So I want to talk a little about punishment-based training - what it is, possible repercussions of using it, why it's so popular, why it's unnecessary, and why I know what I know about it.
First, what is it? This is any training that emphasizes the addition of an unpleasant stimulus to cause a behavior to be less likely to occur in the future. In other words: doing something to the dog so the dog stops doing a behavior. This can be anything from yelling " no," to poking the dog in the side, to using a prong collar, to hitting the dog. Let me emphasize something here - IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE ABUSE TO BE PUNISHMENT. You can punish an animal without being abusive, at least within the scientific definition of punishment.
So if it's so bad, why is it popular? It's quick! You can suppress a behavior immediately and the dog appears to be better behaved. Appears is the key word, as a physical punishment does not improve the dog's emotional response to whatever caused the initial behavior. It's like if you were afraid of spiders, and I dragged you near one. Every time you resisted, I jabbed you in the side. Does the jabbing make you feel better about spiders? And how do you feel about me after that exercise?
Also, it's incredibly hard for people who have been using punishment to step away from it. Why? Because that means "admitting" the usage of techniques where you may have been making the problem worse, or even terrorizing dogs through training. But regardless of training methods used, it's assumed that your heart is in the right place because you're trying to help people and their dogs, which is great! We need more caring people in this world - caring is the first step. The second is becoming educated in the area you care about.
But I digress. So why is this unnecessary? Scientific studies have shown that, risks aside, punishment training is not the only way to train. Training your dog should be fun for both you and the dog - how fun is it to constantly correct or yell at your dog? Using rewards, listening to your dog's body language, and slooooowly introducing your dog to what may be troubling him, that is the way to go! There's no huge amounts of stress, you can have fun doing it, and best of all, you get to change your dog's emotional state (and therefore behavior). We can train wild animals to cooperate with us without threatening them (ever tried yanking a tiger around on a prong collar? Good luck!) so why do we do it to man's best friend?
After reading all that, you're probably wondering who am I to analyze this? I have had extensive (and always ongoing) science-based education, with many courses and certificates. But the biggest reason I can speak so confidently on this - I used to be a punishment-based trainer. Physical corrections, pinning, choke chains, I did it all. And now that I know what I know through lots of education and development, I will never go back. Since I crossed over, I haven't needed to use my old training style at all, and I've had a much better success rate. So, more success, happier dogs, less stressed out me... Why would I ever go back?
Any thoughts? Any comments? Please feel free to speak up!