Punishing techniques on dogs has much the same effect as it has when physical punishment is applied to children, which is an increase in aggressive behaviour generally and specifically increased aggression towards the individual who is applying the punishment.
I think it is fair to conclude that training by negative reinforcement or punishment whether it be a cat, dog, or a child results in an increase in aggressive behaviour, to varying degrees, in the recipient of the training, dependent upon the sort of punishment and the force applied. Therefore, we should conclude, that the best way of training a cat (if you believe that training a cat is necessary and I don’t) is to use positive reinforcement, meaning reward-based training.
With respect to dog training, there is a school of thought which says that the dog’s owner needs to be the pack leader or the alpha dog using physical manipulations, threats and intimidation in order to achieve that status. The classic “sharp leash corrections” are meant to cause discomfort to the dog.
In a study about the parenting and training of children scientists looked at the effects of spanking. When children aged 3 were spanked more than twice in the month before the study began, the odds of a child being more aggressive at age 5 increased by 50%. There have been other reports on children and punishment and apparently they all conclude that parents should not spank children under any circumstances. Also, negative reinforcement (punishment) becomes less effective with repeated use. The child outgrows it.
I believe that we can call upon studies about the training of dogs and children to counter any arguments amongst cat behaviourists and cat owners who say that punishment is an effective way to train a cat to do what a person wants her to do. I like to add the simple fact that when a person trains a cat they are simply conditioning a cat to behave in a way which pleases them but which may be unnatural.
If studies on the training of dogs and children indicate that punishment, when carried out at a certain level, carries the risk of the recipient becoming aggressive then I believe that this is a reinforcing argument that punishment as a form of training of a cat is incorrect and should never be carried out.
David Ryan, the author of “Dogs That Bite and Fight“, says
The sad thing is, there is no need that these methods. We have all the knowledge for doing it in a positive way.
Positive reinforcement is the way to produce a playful and happy dog, a self-confident and sociable child and a cat who is able to confidently interact with his or her human companion. On the Internet, there is quite a lot of discussion about so-called “crazy cats” meaning cats that are aggressive and people cannot understand why. You can see how the relationship can deteriorate between cat and person if the person punishes a cat whereupon the cat gradually becomes more and more aggressive with a subsequent human response that demands more punishment and so the cycle continues until the relationship is broken and the cat abandoned at a shelter where he is euthanised having been branded violent and aggressive.