Posted by: Linda Trunell | April 21, 2013

My Favorite Training Tips #3 & #4

Continuing “My Top Ten Favorite Training Tips …

#3. Aggression breeds aggression

There are many studies to show that “dominance”, “force”, or “punishment” based training methods can cause aggression.  Here is an excerpt from one –

If You’re Aggressive, Your Dog Will Be, Too, Says Veterinary Study at University of Pennsylvania

Of the 140 surveys completed, the most frequently listed recommendation sources were “self” and “trainers.”  Several confrontational methods such as “hit or kick dog for undesirable behavior” (43 percent), “growl at dog” (41 percent), “physically force the release of an item from a dog’s mouth” (39 percent), “alpha roll”physically — rolling the dog onto its back and holding it (31 percent), “stare at or stare down” (30 percent), “dominance down” —- physically forcing the dog down onto its side (29 percent) and “grab dog by jowls and shake” (26 percent) elicited an aggressive response from at least 25 percent of the dogs on which they were attempted.  In addition, dogs brought to the hospital for aggressive behavior towards familiar people were more likely to respond aggressively to some confrontational techniques than dogs brought in for other behavioral reasons.

“This study highlights the risk of dominance-based training, which has been made popular by TV, books and punishment-based training advocates,”Herron said.  “These techniques are fear-eliciting and may lead to owner-directed aggression.”

And this from Suzanne Clothier –

Aggression & Some Reasons Behind It

As a rule, do not use corrections or punishment to handle behavior you consider aggressive. In most cases, treating any behavior you consider aggressive may result in the dog becoming more aggressive and possibly pushing him to escalating his own behavior and perhaps even biting. Remember – the dog has a reason for acting as he does, whether you understand it or not. Best rule of thumb: “Do not treat aggression with aggression of your own.”


#4. There are no stupid dogs – but there are uneducated trainers.

If a healthy dog is not learning, we must look to the training methods being used.  Is the guardian or trainer using outdated dominance or punishment-based training methods?  If so the dog may be shutting down because of stress or fear.  This can happen when a dog is afraid to try a behavior for fear of punishment if they are wrong.  When positive-reinforcement training methods are used dogs are encouraged to interact and learning is fun and rewarding – never scary.

Here’s to being our dog’s best friend –



  1. Thanks for writing your favorite training tips. I just found your blog tonight. I am a handler at a dog day care. I will keep all your tips while I am at work. Best wishes.


    • Thank you, Amanda. I hope you find them helpful. Best wishes to you in your journey.



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