How Harsh Training Methods Can Cause Dog Aggression

There is an old saying among dog trainers that goes: “The only thing two dog trainers can agree on is what the third one is doing wrong.”

There are basically two schools of dog trainers. On one side you have the old school dog trainers that believe training is done by using a choke chain or prong collar to train, that you should never use food to train the dog.

On the other hand you have the food reward trainers that believe you should never use any kind of force or harsh methods to train.

person in black jacket standing on green grass field during daytime

Both sides will strongly argue for their way of training. I have been on both sides of the issue. I got my start training dogs with an old time trainer that had been training dogs since the 1950’s. If you used a treat in front of this guy, you had to be prepared for a verbal eruption that would make a sailor blush.

I have also been with trainers that think anything short of filet mignon not being used for treats is cruel. All kidding aside it can get confusing for someone trying to train their dog. Who do you listen to? Should you just use treats to train? Do you ever give your dog a correction?

The truth of the matter is that positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement can be extremely effective. There is no denying that there are thousands of dogs that are safely confined to their yards with the help of underground electronic fences.

There is also no denying that dogs learn much better when you use a reward based system of training. The important point is this: You want to make sure that you spend more time rewarding your dog’s behavior than punishing or getting physical with your dog.

The fact is that all good relationships are based on positive interaction. I once watched a group obedience class where all the dogs were on choke chains. Food was not allowed. In the course of one hour, I watched one guy give his dog over 150 corrections with the leash. They weren’t all hard corrections but he did yank on the leash that many times.

Over time, that dog will become tolerant to the choke chain and the owner will have to yank harder and harder and will probably damage his dog’s neck and trachea which will lead to one very grouchy dog. There’s no denying the fact that a dog being trained that way can easily develop an aggression problem, and here’s the rub. The dog is always blamed, never the training method Doesn’t it make sense to use a reward based training system?

Unfortunaly this way of training has become the established belief or doctrine held by many dog trainers, and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from.

Too bad for the dogs.


  • Eric Letendre

    Eric Letendre is author of the book "The Amazing Dog Training Man." With a deep understanding of dog behavior and a commitment to promoting responsible pet ownership, the author shares insightful tips and engaging stories to enrich the lives of both dogs and their owners.

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