The topic of punishment is becoming more and more taboo among dog owners nowadays, but mostly I think it is a misunderstanding of the meaning of the so-called "Positive training". People imagine it to be an animal that is guided only by sugar, not by a whip, and that the animal will miraculously know from the level of love in its owner what is actually wanted from it and will act that way.
Personally, I understand why the punishment is a debatable issue, but I see no reason to remove it from training Altogether. Actually, even positive training is about punishment, but you will often argue about this topic mainly with people who do not know the true essence. Punishment, like everything else, must have its own order and rules.
1) Don't forget to regulate it
The degree of punishment depends on the offense committed – sometimes it is enough to grunt, raise your voice, sometimes there may be contact. But we, as more intellectually advanced creatures, should be able to tell where is the thin line between a punishment, and when it is just a way to satisfy our outraged emotions. I understand that some property damage can hurt physically and financially, but trying to show the dog with punishment how pissed off you are at that moment will not get the dog to understand. It is a one-sided act, which no longer serves the purpose of improving the quality of living with the dog, but rather allowing an immediate and effective valve of emotions, and at that moment it is no longer a punishment, but an aggression to which you can get an adequate response from the dog as it gets older. Dogs, let alone vlcaks, are not stupid, and if the punishment is done correctly, they can put two and two together and learn a lesson until next time. But if they no longer find this logic in punishment, they will start to think differently about the situation. As owners who care about their animals, we should actively try to avoid such a case.
2) The right punishment at the right time in the right place
Just as it is important to estimate the level of punishment, its circumstances are equally critical. Under absolutely no circumstances should a dog be punished at any time other than immediately after performing an undesirable activity. If you miss this short window of time, you are simply unlucky and need to be careful next time. It is possible to "buy time", for example if you want to punish the activity and the dog is far from you, you can start yelling at him immediately, although you are several tens of meters apart, but you must maintain the intonation and cadence of your voice the whole time that you walk to the dog so that the mental connection between the activity and the punishment is not broken. As soon as you yell, stop yelling to walk up to the dog in silence and want to yell at him again, it's too late and the result is null.
3) With or without hands?
When it comes to punishment, we can choose from two variants - verbal or physical. In general, the variability of the intonation of the voice works on vlcaks, so often it is enough to raise it, roar, growl. In the event that you resort to physical punishment, you again need to put together in your head why you are punishing and if the use of our hands is really necessary, or if it is again a more effective valve of our emotions. Of course, there are situations when verbal punishment does not fall on fertile ground and is not superfluous, these are usually extreme situations such as a sudden attack on another dog or person; more subtle physical punishments such as a slap and pulling on the neck skin will help in the event of a dog trying to steal food from a plate, etc.
4) Verbal, physical… Psychological?
In addition to punishments by raising the voice or the so-called "good old school discipline", there is a third option – psychological punishment. In this case, the dog is not yelled at or touched in any way, but it is made very clear to him that with such behaviour it will not remain a member of this pack for long. For wolfdogs, psychological punishment is perhaps the worst option that can be chosen, because they get used to being yelled at, their pain threshold is higher than other dogs’, but the risk of being excluded from the pack is an incredible onslaught and stress for them. In practice, it looks like, for example, you catch your puppy tearing up your favourite shoes, you shut it without a word into another room, where it naturally starts to panic and try to get back inside. A slightly more subtle option is to stroke another dog that you’re your dog tried to maul a while ago its field of vision. Personally, I choose this method of punishment exceptionally, and if at all, a lighter option, just like going to pet a stranger's dog, although my dog clearly has a problem with it. The real question is, does it still count as a punishment if it's not my primary intention, since I just like to pet all the dogs? That is debatable. First of all, I think that maybe it's better to yell at the dog and pull it by the skin than to completely ignore it, because it is still my dog and our mutual relationship cannot be so fragile to collapses into a possible expulsion from the pack at the sight of a problem.
5) The possibility to reconcile
Not every dog will have a natural apologetical reaction to the conflict. Some will sulk away, others will growl angrily, there is a whole range of reactions, but the goal should be common for both the dog and the owner > so that the dog learns from the punishment, or understands what it is being punished for and that this is undesirable behaviour, and for this conflict to be soon ended amicably. Dogs do not understand the principle of long-term grudges, and perhaps because of their significantly shorter life compared to ours, perhaps because it is beyond their cognitive limit, perhaps as a remnant of the survival instinct, they try to keep all conflicts within the pack members to a necessary minimum. Therefore, teach your dog the gestures and challenges that you can use to end the conflict and show that you still love each other.
As already mentioned in the MANIPULATION document, some actions bring a reaction. I stand by the fact that some things a dog shouldn't do to a person, but I encourage you to think anyway - you bought a Czechoslovakian vlcak, a dog that proudly bears its origin in the name, about which you were told from the beginning that it was a breed with its own head, where mere drill does not work and where breaking the dog definitely does not mean winning. Living with a dog these days is not a simulation of a totalitarian regime, and if you prefer it this way, then I would recommend either not getting a dog, or to go for a breed that does not mind unlimited obedience and submissiveness. However, just like people, vlcaks come into the world in all possible shades of nature, and one does not always come across an animal with a so-called "shepherd's nature". Vlcaks are proud and will let you know if they feel they are being treated unnecessarily harshly. If you're lucky enough to have a self-confident individual, the warnings may only remain in active self-defence and will stop when the dog is no longer in immediate danger. But if you have a dog that is more or less unstable, it can overreact its defences, and at that moment you have a much bigger problem than when you were only trying to strengthen your own authority.
The rule is that, except for individuals with really unstable genetic makeup, your dog will not turn against you just for nothing. If we consider a normal animal with a normal character, a possible attack on your person as its owner will be the most extreme solution to an aggravated situation. How soon this decision is reached can also vary according to the dog's age and current mental state, but in many cases, it is the result of an extreme situation where the owner was not aware not only where his limit should end, but also where the dog's limits end. Coexistence with a dog is cooperation, there are still grey zones in which usually forbidden and inexcusable behaviour can have some support, and it is a matter of perceiving our dog as an entity that is aware that it can somehow react to oppression and injustice. Regardless of the fact that, despite all the financial and nervous losses, the dog will not be with us for as long as we would like, so punish adequately, swallow excess emotions and reconcile soon.