Dogs – The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collar

< Updated 22OCT17 >

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< On October 28th Don and Kate discussed this topic on The Woof Meow Show. You can listen to that show by clicking here.>

What Is A Shock Collar?

A shock collar looks like a standard collar that has a small box with two metal electrodes attached to it. The collar is designed to be worn around the dog’s neck.  The collar is fit on the dog, so the electrodes penetrate the dog’s fur and press directly against the dog’s skin. When activated, there is a potential of 1500 volts to 4500 volts across the electrodes, which delivers a painful electrical shock to the dog5. Some collars may even operate at higher voltages. Unfortunately, it is impossible to confirm voltages because manufacturers are very secretive about the amount of voltage their systems apply. In addition to shocking your dog, these collars can cause burns, something we have observed on dogs wearing these devices.

Currently, there are three types of shock collars in use; 1) underground/non-visible fence containment collars, 2) remote training collars, and 3) anti-bark collars. The manner in which the collars are activated varies with the type of collar.

Underground fence containment systems administer a shock to the dog when they approach or cross a buried wire. Typical collars emit an audible warning tone or beep as the dog approaches the wire and ideally, the dog will stop upon hearing the warning tone and will not get a shock. However, if the collar is to be effective at all the dog will need to be shocked at least once, and typically many times if the collar is to be effective. During the training phase with this type of shock collar, small flags or some other visual indicator are supposed to be placed in the ground making the invisible border visible.

Remote training collars utilize a transmitting unit, held by the person. By pressing a button on the transmitter, the person can deliver a shock to the dog from a distant location. A warning tone may sound before the shock. The shock is used as a form of positive punishment (the dog is shocked when it does something the person does not want). For example: if a dog were chasing the neighbor’s livestock it would be shocked in the hopes of stopping the behavior. Remote shock collars are also used for negative reinforcement (the dog is shocked continuously until it exhibits a desirable behavior). For example: if a dog does not come when called it would be shocked continuously until it returned to the handler. People typically use these collars for treating behavioral problems (chasing livestock/predatory behavior, poor recall) and in dog sports such as field trials and hunting. There are even dog trainers that advocate the use of a shock collar for training typical pet dog behaviors such as sit and stay.

Anti-bark shock collars work by detecting when the dog barks and then administering an electric shock as a form of punishment, in theory, stopping the dog from barking.

Scientific Evidence Outlining the Concerns with the Use of Electric Shock

There is no doubt that shock collars cause pain. While proponents might call it a “stim” a “tap,” or a “static charge” we know from the science of operant conditioning that the aversive stimulus (electric shock) must be sufficiently distressing (i.e., physical or emotionally painful) to cause a change in behavior.

Multiple studies6,7,8,9 have reported that shock collars cause undue stress on a dog. A study of guard dogs6, specially bred for toughness and low sensitivity to pain and stress, found that training with shock collars caused long-lasting stress effects to the point that the dog continued to associate their handler as aversive even outside of a training context. The dogs exhibited behaviors associated with fear and anxiety long after they had received shocks. The scientists conducting this study stated: “The conclusions, therefore are, that being trained [with electric shock] is stressful. That receiving shocks is a painful experience to dogs, and that the dogs have learned that the presence of their owner (or his commands) announces reception of shocks, even outside of the normal training context.”

Another study7 examined the use of shock for training to stop undesirable hunting/chasing behavior. This study also revealed the dogs found being trained with shock to be very stressful. The authors concluded, “…the general use of electric shock collars is not consistent with animal welfare.

A third study8 compared the features of several shock collars and examined how they are used by typical pet owners. The researchers concluded “for a subset of dogs tested, the previous use of e-collars in training are associated with behavioural and physiological responses that are consistent with significant negative emotional states; this was not seen to the same extent in the control population. It is therefore suggested that the use of e-collars in training pet dogs can lead to a negative impact on welfare, at least in a proportion of animals trained using this technique.” (p4).

The scientists conducting this study8 also observed that the instruction manuals that came with these products did not explain features well. When the individuals using the collars were interviewed they could not explain how to use the collar properly and often indicated that they had failed to read the instructions or ignored them. The researcher’s conclusion: “…some of the reported use was clearly inconsistent with advice in e-collar manuals and potentially a threat to the dog’s welfare.” (p25)

As noted in this study, misuse and inappropriate use of shock collars are not uncommon. One of Green Acres’ staff witnessed such abuse at a field trial event right here in Maine. A dog owner with two dogs was working with one of his dogs and had a second dog in his truck in its crate. The dog that he was working with did not respond to a command, so the owner pressed a button on the remote to shock the dog. The dog still did not respond to the command, so the owner shocked the dog again. Meanwhile, the dog in the crate was yelping each time the owner was intending to shock the dog he was allegedly training. It was not until our staff member pointed it out that the owner realized he was shocking his dog in the crate and not the one he was working with. It would seem that the owner had picked up the wrong remote unit.

Because of the findings of “Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs”8 scientists initiated a fourth study; Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs; field study of dogs in training9. This study was designed to investigate how dogs would react when a shock collar was used per the manufacturer’s instructions. The study looked at three different groups of dogs; all with owners that had reported their dog either had a poor recall or chased cars, bicycles or animals. One group of dogs was trained with a shock collar by dog trainers that had been trained by shock collar manufacturers; the second group of dogs was trained by the same dog trainers but with positive reinforcement. The last group of dogs was trained by members of the UK APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) using positive reinforcement. The conclusion of the researchers: “…the study did find behavioural evidence that use of e-collars negatively impacted on the welfare of some dogs during training even when training was conducted by professional trainers using relatively benign training programmes advised by e-collar advocates.” The study also demonstrated that the shock collar was not any more effective at resolving recall and chasing behaviors than positive reinforcement training. This supports another recent study10 that concluded: “more owners using reward based methods for recall/chasing report a successful outcome of training than those using e-collars.”

You can read a summary of two of these studies8,9 at http://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2013/06/the-end-for-shock-collars.html

Shock Based Containment Systems

We believe that individuals that choose underground fence systems for containment are not intending any ill will towards their pet; in fact, it is often quite the opposite. People want to give their pet as much room to run as possible, and they believe that an underground containment system allows for more “freedom” at less financial cost. The problem lays in the lack of understanding about the pitfalls of this type of containment system and the lasting harm that may come to the dog.

In our experience, shock collar systems, where a dog hears a beep followed by an electrical shock at their neck if they continue across the boundary line of your property, create a false sense of security for dog owners and often cause a dog to become fearful and anxious, especially towards other people. The false sense of security comes from the fact, as many have observed, the non-visible fence does not always keep the dog on their property. A dog can see, hear and smell beyond the invisible line buried under the ground and may be attracted to something on the other side of the line causing them to blast through the “fence,” resulting in their getting a shock. If the dog wants to return to its yard, it must now suffer a shock to do so. In other words, there is no incentive to go back home but an intense motivation to stay away.

Additionally, these containment systems do nothing to prevent others dogs, animals or people from entering into your yard. A regular fence has a much higher probability of keeping a dog in and keeping others out, thus ensuring the safety of your dog.

People also tend to think that since there is a containment system in place; their dog can be left alone in the yard. They leave their dog unattended, even though most of the manuals for these systems explicitly indicate you should remain with your dog at all times as they are not a substitute for a reliable fence. Containment systems using electric shock do not offer you the same level of freedom as a conventional fence.

Electric shock causes anxiety in a dog because it hurts. The cause of that pain is then often associated with what the dog was focused on at the time the shock occurred. This could be something totally benign such as; another dog, a neighbor’s cat, a person or someone’s child passing by your yard.  For example, if a dog sees your neighbor’s child, runs toward it intending a friendly greeting, and in its excitement crosses the invisible line and is shocked, it is quite likely that your dog will associate this pain with the child. Your dog may now feel anxious and possibly aggressive towards all children. The same can happen towards adults as well as other animals. (See How Does Pain Cause Aggression- Case #1 below for a real example)

While dogs do not always get the shock, sometimes they just hear the beep, that uncertainty in itself can create even more anxiety. If you are from the Midwest you can relate; the anxiety starts when the tornado sirens go off whether the tornado happens or not.

