Negative punishment sounds like a horrible way to behave your dog, but actually, it is a humane and effective training method. The word “negative” doesn’t mean this is the bad kind of punishment. It simply means subtracting to a mathematical sense “negative”, meaning taking something away, and then punishment is to decrease a behavior. For example, taking something away from the dog or withholding something from the dog that they do want to make a behavior lessened. If you’re taking something away from the dog as a punishment, they have to feel like they’ve lost something. If you take something off them and they don’t care about it, they’re not going to find that punishing.

Here are some examples of negative punishment:

Withhold a Treat

All trainers are using negative punishment in one way or another, especially if they’re using rewards in their training. If the dog does the wrong thing, they’re obviously not going to reward it. They’re going to withhold the reward from that situation so that that behavior is not rewarded and not encouraged and make that behavior weaken.

This kind of negative punishment will cause frustration in the dog, but we can use that frustration for the training purpose. But sometimes that frustration can lead to aggression, so be careful if you’ve got a feisty dog.

Remove Access to Something

For instance, the dog is playing on the bed, but then they do some unwanted behavior. You can tell them to get off the bed so that they have lost their access to something that they’d like, decreasing the behavior that they shouldn’t have done.

Time out

Remove them from the situation where they were getting attention and put them in isolation for 30 seconds. In this way, you’ve removed your attention and your dog suddenly feels really boring within that area.

Negative punishment is a great example of how punishment doesn’t necessarily mean something like hitting the dog. However, it can be tricky to get right because the dog has to really feel like they’ve missed out right on that specific moment that they’ve done the behavior. Sometimes if you’re trying to decrease the behavior, you can take everything away from the dog, but the dog can still find that behavior rewarding. A good example of this one is barking for attention. The barking can feel good and feel like they’re achieving something. This behavior can be so strong that ignoring them as a punishment can be very difficult.