Recommended Resources for People with Pets

< Updated 29NOV19 >

< A short link for this page – http://bit.ly/KnowledgeforPetParents >

Our pets do not come with a user manual, and their normal behavior can often be quite different from what we expect or desire. When we chose to live with another species, it is important to understand their normal behaviors as well as abnormal behaviors, if our relationship with them is going to be mutually beneficial.

In 2015, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) issued their Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines, which state: “More dogs and cats are affected by behavioral problems than any other condition, often resulting in euthanasia, relinquishment of the patient, or chronic suffering.” The report explains that a major reason for behavioral problems is erroneous information about pets and what constitutes normal versus abnormal behavior and appropriate training methods. Misinformation often comes from family, friends, neighbors, rescues/shelters, and even pet care professionals such as veterinarians and trainers. The following resources will provide you with current, and accurate information based on science, so you can better understand your cat or dog, and have a more harmonious relationship with them

Canine Behavior, Dog Training, and Dog to Human Communications

Articles & Blog Posts

Pet Health and Wellness – Your Pet’s Behavioral Health Is As Important As Their Physical Well-Being – A review of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) 2015 Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines and the importance of attending to our pets emotional and behavioral well-being. http://bit.ly/WWM_AAHA_Bhx

PODCAST – Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic – In this podcast from The Woof Meow Show Kate, Don and Dr. Dave Cloutier of the Veazie Veterinary Clinic discuss the American Animal Hospital Associations (AAHA) new guidelines on behavior management for dogs and cats. This groundbreaking document represents the first time that a major veterinary organization has addressed pet behavior. According to the guidelines, “More dogs and cats are affected by behavioral problems than any other condition, often resulting in euthanasia, relinquishment of the patient, or chronic suffering.” The guidelines outline how the continuing promulgation of erroneous information about pet behavior and the ongoing use of aversives to train and manage pets are major causes for behavior problems, and recommend that concepts like dominance and the use aversives are not scientifically sound and are, in fact, counter-productive and harmful to the pets in our care. Every pet care professional needs to be aware of the 2015 American Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelineshttp://bit.ly/WfMw-AAHA-Guidelines-13MAR16

2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – You may read the entire document and references at this link, or download a copy as a PDF file. If your veterinarian is not familiar with this document, I recommend you share it with them. – http://bit.ly/AAHABhx2015

How to Choose a Dog Trainer – Don and Kate believe that finding a good dog trainer, even before you get your puppy or dog, is every bit as important as finding the best veterinarian for your pet. In this blog post and podcast, they suggest criteria you can use when looking for a dog trainer. – http://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer

Do I Need A Dog Trainer or a “Behaviorist” – Don discusses how to determine what type of professional may best be able to help you with your canine challenges.– http://bit.ly/WWM-Trainer-Behaviorist

Reward-Based Training versus Aversives – This blog post discusses how dog training has changed from using aversives to being aversive-free. Dog training should be fun, and that means it is pain-free, force-free, and fear-free, a position supported by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Both the AAHA and the PPG have position statements that indicate that aversives must never be used in the training or management of a dog. – http://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars (Podcast) – While Don and Kate would never recommend using a shock collar on a dog for any reason, they recognize that not everyone who uses a shock collar on their dog does so understanding the harm it can cause. Sadly, often, the companies that sell and manufacture shock collars do not provide you with all of the information you need to make an informed decision. This podcast addresses the following questions; What is a shock collar?, How are shock collars used?, How does a shock collar change a dog’s behavior?, What makes the use of a shock collar inappropriate?, What do experts say about shock collars?, and what can people concerned about a dogs well-being do to help prevent dogs from getting shocked? We invite you to tune in and learn more about shock collars and their dangers. – http://bit.ly/ShockPodcast

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars (Blog Post) – This article provides a detailed analysis of shock collars, how they are used, and why there is always a better choice for both training and management. References to the scientific literature supporting the conclusion of this article are listed. – http://bit.ly/ShockCollars

Dominance: Reality or Myth – Both a podcast and blog post, this article discusses the myth of dominance and explains why it is so detrimental to the human-dog bond. The blog post also cites the scientific articles referenced and provides links to those articles, where available. – http://bit.ly/Dominance-RealityorMyth

