This answer got me thinking, is corporal punishment really an effective training method for dogs? Without doubt there are people firmly on both sides of any position like this, so answers that we have always done it 'this way' are not what I am looking for.

Are there any reliable studies, showing the effectiveness of corporal punishment, versus other training methods in dogs? Alternately any studies that show effectiveness of any particular line of training that be compared in your answer to corporal punishment as a method.

  • 4
    The answer is definitely not. However, I can not produce an organized presentation of the scientific research which supports this "off the top of my head". I'll see what I can track down. In the meantime, all I can offer is a pointer to Chapter 12, Aversives: The Pitfalls of Punishment, in the book "How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves" by Dr Sophia Yin. Feb 7, 2014 at 16:11
  • It would be interesting to hear about whether or not it can be effective to use aversives that don't involve hitting the dog. For example, my terrier has acted aggressive toward guests in our house, and it did seem effective when I discouraged that behavior by squirting her in the face with a spray bottle of water. But maybe that would be a different question, if we're taking "corporal punishment" to mean only something like hitting.
    – user752
    Feb 10, 2014 at 0:12
  • @bencrowell the two studies I linked look at a wide range of punishments, the full texts are available for you to read through
    – Zaralynda
    Feb 10, 2014 at 22:10

3 Answers 3


No, corporal punishment is not an effective training method.

Hiby et al reviewed dog training results, but included corporal punishment under the broader category of punishment based training (including yelling at the dog and putting him out) and concluded

Overall, our results suggest that punishment-based training is not effective at reducing the incidence of problematic behaviours, and its use seems to be linked with the increased occurrence of potential problems.

EF Hiby, NJ Rooney, and JWS Bradshaw. Dog training methods: their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Animal Welfare 2004, 13: 63-69.

accessed 2/8/2014

Herron, et al performed a study focused on the dog's response to specific negative training techniques, and noted that 43% of the dogs in the study (12/28) responded aggressively when they were hit or kicked for exhibiting undesirable behavior. This display of aggression is a safety concern for the owner, as well as not being a desireable training outcome.

"Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors" Meghan E. Herron, Frances S. Shofer, Ilana R. Reisner Applied Animal Behaviour Science 117 (2009) 47–54

accessed online Feb 7 2014

  • I have no idea about dog training, but the things you mention are perfectly in line with Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow. The text in that book was about negative feedback (usually yelling and humiliating) in pilot training, not about dog training :)
    – ck1987pd
    Aug 16, 2021 at 17:26

Though the general consensus is against corporal punishment, I must say that it has its place. Corporal punishment may not be the preferred method, but it is certainly useful. Dogs, like all intelligent mammals, learn simple concepts quickly by pain or fear.

A two-finger slap on the nose while rubbing a puppy's nose in his droppings is considered acceptable. Be sure to follow this up with taking the droppings outside with the puppy and petting him with the droppings outside. Additionally, when the puppy leaves droppings outside pet him as well. Thus, droppings in the house are associated with the negative corporal punishment and droppings outside are associated with pleasure.

A more extreme example is any dog who has been hit by a car and is now afraid of the road. The dog learns to associate the road with pain, and thus avoid it. This may be corporal consequences as opposed to strictly corporal punishment, but I argue that any effective punishment (for dogs, children, or even employees) should be construed and presented as a consequence if at all possible.


I think that dog training styles go in and out of fashion, and the preference for non-aversive training is not so much "science" as the current fashion. Corporal punishment of dogs should be reserved for the most serious infractions (i.e., pottying in the house, counter-surfing, destruction of furniture, and going into the street).

  • Welcome! Please note that the question explicitly asks for scientific studies, not to be confused with trends or “fashions”. An answer based on “I think” is therefore problematic and technically not an answer in the Stack Exchange sense. The tour and the help center will explain more about how the site works.
    – Stephie
    Aug 14, 2021 at 21:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.