Why punishment is not just cruel, it is inefficient. - NYC Dog TrainerNYC Dog Trainer

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Why punishment is not just cruel, it is inefficient.


I feel the need to write a few words about punishment because the tradition seems so hard to kill.

Punishment is the lazy man’s way of “teaching” and it is cruel. Cruel because it inflicts pain and it misleads the dog.

Science tells us that reinforced behaviors will increase in frequency.

Most people tend to feel happy when their dog is “nice and quiet” and lets them go about their life as they please.

Dogs are smart. Dogs crave attention.

The bored dog finds something to do since they don’t have thumbs they can twiddle.

bored dog

Dog: hmmm…maybe I will start to do “something” and that will get my human’s attention.


seeking attention

Human, all of a sudden, manipulated by the dog, will respond.

Human:” hey..”

Dog: Wow! This worked! Maybe if I do more of that I can get more interaction?!!


Human: “HEY!QUIET!!!!!!!!!!”

Dog now feels encouraged to bark more and is getting excited about this and starts jump and race around. Apparently the tactic worked! This is exciting!

I am getting attention!!!!!!

Bark! Bark! JUMP! JUMP!


agitated dog


Human: Knees dog in the chest. (this supposedly the humane way to stop the jumping)

Dog:…ooh ouch …bark…ouch…jump higher, maybe I am not jumping high enough?!!!


Things escalate to the point where the dogs gets jerked with a pinch collar or slapped on the nose.

(with a newspaper of course which is apparently MUCH better than using your bare hand because using your hand is cruel but using a newspaper is humane?)

Dog: Wow! This is rough! Maybe I need to be just as rough as well!!!! It hurts me and I am getting a bit scared but my human likes this! GRRRRRRRRR!  BITE!!!!!!!

Point to take home:

You cannot teach effectively by forbidding and punishing nuisance behaviors.

A dog can get used to all kinds of abuse and take it as “normal” interaction.

Will the dog enjoy it? NO!

Will the dog love you more for it? NO!

Will the dog have an incentive to please you? Not really!

Will the dog become scared of you? Possibly, that would not be unreasonable.

Will the dog mirror your aggression? Very possibly!

Will the dog learn what would please you? Absolutely not!




  1. […] When applied to house training your puppy or even an older dog, drawing very clear distinctions is important. We know that peeing and pooping are necessary vital functions and to reprimand a dog for doing that is simply inhumane. The old fashioned ways are simply unacceptable. In addition to being unnecessarily cruel they also can produce fallout behaviors. Read More > […]

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