Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Arrogance of Punishment

By: Daniel Antolec    

Shock 2
As a professional force-free dog trainer I often hear dog owners use the term “punishment” and understand it from their perspective as a word in common use.
Webster’s dictionary: 1 the act of punishing; 2 a. a suffering of pain or loss that serves as retribution; 2 b. a penalty inflicted upon an offender through judicial procedure; 3 severe, rough, or disastrous treatment.

I will address each definition in context of “punishment” as applied to pet dogs by their owners, rather than the use of the term as understood by professionals, with respect to operant conditioning.
First, as an American I acknowledge living in a punitive society, evidenced by the highest incarceration rate per capita in the world.  Many of us were raised in homes where punishment was the norm.  My 30-year police career postured me to observe the behavior of citizens, looking for something to stop.  If that “something” was serious enough it resulted in arrest and likely punishment through legal process.

Dog owners often consider punishing unwanted behavior rather than rewarding favorable behavior.  As a trainer I shape the attitude of dog owners to look for opportunities to reinforce desired behavior, rather than look for something to stop.  Read the entire article

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