Training a dog can be challenging.
If your pup is acting out, your first instinct could be to shout at them. Surely showing your anger will help them learn that they’re in the wrong?
But animal experts are warning that yelling is the worst thing you can do if you’re trying to train your dog.
Yelling and shouting at your pet could actually make their behaviour worse.
Dr. Lyane Haywood, co-founder of Vet UK , also says hugs should be given out sparingly if you want to raise a well-behaved pooch.
‘When it comes to dog training, it should be seen as a two way street, involving a certain amount of give and take from both you and the animal,’ explains Dr. Haywood.
‘What it’s not is a dictatorship. There’s almost never a time when screaming and yelling at your dog is acceptable.
‘Unless your dog is about to run into a busy road and come to serious harm, I wouldn’t ever use any form of harsh voice.
‘Instead, it’s about rewarding good behaviour, not punishing the bad.’
Dr. Haywood says it’s important for dog owners to remember that their pets aren’t human, so they’re not going to respond in the same way. A human knows what you mean if you shout or sound angry – a dog doesn’t.
‘I often see dog owners in the park screaming at their dog for doing something wrong,’ Haywood tells us.
‘Or you might go to someone’s house and see the owner shouting at the dog for barking and making a fuss at the ringing doorbell.
‘But doing this is completely and utterly pointless. If you scream at your dog, your dog thinks, “Oooh, great, my human is really excited, too, I’ll make even more noise!”
‘It actually gets the dog more hyper-active. And it also sends out completely mixed messages.’
The experts are keen to reiterate that training a dog should be about positive conditioning. Reinforcing good behaviour is more effective than punishment could ever be.
‘You see people in the park trying to call their dog – calling, calling, calling – and the dog doesn’t come. Then, when it does return, it gets shouted at,’ explains Dr. Haywood.
‘The dog has done a good thing by coming back to you – however long that has taken – but you’re punishing that good behaviour.
‘It’s precisely the same when you catch your dog doing something naughty at home, like chewing a cushion.
‘Don’t shout, just take the cushion from it and give it something more appropriate to play with instead – something you should have done in the first instance.
‘And then it’s about rewarding the good behaviour, no matter how trivial it might be.’
Another thing dog lovers need to avoid is being overly-comforting – that means being less generous with the cuddles.
Dr. Haywood explains; ‘If your dog is frightened of something – the vacuum cleaner, a busy road, a loud noise – your gut reaction might be to comfort it by giving it a cuddle and a treat.
‘But all you’re doing here is rewarding a negative behaviour, reinforcing this unhelpful emotion and actually exacerbating fear.
‘Don’t rush to hug, instead remove the dog from the situation, let it calm down naturally, and re-introduce it to the thing making it scared, gradually.
‘Bring your dog as close as you can to the scary thing without it actually becoming afraid and reward the dog. Patience is key here.’