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4 Quadrants of Dog Training PART 3

Welcome back! This is Part 3, the final part, of the 4 Quadrants of Dog Training Blog Series. Hopefully everyone has read Part 1 and Part 2 but, if you haven't, you can find them here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

In this post, we will be discussing the other two quadrants of dog training. These last two quadrants deal with punishment - consequences that reduce a behavior. Just like reinforcement, there are two types of punishment - negative and positive.

Just like in Part 2, negative and positive don't mean bad and good. The terms negative and positive refer to the subtraction and addition of something.

Punishment is an extremely controversial subject. If you are someone who doesn't believe in punishment, please give this post a read. You may learn something you didn't know!

Positive Punishment

Positive Punishment is decreasing a behavior by adding something unpleasant/aversive.

Most people view positive punishment as animal abuse and there are several cases where that can be true! Positive punishment can definitely be over-used, misused and become abusive.

Normally, when positive punishment is viewed as abusive, it is being used out of frustration/anger and not being used in a humane way to teach the dog right from wrong.

Positive punishment does not have to be abusive! Animals in the wild learn valuable skills that keep them safe through positive punishment and the same can apply to your dog at home. For instance: If a wild animal stuck its face in a bee hive and got stung, surely that animal would learn not to do that again.

Animals are not the only ones that learn through positive punishment. Let's take a look at a few examples:

#1 - I remember as a child, we had a floor furnace. I also remember the first time (and the last) that I ever stepped on it! I stepped on it and immediately jumped off. The heat of the furnace was enough to teach me not to ever step on the furnace again (or at least to check to see if it was on first)

#2 - Another example is spanking a child. I am well aware that this is a very controversial subject but it is just an example!

#3 - A teacher assigning a student more homework for being late to class or missing an assignment.

#4 - Applying a slight leash pop to a dog that is sniffing a dangerous object on the ground.

All of these are examples of positive punishment. Now, when it comes to dogs, people automatically think of beating, yelling, hitting, etc. But these responses seem to be more out of anger than they are out of a desire to teach. This is why the term "positive punishment" has a bad stigma. When used correctly, positive punishment doesn't have to be abuse, doesn't harm your dog, and could save their life! If you have any questions about positive punishment, I would love to chat!

Negative Punishment

Negative punishment is decreasing a behavior by removing something desirable. Did you ever stay out past curfew? Get caught doing something you shouldn't? Maybe your parents took away your TV privileges or didn't allow you to go to the concert with your friends that weekend. That is negative punishment. Your parents took away something you wanted in order to decrease the undesired behavior.

Let's say you are petting your dog and he jumps on you. The moment he jumps up you turn away and stop petting him. Removing your attention is an example of negative punishment.

The key to negative punishment is consistency. If you don't remove your attention 100% of the time, your dog may still jump on you. So be sure you remain consistent and don't give up!

Long Story Short

1. Punishment is a consequence that stops/decreases an undesired behavior.

2. Punishment happens in nature, in homes, in workplaces and in everyday life.

2. Proper/Appropriate punishment is not harmful.

3. Proper/Appropriate punishment is never used out of anger or frustration.

4. If punishment makes your dog fearful/afraid/aggressive, you are doing it WRONG!

5. Proper punishment can save your dog's life.

Due to it's misuse, punishment has a horrible stigma. If you would like to learn more about the proper use of punishment, please give me a call! I am very open and transparent and I understand that many people are unaware how to use punishment correctly and humanely. I am also aware that the idea of punishment scares some people! I am here to educate, not judge so if you would like to learn more, I am here:

Sophie Thomas


Happy Tails Dog Training

Memphis, TN

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