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Punishment Doesn't Work'And May Make Things Worse

Study finds that dogs subjected to negative reinforcement develop more problem behaviors

Dogs who are trained using punishment are more likely to develop certain bad behaviors, according to a study published in the February 2004 issue of the British journal Animal Welfare. Researchers E.F. Hiby, N.J. Rooney, and J.W.S. Bradshaw used results obtained from surveys of 326 dog owners to analyze the effects of certain kinds of training methods. The researchers found not only that rewards (of play, praise, and food) were more effective in eliciting desired behaviors from the dogs, but that those owners who used punishment-based training had seen a variety of bad behaviors in their dogs—including barking at/aggression towards people and other dogs, fearfulness, excitement, separation anxiety, and inappropriate mounting.

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