Kommetjie Canine College

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Cape Town

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  • Taryn Blyth

It Doesn't Really Hurt, it just...

Whether it is a discussion about shock collars, citronella sprays, prong-collars, choke chain corrections, “bonking” a dog on the head with a rolled up towel (I mean SERIOUSLY??), throwing a shake can at a dog or forcing them into a down, I am sure you have all heard this before:


It doesn’t really hurt, it just……. (Insert: Startles, interrupts, stops the behaviour, corrects or whatever other sanitized term is used to convince others that what is being done is harmless.)


I want to answer this as simply and briefly as possible:


PUNISHMENT (ADDING SOMETHING TO STOP OR DECREASE A BEHAVIOUR) DOES NOT WORK UNLESS IT IS AVERSIVE.


There is no way around this fact. Stimuli (stuff the dog experiences) are either:

1. PLEASANT 2. AVERSIVE 3. NEUTRAL


Only a pleasant stimulus will increase behaviour. Only an aversive stimulus will decrease behaviour. A neutral stimulus has no effect on behaviour.


You cannot divorce a stimulus from its emotional consequences. A pleasant stimulus makes a dog feel good – so the dog will work for more of it. An aversive stimulus makes a dog feel bad, so the dog will work to avoid it. Dogs do not work to gain or avoid neutral stimuli. If a shock collar or vibrating collar or whatever, was not aversive, it would have NO effect on behaviour.


YOU CANNOT USE PUNISHMENT AND AVERSIVE TOOLS WITHOUT EMOTIONAL FALLOUT. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE.




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