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  • Richard Chan

Punishment will hurt your relationship?

Updated: Nov 8, 2022

There will be people who tell you such and such methods are not scientific and such and such theories have been debunked or things like that.

I am not interested in that kind of debate.

What l am interested in is relationship.

To be more precise, l want to share with you what a good relationship with your dog should look like in my opinion.

Like l always say, engagement is the corner stone of my training system. To build the best relationship should always be the priority.

Without real engagement, you are building your training on sand. Engagement is the rock. It is the foundation of all good behaviour.

Some people will tell you using aversive or punishment will damage your relationship with your dog. You should only use reward in order to keep a good relationship.

In my opinion, it is impossible not to train without punishment. A "no" can be a punishment, stopping in your track when your dog pulls is a kind of punishment, turning around when the dog drags you forward is a punishment, turning your back on your dog when he jumps on you is a punishment.

No one that l know of only trains with punishment. Just as no one can realistically only train with reward without any punishment.

Balanced training is about using different tools and different approaches for different dogs. It is about not limiting oneself within an ideology while watching a dog and owner suffer with an ineffective method.

It is about knowing dog psychology and how to read the dog in front of you so you can use the best approach to help the dog in the best possible fashion.

More importantly, it is about helping the owner to enjoy living with their dogs employing the best and easiest technique and tools.

It is about watching a great relationship unfold and flourish between the dog and the owner.

A great relationship is not one whereas the dog is allowed to do whatever he wants or one in which the dog looks at the owner as a free vending machine.

A great relationship is one whereas you are the most important being to your dog. It is one whereas your dog will always choose you over other dogs, people, and what not, even among heavy distraction.

It is very easy for someone to tell you you should not do this and that if you want to have a great relationship. It is very easy for someone to say such tools or methods will damage a relationship.

Is it true? Does that person know what he/she is talking about?

Before we take such advice, it is only logical to find out if they have a good relationship with their dogs first.

Good thing is it is also very easy to see if someone has a good relationship.

How important are you to your dog? How much does your dog desire you? How much does your dog value your company?

To answer these questions, just leave all your treats behind, remove all the collars and training tools, drop your leash, do nothing, stay quiet, and just stand there - where is your dog?

Many people will see their dogs completely ignoring them or even disappearing on them.

Many of their dogs will not stay by them once the leash and/or treats are no longer there.

How can it be a good relationship when your dog is only there with you because you are keeping him restrained to you or because he wants your treats?

If you have a great relationship, your dog should want YOU regardless of whether you have food or not.

If your relationship is solid, your dog should want YOU regardless of how many dogs are around.

If you relationship is really positive, your dog should choose to stay by YOU regardless of whether he is on leash or not.

To cultivate such a relationship is what engagement training is about.

Engagement is not something that can be have only by being a vending machine of affection and treats to your dog.

It is not about yelling at your dog.

It is about a balanced relationship whereas you are the most respected, trusted, most interesting, and the most special being to your dog.

When you have that relationship, it is a beautiful thing. Everything is in balance. Your dog is the happiest and so are you.

To have that relationship is what real world balanced training is all about.


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