If people approaching the dog cause the dog to get a shock, or even just a beep (a reliable predictor of a shock or the system would not work) and the dog has nowhere else to go (the fence essentially traps them in their yard) then the dog is going to do everything possible to drive those people away – including taking an aggressive posture which may increase the probability of creating a dog with territorial aggression.

Other factors to consider are how your dog will feel about their yard, the space you have designed to give them “freedom.” Sadly I have consulted with clients where the experience of being shocked in the yard causes the dog to refuse to go into the yard. Even more distressing, I have worked with clients where the dog now trembles in terror anytime it hears a beep that sounds anything like the beep of the shock collar (e.g., your mobile phone when you get a text, the smoke alarm when the battery is low, or a kitchen timer when it goes off). The beep even without the shock can and does cause anxiety.

Lastly, like most pieces of technology, shock collars can malfunction. I know of people that have used shock based containment systems where the battery has stopped working which means the collar will no longer beep or shock. More frightening, I have been told of cases where the collar has malfunctioned resulting in the dog being shocked continuously until the battery dies.

The companies that design, manufacture and sell these shock collar systems are unregulated and are primarily interested in profit. They are under no regulatory obligation to report problems that have already occurred.   If you do report problems to the manufacturer, you will likely be told you did not follow the directions properly.

Since these products are not regulated, we have no idea how many problems have occurred or how severe those problems have been.  While these companies claim their products give pets more freedom, keep pets safe and even save pets lives, these claims are not supported by published scientific evidence. In fact, the evidence in the peer-reviewed literature on the subject of shock collars suggests the exact opposite.

Some people argue that using an underground fence to contain their dog gives the dog more freedom. Dr. Karen Overall, a veterinary behaviorist answers that argument like this: “It’s a myth that invisible fences provide dogs with more freedom. In fact, these devices violate the principles of three of five freedoms that define adequate welfare for animals:  Freedom from pain, injury, and disease, Freedom to express normal behavior and Freedom from fear and distress.”11. The five freedoms Dr. Overall has mentioned are Brambell’s Five Freedoms – a standard for assessing animal welfare since the 1960’s12.

Alternatives to using a containment system based on electric shock include; a real fence, a small fenced kennel area on your property, and more frequent walks/exercise with your dog – something that that would be good for both you and your dog.

Shock Collars for Remote Training

Electric shock via remote control is used to positively punish (a momentary shock to decrease behavior) or negatively reinforce (an ongoing shock to increase a behavior) a dog.

Our own experience in dealing with dogs that have behavioral issues, as well as scientific research by experts in the field, indicates that using tools that cause pain and fear can actually elicit or increase aggression and other behavioral problems.5,6,20,21 Fear, anger and confrontation are all stressful. Physiologically a dog’s body will react in the same manner as a human’s when stressed. Stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol as well as other biochemical changes.13   Studies completed in Japan and Hungary in 2008 demonstrated that dogs that were strictly disciplined had higher levels of cortisol and that these increased cortisol levels were linked to increased aggressive behavior. The many adverse effects of using punishment led The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) to publish guidelines on the use of punishment in training in 2007.2

While punishment can temporarily stop a behavior, it often causes new and additional problems. A study published in Animal Welfare by E.F. Hiby in 2004 concluded that dogs trained with punishment were more likely to demonstrate behavior problems and were less obedient than those trained with positive, reward-based methods.14  Another study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior by Emily Blackwell in the fall of 2008 found that dogs trained with punishment had higher aggression scores while those trained with rewards had the lowest scores for fearful and attention seeking behaviors.15

For a real example of the use of a remote shock collar and its consequences, read How Does Pain Cause Aggression- Case #2 below.

Alternatives to using a remote controlled shock collar include; more effective management of your dog and its environment and a reward-based training program. As for performance sports or working dogs, Green Acres staff and students, as well as many others, have successfully trained dogs for field trials and search and rescue using clicker training and reward based training. Some of the most amazing working animals in the world, those working for the U.S. Navy, have been trained exclusively with reward-based training.

Shock Collars Used for Excessive Barking

Barking is a very normal and very complex behavior for a dog, meaning that there are many possible reasons a dog barks. One of the most frequent reasons a dog barks is due to anxiety. If a stressed dog suddenly receives a painful shock on its neck, it is much more likely to become even more anxious and increase its vocalizing, thus receiving more shocks. These collars cannot distinguish why a dog is barking so just keep shocking away. Because sound triggers them, even another dogs bark can trigger the collar around a dog that is being quiet. For this reason alone, these devices should never be used in multi-dog households or any places with multiple dogs like a boarding or daycare facility. Sadly there are such facilities in our community that use these devices.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is on record stating “Dog collars which are activated by the noise of barking to produce an electric shock are considered as hazardous to the health of the animal.” “Complaints received, which were later corroborated by our own testing, included severe burns in the collar area and possible personality adjustment injuries to the dogs. The shocking mechanism was found to be activated not only by barking but by vehicle horns, slamming doors or any other loud noise.”16

Working with a qualified dog behavior consultant to determine the cause of the barking and to assist in developing a management and behavior modification plan to address the barking will have a higher probability of success.

How Does Pain Cause Aggression?

At some level this seems like a foolish question. I bet that everyone of us can come up with several examples of where we were hurting and not feeling well and were acting rather surly/ Animals are no better or different than us.

The use of positive punishment in the form of choke collars, prong collars, and shock collars can cause aggression. This occurs because the anxiety and pain the dog feels when shocked or choked are often associated with whatever the dog was focusing on at that instant rather than their own behavior. Both real-life cases described below illustrate how using a shock collar created aggression in previously friendly dogs.

Case #1

“Jake,” a very social dog, bounded off to greet every person he saw. Jake’s guardians were concerned about him leaving the yard because he frequently went to visit the neighbor. For what they believed was his protection, the family installed an underground fence system that would keep Jake in their yard. They trained him to the system per the manufacturer’s instructions.

A few weeks after the system was installed, Jake saw the neighbor out in her yard. Since Jake had always liked his neighbor he ran straight for her when he was shocked for crossing the line. This happened a few more times, the once friendly Jake always getting shocked as he ran towards the neighbor. Then one day Jake was inside his home when the neighbor knocked on the front door. When the family opened the door, Jake saw the neighbor and immediately reacted by biting her in the leg.

To Jake, the neighbor was the predictor of the shock, and he now associated the neighbor with being shocked. This incident could have been prevented with the installation of a good, old-fashioned fence or by supervising Jake when he was out in the yard.

Case #2

“Jenny,” would drag her guardians around on her leash, especially when she saw another dog. Jenny was just curious and friendly and wanted to greet the other dogs, but her guardians were older, and Jenny was a strong dog. They had made no attempts to train Jenny and were frustrated with being pulled all over anytime Jenny saw another dog. They went to a big-box pet store where it was suggested they purchase a remote shock collar. They were instructed to shock Jenny whenever she pulled on her leash.

On their next walk, Jenny, as she always had done, moved forward in friendly greeting when she spotted another dog. Jenny was fixated on the dog she wanted to meet when she was shocked. The next time Jenny saw another dog on a walk she immediately became anxious. As the dog approached, Jenny lunged, but this time she also growled and bared her teeth. Jenny had become very afraid and was trying to look fierce to scare the dog away before it hurt her when she was shocked yet again. Jenny, now anxious and confused about other dogs, has learned to become defensively aggressive.

Jenny’s guardians did not train her to stop pulling; all they succeeded in doing is making a previously dog-friendly dog, dog aggressive. If they had enrolled Jenny in a reward based training class or made use of a front-connect walking harness they could have taught her to walk nicely without ever causing her any pain or fear.17

These are not isolated occurrences. I have training colleagues throughout the country that could tell you of similar incidents.

What Do the Experts Say About Shock Collars?

