Discipline, or following the “house rules,” is important if you want your Labrador Retriever to be a great pet and live happily – and safely – with your family and friends. But don’t confuse discipline with harsh punishment. They are two different things. Labrador punishment is, in fact, is a misnomer. Instead, use proper discipline, which produces a well-trained Labrador Retriever. This forgoes any need for punishment.
Labrador punishment, including hitting your dog, swatting it with a newspaper, leaving it chained to a tree for chewing up your slippers, opens the door to many problems and sends the wrong messages to your Lab. There are plenty of ways to let your Labrador Retriever know they’ve done something wrong without physically punishing them.
Why Your Labrador Retriever Should Not Be Punished
1. Your dog will dislike you
If you physically punish your Labrador regularly, he will feel uncomfortable around you and be afraid of you. We have seen dogs shy away from a treat because it is in the hand that also hits them. Can you see the mixed message the Labrador is getting? It is especially confusing if you’re trying to train your Labrador. The easiest way to fix this is to reward your dog for good behavior, not punish him for bad behavior.
2. Harsh Labrador punishment causes confusion
Experts agree the proper use of discipline will have a positive effect on a Labrador’s behavior. But in order to have a positive effect, it’s important that intervention, when your dog misbehaves, should be swift and immediate. Do not drag him out. If you do, your Lab will get confused about what they have done wrong.
It is also best to catch your Labrador in the act of misbehaving. This way they will associate the correction with the bad behavior.
We know it is not always possible to catch them in the act. For example, when you come home from work, and you discover your Lab has eliminated on your new white rug. It could have happened hours ago. You walk in the door, and your Lab is happy to see you. The dogs do not remember pooping on the rug. If you fuss at him now, he won’t have a clue why you are fussing at them. All he thinks is that what a grouch you are when you get home, and he is not going to be happy to see you anymore.
And since it is not right to leave you hanging about what to do in the above situation, even though we made it up, here is the secret about what to do; training, training, training. Train your Lab to eat and potty on a schedule – your schedule, take them for a long walk before you leave the house, and do not buy a white rug.
3. Too much punishment will make your Labrador scared of people
Well-trained Labradors are a lot more self-confident. This confidence allows them more freedom and the ability to make decisions quickly and be comfortable in social situations.
A dog when harshly punished loses his self-confidence, becomes afraid of the consequences and will always doubt their decisions. Dogs that lose their decision-making power have troubles obeying basic commands. And that can lead to an unhappy, neurotic dog. An unhappy, neurotic dog is a liability and dangerous in social situations. They actually become afraid of people. You do not want that, do you?
4. Punishment creates bad habits
Besides the Labrador, harsh punishments are likely to leave a negative impact on you, the owner, as well. In an effort to punish the dog effectively, the trainer usually becomes irritated. No matter how calm you are, punishing your Labrador is not an easy thing to do. Irritated trainers will never be able to get the results they want from the dog. That is why, above all, you need to be in a good frame of mind when training your Labrador.
5. Rewarding your Labrador
Rewarding your Labrador is the quickest way to get results. In fact, rewards carry a lot more weight than punishments. When your Lab does exactly what you want it to do, you should reward it right then and there.
It is kind of funny that the techniques for rewarding and punishing are very similar. The only difference being how the message is delivered. But how do you deliver that message effectively? Well, it is actually easier than most people think.
When the dog does what you want, the reward and praise should be instant. It is just like disciplining them, if you wait too long, they might not remember what they are being rewarded for.
When training your Labrador Retriever, the amount of praise should greatly out-weight the admonishment. And don’t confuse discipline with punishment. If your dog is having trouble learning a command, it does not mean they need to be punished. It simply means you need to approach it differently or your dog needs to work on that specific command more. In training, repetition is the key.