Crime and Punishment in the Pet World

Leashed dog

Fido isn’t always as well behaved as he should be. Maybe he chews up your couch or greets guests with a nice, big bear hug when they come in the door. But whatever the case, if we don’t want the bad behavior to continue, we have to take steps to teach our dogs the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. And when it comes to crime and punishment in the pet world, we are mainly talking about dogs here. Cats are their own masters, as we all know, and they’re going to do whatever pleases them. Hmph, cats :-)

First of all, it’s necessary to understand that dogs live very much for “now.” They are constantly in the moment. So, if you punish them for some transgression after the fact, then they will learn nothing. We either have to catch them in the act, or take preventative steps to make sure that the undesirable behavior can never manifest in the first place.

It is generally accepted that positive reinforcement of good behavior is a more effective teaching method than negative punishment. Show your dog what actually is acceptable behavior, and then reward him/her for adopting this behavior. This works much better than a spritz in the face from a water bottle or the venerable can full of pennies shaken vigorously to deter doggie “crime.”

Probably one of the most effective doggie punishments is the “timeout.” Dogs are intensely social creatures, and so to prevent them from interacting with people and other dogs lets them know that they need to do better. Just be sure that your dog knows what he/she is being punished for: catch them in the act and then let them think about it in their timeout spot (e.g., their carrying crate, a spare room, etc.) for a few minutes

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