Inappropriate Punishments: The Surefire Way to Confuse Your Dog
Why timing is crucial!
In dog training, timing of rewards is very important. Timing of punishments or corrections is vital. If you don’t know when your dog chewed up grannies wig or peed on the rug, don’t punish. Just make sure your dog isn't able to repeat it again. And remember that dogs have no notion of “expense” so many owners turn their dogs into shelters because they chewed up their brand new one-thousand-pound sofa. They don’t know or care how much things cost! It doesn't matter how many times you wave your credit card bill in front of their face, they don't care. They were bored, they needed something to chew, your shoes were handy.
In regards to the timing of rewards, I'm going to put it in perspective for you with an example. You get home after a very long, hard week at work. It is Friday. You've been stressed, working the nine to five to pay for your wive's expensive shoes. You put a pizza in the oven, crack open a can of beer, put your feet up and get ready to relax. The weekend is yours.
Next moment your boss storms into the room.
"I can't believe you did that! Monday morning, come to my office nine o'clock sharp for a disciplinary. I am very disappointed in you!"
You feel slightly hurt and bewildered. You have done a lot during the week, so what exactly are you being disciplined for?
Now, put yourself into the shoes (or paws ...) of your dog.
Your dog is still a pup and has been left inside for a little bit too long. Nobody is around to let him out. He decides to just pee anywhere he can. He has a very long but fun day — he chews a few things left lying around, has a play with the squeaky toy you left him, has a bit of the chew you left to keep him happy. Finally, you come home. You’re happy. You can relax. But then you see the mess and you are angry — you storm to your dog, yell, ask him what he’s done, perhaps drag him to the mess. He doesn't know why you’re angry. He did that five hours ago. What is he being punished for exactly? Lying down? Having a bit of his chew? Playing with the squeaky toy?
In essence, the two scenarios are the same — nobody likes being yelled at when they don’t even have the slightest inkling what they’ve done wrong, and that includes dogs. Though they are intelligent, dogs simply cannot put two and two together that well, especially if the incident happened several long hours ago. They see the mess, might know they’ve done it but they don’t realise that’s what you’re mad about. It’s exactly the same as your boss yelling at you in the example we saw above. There are a million and one things you could have done wrong… but which one are you being punished for?
Always ignore behaviours you have not seen happen and attempt to interrupt the behaviour next time before it happens.
Even if you have seen the behaviour, use discretion with the punishments you give — never punish a puppy for natural behaviours such as chewing or having accidents. They do not have the bladder capacity to hold on for as long as adult dogs, so it is your job to ensure you teach the dog where to go and to ask you when he wants to relieve his full bladder. If you're at work for eight hours, get someone in to let the poor dog out.
As for chewing, it is the way that dogs discover the world. They learn their own jaw strength through chewing — you need to redirect chewing behaviours to dog toys.