Beating a Dead Zebra – Part 3

So, going with our list, avoidance is next.  This one is fairly straightforward.  If you punish your dog the dog is likely to be unaware of your intentions.  Most people (even trainers) don’t have the absolutely precise timing that it would take to allow the dog to associate punishment with the act he’s being punished for.

So what does he associate the punishment with?  YOU!  When you aren’t around, no punishment.  When you are around… So now you have a dog that is afraid of you because you dole out punishment seemingly at random.  Do it enough and your dog may begin to avoid you.

One way trainers see this a lot is when a dog has been punished for soiling in the house.  After a while, a dog will stop wanting to go to the bathroom in front of his owner, regardless of where they are.  The dog learns that “when I go to the bathroom in the presence of my owner I am punished, therefore I will go behind the couch, and NOT get into trouble for it.”

Another fairly obvious time avoidance comes into play is with recall.  If the dog comes to you with appeasement (some people call it guilt, but he’s just trying to make you understand he is just a wee pup and doesn’t want trouble) and you punish him it can effect how successful you are in getting your dog to come when called.  He may have had enough experiences with you where he approaches you only to be faced with something unpleasant, so he stops coming to you at all.  He may even run the other way.  No punishment if you can’t catch him!

So don’t give your dog any reason to not want to be around you.  You need him to enjoy your company if you are going to have a dog that pays attention and listens to you.

About Dawn Gardner, CPDT-KA

I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), an administrator of the Modern Dog Group, and a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). I am also a freelance writer for dog related publications. I have been training dogs since 1997, promoting force-free, science based training methods, instructing group classes and providing private in-home dog training. I have worked extensively with dogs with behavioral issues, including those suffering from anxiety, aggression and other stress related disorders. I have dedicates much of my free time to rehabilitating and re-homing shelter dogs with a variety of rescue organizations. As part of my passion for advocating science based dog training methods, I have had the privilege to lecture at Virginia Tech’s School of Veterinary Medicine. In 2014 I returned to Arkansas after 12 years in rural North Carolina, where Happy Hound Pet Services began in 2007. I live in Rudy, Arkansas, with my nine dogs and occasional foster dogs.
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