Aversive Training Can Cause Fallout
We all want our dogs to listen to our cues and behave accordingly, and there are many different ways to condition your dog’s behavior to your liking. For years people have used negative reinforcement as a primary training method. Also known as, aversive training, this is when punishment is used to eliminate undesired behaviors from the dog. While it is effective in ways and will seem to work quickly at first, it is in no way recommended method for training your dog.
Aversive training can cause fallout and other secondary behaviors.
When a dog is punished for a behavior they exhibit, they usually don’t understand much more than, “If I bark/jump/eliminate improperly then I get hurt or other bad things happen to me.” They don’t really learn much more than that, other than maybe that people in general are unapproachable which could cause them to be fearful or aggressive.
The downside of punishment, coercing, and negative reinforcement.
- Avoidance/Escape Behaviors: This is when your dog shuts down and avoids you or any place or thing that they associate with the hurt. This can in turn cause more punishment and lead to even more undesirable behaviors.
- General Apathy: A lot of times your dog truly doesn’t know what he is doing wrong. This causes not only suppression of the undesired behavior, but for all behaviors, leaving them indifferent.
- Learned Helplessness (Conditioned Suppression): Even worse than apathy is when they become so confused and frightened by the punishments that they completely shut down and can turn almost robotic.
- Operant Aggression: Simply put this is when you’ve hurt your dog and they decide that they are going to hurt you back. They see you as the source of negative and hurtful stimuli and seek to eliminate it by trying to destroy what or whom is causing the punishment.
- Elicited/Redirected Aggression: Similarly, this is when the dog lashes out at others near by that aren’t the cause of the stimuli. They may lash out at other animals, adults, and even children in close proximity when the negative reinforcement occurs.
- Injury: Using coercion, forceful physical actions you can unknowingly injure the dog.
- Reinforcement of the Punisher: The more one uses aversive tactics, it becomes easier and even habitual. Then when those tactics don’t work in certain situations, the negative reinforcement can quickly escalate to unsafe and even abusive levels.
There are far better ways to train a dog than with force and punishment. Even if you’ve tried it and saw results, the fallout that occurs from continued aversive training and coercive tactics far outweighs the temporary correction of the behavior that is being punished. Instead of shaping a well behaved dog with a healthy mind and confidence, you often end up with a dog that only appears to be well behaved at times because they are fearful of punishment.
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