Punishment and the Public
Traditional, punishment-based dog training has become not just entertainment but a cultural phenomenon. False assumptions about “dominance” in dogs (and other animals) are widely used to justify punishment. People believe what they hear and imitate what they see; shelters and veterinary behaviorists are seeing the resulting damage.
In the past, the clicker community has responded to such propaganda by ignoring what we don’t like, reinforcing what we do, and teaching by our own example. Now, however, we face increasingly misinformed clients and overt training methods we find horrifying. The increasing success of positive training may in fact be one reason for this flare-up of force-based training. This whole phenomenon could be an extinction burst.
Is ignoring the phenomenon enough? What is our present responsibility in this issue? Can we counteract this emphasis on punishment without becoming punishers ourselves?
Karen Pryor shares her thoughts about punishment, the public, and the way forward.