AVSAB Issues Position Statement on Humane Dog Training – Shock, Prong & Choke Collars Should NEVER Be Used

< A version of this article was published in the OCT 2021 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 10OCT21 >

< A short link for this page – https://bit.ly/AVSABHumaneDogTraining >

In August, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) issued a position statement on humane dog training. I encourage all veterinarians, dog trainers and behavior consultants, other pet care professionals, animal shelters and rescues, breeders, and pet parents to familiarize themselves with the position statement and the cited studies. This is information they MUST be familiar with to practice ethically. The position statement refutes many myths about dogs, their behavior, and training, such as dominance, pack hierarchy, and the need to be “alpha.” AVSAB concludes its statement with the following:

Based on current scientific evidence, AVSAB recommends that only reward-based training methods are used for all dog training, including the treatment of behavior problems. Aversive training methods have a damaging effect on both animal welfare and the human-animal bond. There is no evidence that aversive methods are more effective than reward-based methods in any context. AVSAB therefore advises that aversive methods should not be used in animal training or for the treatment of behavior disorders.” [emphasis added]

AVSAB joins the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), which have similar position statements. FMI – https://bit.ly/Pos_HumaneTraining

One of the critical reasons for this position is that aversive methods and tools negatively affect animal welfare. They cause distress which is inhumane.

In observational studies, dogs trained with aversive methods or tools showed stress-related behaviors during training, including tense body, lower body posture, lip licking, tail lowering, lifting front leg, panting, yawning, and yelping.” 4–8

In contrast, “Dogs trained with reward-based methods showed increased attentiveness to their owner.” 5

As a pet parent, minimal or no stress and increased attentiveness are precisely what I want in my dog. As a professional dog trainer, I know it is what my clients desire as well. Having a relationship with your dog based on mutual trust is essential to successful training. Anyone who has been intentionally subjected to force, pain, or fear by someone knows those things will NEVER build trust.

Unfortunately, there are also long-term effects related to the use of aversives.

Survey studies have shown an association between the use of aversive training methods and long-term behavior problems including aggressive behavior towards people and other dogs, and anxiety-related behaviors such as avoidance and excitability.” 8–15 Additionally, “Several studies show the effect of aversive training persists beyond the time of training. After dogs learned a cue taught using aversive training methods, they continued to show stress-related behaviors when the cue was presented, suggesting the cue itself had become aversive.” 5,7,8

In other words, the use of aversives can create a lifetime of chronic stress for a dog. Most of us consider our dog our companion, and many refer to their dog as their best friend. But, who wants a life of chronic stress and fear for their best friend? No one, I hope.

Dogs with behavior issues such as reactivity, aggression, anxiety, and hyperactivity are challenging to live with and often have chronic stress in their lives, often creating distress for their person. Since these undesirable behaviors result from an emotional response, they cannot be “trained” away without first building trust. As noted above, aversives NEVER build trust. FMI – http://bit.ly/Canine-Stress

As a trainer, one of the first things I teach my clients is how to manage their dog and the environment to avert behaviors like aggression and anxiety. These behaviors are much easier to prevent than they are to fix after they develop. Incidentally, studies by Blackwell and Hiby10, 14 demonstrated that dogs trained using rewards are less likely to develop behavior problems than dogs trained with aversives.

Proponents of inhumane training techniques often argue that force is the only way to get results. However, that position is not supported by science. On the other hand, ample evidence in the peer-reviewed literature demonstrates that reward-based training works very well.

Reward-based training methods have been shown to be more effective than aversive methods” .1,2,17

Multiple survey studies have shown higher obedience in dogs trained with reward based methods.”9,14,18

A study by Hiby et al. (2004) “…found that obedience levels were highest for dogs trained exclusively with reward-based methods and lowest for dogs trained exclusively with aversive-based methods.” 14

The evidence from multiple studies is clear; if you want a well-trained dog, the best way to achieve that goal is with rewards, not punishment. I genuinely believe that no one with a dog wants to hurt their dog. If you or your trainer cannot get results without punishment, step back and recognize it’s time for you to learn a better way. Many trainers can help you get the results you want without resorting to aversives.

