That's the million dollar question isn't it? If you've looked into dog training, and talked to different dog trainers, I'm betting you received different answers. So...what is the right answer?
No. You do not need to punish your dog during training. Deciding what type of training you want for your dog is a personal decision, and you shouldn't be forced into a training style that you are not comfortable with.
That being said, I do want to clear up one misconception. Punishment is not abuse. These words have become synonymous in our society, and that is not correct.
Punishment runs the gamut from not rewarding a dog with treats when they do not comply with directions, to a high correction on a training device when their life is in danger. And everything in between.
As with all parenting/training/learning styles there are limitations when punishment, or correction, is not introduced.
For example: I took a type-writing class in high school that helped me learn how to type accurately and efficiently. My score was based on a combination of the keys I entered correctly and the keys I entered INCORRECTLY. Knowing where my mistakes were, helped me adjust my typing style so fewer mistakes were made.
If I was only told what keystrokes I entered correctly I would have continued to enter those correctly (yeah!), but I could not have fixed the problem keystrokes. And believe me, that would have SERIOUSLY impacted my first job...where deaf students needed accuracy and efficiency from me in order to succeed in their college studies.
So back to the topic at hand. No, you do not NEED to punish your dog when training. You can absolutely train your dog for the behaviors you want, and ask them for other behaviors rather than their natural "naughty" ones.
However, please be aware your see-saw of training will be tilting more in one direction than the other. You need both sides. Teaching the dog what is NOT acceptable, and THEN teaching them what you want them to do. Your dog deserves clarity and communication from you in order to succeed.
And please, keep in mind that punishment, applied correctly and fairly, is NOT abuse. If so, you are being abused when you get pulled over for a speeding ticket, and abused when you don't get paid because you were late for work, or abused when you fail a test because you didn't study.
Let's keep our see-saws of training on an even keel. Our dogs deserve our love and affection, but they also deserve clarity and respect.
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