The Problem With Punishment - Havanese Forum : Havanese Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
Dave T
 
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The Problem With Punishment

The Problem with PUNISHMENT.

Perhaps the biggest problem with punishment is that it does appear to work.

Yell and the dog stops, frozen. Threaten and the dog retreats. Knee him in the chest and he takes his paws off your pant leg. Perhaps in the future the dog avoids jumping on the kneeing person altogether but may still jump on everyone else - or he may he generalizes that anyone in the doorway is dangerous and therefore to be avoided.

The "pay off" to the punisher is a feeling of control - the appearance of results. The dog stops what it was doing, for the moment.

The dog may look "sorry" or "guilty" but truly, this is merely an appeasing posture designed to diffuse your aggressive tone.

He may not be jumping up, but if what you want to teach the animal is proper polite greeting manners, you really haven't taught what you intended. A dog whose defensive freeze, fight or flight response has been triggered is not processing through his problem solving frontal lobes, he's operating on adrenalin and escape/avoidance response.


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" ... punishment may buy you a temporary suppression of a behavior but remember that you have not killed the behavior. You have merely brought about an emotional state that is incompatible with the behavior you want to get rid of. The dog is too upset to do anything for the time being ... Punishment is like a carpet bombing. The behavior you wanted to target gets hit but so does a huge portion of the dog's whole repertoire. Dogs that are punished at lot behave a lot less in general." - Jean Donaldson, "Culture Clash"

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The threat of physical punishment makes him appear obedient and subservient. But what does the dog really learn? That sitting for petting is preferred over jumping up? No. He learns that avoiding visitors and being invisible is safer than greeting them. What is the long term fall-out? Suspicion of strangers? Anxiety whenever the door bell rings? Instead of a leaping, happy, social dog, we now have a stressed dog who skulks in the background or barks instead. Over time, this chronic anxiety and conflict at the arrival of visitors can develop into a serious anti-social greeting problem. "He was getting so much better about greeting people at the front door - until he bit the pizza man for no reason." No reason? There is always a reason.


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Even when punishment seems mild, in order to be effective it often must elicit a strong fear response, and in such cases, the fear response can generalize to things that sound or look similar to the punishment. Punishment has also been shown to elicit aggressive behavior in many species of animals. Thus, using punishment can put the person administering it or any person near the animal at risk of being bitten or attacked.

Punishment can suppress aggressive and fearful behavior when used effectively, but it may not change the underlying cause of the behavior. For instance, if the animal behaves aggressively due to fear, then the use of force to stop the fearful reactions will make the animal more fearful while at the same time suppressing or masking the outward signs of fear; (e.g., a threat display/growling). As a result, if the animal faces a situation where it is extremely fearful, it may suddenly act with heightened aggression and with fewer warning signs. In other words, it may now attack more aggressively or with no warning, making it much more dangerous.

- from the Position Statement-Punishment Guidelines from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 04:44 PM
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i know i don't make a lot of trainers happy but i never punish my dog. he is a good dog and i know that the things he does that aren't acceptable like jumping on people when they come to the door, pulling on the leash, these are my problems because i have not taken the time to teach him how to act the way i want him to act. i always tell my husband, you can't yell at him or get mad at him because he hasn't been taught how to do things differently. i think sometimes we blame our dogs too often for our inconsistencies.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 04:49 PM
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Thank you for this wonderful article . . . we all need the reminder in the heat of the "event" that angers us (shoes torn up once again, etc.) And yes, I should not have left them out . . . they are irresistible to him!

Kathy and Jackson Jackson
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 05:25 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlebuddy View Post
i know i don't make a lot of trainers happy but i never punish my dog. he is a good dog and i know that the things he does that aren't acceptable like jumping on people when they come to the door, pulling on the leash, these are my problems because i have not taken the time to teach him how to act the way i want him to act. i always tell my husband, you can't yell at him or get mad at him because he hasn't been taught how to do things differently. i think sometimes we blame our dogs too often for our inconsistencies.
I agree totally with what you said. Quite often we "punish" our dogs for doing things that just part of their nature. To this day I have not bothered to train Molly not to jump up when she is greeting someone. Now if she was a bigger dog , I probably would have. This is there way of saying hello and I don't want to deprive her of that. They already have to adapt to our ways enough.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 06:29 PM
and Murphy & Gracie too!
 
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I've done the same Dave, no way would I push Scooter away when he's jumping because he's happy to see me! Would I push away my child for running to me when I come home??? Absolutely not! I guess we're nutty but we almost treat Scooter as our 4th child, at least as far as love goes!

Perfect way to say it, if the dog is misbehaving it's only because we, as owners, haven't yet taught them the right behavior.

Ann-Scooter, Murphy, & Gracie's Mom
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 08:41 PM
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Wonderful article! Thanks for sharing with us.



Dexter & Jack
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 09:10 PM
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Good timing Dave. I happen to be reading Jean Donaldson's "Culture Clash" right now. I was already doing positive reinforcement training with my dogs but this is really helping me to take a breath and understand where the dogs are coming from and putting the blame back where it belongs - on me. Thanks!

Jill - Tess & Cody's mom
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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Great book Jill , you should enjoy it. I know Kimberly will agree with that. And yes the responsibility lies in our hands.

Dave and Molly
Ian Dunbar was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from I.P.D.T.A. Here's a picture of me accepting the award on his behalf.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 09:31 PM
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I'm almost done with Culture Clash and you're right, I've really enjoyed it - lots of "ah hah!" momes. I'm getting ready to work with a personal trainer. I've asked for some assistance with Cody who gets aggressive with big dogs when he's on leash. I'm sure part of the problem is my timing on reinforcing the desired behavior. (She's also going to get me going with agility.) Before she'll work with me she gave me homework - reading "Culture Clash" on "On Talking Terms with Dogs" by Turid Rugaas.

Jill - Tess & Cody's mom
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-22-2009, 10:55 PM
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Jill & Dave, yes! The "ah ha" moments are bountiful, aren't they? I love this book and have been on a quest to get any materials I can from Jean Donaldson and have just started venturing into anything from Dr. Ian Dunbar too. If more people would learn from these two, I think that dogs & people would benefit greatly and the shelters would have much fewer drop-offs.
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