When looking for a trainer, AVSAB recommends:

An appropriate trainer should avoid any use of training tools that involve pain (choke chains, prong collars, or electronic shock collars), intimidation (squirt bottles, shaker noise cans, compressed air cans, shouting, staring, or forceful manipulation such as “alpha rolls” or “dominance downs”), physical correction techniques (leash jerking, physical force), or flooding (“exposure”). The learner must always feel safe and have the ability to “opt out” of training sessions. All efforts should be made to communicate effectively and respectfully with the learner.”

I sincerely hope that all veterinarians, pet care professionals, pet training and behavior associations, breeders, and animal shelter and rescues will develop their own positions statements and policies that support the AAHA, AVSAB, and PPG positions. It is long past time for people to continue abusing dogs in the name of training.

Recommended Resources

References

AVSAB Humane Dog Training Position Statementhttps://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/AVSAB-Humane-Dog-Training-Position-Statement-2021.pdf

2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelineshttps://www.aaha.org/globalassets/02-guidelines/behavior-management/2015_aaha_canine_and_feline_behavior_management_guidelines_final.pdf

PPG Guiding Principleshttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Guiding-Principles

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

How to Select A Dog Trainerhttp://bit.ly/HowToSelectADogTrainer

Important Position Statements Related to Animal Welfare & Care in the USA by Leading Organizations – https://bit.ly/Pos_HumaneTraining

Understanding, Identifying and Coping with Canine Stresshttp://bit.ly/Canine-Stress

What’s Shocking about Shock? – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training – PPG BARKS from the Guild – July 2019http://bit.ly/ShockBARK-JUL2019

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarshttp://bit.ly/ShockCollars

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationship – WWM-SEP2018 http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 1 – WWM-JAN2019http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 2 – WWM-FEB2019 –  http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-2

Choke Collar Pathology – an excellent blog post from dog trainer Daniel Antolec on the dangers of using a choke collar on a dog. – http://ppgworldservices.com/2017/06/13/choke-collar-pathology/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/ )

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarshttp://bit.ly/ShockPodcast

The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudgehttp://bit.ly/PodCastShockFree-NikiTudge-2017

What’s Shocking About Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Traininghttp://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatShock-27JUL19

Podcast – Charlee and the Electronic Shock Containment System w-Dan Antolechttps://bit.ly/Blog-Charlee_E-Fence

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), where he serves on the Board of Directors and Steering Committee and chairs the Advocacy Committee and The Shock-Free Coalition ( shockfree.org ). Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©10OCT21, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Things to Consider When Leaving Your Pet in the Care of Someone Else

< A version of this article was published in the September 2021 issue of Downeast Dog News>

 

< Updated 07OCT21 >

< A short link for this page – https://bit.ly/BRD-Consider-1 >

< Click to listen to a companion podcast to this blog post >

Every year millions of dogs and cats of various breeds, sizes, and ages are cared for by boarding facilities, pet sitters, friends, and family members. This could be for multiple reasons: traveling for business or vacation, extended work schedules, or a family emergency or illness. While many pets, dogs, in particular, find a stay at a boarding facility fun, despite the best efforts of pet care professionals, not all pets do well away from home. When this occurs, a pet care professional is responsible for informing you of this situation; they want your pet to have a low-stress and enjoyable stay and go home happy and healthy.  While many factors require consideration before boarding your pet, temperament, health, and age top the list.

Most boarding facilities provide more comprehensive care for their guests than the typical hotel does for humans. That is why the process of booking a reservation for your pet is not as easy as booking a hotel room for yourself online. A reputable boarding facility will ask questions about your pet’s vaccinations, temperament, play style, health, food preferences, and medications. A boarding facility provides a place to rest and sleep but is also responsible for; meals, mental enrichment and play, housekeeping, physical handling, routine medication if needed, and sometimes grooming services. If a pet becomes unwell, those services may include transportation to the veterinarian. If you or your designated representative is not available, the boarding facility and their veterinarian may need to make medical decisions for your pet.

Your Pet’s Temperament

Just as people have a wide range of temperaments, so do pets.  Some will be constantly happy and look forward to meeting every new, living thing they encounter. At the opposite extreme, some will dislike and even fear anything new and may never open up to other animals or people. Even a change in environment, such as moving from a familiar home to a boarding facility or home of a friend, whether filled with other critters and people or not, can be overwhelming for some pets.

