Dogs: Attention and Approval is the key to their evolutionary success as a species



I spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about how to make people truly understand why teaching dogs to behave according to our expectations cannot be achieved by coercion and punishment.

There is plenty of information available that tells us that punishment and coercion is an inefficient teaching tool for dogs.

Punishment scares , intimidates, pays attention to events that are better ignored, and lastly  really doesn’t tell the dog what it is you want him to do instead.

There is science that supports these statements. Science tells us that events that earn rewards increase in frequency.

But there has to be a better, a more intuitive and natural way to explain this.


As many trainers have already pointed out: positive methods certainly are not free of disappointments for the dog.

Ignoring an initiative is not physically painful but there is a huge emotional impact.

Just think about it: You are rushing home to tell your partner that you just had a wonderful idea, or you discovered something special and you are filled with joy and excitement.

Then you finally have the opportunity to share your excitement. But you take one look at your partner who is completely immersed and preoccupied with something else and cannot be bothered to look up.

How quickly your mood crashes!

Technically your partner has done nothing but not dignified you with the attention you were craving at that moment.


Dogs are so successful as a species because of their adaptive capacity to please us. Their evolutionary success is a direct result of their ability to please humans.


By actively showing them what pleases us we simply allow them to do what they do best As a result they offer those behaviors voluntarily. The pleasure is mutual.


By helping them out and explaining to them how they can be utterly pleasing to us we are simply playing into their genetic predisposition, their endless readiness to endear themselves to us humans.

Elisabeth Weiss is a highly certified, experienced dog trainer in Manhattan, NYC. To learn more about dog training services, contact us by phone at (917) 783-1473 or our contact form.

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