January Is Train your pet month

Punishment – whether it is directly physical or something hands-off like noise – is never a good tool to train a pet. Intimidating or causing a dog or cat physical discomfort can be incredibly damaging to an animal’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Anything that creates fear, anxiety or discomfort (like shock collars, prong collars, choking and submissive moves or gestures) can provoke a dog to retaliate or defend himself by attacking the trainer or owner.

While tools like a vibration collar or a squirt bottle are not physically painful, they still fall into the negative training category, and I would not recommend using them. The reason is that pets subjected to punishment training over time become incredibly stressed, anxious and fearful; that’s why punishment gets results. But at what price? Punishment is simply not scientifically sound, rational or acceptable method of training.

Predictable rewards and “learn to earn” positive reinforcement training is the safest and most effective method for training a pet, period. In simplest terms, you ignore undesirable actions (unless, of course, the pet is at risk of injury) and immediately and consistently reward good behaviors with food, praise or both. The idea is to teach your pet what to do, not punishing what not to do. “Learn to earn” is helpful not only in initial training, but can be used to effectively restructure problems; dogs quickly learn that they’re in control of consequences and display appropriate behaviors to earn their reward.

Alex Tamaki

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Owner, Certified Professional Dog Trainer

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