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Why is physical punishment the wrong method to use when training a dog? What should be practiced instead?

There are two reasons for objecting to physical punishment. The first is ethical – do owners have the right to hurt their dogs, even if it’s “for their own good”. The second is that physical punishment induces fear and anxiety – if it didn’t, it wouldn’t work – and these can affect the dog’s relationship with people and even its whole personality. And not in a good way.

Unless they’ve been mistreated in the past, most dogs want to please people, and their owners especially. Their behavior can thus be channeled by reward-based training – and if their attention wanders, the temporary withdrawal of reward can be used to bring them back in line. Reward-based training produces a confident, relaxed dog that knows what it should be doing. But training is essential – an unruly dog is a danger to itself and to others.

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