Introduction to Canine Communication – This blog post discusses canine body language and contains photographs illustrating common calming signals. – http://bit.ly/CanineComm 

How Can I Tell When My Dog Is Anxious or Fearful? Most behavioral issues with dogs are rooted in anxiety. It is essential for anyone working with dogs to have a thorough understanding of the signs of anxiety. This blog post list resources that will help you to understand better what a dog is trying to tell you.– http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear

Helping Your Dog Thrive – Brambell’s Five Freedoms – The following articles were originally published in Downeast Dog News in January of 2018 through May 2018. These articles discuss how one can use the five freedoms to help ensure their dog has a long, fun-filled life. I examine the role of nutrition, basic husbandry, veterinary care, training, behavior, and the management of a dog, as they all play a role in the quality of its life. Anyone that shares their life with a dog, as well as all pet care professionals, will benefit from understanding Brambell’s Five Freedoms. – http://bit.ly/Brambell-1thru5-PDF

Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellness – This post from Don’s blog is a handout from his presentation Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellness given on Saturday, October 29, 2016, as part of Green Acres Kennel Shop’s fundraiser for The Green Gem Holistic Healing Oasis. It discusses the importance of addressing behavior as well as the reason for behavior problems becoming a more common issue for pets. – http://bit.ly/PetBhxWellness

Understanding, Identifying, and Coping with Canine Stress – Stress is a major contributor to behavior problems. This post from Don’s blog looks at both good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress), discusses their physiological effects on the body, and reviews what animals do when afraid. Common causes of stress are reviewed, along with how you can identify stress and reduce it. How stress can escalate and go from an acute event to a chronic condition is reviewed. Any dog exhibiting behavioral issues is under stress, as are most dogs in a shelter or rescue environment. That is not typically due to any fault of the shelter; it is just the nature of being homeless and uncertain. – http://bit.ly/Canine-Stress

Does My Dogs Breed Matter? – This post is was first published in Downeast Dog News as a three-part series in July, August, and September of 2017. It discusses the seven breed groups currently defined by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and examines behavioral traits in these groups and why they matter. – http://bit.ly/DoesDogBreedMatter

A Rescue Dogs Perspective – Written from the perspective of Don’s rescue dog Muppy, this article first appeared in the January 2016 issue of Downeast Dog News and on Don’s blog. It discusses training from Muppy’s point of view and why sometimes delaying starting a training class can be in a dog’s best interest. – http://bit.ly/Rescue-Muppy

Dangerous Dogs! – What Shelters, Rescues, Prospective Adopters, and Owners Need to Know – This article was originally published in Downeast

Dog growling over a stick

Dog News in May and June of 2017. It addresses how the law defines dangerous dogs. – http://bit.ly/Dangerous-Dogs

What’s Shocking about Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training – Barks from the Guild July 2019 In this article from the July 2019 issue of Barks from the Guild, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) and Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), Don Hanson review the many peer-reviewed scientific studies that have reported that shock collars cause undue stress to dogs and often have a negative impact on their health and well-being. Hanson reviews the professional organizations and legal jurisdictions that believe shock collars should never be used. He then looks at these questions and what scientific research tells us; 1) Does the electric shock from a shock collar cause pain?, 2)  Is training a dog with an aversive such as a shock collar more efficient than using positive reinforcement training and food?, 3) Is the use of aversives necessary to train behaviors such as snake avoidance?, and 4) Does using a shock collar save dogs’ lives?http://bit.ly/ShockBARK-JUL2019

Podcast – What’s Shocking About Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training – In this podcast from July 27th, 2019, Don and Kate discuss the article What’s Shocking about Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training published in the July 2019 issue of Barks from the Guild. –  http://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatShock-27JUL19

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog

The following are a series of articles I have written where I acknowledge some of the mistakes I have made during my journey with dogs. Mistakes are learning opportunities, and I share this material with the hope that others can learn from my experience and save their pets from suffering from human error and ego.

