When our dogs act up, one of the first instinctive reactions is to shout. It’s something most dog owners have been guilty of, especially in the training stages, or when you’re already in a bad mood.
However, experts have revealed that shouting at your dog can actually do more harm then good when trying to teach your pup to be well behaved. In fact, not only is it likely to make them naughtier, it can even lead to even stress and depression.
Recent research conducted by the University of Porto demonstrated that shouting at your dog and using ‘punishment-based training’ could make them depressed in the long-term.
The study, which was lead by scientist Ana Catarina, compared the behaviours of two different groups of dogs: one group came from reward-based training schools and the other came from punishment-based training schools. They took saliva samples from each group of dogs before and after training to test them for the stress hormone, cortisol.
Their results found that the dogs from the punishment-based training group showed more signs of stress, lip-licking and yawning, while the others showed no changes in their cortisol levels. Similarly, the dogs from the reward-based training ran excitedly to the food bowl, while those from punishment-based programs moved much more slowly to the bowl, unsure of whether to take the food or not.
‘[Reward-based training] may take time, but so what?’ the scientists explained to Science Mag. ‘At least the dog isn’t living in fear or constant stress.’
Previously, Lyane Haywood, co-founder of Vet UK, also explained the detrimental results of yelling at a dog, as well as highlighting the fact that owners should actually give their furry friends regular hugs if they want them to learn how to be on their best behaviour.
‘When it comes to dog training, it should be seen as a two way street, involving a certain amount of give and take from both you and the animal,’ Dr. Haywood explained to Metro. ‘What it’s not is a dictatorship. There’s almost never a time when screaming and yelling at your dog is acceptable.
‘Unless your dog is about to run into a busy road and come to serious harm, I wouldn’t ever use any form of harsh voice,’ she added. ‘Instead, it’s about rewarding good behaviour, not punishing the bad.’
Dr. Haywood highlighted that it is important to remember that dogs do not react to things in the same way as humans. So while a human knows what it means when someone is shouting or speaking with an angry tone of voice, a dog doesn’t.
‘I often see dog owners in the park screaming at their dog for doing something wrong,’ she explained to the publication. ‘Or you might go to someone’s house and see the owner shouting at the dog for barking and making a fuss at the ringing doorbell. But doing this is completely and utterly pointless.
She continued: ‘If you scream at your dog, your dog thinks, “Oooh, great, my human is really excited, too, I’ll make even more noise!” ‘It actually gets the dog more hyper-active. And it also sends out completely mixed messages.’
So there you have it – shouting may work on humans but it’s not the way to go if you want to get through to your four-legged friend.