There is a very commonly used phrase that most of us have heard and many have used, which goes as follows: “You have to be cruel to be kind”. Others among us will look at that phrase, or hear it said, and point out the inherent flaw in it. You do not have to be cruel to be kind. You have to be cruel to be cruel, and kind to be kind. In actual fact, cruelty and kindness are very rarely mutually applicable. Getting that straight will sort out a lot of problems, in life and when training your dog.
Now, certainly, there are times when you will need to be stern with your dog. Sometimes it will exhibit behaviors that you would really rather it did not. Some owners will tend towards the cruel side of things when punishing these behaviors, often punishing their dog with a physical blow. It should be recognised that punishing a dog consistently with physical reprimands will lead simply to either a hostile dog who will lash out without warning, or a lifeless dog which is scared to do anything for fear of reprisal.
There will be times when you need to reprimand your dog physically. A quick tap can often suffice when it is behaving in a threatening manner without good reason. Restraining it by the collar when it goes to attack a person or another animal is fine. But by beating your dog, all you are doing is removing the essential element of all pet-owner relationships – friendship.
No-one is about to claim that training a dog is an easy thing to do. Dogs are animals with personalities, and whether or not those personalities are amenable to training, they will present different challenges with each different dog. It cannot be denied that some are easier to train than others, but no dog is untrainable. It is simply the case that some dogs need to be given more of a chance than others to pick up what their master wants them to learn. After all, humans are the same – if you got straight As in your freshman year of high school, congratulations, but you are in a minority.
So it makes sense that there is help that can be found to improve the behavior of a dog you are finding hard to train. As ordinary “civilians” when it comes to the overall behavioral patterns of a pet dog, it goes without saying that we will not magically have access to the “button” inside a dog’s mind that makes it behave well, perform tricks or anything else you want it to do. There are professionals who have written books and made DVDs showing helpful tips and hints, and a wealth of websites which do the same.
You may even take your dog to a trainer who will be able to identify ways to get it behaving the way you would like. The expense of doing this makes it something that you may not want to do too regularly, but if all else fails it can be beneficial to you and to your dog.