A study published in 20005 looked at five dogs who were subjected to shock collar containment systems and who later bit people, resulting in a lawsuit. No dog had a prior history of displaying aggression towards people, and it is believed that the dogs received a shock at the time of the attack. There is no evidence to suggest that the humans bitten were acting threateningly before the attack. In all cases, the dogs bit the victim repeatedly and uninhibitedly, resulting in serious bodily injury. Other studies on the use of electrical shock on other species, including humans, have noted the extreme viciousness and intensity of shock-elicited aggression.

In their 2015 Canine and Feline Behavior Guidelines, The American Animal Hospital Association says this about aversive training techniques:

This Task Force opposes training methods that use aversive techniques. Aversive training has been associated with detrimental effects on the human–animal bond, problem solving ability, and the physical and behavioral health of the patient. It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous.

Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior. Nonaversive techniques rely on the identification and reward of desirable behaviors and on the appropriate use of head collars, harnesses, toys, remote treat devices, warps and other force-free methods of restraint. This Task Force strongly endorses techniques that focus on rewarding correct behaviors and removing rewards for unwanted behaviors.” [Emphasis added]

In her book, Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats noted veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Overall says this about the use of electrical shock for the training of animals.

“To understand people’s willingness to shock their dogs and cats (and sometimes horses), one important association needs to be acknowledged: people reach for tools such as shock when they feel helpless to address their pet’s behavioral concerns and when they feel that this is the only way that they can keep their pet safe and alive. Unfortunately, companies that make and market shock collars prey on these concerns, claiming that their products keep pets safe and save lives. There is no published evidence to support these claims, but there is now considerable evidence published in the peer-reviewed literature that refutes them. Anyone considering the use of shock for behavioral problems— whether it is a remote/ bark activated shock collar, a remote controlled collar, an invisible fence, or a device such as a Scat Mat that shocks anyone who touches it— should know:

  1. The use of shock is not treatment for pets with behavioral concerns.
  2. The use of shock is not a way forward.
  3. The use of shock does not bring dogs back from the brink of euthanasia; instead, it may send them there.
  4. Such adversarial techniques have negative consequences that are dismissed/ ignored by those promoting these techniques18 [Emphasis added]

Jean Donaldson, founder and principal instructor, The Academy for Dog Trainers and author of The Culture Clash states:

Electric shock has no place in modern dog training and behavior management. It is never necessary, and is inhumane and side effect-laden. I know of no valid argument for the continued sale of these devices.”

So What Can You Do To Help Prevent Dogs from Getting Shocked?

Visit the Shock Free Coalition by clicking on the graphic to the left or at the at the following link https://shockfree.org and educate yourself about why shock collars need to be banned. If you are ready to take the pledge and join us, click on the graphic to your right or on the following link https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Sign-The-Pledge 

 

 

 

Once you signed the pledge download materials from Shock Free Coalition and share them on social media. Get your friends and family members to take the pledge as well. While you’re at it, ask your veterinarian, boarding kennel, doggie daycare, groomer, dog walker, and pet store to take the pledge. Why wouldn’t they?

If you would like to learn more about what we are doing in the state of Maine visit our website at http://bit.ly/Shock-FreeME or click on the graphic to the left.

 

 

As the late Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Using electric shock on animals is not treating them kindly or effectively. While we recognize both managing and training a dog can be frustrating at times, there is always a better way to deal with a situation than using electric shock.

References

1 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Guidelines, American Animal Hospital Association, https://www.aaha.org/professional/resources/behavior_management_guidelines.aspx

2 American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, AVSAB Position Statement The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals. https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf

3 British Small Animal Veterinary Association Position Statement on Aversive Training Methods, http://www.bsava.com/Resources/Positionstatements/Aversivetrainingmethods.aspx

4 British Veterinary Association Policy on Aversive Training Devices for Dog, https://www.bva.co.uk/uploadedFiles/Content/News,_campaigns_and_policies/Policies/Ethics_and_welfare/BVA%20position%20on%20Aversive%20training%20devices%20for%20dogs_PS20JUL2016.pdf

5 Polsky, Richard, (2000), Can Aggression in Dogs Be Elicited Through the Use of Electronic Pet Containment Systems?, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 3(4), 345-357, http://www.dogexpert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Electronic-fences.pdf

6 Schilder, Matthijs B.H. and van der Borg, Joanne A.M., (2004), Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects, Applied Animal Behavior Science 85 (2004) 319-334, http://eldri.ust.is/media/ljosmyndir/dyralif/Trainingdogswithshockcollar.pdf

7 Schalke, E., Stichnoth, J. and Jones-Baade, R., Stress Symptoms Caused by the Use of Electric Training Collars on Dogs (Canis familiaris) in Everyday Life Situations, Current Issues and Research in Veterinary Behavioral Medicine, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159106003820

8 Defra AW1402 (2013) Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs. University of Lincoln / University of Bristol / Food and Environment Research Agency.  Final report prepared by Prof. Jonathan Cooper, Dr. Hannah Wright, Prof. Daniel Mills (University of Lincoln); Dr. Rachel Casey, Dr. Emily Blackwell (University of Bristol); Katja van Driel (Food and Environment Research Agency); Dr. Jeff Lines (Silsoe Livestock System). http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=15332

9 Defra AW1402a (2013) Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs; field study of dogs in training. Final report prepared by Prof. Jonathan Cooper, Dr. Nina Cracknell, Jessica Hardiman and Prof. Daniel Mills (University of Lincoln). http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&Completed=0&ProjectID=17568#Description

10 Blackwell et al., The use of electronic collars for training domestic dogs: estimated prevalence, reasons and risk factors for use, and owner perceived success as compared to other training methods, BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:93, http://www.biomedcentral.com/1746-6148/8/93

11 Overall, MA VMD PhD DACVB CAAB, Karen, Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats, Mosby 2013, location 4757

12 Hanson, Don, APDT Chronicle of the Dog, Fall 2015, Assessing Pets’ Welfare Using Brambell’s Five Freedomshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/01/animal-welfare-assessing-pets-welfare-using-brambells-five-freedoms/

13 Scholz, Martina, and von Reinhardt, Clarissa: Stress in Dogs, ©2007, Dogwise Publishing

14 Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J., Bradshaw, J.W.S., 2004. Dog training methods—their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Anim. Welfare 13, 63–69. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ufaw/aw/2004/00000013/00000001/art00010

15 Blackwell, Emily J., Twells, Caroline Anne, Seawright, Rachel A. Casey. 2008. The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behavior problems, as reported by owners, in a population of domestic dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, September/October 2008, pp 207-217. http://www.journalvetbehavior.com/article/S1558-7878%2807%2900276-6/abstract

16 US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Compliance Policy GuideSec. 655.300 Barking Dog Collar,  http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/CompliancePolicyGuidanceManual/ucm074684.htm

17Words, Woofs and Meows – How Do I Get My Dog to Walk Politely Instead of Pulling on the Leash? – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/27/dog-training-how-do-i-get-my-dog-to-walk-politely-instead-of-pulling-on-the-leash/

18 Overall, MA VMD PhD DACVB CAAB, Karen, Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats, Mosby 2013, location 4862

19 Pet Professional Guild (PPG) Position Statement on the Use of Shock in Animal Training – https://petprofessionalguild.com/resources/Position%20Statements/Position%20Statement%20on%20The%20Use%20of%20Shock%20In%20Animal%20Training.pdf

20 Bradshaw J.W.S., Blackwell E.J., Casey R.A. 2009. Dominance in domestic dogs – useful construct or bad habit? Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, May/June 2009, pp 135-144. http://www.journalvetbehavior.com/article/S1558-7878(08)00115-9/abstract

21 Herron M.E., Shofer F.S., Reisner I.R. 2009. Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 117, pp. 47-54. http://vet.osu.edu/assets/pdf/hospital/behavior/trainingArticle.pdf

Recommended Resources

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

Reward Based Training versus Aversiveshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/25/dog-training-reward-based-training-versus-aversives/

The PPG and AAHA – Making A Kinder World for Dogshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/11/the-ppg-and-aaha-making-a-kinder-world-for-dogs/