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog Link Page http://bit.ly/ThingsIWishIHadKnown

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-JAN2019 http://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

Things I Wish I Had Known… The Importance of What I Feed My Pets – – WWM-MAR2019 – http://bit.ly/Things-Nutrition-1

Books

Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You A Better Friend to Your Pet, John Bradshaw, Basic Books, 2011, 2012 – Dr. John Bradshaw is an animal behaviorist and if you look at recent scientific papers on dog or cat behavior, you will often find Bradshaw listed as one of the authors.  In Dog Sense, Bradshaw summarizes the latest research for dog lovers like you and me. Topics he covers include; how the dog evolved, the fallacy of the dominance construct, how the dog’s role in society is changing and how that has led to higher expectations for non-dog like behavior and how these changes might affect the dog’s future. He addresses breeding issues and how the dog fancy’s focus on appearance rather than temperament and health may threaten the existence of many breeds. He also talks about how dogs learn and how research has demonstrated the many advantages of positive reinforcement/reward-based training over the old training model based on force and intimidation.

Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, Linda P. Case, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018 – If You Love Dogs or Work with Those Who Love Dogs, You Need to Read This Book! The science of canine behavior and dog training is continually evolving. As such, every year, I like to select a new book to recommend to my students, my staff, area veterinarians, and my colleagues that I feel will be the most beneficial to them and their dogs. For 2018 I have chosen Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog by Linda P. Case. Case’s book addresses several issues which anyone with a dog, or anyone working with a dog, needs to be aware of and must understand. These are dominance, dog breeds, the importance of puppy socialization, and the unnecessary use of aversives for the training of dogs. Her book is packed with the latest science on dogs and offers excellent advice on the best and most humane ways to train them. You can read my full review at http://bit.ly/BkRvw-Case-DogSmart

What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers, Amy Sutherland, Random House, 2008 – While not a traditional dog training book, this is a book where you can not only learn a great deal about training your dog, but it can also help you have a more harmonious relationship with those around you. The author notes, “The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don’t,” the same thing we will tell you when teaching you how to train your dog. If your goal is to live in harmony with all the living things around you, read this book.

 

Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, John Bradshaw, Basic Books, 2013 – I first read John Bradshaw’s two previous books on cats; The True Nature of the Cat and The Behaviour of the Domestic Cat back in 2003. Cats, and specifically cat behavior is still under-researched compared to dogs, but Cat Sense nicely sums up what we do know. Bradshaw also discusses how the cat and society are changing and suggests what that means for the cats’ future. Bradshaw has posed some important questions and concerns about neutering and breeding which merit further discussion and action.

On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas, Dogwise Publishing, 2006 – This book and its author, Turid Rugaas, have influenced my understanding of dogs more than any other book or seminar. While this book is few in pages, it is rich in information depicted in great photos. This gentle, kind, woman is incredibly knowledgeable about canine behavior and ethology. She has taught many how to live in harmony with our dogs by helping us to understand better what they are trying to tell us, and in turn, she has taught us a better way to express ourselves to our dogs.

Full of photographs illustrating each point, On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals focuses on how dogs use specific body language to cutoff aggression and other perceived threats. Dogs use these calming signals to tell one another, and us, when they are feeling anxious and stressed and when their intentions are benign. If you have more than one dog, or if your dog frequently plays with others, or if you are a frequent visitor to the dog park, you need to be familiar with calming signals. This book will help you learn ‘dog language,’ for which you will be rewarded with a much better understanding of your pet and its behavior.

A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog!, Niki Tudge, Doggone Safe, 2017. A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog! is written to be used as an interactive resource and uses cartoons and photographs to illustrate body language dogs use to signal when they are happy, afraid, and angry. By teaching children and adults how to read and respond to these signs, the book helps keep people and dogs safe. The world is full of children and dogs, and we must teach them how to interact safely. A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog! combined with a parent or teacher does just that.

 

 

For the Love of A Dog Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend, Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., Ballantine Books, 2005, 2006 – This book explores the emotional connection we make with our furry, four-footed canine companions. She also discusses how revolutionary it is to view animals as having a vibrant emotional life. Kudos to McConnell for being one of the few scientists with the courage to admit what almost everyone has known all along; animals experience joy and fear and everything in between. We do not know what it is they are feeling, but it is obvious they have a rich emotional life; in some cases, very joyous and others quite sad.

