There are many reasons people yell at their dogs, and in some cases it may even be well-intentioned. But, dogs lack certain reasoning skills, so even when yelling is well-intended, the lesson will usually fail to be learned. In fact, the result is that of travelling a backward path, where you may end up instilling negative behaviors that are difficult to reverse.Top 4 reasons you should NEVER yell at your dog…
Harsh punishments bestowed upon a dog can cause fear which is never a good, or helpful, outcome. Dogs that are repeatedly yelled at in a harsh manner are at risk of developing fear aggression. Dogs with fear aggression may growl, show their teeth, or even bite when they feel cornered, or put in any type of fearful situation. These dogs aren’t mean in any way; it is more like a reflex reaction in an attempt to remove the cause of the fear. In addition, yelling or punishing them for this reaction can end up making things worse.
Ah, so you’ve yelled at Fido for peeing on the carpet, again. So, why is it that he now pees on the carpet only when you’re not looking? Yes, you’ve created a sneaky dog. He knows that he can’t get away with it while you’re looking, but doing it while you’re not looking seems to work out just fine. This can go for yelling at your dog for chewing the sofa, stealing from the garbage, sleeping on the furniture, or anything else you may decide to yell about.
Yelling at a dog after-the-fact is the equivalent of yelling at a brick wall. Your dog doesn’t have that good of a memory, and therefore lacks the capability to make the correlation between prior bad behavior and whatever it is you are yelling about. It may release frustration for you, but the only thing it accomplishes for your dog is confusion. Oh, he may cower and look guilty as though he knows exactly what he has done, but don’t be fooled! He is only sensing your anger (because dogs are intuitive like that) and reacting to it.
Many, many, many (have I mentioned it’s, ‘many’??) dog owners yell at their dogs when they bark. It is a natural reaction, after all. But, if you think it is doing any good, think again! So, here you are putting your dog in his place by yelling at him to STOP! Meanwhile, your dog is thinking how very wonderful it is that you agree with him, and yes, the cat should be barked at because surely you must be barking too! That’s right, barking makes lots of noise, and if you chime in and make lots of noise too, then your dog will assume you are in agreement. What to do? One effective method is to completely ignore your dog when he barks, but treat and praise him whenever he stops. Another method is to teach your dog the “quiet” command. Or, simply figure out what triggers the barking, and remove the trigger. Keep in mind that a bored dog, or a dog with pent up energy, are the types of dogs most likely to be barkers. So, sometimes solving barking issues is as easy as making sure your dog gets plenty of exercise, and mental stimulation.
Instead of Yelling at Your Dog, Do This…
The best way to train your dog is, of course, not through yelling, but through positive reinforcement. This is what dogs understand far better than anything else. When they do something right, and you reward them with treats, verbal praise, or play time, that is when they start to think, “Oh! That’s what she wanted!” And that is when dog owners begin to reap the benefits of all their training efforts.
Rewards need to be given immediately after the desired behavior occurs. In fact, studies show that the quicker the reward is given, the quicker the dog catches on. That is one reason why clicker training has proven to be so successful. Humans can click quickly, and dogs quickly learn to associate the sound of that click with positive rewards. You can still get great results without using clicker training though; it certainly isn’t the only method.
Once a dog begins to understand that desired behaviors lead to good things, he will want to do them over, and over again. And, since yelling isn’t a “good” thing to a dog, that is why it just doesn’t work.
Practice makes perfect, so be sure to practice skills daily, and keep doing them even after the skill has been learned. Practicing and repeating skills, being consistent in your approach, and always using the same command words is key if you want your dog to first, learn the skill, and second, remember it.
All dogs learn at a different pace, and some skills will prove more difficult to learn than others. A dog’s attention span is short, so always train in short spurts, otherwise he will get bored and want nothing to do with it. If ever you feel yourself getting impatient, or frustrated because your dog just isn’t getting what you want him to do, just stop and go back to it another time. You should never allow your dog to sense your frustrations as they are much better learners when positive things are associated.
Lastly, always remember to make it fun! This will lead to a human-to-dog bond you can cherish for a lifetime! 🙂