How to choose a dog trainerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

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

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/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The PPG – Part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/05/02/selecting-a-pet-care-provider-yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-the-ppg-part-2/

 

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

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

Podcast – The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudgehttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/09/27/podcast-the-woof-meow-show-the-pet-professional-guild-and-the-shock-free-coalition-with-niki-tudge/

Podcast –Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – Dr. Dave Cloutier – Veazie Veterinary Clinichttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/07/02/podcast-encore-pet-behavior-vets-the-aaha-canine-and-feline-behavior-management-guidelines-dr-dave-cloutier-veazie-veterinary-clinic/

The Unintended Consequence of Shock Collarshttp://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2014-03-29-Unexpected_Consequences_of_Shock_Collars.mp3

 

From the Green Acres Kennel Shop Web Site

Press Release – Green Acres Kennel Shop Joins the Shock-Free Coalition – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/09/25/press-release-green-acres-kennel-shop-joins-the-shock-free-coalition/

Maine Shock-Free Coalition –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/donate/shock-free-coalition-of-maine.html

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2010/07/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2006/02/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-statement-on-pet-friendly-force-free-pet-care/

 

From the Shock-Free Coalition Web Site (https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/advocacy-resources)

The Shock-Free Pledge –  https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Shock-Free-Coalition

The Shock-Free Pledge (PDF) https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/resources/No%20Shock%20Coalition/PPG%20Pledge%20Document.pdf

What is shock traininghttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/What-is-Shock-Training

Electronic Fences, What You Need to Knowhttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Electronic-Fencing-What-you-need-to-know

Are Electronic Shock Collars Painful or Just Annoying to Dogs?https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Are-Electronic-Shock-Collars-Painful-or-Just-Annoying-to-Dogs

What Experts Sayhttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/What-Experts-Say

Myths and Misconceptionshttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Myths-and-Misconceptions

Other Web Articles

Can Aggression in Dogs Be Elicited Through the Use of Electronic Pet Containment Systems?http://www.leaonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/S15327604JAWS0304_6;jsessionid=nFup

Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effectshttp://eldri.ust.is/media/ljosmyndir/dyralif/Trainingdogswithshockcollar.pdf

Association of Pet Behaviour Counselors Press Release on Shock Collarshttp://www.apbc.org.uk/article2.htm

Dog Trainer & Author Pamela Dennison on Invisible Fenceshttps://www.pamdennison.com/why-i-really-hate-electric-sock-invisible-fences/

A scene on shock collars from the documentary Dogs, Cats and Scapegoatshttps://vimeo.com/231589923

©2017, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Dog Training – Chewing

< Updated 9APR16>

Click here to listen to a podcast on chewing broadcast on The Woof Meow Show on 12JAN113

OBJECTIVE: To learn how to manage your dog’s chewing behavior.

Tikken Chewing Nylabone
Tikken Chewing Nylabone

While a puppy may chew more during the teething stage, chewing is a very normal behavior for dogs of all ages. They do it out of pleasure; they do it to pass the time; they do it to relieve stress, and they do it to exercise their jaws and teeth. We need to allow our puppies and dogs to have an outlet for natural behaviors such as chewing. It is our responsibility to provide them with things that they can chew on and to help them learn that they are only to chew on their specified chew toys.

When they first come into our homes, dogs and puppies have no way of knowing the difference between a chew toy and a cell phone. They do not understand that a pair of shoes represents a $150 chew toy; they just know the shoes are available and are a pretty good chew. Consider all the items in your home that your dog is NOT allowed to chew in contrast to the number of things he is allowed to chew. Is it any wonder our dogs guess wrong some of the time?

Given the way a puppy works, we need to start training him early on as to what items he can chew. The first step is to restrict your puppy’s access to anything but his chew toys unless he is actively supervised. This keeps your belongings and your puppy safe. Sometimes dogs chew things that result in serious injury or illness.

Active supervision means that if you are not monitoring the puppy, you need toTikken with a stuffed Kong keep him in his crate or a puppy-proof room when he cannot be supervised. Adequate supervision means a responsible adult is devoting all of their attention to supervising the puppy.

The three key steps to chew training are:

  1. Get your dog some suitable chew toys and teach him how wonderful they are. There are five broad types of chew toys; natural chews like rawhide, bully sticks, antlers and other animal parts, man-made hard chews made to simulate a bone, man-made soft chews like rope toys and toys made of softer rubbers and plastics, toys that dispense treats and in doing so provide your dog with some mental stimulation, and super durable toys that are almost indestructible.

Natural Chews

Our favorite in this category is the Bully Stick. It is an all-natural chewing alternative made from a tendon from a steer. Unlike rawhide, your dog is unlikely to swallow too large a piece of the Bully Stick, and with most dogs they last a substantial amount of time. We occasionally use rawhide but are always very particular about the rawhide we choose. Rawhide is not naturally white/beige. It is normally brown and only becomes lighter colored after a great deal of chemical processing. For this reason, we prefer to only use rawhide that is manufactured in the USA. We always supervise the dogs when they are given any natural chew to make sure that they do not try to swallow more than they should. These types of chews are edible, but intake should be limited.

Man-made hard chews

These are probably the most common chew toys for dogs and often the most durable. Our favorite in this category are the NylaboneÒ products. They come in various sizes, flavors and degrees of hardness for the puppy and adult dog that is a voracious chewer. Many NylaboneÒ products also help keep your dog’s teeth and gums clean and healthy. If your dog lacks enthusiasm toward his NylaboneÒ, try sanding the surface gently with some fine sandpaper. This will help release the flavor. Another alternative is to drill some holes in the bone that you fill with peanut butter.

Man-made soft chews

Some of the NylaboneÒ products fall in this category as do rope toys and many of other products. Basically, these are any soft toys the dog can chew with supervision. Remember, because they are soft, your dog will be able to destroy them with less effort. They may not be appropriate for voracious chewers, even when supervised.

Treat dispensing chew toys

The toys in this category not only give your dog something to chew, but they can also keep him very busy. The granddad in this category is The KongÒ. Made of a hard, natural rubber and available in different sizes, their unique shape makes them bounce in an unpredictable manner, and their hollow center allows them to be stuffed with goodies. A KongÒ stuffed with various size pieces of dog biscuit, kibble, or carrot can keep your dog busy and out of trouble.

Super Durable Chews

GoughNuts come in sizes for small dogs to big dogs and in a variety of shapes (donut, stick, ball and cannoli). They are floatable, cleanable, roll-able, chewable, recyclable, fun-able, and available at Green Acres! Designed and manufactured in the US, each GoughNut contains an internal, red indicator material. If you can see the red material the toy has been compromised and should be considered “unsafe” and disposed of or returned to GoughNuts for a replacement. GoughNuts is so confident that this will so seldom occur that their guarantee states “If your dog chews through the outside wear layer, Green or Black, to expose the indication layer, Red, GoughNuts will replace your toy.” You do need to pay for shipping, but that is a pretty impressive guarantee for a chew toy.

No matter what toy or toys you choose, show your dog you are interested in them. Play with them and he too will start to show an interest.

  1. Prevent your dog from learning it is acceptable to chew things other than his toys
  • Make sure your dog is confined in his crate or a puppy-proof room unless you can keep him under 100% supervision.
  • When he starts to chew something he is not supposed to, redirect him to one of his chew toys. Praise him when he chews his toy. Do not bring more attention to the dog by scolding him for chewing an inappropriate item. Also, reflect on how your dog got access to the item he was not supposed to have and what you can do to prevent future access.
  • If your puppy chews things such as cords, try spraying them with a product such as BitterÒ Apple or Bitter YUCK!™. These products have a very bitter taste which 99% of dogs find objectionable. Once the dog chews on a treated item, it will stop chewing because it tastes so bad. We do sell two brands because some dogs amazingly like the taste of this stuff.
  1. Once your dog is doing well, start to give him more access to your home while continuing to keep him under close supervision. If he starts chewing something he is not supposed to chew, trade him for a chew toy. Now that he has been trained to know what he can chew it will be easier to redirect his attention.