After reading For the Love of A Dog, you will have a better understanding of the science behind emotions and why our dogs and we get along so well. McConnell has also included an excellent section on canine body language, one of my favorite subjects, and one that is not emphasized enough in classes for pet professionals and dog owners. If you take your dog to the dog park, you MUST know this stuff.

The Other End of the Leash – Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs, by Patricia B. McConnell, is an information-packed, immensely readable book. In it, you will learn how to have an improved relationship with your dog through better communication. As a scientist who has studied both primate and canine communication systems, Dr. McConnell has a keen understanding of where the communication between humans and dogs often breaks down, creating frustration and stress for both species. For example, she explains how simple innate greeting patterns of both species can cause conflict. We know that when two people meet, the polite thing to do is to make direct eye contact and walk straight toward one another, smiling. However, as Dr. McConnell notes: “The oh-so-polite primate approach is appallingly rude in canine society. You might as well urinate on a dog’s head.” Direct eye contact and a direct approach are very confrontational to a dog.

Dr. McConnell also emphasizes how dogs communicate visually, while humans are a very verbal species. The picture she paints of the frustrated chimp, jumping up and down, waving their hands, and screeching repeatedly is only a slight exaggeration of the frustrated human, saying, “sit, sit, sit, ahh please sit” while displaying countless bits of body language. Primates, including humans, “…have a tendency to repeat notes when we’re excited, to use loud noises to impress others, and to thrash around whatever is in our paw if we’re frustrated. This behavior has no small effect on our interactions with dogs, who, in spite of some barks and growls, mostly communicate visually, get quiet rather than noisy to impress others, and are too busy standing on their paws to do much else with them.” With these fundamental differences, it’s amazing we can communicate with our dogs at all.

The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller, Howell Book House, 2001. I have been reading Pat Miller’s articles in the Whole Dog Journal for years and have loved everything she has written. She is a skilled and compassionate dog trainer who knows how to communicate with dog owners through her writing. This book is a superb “basic dog book” for anyone with a dog, and I highly recommend it.

Videos

Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats    https://vimeo.com/230807934

Malignant Behavior: The Cesar Millan Effect (from Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats ) – http://bit.ly/Vid-CMEffect

Show Down with Holly in Slow Motion – A dissection of canine body language – http://bit.ly/dodoDW-Holly

Websites

Green Acres Kennel Shop website – https://www.greenacreskennel.com/

Don’s Blog – (Words-Woofs-Meows.com) – http://bit.ly/Words-Woofs-Meows

The Woof Meow Show on Libsyn Podcast pagehttp://bit.ly/WfMw-Libsyn

Maine Pet Care Professionals We Recommend http://bit.ly/MEPetPros

Pet Professional Guild (PPG) http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/

Dog Training Educational Resources for The Pet Owner – A vast collection of articles helpful to pet owners from the world’s premier organization for pet care professionals and pet owners. – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Training-Resources-for-Pet-Owners

The Shock-Free Coalitionhttps://www.shockfree.org/

Doggone Safe – Committed to education about safe human-canine interactions to prevent dog bites that can ultimately lead to serious and life-altering ramifications for both people and their pets. – https://www.doggonesafe.com/

I Speak Dog.org – Is an excellent resource for learning to understand your dog by better understanding how they communicate with other dogs as well as with you. You cannot effectively teach your dog if you do not speak their language. – http://www.ispeakdog.org/

©29NOV19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Things I Wish I Had Known… The Importance of What I Feed My Pets

< A version of this article will be published in the March 2019 issue of Downeast Dog News >

< A short link to this article – bit.ly/Things-Nutrition-1 >

When I brought home my first puppy in 1975, I bought the dog food recommended by her veterinarian. When I got married, and both my dog and Paula’s dog came to live with us, our only thought about dog food was budgetary. I now know that feeding the food that costs the least per pound can have significant hidden health costs.

