Ask most teachers, and they will tell you that the best way to get a child to behave is with rewards, not punishments. This works doubly on dogs. Animals are more simplistic than humans, so they do not really have a concept of right and wrong. However, they do know what is good and what is bad for them.
Treats and praise, for example, are good. Scolding, meanwhile, is bad. However, it can be difficult for a dog to know why they are being punished. If you shout at them when they get up on the sofa, or if they are too noisy, they may not understand why you have suddenly decided to be nasty to them.
Positive behaviour, on the other hand, is much easier to reinforce. If you get a dog to sit, then give them a treat, they still might struggle to understand. However, if you do it over and over again the repetition will make your dog realise that obeying the command is the good behaviour they are being rewarded for.
So how can this be used? Often, it is a good tactic for controlling your pet. Dogs love to be praised and to impress you, particularly more intelligent breeds such as Labradors. As such, they will often go out of their way to do so.
Let's say you have a dog who is difficult to control when you take them outside. If you have the same response - scolding them - when they try and chase things, bark, pull at the lead and growl at other dogs, they will not be able to associate the telling off with their actions.
Instead, teach them to sit, stay or heel. When they start acting out, rather than punishing them you can give them a command then reward them for it. Your dog might never stop wanting to chase things, but you should be able to bring them under control with ease rather than struggling to restrain them while scolding.
Written by: Hannah Dyball