Recommended Resources

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

Especially for New Puppy Parents

©2016, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

The Best Animal Trainers in History

These four links are to two blog articles on Dr. Sophia Yin’s blog page where she has published her interview with Bob and Marian Bailey about the best animal trainers in history. I was very fortunate to have attended the same seminar that Dr. Yin did and heard some of this important history firsthand and had an opportunity to learn from two of the best animal trainers in history; Marian and Bob Bailey. A big thank you to Dr. Yin for publishing this interview.

http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/the-best-animal-trainers-in-history-interview-with-bob-and-marian-bailey

http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/the-best-animal-trainers-in-history-interview-with-bob-and-marian-bailey-2

The next two articles discuss some of the training accomplishments of Animal Behavior Enterprises where Keller Breland, and Marian and Bob Bailey did much of their pioneering training work with animals.

http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/animal-behavior-enterprises-creates-the-field-of-applied-animal-psychology

http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/how-technology-from-30-years-ago-is-helping-military-dogs-perform-better-no

Dog Training – Biting and Bite Thresholds

< Updated 28JUN18 >

If you are having problems with your puppy or dog biting, we strongly encourage you to contact us ( 207-945-6841 ) so that you can make an appointment to see us for a Help Now! session. If you are not in our service area, we suggest you visit the Pet Professional Guild Trainer Search page ( https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Zip-Code-Search ) to locate a force-free trainer near you.

OBJECTIVE: To teach your dog to have a gentle bite that does not hurt, if he ever makes mouth contact with you or any other person.

No matter how much training you do and how gentle your dog is, under certain circumstances any dog can be provoked to bite. Biting is an act of defense for a dog; it is often an instinctual response to specific situations. There are a variety of reasons that a dog may bite and contrary to popular belief, few bites are committed by “aggressive” dogs.

All dogs have what is referred to as a bite threshold. A bite threshold can be either low, high or anywhere in between and is individual for every dog and will be variable depending on what else is happening in the dog’s environment at that particular time. The best way to think of this threshold is to equate it to the “snapping point” in people. Some individuals are more tense and quicker to react in a situation than others. Virtually everything going on in the world around them will contribute to where a dog is at that given moment in time in relation to their bite threshold.

Hypothetically, a dog with a very high threshold (less reactive) who is well socialized, well fed, well rested and just kicking back around the house playing a bit and being petted will typically be unlikely to bite the mailman, unless the simple presence of the mailman puts this dog over threshold. The same dog, that is hungry, tired from all of the company that has been visiting, sore from the extra exercise and whose routine has been completely thrown out of whack would be more likely to bite that same mailman. All of these factors play into where the individual dog is at on the continuum. As humans, this should be pretty easy to understand; if we have had a bad day and have a headache, we tend to be grumpier than usual. With this in mind, we believe that it is important to first help a dog learn to inhibit their bites before we work on teaching them to not bite at all. The ultimate goal is that if your dog is ever put in a situation where he/she feels a need to defend itself, it will inflict only a minimal amount of damage.

Bite Inhibition

We strongly discourage the use of traditional methods to teach puppies to not bite. These include, but are not limited to scruff shakes, cuffing the puppy under the chin, pinching their lips against their teeth and even the infamous “alpha wolf rollover” where you hold the dog down on their back. Often people find that when using these methods the puppy bites harder, becomes fearful of hands around its mouth and head and damages the trust the puppy has in its guardian. Aggression on our part results in more aggression from the puppy.

The 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines published by the American Animal Hospital Association states:

This Task Force opposes training methods that use aversive techniques. Aversive training has been associated with detrimental effects on the human–animal bond, problem solving ability, and the physical and behavioral health of the patient. It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous.

Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior.” [ emphasis added ]

The method we describe below works very differently. With this method you can minimize biting and any damage if your dog should ever be placed in a situation where it feels it has no choice but to bite.

Your puppy, even at its young age, has strong jaws and sharp teeth. As your puppy matures, its jaws will only become more powerful. An adult dog has jaws and teeth that are fully capable of ripping apart a carcass and cracking bones. Dogs developed such well-built apparatus because they needed them to survive in the wild.

Dogs are very social animals and because their jaws are such an incredible and potentially dangerous weapon, they have created a ritualized form of aggression to prevent serious injury to one another during altercations. Every puppy is born knowing how to bite; yet they do not automatically know how to bite softly. They can however learn to bite softly through their interactions with other puppies, dogs and us. However, learning how to control their bite with other dogs helps them with other dogs. If you want them to learn how to control their bite with people, you need to teach them.

When we see a litter of puppies playing, we see them exploring one another with their paws and their mouths. This play is fun for the puppies, but it is also an important part of learning. Much of their play involves biting one another. This play is part of how they acquire the skills necessary for ritualized aggression.

While puppies are playing with one another, they are also learning bite inhibition – how to control the strength of their bite. When two puppies are wrestling and one bites the other too hard, the puppy that has been bitten will yelp or snark and stop playing. The puppy that did the biting has just learned that if he bites too hard, his littermate stops playing with him. Eventually the one that was bitten too hard will return to play and the biting puppy will have learned to have a softer mouth. When we take a puppy away from its litter, we also are removing it from a school where it learns much about bite inhibition. If taken into a home without other dogs, and if its new people do not allow play biting, the puppy will no longer have opportunities to learn how to inhibit its bite. This is a huge issue for puppies that are taken from mom and the litter prior to reaching eight weeks of age.

Unfortunately, many outdated dog-training books actively discourage play biting. They infer that if the dog is allowed to play bite it will think of you as a littermate and will try to dominate you. In reality, play biting is an important part of your puppy’s development and something that should be worked with, not against, if you want your puppy to develop a soft mouth. Our goal is to teach the puppy to inhibit this natural canine behavior before they are adults and can cause serious injury.

It is also important to understand that “play biting” is a very different behavior than “chewing” While you dog uses their teeth as part of both behaviors one involves mouthing a living, breathing playmate that will react and interact while the other involves gnawing on an inanimate object that does not interact. This is why giving the dog a toy when they are play biting does not typically stop the play biting behavior.

Teaching Bite Inhibition

It is important to setup opportunities to teach your puppy bite inhibition instead of just trying to teach them when a bite happens. Pick times when the puppy is not all wound up but is more relaxed. If the puppy is in the midst of “the puppy zoomies*” when you try to teach this they are likely to bite harder and are less likely to learn.

*Puppy Zoomies – those times during the day, usually early morning and early evening, when your puppy runs around with great gusto and enthusiasm, almost as if they are possessed.

When teaching bite inhibition, you want to initially target the hard bites. Setup a play area for yourself and the puppy. Make sure that there is absolutely NOTHING in this area that the puppy can play with other than you. No other people, dogs, toys or anything they can mouth. Play with your puppy allowing him to mouth your hands while monitoring the pressure of his bites.

  1. When the puppy bites too hard, say “ouch” as if he really hurt you. This word will become the conditioned stimulus which the puppy learns to mean “playtime ends.” Note: you want to use the same word every time, as does everyone else in the family. Some puppies may be overly stimulated by a “yelp” so you may need to tone down the volume.
  2. Immediately stop play and get up and leave the area for 30 seconds. You must completely ignore the puppy. Do NOT look at, touch or speak to the puppy, just walk away. Make sure the puppy has no toys or other people they can interact with. We are teaching the puppy that when they bite too hard their friends leave and ALL of the fun in the universe comes to a screeching halt.
  3. After 30 seconds return and resume play. When the puppy eventually bites too hard again (and he most likely will), repeat steps 2 and 3.

The above cycle will need to be repeated several times for the puppy to learn. Every day or so you will reduce the amount of pressure you tolerate so that in time your puppy learns that you have very soft skin and he can only mouth you very gently. Think of this like the 1 to 10 pain scale used by doctors. On day one you yelp at 10, day two at 9, and so on. Be careful of moving to a soft pressure too quickly. If your criteria are too high, you are setting your puppy up to fail.