In 1991 my wife and brought home our first puppy as a couple. On the advice of Paula’s employer, a veterinarian, we fed him a premium pet food. Within a year Gus developed a chronic urinary infection which his veterinarian believed was related to how he processed food.  Thus begin our journey of learning about pet nutrition. Late in 1995, we relocated to Maine where we became the new owners of the Green Acres Kennel Shop. Gus was still struggling with urinary and bladder issues, and we were committed to learning all that we could about the best nutrition for our pets and those of our clients. Eventually, we found a food that helped Gus, and we also begin to look very critically at every pet food we sold.  (FMIhttp://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition).

I am often asked by clients how they can learn more about their pet’s nutritional needs, something I encourage every pet parent to consider, and these are the resources I recommend.

Books

Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack, by Dr. Richard Patton. While very technical, I believe this book does the best job of explaining the science and rationale for feeding our pets a biologically appropriate diet. ( FMI – Podcast –  http://bit.ly/DrPatton-Podcast, Videohttp://bit.ly/Video-Dr-Richard-Patton, Book reviewhttp://bit.ly/RuinedByExcess-BookReview ).

Dog Food Logic – Making Smart Decisions For Your Dog In An Age Of Too Many Choices, by Linda Case. A good review of dog nutrition, the pet food industry and what dog parents should look for and even more importantly, look to avoid.

Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats – The Ultimate Diet, by Kymythy Schultze.  If you want to learn how to feed your pets a raw and natural diet that you make, from ingredients that you choose, this is the best place to start. NOTE: I specifically recommend against anyone feeding their pets a homemade diet if they have not done adequate research. If you fail to formulate an appropriate diet, you can harm your pet. This book provides sound advice.

See Spot Live Longer, by Steve Brown and Beth Taylor. By the founder of Steve’s Real Food for Pets, this book is an excellent introduction for anyone considering feeding a raw diet. Steve’s second book, Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, is also another excellent book for understanding the benefits of feeding raw, even if it is not for every meal. ( FMI – Podcast http://bit.ly/WfMw-SteveBrown-2010 ).

Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, Ph.D. This book was the one that initiated our search for natural healthcare and nutrition alternatives for Gus. The recipes for pet food are sound, but a bit biased towards grain and carbohydrates.

The Truth About Pet Foods by Dr. Randy Wysong. This book by Dr. Wysong dramatically changed my view of the pet food industry. It went from my naïve presumption that all pet food companies must be trustworthy to one of “buyer beware. A veterinarian and the owner of a pet food company, Wysong’s approach is very non-conventional. In this book, he states “It seems that the ideal would be for people to make their own pet foods.” Wow! The owner of a dog food company suggesting that pets will be healthier if their owners make their food from fresh, whole ingredients instead of feeding commercial dog food. Dr. Wysong is someone I can respect and trust. He was also the first person to help me understand the importance of rotating what we feed our pets and the reasons not to food them the same food day after day. (FMIWhy Rotating Diets Makes Sense http://bit.ly/DietRotation ). (FMI – download the book for free –  http://bit.ly/WysongTheTruthAboutPetFoods-pdf )

Videos

Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry is a 2016 documentary film about the pet food industry. Everyone I know who has seen Pet Fooled has a new attitude about what they feed their pet. The film is available on Netflix and other video-on-demand services listed at the Pet Fooled web site ( https://www.petfooled.com/ ). The filmmaker also maintains a Facebook page with valuable information on the pet food industry (

https://www.facebook.com/petfooled/ ). You can listen to an interview with Kohl Harrington, the director of Pet Fooled at  http://bit.ly/WfMw-Pet-Fooled

The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton – This is a video of a presentation that Dr. Patton did for Green Acres Kennel Shop in April of 2016. ( http://bit.ly/Video-Dr-Richard-Patton )

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, ME where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He 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). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. 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://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/, the Apple Podcast app, and at Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©04MAR19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 2

< A version of this article was published in the February 2019 issue of Downeast Dog News >

< A short link to this article on my blog – < http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-2 >

< A short link to all the articles in this series – http://bit.ly/ThingsIWishIHadKnown >

Last month I described how in 1991 I had been told to use a choke collar to train our dog Gus and how that damaged our relationship. I defined the term “aversive” and discussed the use of choke and prong collars, two of the most common aversives used to train dogs. ( FMI – http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1 )

Today, the most extreme aversive used with dogs is the electric shock collar. A shock collar works by administering a shock to the dog’s neck to stop a behavior (positive punishment) or continuously shocks the dog until they do the desired behavior (negative reinforcement). Shock collars are promoted for remote training, containment, and to stop barking. Some trainers even routinely recommend shock be used to train a puppy to sit. All objectives that a knowledgeable and skilled trainer or behavior consultant can achieve without the use of aversives.

