When it is right to scold the dog and when it is wrong

Member of the Kodami Scientific Committee

CZ dog trainer

When we scold our dog, we always ask ourselves, “Am I wrong?”, “Am I exaggerating?” These doubts are the social expression of this antispecies culture which is pushing us to interpret a new paradigm of relationship with animals. Especially with the dog.

We want to redeem ourselves from the role of exploiters and rulers of the animal world that we have historically had so far. While for an unconscious compensation system it is difficult for us to spend significant budgets on pet care, more specifically we wonder if it is right to scold the dog. Can scolding him compromise our relationship with him? The problem is not so much if it is possible, but when and how to do it right. To walk the ridge of this nervous issue, we must rely on parameters of adequacy:

  • communication time;
  • depth of relationship;
  • dog age;

The weather

Many think that the puppy should be rebuked when, on returning home, we find out that he has peed somewhere. Are we really convinced that by taking him to the crime scene, after a while, the dog understands that he has been wrong? On the other hand, we know that if we want to prevent the puppy from doing so at home, we must necessarily take it in fact. A dry sound or a loud sound of palms will suffice. After interrupting it, without scaring it, we have to take it out immediately.

In fact, we do not scold the dog, but rather we interrupt one of his actions. We must not only catch him in the act but, if possible, anticipate or intervene before the conduct occurs. The intention is, in fact, the emergence of a form of embryonic action, still limited to thought. Intercepting the intention it is what makes our mediation or inhibition intervention more effective and stable.

To reproach, there must be relationship

when scolding the dog

It is perfectly normal for a parent to intervene in a child’s misbehavior. However, it would not be the same for a stranger to intervene in the same situation. The clash with the parent that a child metabolizes with serenity, after a few minutes, in the case of the stranger can instead become a cause of emotional destabilization. The explanation lies in the emotional bond and in the reassuring sense of familiarity, present in parent-child relationships as well as in pet-to-pet relationships. The relational basis is, therefore, that which allows the dog to scold, even if it is harshly, without this affecting the bonds of trust between us.

The childhood stage and the alternative

Those who adopt a puppy should feel free to intervene, when necessary, to regulate and guide behavior toward integration and social functionality. In the first weeks, the biological mother already assumes quite harsh behaviors, although ritualized and demonstrative, towards her puppies. For example, when you want to take a break from breastfeeding. The decisive expression of this will has the social function of to build in the little ones that feeling of autonomy that prepares them for the first step of detachment, consisting of weaning. Not only that, the dog, through our proper reproaches, learns to understand that in relationships there can be frictions and conflicts, albeit temporary and incurable.

In any case when we create one point of relational and communicative friction with a very reduced subject, to curb his will, we must remember to offer a constructive alternative immediately after. We can interrupt him, physically remove him, for example from the corner of the furniture that is gnawing, but at the same time we should direct him to chew an “ossetto”, to make him understand that there are objects on which boredom is allowed, through the use of the mouth and others where it cannot be done.

Adolescence: not forbidden but modular

dog runs

The adolescent dog as we know it is plagued by a number of critical, hormonal, and behavioral issues. It will have to be developed in this age group their own style of personal identity, moving within the complexity of social rules. It should not be inhibited, homologated and depersonalized but modulated and guided by our interventions. However, we do not believe that containing its activations above can be resolved, as I often do, by simply putting it on a leash.

We must avoid taking these shortcuts, on the contrary we must always keep a channel of communication open with him that, despite putting a few dikes, allows him to make mistakes again. For example, we must contain their views in courtship to prevent them from becoming insistent and disrespectful. We will have to cut it from too direct approaches, assuming a clear and proximal frontal position towards it.

Interrupt your riding attempts, allowing him space and lower levels of emotional arousal. We must aim to stay in the situations where these critical issues arise, however orient it towards an emotional and behavioral balance which makes him able to integrate, progressively emancipating himself from our guide. We know perfectly well that a teenager is usually very insistent, which is why our accreditation will grow and with it the effectiveness if we keep calm, even within the escalation of friction and show perseverance in achieving our goals.

Adulthood: Managing Frustration

Adulthood must correspond to the stage of maturity. Achieving this individual evolution means being able to deal with frustration with resilience. Now the dog will be ready to receive “no” and “stop” without appeal. Therefore, we can create claws and confrontations with our dog if we communicate our intentions well and never lose the ability to listen. In the moments when we challenge and oppose the dog, we must always respect the rules of communication that force us to value the feedback signals we receive in response.

In fact, as soon as the dog shows, with facial mimicry / micromimicry and the flow of postures, that it has received our stop signals, we must immediately adapt our language and enhance the exchange in dialogue. In fact, continuing to raise your voice with an outburst of “NO” could lead to a deterioration in the value of communication between us and the dog and a gradual erosion of bonds of trust.

The methods of intervention that we have described so far should not be related exclusively to the age factor. We will be good companions for the dog only if we know how to manage all the levels properlythe phases of development, the maturity of the relationship and the sensitivity of character of the subject, interpreting contexts and situations in a strategic and balanced way.

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