Despite the great love we have for our dogs and puppies, it’s no secret that many dog owners are absolutely mystified by the prospect of dog training. They often don’t know how their dog thinks, or how they react to your disciplinary measures.

At Lupa K9, I take a holistic approach to training dogs which carefully balances rewards and corrections. One thing that helps people to understand the right balance is considering the behavior of children, or humans in general. Let’s look at how dog behavior mimics human behavior!

When There Is Not Enough Discipline

Chances are, you’ve probably seen a child in your life (or many) who has parents that never disciplined them in their formative years. The result is fairly predictable and consistent — it typically results in off-the-wall children who have a blatant disregard for authority. Because they were never admonished in the right ways, they have an “anything goes” attitude and they feel like they’re entitled to get whatever they want. This, obviously, won’t fly in the real world when they grow up.

When There Is Too Much Harsh Discipline

On the other hand, it’s possible to achieve the opposite effect of an undisciplined child. Many desperate parents, in an attempt to correct troubling behavior, are overly harsh with their punishments. While it’s necessary to be firm, being overly zealous with negative reinforcement often leads to nothing more than resentment, self-loathing, or even fear from the child. And this isn’t only true for children! The average adult doesn’t do well in work or academics when their only motivation is based on fear. It may work in the short-term, but over a long period of time, it leads to an unhealthy buildup of negative emotions.

How This Applies to Dog Training

You’ll find that dogs respond very similarly to humans if you apply both of the situations above. If you have a dog who has had zero discipline since they were a puppy, you can bet that they’ll think they own the place. Expect a dog who loves to nip, run around, pee on the carpets, and jump all over people when they’re excited. A lack of discipline can cause this, and it can be even worse in dogs than in humans because they don’t have the cognitive ability to understand why their behavior is wrong. A person, at least, can be taught with reason and logic.

Meanwhile, continually harsh discipline towards dogs can foster resentment and fear. Like I mentioned above, you can’t sit down and explain to a dog why you’re being firm with them, so if you’re overly negative with your disciplinary strategies, they will take it at face value — even if you didn’t mean to be malicious towards them.
Dogs learn from repeated patterns, so if you don’t put tenderness and respect into your discipline, they may start to believe that you don’t love them at all — and what could be worse than owning a dog who is afraid of you?

Holistic Dog Training in San Francisco

Dog training requires a delicate balance between soft love and hard discipline. If you lean too far in either direction, you may end up with an unbalanced dog, which can be problematic for years to come.

One of the best ways to improve the situation is to call for professional dog training. I will not only help your dog to correct their behaviors, but you’ll also be able to observe my methods so that you, too, can practice them at home. I want to help every dog owner I can. If you’re in San Francisco, please contact me today! It’s time to make a positive change.