If you try teaching bite inhibition and it turns into the “puppy zoomies,” quietly and with much positive energy, pop your puppy in their crate for a brief timeout.

Some puppies will follow you and nip at your heels and clothes when you stop play. If this is the case, the bite inhibition exercises should be done with the puppy on a leash that is tethered to something like a table so the puppy cannot follow you.

The amount of time it takes your dog to learn how much pressure is okay will vary from dog to dog. The retrieving breeds generally pick this up quite quickly as they have been bred to have very soft mouths. Who wants to have their duck brought back all full of holesJ. On the flip side, it may take a bit more time to help your terrier become soft-mouthed.

Children should not participate in the bite inhibition training. While children and dogs often become the best of friends, young children frequently send dogs all the wrong signals. They scream, flail their limbs, run and fall down. All of these behaviors trigger your dogs hard-wired prey drive as they are essentially the same thing wounded prey would do. If the puppy gets too revved up, a timeout is necessary for both the puppy and the kids.

NOTE: If bite inhibition training was not started when your dog was a puppy (between 8 and 12 weeks), it may not work as well as you would like. If this is the case, please talk with one of the instructors for other ideas on handling biting issues.

Related Podcasts

Available as a podcast at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2013-01-12-TYDM_Playbiting_Chewing.mp3

 

©2018, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

No Pain, No Force, & No Fear – Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs

<Updated 2MAR17>

This position statement is based on the understanding that:

  1. As our dog’s guardian we have a moral responsibility to meet their physical and emotional needs1.
  2. We can train our dogs to a very high level of compliance using a variety of reward-based training methods, but we cannot dictate their emotional responses to situations. Most serious behavioral problems are not due to training or a lack thereof, but are the result of emotions like fear and anger.
  3. Expecting 100% compliance to obedience cues without also managing the dog’s environment is not a reasonable expectation for most dogs.
  4. Dogs, like humans, are social species and usually enjoy the company of others. However both species consist of a broad spectrum of temperament types and must be viewed as individuals. Not all individuals within the population will enjoy social interactions. As much as we may want a dog to “like” a specific person or pet, we cannot make them do so.

The goal of our training and behavior consultation programs is to help you and your pet become and remain best friends for life. We believe that healthy friendships are based on mutual respect, acceptance of one another’s unique needs, and a desire to share life’s ups and downs while enjoying one another’s company.

Our approach to training or modifying the behavior of an animal may include any and all of the following; 1) managing the dog and its environment to prevent the undesired behavior, 2) eliminating or at least reducing the dog’s stress and anxiety by managing the dog and its environment, 3) defining clear boundaries and rules that are taught to the dog through reward-based training, 4) establishing or increasing the trust between person and dog so the dog sees its guardian as a kind leader and provider, 5) desensitizing the dog to the stimuli that causes the undesired behavior, and 6) rewarding the dog for desired behavior.

We will NOT recommend any methods based on the dominance construct (e.g. being the alpha or “top dog”, alpha rollovers, scruff shakes, etc.) which basically involves correcting behavior via physical, mental or emotional intimidation. While the dominance construct has been popular for many years, and is currently promoted on a popular reality TV show, it is based on flawed science and has been refuted by experts in the field of dog and wolf behavior.2,3,4,5,6 The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), the world’s two largest organizations of  dog behavior professionals, have both published official position papers outlining the problems with using the dominance construct for training or resolving problem behaviors like aggression.7,8,9 Attempting to be dominant over a dog is only likely to create and/or increase behavior problems and aggression.

We will NOT recommend any tools (shock collars [remote or underground fencing systems], choke, prong, or anti-bark collars) that are specifically designed to punish or “correct” the dog by causing pain or discomfort. Our own experience in dealing with dogs that have behavioral issues, as well as scientific research by experts in the field, indicates that using tools that cause pain and fear can actually elicit or increase aggression and other behavioral problems.4,10 Fear, anger and confrontation are all stressful. Physiologically a dog’s body will react in the same manner as a human’s when stressed. Stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol as well as other biochemical changes.11 Studies completed in Japan and Hungary in 2008 demonstrated that dogs that were strictly disciplined had higher levels of cortisol and that these increased cortisol levels were linked to increased aggressive behavior. The many adverse effects of using punishment led The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) to publish guidelines on the use of punishment in training in 2007.12

While punishment can temporarily stop a behavior it often causes new and additional problems. A study published in Animal Welfare by EF Hiby in 2004 concluded that dogs trained with punishment were more likely to demonstrate behavior problems and were less obedient than those trained with positive, reward based methods.13 Another study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior by Emily Blackwell in the fall of 2008 found that dogs trained with punishment had higher aggression scores while those trained with rewards had the lowest scores for fearful and attention seeking behaviors.14

Footnotes

1 Hanson, Don, 2010, Brambell’s Five Freedoms, Green Acres Kennel Shop web site, (http://www.greenacreskennel.com/pages/Articles/ART_Brambells_5_Freedoms.html )

2 Mech L.D. 1999. Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs. Canadian Journal of Zoology. (http://www.wolf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/267alphastatus_english.pdf)

3 Mech L.D. 2008. Whatever happened to the term alpha wolf? International Wolf. (http://www.wolf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/winter2008.pdf )

4 Bradshaw J.W.S., Blackwell E.J., Casey R.A. 2009. Dominance in domestic dogs – useful construct or bad habit? Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, May/June 2009, pp 135-144. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248577607_Dominance_in_domestic_dogs_Useful_construct_or_bad_habit)

5 Coppinger, Raymond & Lorna: Dogs – A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior & Evolution ©2001, Scribner

6 Ryan, David. 2010. Why Won’t “Dominance” Die? Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors website, www.apbc.org.ukhttp://www.apbc.org.uk/articles/why-wont-dominance-die

7 American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior 2009. AVSAB Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of animals. (https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Dominance_Position_Statement_download-10-3-14.pdf )

8 Association of Pet Dog Trainers 2009. APDT Position Statement on Dominance and Dog Training (http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/dominance.aspx )

9 Association of Pet Dog Trainers 2009. Dominance Myths and Dog Training Realities (http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/dominancemyths.aspx )

10 Herron M.E., Shofer F.S., Reisner I.R. 2009. Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 117, pp. 47-54. (http://vet.osu.edu/assets/pdf/hospital/behavior/trainingArticle.pdf )

11 Scholz, Martina, and von Reinhardt, Clarissa: Stress in Dogs,©2007, Dogwise Publishing,

12 American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior 2007. AVSAB Position Statement – Punishment Guidelines: The use of punishment for dealing with animal behavior problems. (https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf )

13 Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J., Bradshaw, J.W.S., 2004. Dog training methods—their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Anim. Welfare 13, 63–69. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261106650_Dog_training_methods_Their_use_effectiveness_and_interaction_with_behaviour_and_welfare)

14 Blackwell, Emily J., Twells, Caroline Anne, Seawright, Rachel A. Casey. 2008. The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behavior problems, as reported by owners, in a population of domestic dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, September/October 2008, pp 207-217. (http://www.journalvetbehavior.com/article/S1558-7878%2807%2900276-6/abstract )

Recommended Reading for Further Education

Dogs: A new Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution, Raymond and Lorna Coppinger, University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Dominance: Fact or Fiction, Barry Eaton, 2002.

Dominance Theory and Dogs Version 1.0, James O’Heare, DogPsych Publishing, 2003.

Don’t Shoot the Dog – The New Art of Teaching and Training (2nd edition), Karen Pryor, Bantam Books, 1999.

On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas, Dogwise Publishing, 2006.

Stress in Dogs, Martina Scholz and Clarissa von Reinhardt, Dogwise Publishing, 2007.

The Culture Clash, Jean Donaldson, James & Kenneth Publishers, 2005.

The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller, Howell Book House, 2001.

Recommended Resources

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

 

Green Acres’ First Statement on Being A Pet Friendly-Facilityhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2006/02/01/green-acres-first-statement-on-being-a-pet-friendly-facility/

©01JUL10, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Dog Training – What Is Clicker Training?

clickerClicker Training uses an event marker or signal paired with positive reinforcement to train the dog each desired individual behavior. The reinforcement may be food, play, or even freedom; whatever is most motivating to the dog and applicable for that specific training session. The marker signal, in this case a “click”, is used to precisely indicate the instant the dog performs the desired behavior. For example, if I’m training a dog to sit, I click at the exact instant the dogs butt touches the floor and then reward them with a small treat. There is nothing magic about the clicker it is just a signal. Marine mammal trainers typically use a whistle as their signal or event marker. The clicker is used as a training tool only, and once the dog has been trained the behavior the clicker is no longer used for that behavior.

Clicker Training is not a novel new approach to training for dogs. It is a form of Operant Conditioning first outlined by behavioral scientist B.F. Skinner. It has been used since the 1940’s for training a wide variety of animals and has been increasing in popularity for training dogs since the 1990’s. It is also used at marine mammal parks like Sea World as well as at many zoos throughout the world.

Clicker Training at the Shedd Aquarium – These videos from NBC News describes how the Shedd Aquarium uses clicker training with everything from whales to dogs. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEn7kMb22bAhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqRmK7Wy92U

If you want to learn more about the power and versatility of clicker training, check out these articles:

Clicker Training: A Dog’s Point of Viewhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/1997/12/01/dog-training-clicker-training-a-dogs-point-of-view/

The CIA’s Most Highly-Trained Spies Weren’t Even Human-Smithsonian – This link from the October 2013 issue of the Smithsonian discusses how clicker training/operant conditioning was used to train animals for intelligence gathering. It illustrates the power and versatility of this training technique. – http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-cias-most-highly-trained-spies-werent-even-human-20149

 

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

What You Need to Know About Cesar Millan, “The Dog Whisperer”

What You Need to Know About Cesar Millan, “The Dog Whisperer”

< A short link to this page – http://bit.ly/ExpertsCMJAN07 >

A compilation of comments on Cesar Millan appearing in the media published on the Green Acres Kennel Shop website in January of 2007

C’mon, Pooch, Get With the Program

Dr. Dodman [veterinary behaviorist and director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University] said: ”My college [American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB)] thinks it [The Dog Whisperer – Cesar Millan] is a travesty. We’ve written to National Geographic Channel and told them they have put dog training back 20 years.”

The New York Times – C’mon, Pooch, Get With the Program, By Anna Bahney February 23, 2006

A ‘tough love’ dog whisperer spurs some yelps

To call his operation a psychology center is a total paradox,” says veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and author of “Dogs Behaving Badly” (Bantam, $14). “I think, like a bullfighter, he understands how to approach and work around a dog, but thereafter he stops. He doesn’t understand separation anxiety. I doubt he knows what obsessive-compulsive behavior is. Basically, with a smile, he’s going to war with these dogs.”

Dodman says Millan relies on two musty tools popularized a half-century ago by heavy-handed military dog trainers and considered out of vogue amid the current emphasis on reward-based training. One is “positive punishment,” where an aversive action – “poking and jabbing and pulling and prodding” – is applied to get the dog to stop a behavior. The other is “flooding,” in which the dog is “basically drowning” in something it doesn’t like, sort of “Fear Factor” for Fido.

Imagine,” says Dodman, “if there was a new Dr. Phil for children, and he said, ‘If your kid is playing too many video games, get a big paddle and whack him on the head.’ People would be incensed.”

Newsday.com – A ‘tough love’ dog whisperer spurs some yelps, Cesar Millan has plenty of believers, including celebs, but veterinarians snarl over tactics, By Denise Flaim, May 17, 2006

Jean Donaldson on “The Dog Whisperer”

Practices such as physically confronting aggressive dogs and using of choke collars for fearful dogs are outrageous by even the most diluted dog training standards. A profession that has been making steady gains in its professionalism, technical sophistication and humane standards has been greatly set back. I have long been deeply troubled by the popularity of Mr. Millan as so many will emulate him. To co-opt a word like ‘whispering’ for arcane, violent and technically unsound practice is unconscionable.”

—Jean Donaldson, Director, SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, San Francisco.

‘Dog Whisperer’ Training Approach More Harmful Than Helpful

The training tactics featured on Cesar Millan’s “The Dog Whisperer” program are inhumane, outdated and improper” according to a letter sent yesterday to the National Geographic Channel by American Humane the oldest national organization protecting children and animals.

Several instances of cruel and dangerous treatment – promoted by Millan as acceptable training methods – were documented by American Humane, including one in which a dog was partially asphyxiated in an episode. “In this instance, the fractious dog was pinned to the ground by its neck after first being “hung” by a collar incrementally tightened by Millan. Millan’s goal – of subduing a fractious animal – was accomplished by partially cutting off the blood supply to its brain.”

As a forerunner in the movement towards humane dog training, we find the excessively rough handling of animals on the show and inhumane training methods to be potentially harmful for the animals and the people on the show,” said the letter’s author, Bill Torgerson, DVM, MBA, who is vice president of Animal Protection Services for American Humane. “It also does a disservice to all the show’s viewers by espousing an inaccurate message about what constitutes effective training and appropriate treatment of animals.”

– Americanhumane.org – ‘Dog Whisperer’ Training Approach More Harmful Than Helpful – September 6, 2006

Steve Dale on “The Dog Whisperer”

I have serious concerns because his [Millan’s] methods are often intimidating rather than motivating. On TV, the dogs often comply but often they’re being forced to – you can tell by their body language: tail down, mouth closed, ears back, eyes dilated.”

For me, Millan makes too many dog-to-wolf parallels, particularly that we have to dominate a dog like an alpha wolf. Although there are many similarities, dogs are simply not wolves any more than we are chimpanzees.”

Millan has himself told me his training methods aren’t replicable. The cable channel that airs his show, the National Geographic channel, apparently agrees (or its lawyers tell it to) with pop-up warnings ‘not to try this at home.‘”

“I argue that motivating leadership is far more effective than leading through intimidation.”

– Pet World, By Steve Dale December 7, 2006

Don’t Whisper – We Favor behavioral science over showmanship

I Don’t like Millan’s techniques. Many are antiquated and dangerous, for dogs and owners, in my view and that of many of behavior experts I respect (such as Drs. Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell, and Nicholas Dodman, as well as our own training expert, Pat Miller).”

Modern behavioral scientists understand that there is lots more to canine interaction than constant displays of dominance and submission, and that humans are probably at their lest effective as trainers when they try to ‘act like a dominant dog.'”

Millan’s ideal is a dog who exhibits ‘calm submission’ to its owner. In contrast, most pet dog owners I know, myself included, want an affectionate, trusting, respectful coexistence with our dogs, not wary subservience… The most effective way to accomplish this, with the least fallout or dangerous side effects, is with the dog-friendly behavior modification techniques we regularly detail in WDJ.”

– The Whole Dog Journal, By Nancy Kerns, December 2006

No. 039 Misguided Expert of the Year – The Dog Whisperer Should Just Shut Up

My position is, Millan is a poseur,” Claudia Kawczynska, editor in chief of The Bark magazine, says of the ex-dog groomer. “He is a hairdresser, not the real guy in terms of being an expert. He doesn’t have credentials. And it is shocking to me how easily people are ready to fall for it… He is doing a disservice to the real experts in the filed…He gives quick fixes, but they are not going to be a solution for most families with problem dogs.”

– Esquire – No. 039 Misguided Expert of the Year – The Dog Whisperer Should Just Shut Up, by Curtis Pesmen, October 2006

©JAN2007, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved

Ouch! The Shocking Truth About Electronic Collars

Originally published in
Green Acres Kennel Shop Paw Prints – May 2004

In my opinion it is NEVER appropriate to use electric shock to train a dog or any other living thing. There are far better ways to train, with far fewer serious side effects. However, since there are people advocating the use of shock collars, without fully understanding their dangerous side-effects, or perhaps not caring about the physical and emotional pain they inflict on dogs, I feel compelled to explain why they should be relegated to the dust bins of history along with other instruments of torture, such as the rack and thumb screws.

There are three basic types of shock collars; underground fence collars which automatically administer a shock as the dog crosses a line in the yard, bark collars which automatically trigger when the dog barks, and remotely activated collars where a person presses a button on a transmitter in order to shock the dog. In all cases the dog wears a collar which contains a box with two electrodes that press against the neck. When the collar is triggered, the dog is shocked by the two electrodes. Some who use shock collars for training dogs for competition will even place a second collar around the dog’s waist so the electrodes shock the genitals. This is allegedly necessary because a shock around the neck is not enough.

From the perspective of operant conditioning, these collars are usually used as a form of positive punishment (the dog is shocked for doing something the person does not want), but may also be used for negative reinforcement (the dog is continuously shocked until the dog does what the person wants). The latter is especially cruel and counterproductive.

While the manufacturers and advocates of shock collars may tell you that the shock is nothing more than a tingle, we know from the science of operant conditioning that the aversive stimulus or shock must be sufficiently aversive or painful in order to work. I have seen dogs with severe burns on their necks caused by these collars, in which case the pain lasts long after the shock.

It is important to remember that along with the physical pain of every shock is the emotional pain and anxiety that comes with it. Imagine your high school algebra teacher shocking you every time you answered a question incorrectly. Would you become anxious? Would you become so anxious you would stop learning? Anxiety never helps learning in any species.

The anxiety and pain the dog feels are often associated with whatever the dog was focusing on at that instant. The use of positive punishment in the form of choke collars, prong collar and shock collars can cause aggression. Both cases below are descriptions of how using the shock collar caused aggression. These people sought me out for advice, after the aggression developed.

Case #1

A happy, gregarious dog loved every person he saw. His guardian was concerned about him leaving the yard because he frequently went to visit the neighbor. They installed an underground fence system that would shock the dog several feet before he was outside of his yard. They trained the dog to the system per the manufacturer’s instructions. A few weeks after the system was installed the dog saw the neighbor out in the yard. Since the dog had always liked the neighbor he ran straight for her, focused on his human friend when ZAP! He felt a sharp stinging pain around his neck. This happened a few more times, the friendly dog always getting shocked as he ran towards the neighbor. Then one day the neighbor knocked on the front door. The dog saw the neighbor and he was afraid he would again be shocked so he bit the neighbor in the leg, before the neighbor could cause him pain.

Why did this bite occur? Because the dog associated the pain and anxiety of the shock with what it was focusing on at the time the shock occurred, the neighbor. To the dog the neighbor was the predictor of the shock, and the dog took action in an attempt to prevent the shock. Is this a one of a kind incident? Far from it. I have training colleagues throughout the country that could tell you of similar incidents. This incident could have been prevented with the installation of a good, old fashioned fence or providing the dog with supervision when leaving him in an unfenced yard. We would not leave a 4 year old child alone in an unfenced yard, why leave a dog?

Case #2

A young dog drags its guardians around on leash, especially when it sees another dog. The dog is curious and friendly and wants to meet the other dogs. The guardians are older, the dog is big and they do not enjoy being dragged around every time the dog sees another dog. They have made no attempt to train the dog, but are frustrated. They go to a pet store where some kid, who knows nothing about canine behavior, sells them a remote shock collar. They are instructed to shock the dog whenever he pulls on leash. On their next walk the dog does as he always does, he sees another dog and lunges forward, fixated on the dog he wants to greet when ZAP! He yelps, not sure why he has suffered this pain. The next time he sees a dog on a walk he immediately becomes anxious, remembering the pain he felt the last time he saw a dog. As the dog approaches he lunges but this time he also growls and shows his teeth. He is very afraid but is trying to look fierce to scare the dog away before it hurts him again when ZAP! These guardians have not trained their dog to stop pulling; all they have done is made a good dog, dog aggressive. If these people would have enrolled their dog in a training class they could have taught their dog to walk nicely without ever causing him any pain or fear.

Proponents of shock collars insist they are necessary because harsh punishment is the only way a dog can be trained. To me this says more about their lack of ability as a trainer than anything else.

One of the typical examples they use is training a dog to stay away from rattlesnakes. They insist the only way you can teach a dog to stay away from snakes is by shocking them whenever they approach a snake. Now from the examples above, it should be clear that shocking a dog when they see a snake is just as likely to teach the dog to attack it as it is to stay away.

When they bring up this example I like to ask how they would teach a 4 year old child to stay away from rattlesnakes. After lots of mumbling and posturing they agree that the intelligent and responsible thing to do would be to hold on to the child’s hand and keep them close when in snake country. I then ask if they think it would be appropriate to put a shock collar on a 4 year old child to keep them in the yard. Even they know that if they tried to use a shock collar on a child they would end up having the child taken away and they would spend a lengthy stay in a penal facility.

While I am the first to caution people about treating their dog as if it were a child, I do think we should treat children and pets with the same respect and compassion. There is NEVER a need to teach or train with techniques and devices that are designed to cause physical and/or emotional pain.

 

©1MAY04, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Dog Training – Clicker Training: A Dog’s Point of View

By Jade Ramsdell

Jade #2I groaned in disgust when my mom came home and announced I would be attending an obedience class. Wasn’t she aware that I already knew everything? Why was this insane woman putting me through these nonsensical commands all over again? She even seemed convinced that this “new style” of training was going to be fun! UGHHHHH…Oh well, I realized that mom was determined. At my age, I was going back to school.

The first day of class arrived much too soon. Mom packed me up in the car and off we went. The previous group was just finishing up as we arrived – a bunch of immature pups. I could comprehend the logic of their being in class, but surely not me! My class was up next. They called it “Click N’ Trick.” I found it unbelievable that these humans thought they were capable of teaching me anything new. Aside from all of the basic commands, I had already taught myself to open windows, doors, even kitchen cabinets. And they thought they could train me to do more! Well, I decided to show them. I made the decision to do a perfect down stay for the duration of the class. That would definitely teach everyone that I had nothing left to learn. Maybe then mom would give up this ridiculous idea.

Everything got quiet as the instructor started explaining to the people about animal training and some weird device called a “clicker.” (Humans need lots of explanations!) This clicker thing was made of metal and plastic and the instructor was periodically pressing down in the center of it. The clicker made an interesting noise. Against my better judgment, I was actually beginning to get curious about it. SNIFF SNIFF SNIFF, I smelled food!! I am blessed with a very sensitive nose, among other things, and knew for a fact that it was good stuff. All of sudden looking bored was not so easy. I HAD to figure out how to get that food!! Thanks to my extreme intelligence it only took me a couple of seconds to make the connection. When I heard the click that the piece of plastic made, I knew food might follow. Now, if only I could discover how to make the clicker work…

The next step was the hardest. I wanted my mom to make that plastic thing click, but she was not telling me what to do. I tried sitting – that did not work. I tried laying down – that did not work. I even tried speaking – still no click. In my confusion, I started to walk away and all of a sudden CLICK! What was going on here? Mom was clicking me for going away? That couldn’t be. Then I saw it. There in front of me was a ladder. Now I understood. I was being clicked and rewarded for going to the ladder. Next I decided to see what she would do if I put a paw on the ladder. CLICK! It was unbelievable. My mom was actually encouraging me to climb ladders. I had never been to such a weird dog training class before. It was actually kind of cool!

I really like this new style of training. Nobody is telling me what to do or placing me in awkward positions. Instead, I have to figure it all out for myself, and as we all know, us hound dogs are independent thinkers.

Mom is now teaching me how to shake my head “NO” and to walk backwards (Mom is a bit of an oddball.) My sister learned how to close the refrigerator door and sit in chairs (The sitting in chairs helps her when visiting people at the nursing home.)

By the way – mom got really well trained in this class- now she has to always look to make sure there are no ladders for me to climb on when she is not around.

Jade Ramsdell

Hounddog, First-Class

Originally published in Green Acres Kennel Shop Paw Prints, Winter 1997.

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>