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Punishment and Training

Hi there,

My fiance and I have a silky terrier x cattle dog. We adopted him last year, and due to work commitments, we were living separately for the first 9 months of his life - I was his sole caregiver. He is very affectionate and attentive to me, and always listens to my commands. I rarely have to reprimand him as he understands my expectations, and I reward him regularly for good behaviour. However, we have moved into our new place, and are experiencing some difficulty with regard to training and 'punishment' of him.

While we don't believe in corporal punishment, my partner thinks that when he digs a hole, we should 'punish' (i.e. leave him outside, and/or ignore him) for a prolonged period afterward (i.e. an hour +). I don't agree with the length of this, and believe 'punishment' should be instant (disapproval, scolding), and then end. I am of the belief that if we prolong any negative reinforcement that it will only result in him becoming anxious/fearing us as he does not understand the cause of our disapproval, and will not have any effect on the behaviour we were trying to curb. It just seems to me that he will associate us with fear if he doesn't understand the source of our 'anger.' He just seems to act guilty because he knows we are upset and act a certain way when we are.

I trained him as a puppy, and am definitely his 'master.' He is very aware of me, and I would say, very well trained (i.e. waits to eat, sits, stays, comes etc.) It seems to me that my partner's approach to training is alienating him, and making the dog jumpy/anxious around him. Although I don't agree, I never pander to the dog when he seeks reassurance from me when being roused upon by my partner as I do not want the dog to think I am condoning his behaviour, or that I am his protector (however, this goes against the grain, as I don't believe it is right).

Can you please clarify if prolonged punishment (exclusion/anger) has on the dog; and also, if this is damaging my partner's relationship with the dog? I would like a situation in which my partner is seen as a near equal to myself in terms of discipline/affection as he is our dog, and it is only because of our initial living situation that this divide/difference in training exists in the first place.

Thanks for reading!


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