A fearful pet is not a “bad” pet; they are just animals struggling in a difficult situation and require patience and understanding. Unfortunately, a frequently anxious or fearful pet is unlikely to enjoy being cared for anywhere outside of their home. No matter who cares for your pet, they must be able to handle them regardless of the pet’s mood. While any animal can have an intemperate moment and bite, pets that are fear aggressive are more likely to pose a bite risk. Therefore, they are probably not a good candidate for a boarding facility or a pet sitter. It is a pet parent’s responsibility to disclose this information and to find a suitable alternative.

A reputable professional may be able to work with you to help acclimate your pet to staying away from home. However, please be aware that this is a prolonged process and must start weeks, if not months, before leaving your pet.

Your Pet’s Health and Age

Most pets are relatively healthy during their younger years, but underlying health issues may arise as they age.  It is essential to do a mental and physical assessment of your pet every time you board them to ensure that they are in good health. If, at any time, you have concerns, or are made aware of health issues by your veterinarian, contact your boarding facility and have a conversation with them regarding these issues. Concerns can be anything from increased water consumption or decreased appetite, hints of dementia, increased stiffness in joints, or reactivity and aggression. The boarding facility may suggest or even require that you have your pet examined by a veterinarian before boarding, but that is a better alternative to receiving a phone call and having to consult and make decisions over the phone while you are hours away

The boarding facility will need to be able to easily and quickly contact you at any time if something arises and emergency healthcare is necessary. If you will be unable to be reached while away, you need to have a friend, family member, or veterinarian designated to act on your pet’s behalf. They must be available and able to be reached quickly and easily. While a caregiver for your pet may have you sign a contract giving them authority to act in your pet’s best interest if you are unreachable, the preferred situation would always place you as the person in charge of any life-altering decisions regarding your pet. Illnesses can come on suddenly, and life and death decisions may need to be made quickly to prevent your pet from suffering. An alternative is to have your attorney draft a healthcare directive for your pet. If you choose this option, be sure that your pet’s caregiver and veterinarian have a copy.

While the boarding facility staff and pet sitters should be knowledgeable on pet first aid, common health issues, nutrition, pet play dynamics, and normal and abnormal pet behavior, they are not veterinarians. Therefore, if you or your veterinarian believe that your pet needs any of the following; continuous medical observation, the administration of an IV for medications or hydration, frequent temperature checks, physical assistance to relieve themselves, or wellness checks several times throughout the night, your pet will be best served by being at home in familiar surroundings or with their veterinarian or an individual with a similar level of knowledge and experience.

The owners and employees of pet care facilities are in the profession for their love of animals. However, there is nothing more difficult for them than to watch a pet suffer either emotionally or physically while in their care.  Please help both them and your pet by maintaining an open line of communication regarding the care of your pet while you are away.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com  )

Cat Behavior – Make Your Life Easier – Get Your Cat to Love Their Carrierhttp://bit.ly/Cats-Carriers

Canine Behavior – Understanding, Identifying and Coping with Canine Stresshttp://bit.ly/Canine-Stress

Please Be Cautious When Choosing Who Cares For Your Pets – https://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/11/pet-care-services-please-be-cautious-when-choosing-who-cares-for-your-pets/

Traveling – Do you take the dog along or leave him with someone?https://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/11/traveling-do-you-take-the-dog-along-or-leave-him-with-someone/

Pet Care Options When You Go Away: Pet Sitter, Neighbor, Boarding Facility – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/09/01/pets-who-cares-for-them-when-you-are-away/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy – Part 1 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/04/02/yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-green-acres-kennel-shops-pet-friendly-philosophy-part-1/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/ )

Things to Consider When Leaving Your Pet in the Care of Someone Elsehttps://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2021-10-02-Things_to_Consider_When_Leaving_Your_Pet_in_the_Care_of_Someone_Else.mp3

Things To Consider When Boarding A Pet-Part 1 (2018) – https://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2018/07/08/podcast-things-to-consider-when-boarding-a-pet-part-1/

Things To Consider When Boarding A Pet-Part 2 – https://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2018/08/09/podcast-things-to-consider-when-boarding-a-pet-part-2/

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Don serves on the PPG Board of Directors and Steering Committee. In addition, he chairs the Advocacy Committee and The Shock-Free Coalition ( shockfree.org ). Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©07OCT21, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >