only do so, because they have been taught that it is a good method of training - which is patently false.

There are many non-violent techniques that have been scientifically proven to yield better long-term results, a better quality of life, and that carry much fewer risks. All we need to do is spread the word that controlling a dog's resources brings better results than hitting or beating.

"The world is a long way from that point...

So we need to work with what is, not how we wish it were."

I agree that the world is a long way from that point.

However, if every one of us can convince even just one other person that there are more effective ways to train a dog than hitting, beating, or pain, then we have at least made a difference.

Many small differences will add up to making a big difference.

Sahajo Nervarke 5 years ago

Violence, hitting, and beating all have negative connotations, and as a society we certainly cannot publicly state that these are recommended methods for animal training. But political correctness aside, my opinion is that it is possible to use physical violence as an effective teaching tool without long or short term negative consequences. The limiting fators, however, are quite valid: Most people cant do it right, and it is only effective if done RIGHT on the RIGHT dog.

I hit and beat my dog, however I define a hit as a medium facial slap, and a beating as more than one hit. This usually occurs a few times a week to begin with, to establish my potentual for action in the dogs mind. It drops of to a few time a month after a couple weeks for reinforcement, and finally levels of too a hit or beating every few months, end up as an incident every for months or so during the latter part of our time together (in response to major incidences, like playing in traffic after I have already yelled and cursed and been ignored.)

My reason for hitting and beating is primarily that I tend to grant allot of freedoms. I know that I am the boss because I am the human. So why subjugate my dog exsessively for petty reasons constantly, as I percieve many others as doing? I let them do as they please so long as they don't bring the police knocking at my door, or get themselves hurt, and I come along for the ride, gaining happiness by seeing them happy and being the cause (or at least allower) of that happiness. But with lax rules and spoiled pets come great responsibility. I have to know that they will do as I say when I say to do something, as I don't dish out serious commands lightly.

I feel that the incidences of actual physical violence are so few and far between, that the dogs have in them a vague submissive "okay I better do what he say cause of how he is saying it or else" response that I can capitalize on in important situations, as opposed to the "Hey sweety, come on back now, not in front of the semi, darling" method that I just feel comfortable with.

However, because I hardly ever hit or beat except under the direst of circumstances, the dogs never developed a well-established complex of fear or resentment towards me, and the good things I do with them vastly outwieghs any possibility of fear biting, low self esteem, or any of that business.

The point I want to make is that although violence should not in general be promoted, it is still an effective tool if used in proportion and conjunction with other methods, by the right people on the right animals.

Lets not forget about all the other stuff going on in the rest of the world as we condemn violence. It is a part of life, and instead of being absolutly dismissed in a knee-jerk reaction, it should be accepted and recognised as something that is going to happen in various forms regardless of some article or expert recommending against it.

As a final point, let me say that there are many people out there that use exessive violence against their pets, and nobody is going to be doing anything about it anytime soon, because an animal cant call the police and ask for help, and the world is usually to busy with other matters anyhow. What resourse do these people have to incorporate this inevitable violence into their relationship with their pet to minimise or even turn it into a responsible benefit? We are not all of us ready to drop it cold turky. The world is a long way from that point...

So we need to work with what is, not how we wish it were.

Have a great day and be nice to your pets.

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