When a dog is punished for long enough for something he’ll stop. When he understands the punishment will come no matter what, he’ll stop fighting. He’ll become an obedient, deeply unhappy dog with fears that will one day escalate to the degree where he can’t control his behaviour.
I’ve seen so many of the helpless ones. The dogs, who had been shut in a bathroom or garage alone, yelped, whined, destroyed everything around them to gradually go quieter, more terrified and dumb with fear. They learn nothing. They are broken and damaged. And too scared to disobey.
When you give your dog a choice, he becomes independent. He’ll make decisions and his behaviour will be consistent. You’ll be able to trust him, even when you’re not there to tell him what to do.
I’ve always wanted my dogs to be independent. I teach them to behave in a certain way because there’s some benefit for them in it. It’s good to be with me because I know the best places to go, chase other dogs and sniff around. It’s good to be with me because I’m fun, I distribute treats and cuddles generously. I swap half-chewed shoes and books for a tasty chewable treat. In a big, scary world, everyone needs a small, non-threatening Alex to run to.