Why we don’t use punishment or aversives.


At Tip Top Dog School we try to base all our training methods on reward-based motivational techniques.

The words “Aversive” and “Punishment” mean delivering a harsh correction to the dog.

We do not do the following :



Rub noses in urine or faeces

Lead jerk

Knee in chest

Throw discs or rattle cans

Spray water

Why not? – because there are humane and effective alternatives to punishment.

Here are a few of the main reasons why punishment can cause worse problems than the unacceptable behaviour one was trying to stop:

A punishment requires perfect timing and it has to be severe enough to stop the behaviour first time.

Most owners do not have good enough timing to deliver the punishment within 2 seconds of the undesirable behaviour.

If the punishment is delivered time and time again escalating in severity (as is not working ) it actually becomes ABUSE.

Punishment only teaches the dog what NOT to do.

Positive training teaches an alternative behaviour – if you teach your dog to “sit” he can’t be jumping up etc.

Punishment teaches any reasonably intelligent dog to keep away from you.

e.g Why should he come to you when called if you shout or hit him when he has ( at last) come back to you.

Any bad behaviour that is fear based can be made worse by using punishment.

e.g the dog that is barking at another dog because he is scared of it, is now afraid of you too if you hit him for barking at the other dog.

You do not earn your dog’s trust and respect by intimidation and physical abuse.

Only kind, fair and consistent training will make a dog regard you as their leader and guardian.

You don’t change the dog’s attitude by punishment.

e.g If you punish a dog for growling at you – it may not growl a warning next time – but go straight in and bite you.

Your dog may not understand the reason for the punishment.

e.g You may think you are punishing your dog for chasing a jogger – but your dog might think you were punishing him for not going fast enough to catch him.

Your dog cannot generalise or discriminate

If you punish him for chewing the chair leg he will still chew the table leg. If you allow him to have an old trainer as a chew-toy he will think it’s OK to chew your brand new ones

Punishment can cause a dog to shut down.

The dog decides that everything he does is wrong so he doesn’t try to do anything and he cannot learn

Punishment can seem like a reward to the dog.

e.g Touching your dog to stop him doing something can seem like a reward to your dog even if you think you were reprimanding him.

Punishment can physically and mentally damage your dog.

e.g Lead jerking can cause severe long-term injury to neck and spine, plus – why on earth should your dog want to walk next to you if you keep hurting him?

Punishment can backfire with horrific consequences in cases of aggression.

e.g You may punish the dog and he won’t bite you – but his anger could make him re-direct his aggression to another dog or even your child or grand-child

Punishment can become owner contingent.

e.g Just because you have suppressed an unwanted behaviour, rather than teaching the dog how you want him to behave, it does not mean the dog won’t do it when you are not present.

Punishment can be simply a way of the owner venting their own anger and frustration.

Please don’t get the wrong idea – positive does NOT mean permissive.

Dogs, like children are happiest knowing their boundaries and what is expected of them.

At Tip Top we believe in helping you to understand your dog’s natural behaviour and how to train your dog to behave acceptably in all life situations – not just in the classroom, which is why we explain what we are doing and why.

We do not just teach obedience exercises.

By some trainers’ criteria we at Tip Top are not 100% purely positive.

We do use “Time-Outs” occasionally and we will use a “No” if necessary.

We don’t allow doggy tantrums or temper biting (of you or us).

We won’t smack or shake the dog but we will restrain him until he calms down (and stops trying to sink his teeth into us!)

We do believe that all dogs must have enough trust and respect for their handlers that they will accept handling and restraint from an early age.