Punishment and Aversion Therapy in Dog Training

Punishment and Aversion Therapy in Dog Training

Punishment is the idea that if you cause someone physical and/or psychological pain they will change their behavior.

Bottom line… It has been studied to death, it is CRAP … It does not work with any consistency or in the long run and your dog pays a serious price.  … The goal of aversion therapy is to make the situation so unpleasant and painful that you or the dog would never in their right mind consider doing that again. Funny that research overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that this does not work over time. So, in common vernacular.. yep… when the effect fades you have to repeat the aversion and don’t forget you will have to up the dose due to effects like assimilation and acclimation to painful stimuli … Yes we have a great term in Psychology that we may have ripped of from medicine … inoculation.  There are several versions or uses of the term in psychology but, this is closely related to tolerance.

If you know that you will be facing a painful event you can build your tolerance both psychologically and physically to prepare for an event. this effect is long lasting or it will break you and/or your dog. So lets not go trying this at home but, it does serve to explain why fluffy has had that pinch collar and the e collar on for years and still wants to kick your butt even more then we you began. Or Fluffy has been reduce to and emotional basket case.

Think of an Olympic athlete, they put themselves through hell and you should realize that strenuous exercise is often used to break people and punish people so, why are the outcomes so different? Believe or not your dog works just like we do! The outcome of being exposed to pain both psychological and physical is dependent on the individuals understanding of the situation. This could be discussion all it own but, the point is that if you have the right mental, physical and genetic assets you can put yourself through hell and come out smiling. If any of these aforementioned fail you the outcome it not good.

Punishment true punishment is base on the same principal. Make it so painful that the dog never wants to do that again. It is funny that in conditioning this is called a positive punishment. So, much for positive only training right 🙂 Punishment has the same flaws as aversion but, on a smaller scale. A correction or redirect can be a simple as changing the direction of travel. Far more conducive to learning.

There are far more effective methods.  Aversion Therapy is really just using a painful stimulus which is a kind of punishment.


So the truth is that you have manage the emotional state or drive .. safe calm.. then teach.  Believe me, aversion therapy is no more of a path to accomplishing anything of use just like training based on punishment.  You can see why Motley and I had to move beyond these old school dog training ideas that were “borrowed” from old, old psychological studies. Right up there with the old saying :

“Spare the stick, spoil the child.”

Here is a cool little article I found if about Dog Training and Punishment.


Before you decide on a training method read up on it..

Till next time.



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