Every day, I go to work and get paid to hang out with dogs. It's a pretty sweet deal most days, and I am grateful that working with them helps us pay the bills. The days it's not all awesome are when I am overbooked and feel rushed (which is my fault), or days when I encounter dogs who have a history of being trained using punitive techniques. I walk away from these dogs with a heavy heart but usually with some hope. Once I explain to their human families that the dog is not acting out of a need for dominance; that the barking, growling, snapping, or biting is out of fear or frustration, we can start rehabilitating their beloved pet.
With coercive training techniques, success is hailed as a dog who appears submissive or quiet. Just because a dog stops reacting strongly does not mean they stop feeling anxious, fearful, or frustrated. If a young child is hit or yelled at for acting out of frustration because they do not have the skills to cope well, does it really stop the feelings they have?
No. They simply learn to hide it, which is something dogs are really, really good at. When a dog is shocked, jerked, or hit for doing something wrong, they simply stop trying. They stop jumping or barking because they are afraid of what will happen. That dog is not any less upset or excited by the trigger of the mailman or a visitor, and in fact is probably even more anxious because she cannot respond in a way that is normal for her- she is left with no way to cope with the situation. She tucks her tail, she sits and waits for the situation to be over. This is not an obedient dog; this is a scared dog. Any trainer worth their salt can tell you the difference- it's very obvious.
Enough from me though, I want you to check out someone else's experience. The article below was written by a trainer who made the transition from punitive training to positive training, what it taught her, and why she will never go back.
Making that transition is tough, but stick with it because your commitment will be repaid. It is so worthwhile to get to see a previously shut-down dog begin to have confidence and actually enjoy training- it's a beautiful transition.