Shelters seeking to prevent behavior-related surrenders of dogs may want to focus on teaching owners positive training methods, suggests a study published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science.
In their survey of 53 dog-owner pairs, researchers found that dogs whose owners use punishment-based training methods tend to be more fearful in new situations and less interested in play than those whose owners use positive approaches to dog training.
From the study abstract:
A total of 53 owners were surveyed about their preferred methods for training each of seven common tasks, and were each filmed interacting with their dog in a series of standardised scenarios. Dogs owned by subjects who reported using a higher proportion of punishment were less likely to interact with a stranger, and those dogs whose owners favoured physical punishment tended to be less playful. However, dogs whose owners reported using more rewards tended to perform better in a novel training task. Ability at this novel task was also higher in dogs belonging to owners who were seen to be more playful and who employed a patient approach to training. This study shows clear links between a dog's current behaviour and its owner's reported training history as well as the owner's present behaviour. High levels of punishment may thus have adverse effects upon a dog's behaviour whilst reward based training may improve a dog's subsequent ability to learn.
Rooney NJ, Cowan S. Training methods and owner–dog interactions: Links with dog behaviour and learning ability. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2011;132(3-4):169-177.