Why people choose to use a shock collar on a dog that is allegedly their best friend is a mystery to me. ( FMIhttp://bit.ly/BestFriendsAndShock ) Based on experience with some of my clients I believe that they did not understand that the shock from a shock collar needs to hurt their dog to be effective. These individuals had been convinced to use a shock collar because they had been told it would allow their dog more freedom and then were appalled the first time their dog was shocked, and they heard her yelp in pain. They never used the shock collar again. Unfortunately, the marketing materials for shock products are not always clear about their aversive nature.

Why a canine professional would ever recommend any aversive, but especially a shock collar, is even more unsettling. It may be because they have elected not to keep learning.  Veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Lisa Radosta noted in the 2017 documentary film Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats: “If your trainer is still using pinch collars and choke collars they haven’t read a book or gone to a scientifically based seminar in 25 years.” That is why when choosing a dog training professional it is essential to make sure that they have been certified by an organization that mandates continuing education. ( FMI – http://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer ).

Experts in animal behavior know that the use of electric shock can be extremely harmful. That is why the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) have taken positions that shock collars should NEVER be used. It is why shock collars have been banned in many countries, and why many more are working towards that goal. You can find a list of scientific resources on the dangers of shock on my blog at http://bit.ly/SayNoToShock.

Electric shocks are painful, but it is equally important to understand that there are other tools that are used with dogs with the intention of causing physical or emotional pain/discomfort. These include, but are not limited to air horns, alpha rolls, beating, cattle prods, choke collars, citronella collars, dominance downs, lunge whips, pinch/prong collars, squirt bottles, starving or withholding food, throw chains, and more.

What many people do not realize is that anything that makes your dog anxious, afraid or uncomfortable is an aversive, even if you did not intend for it to be aversive. For example, within days of adopting our current dog, Muppy, she was sitting on my lap for some snuggle time when I sneezed. Muppy bolted off of my lap and ran out of the room. When I found her she was trembling, her tail was tucked, her head was down, her mouth was closed, and she was avoiding eye contact. She did not feel comfortable approaching me until I got down on the floor, looking the other way, allowing her to decide if she wanted to approach. She eventually did, and we resumed snuggling, but she continued to react in this manner every time I sneezed for several months. We finally got past this, but it took a concerted effort on my part.

I have had clients with dogs that have experienced a shock collar who will no longer enter an area where they received the shock. Others that have a panic attack anytime they hear something that is even remotely similar to the sound made by the shock collar. Some aggressively bark, growl, and lunge at any child because that is what they were focused on when they received the shock.  I know I could never put a dog through that, especially knowing that it is NEVER necessary.

I was fortunate; I learned how to train and care for a dog with management and positive reinforcement before shock collars became the latest fad. I hope that by reading this, you can avoid causing your dog unnecessary pain.

My next column in this series will address reward-based training and why it is the most humane and most effective way to train a dog.

If you agree that the use of shock collars is harmful to dogs, I encourage you to join the many people throughout the world that have signed the Shock-Free pledge. You may pledge and join the Maine chapter of the Shock-Free Coalition at http://bit.ly/Shock-FreeME-Chapter. You can follow our activities on Facebook at http://bit.ly/ShockFreeMEFB

If you are reading this and not from Maine, check out these links:

https://www.shockfree.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/shockfreecoalition/. The Shock-Free Coalition is an international project and we value your support no matter where you live.

Recommended Resources

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

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-JAN2019 http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1

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

Is Your Dog Your Best Friend or a Family Member? – WWM-OCT2017 –   http://bit.ly/BestFriendsAndShock

What Is Dog Training?http://bit.ly/WhatIsDogTraining

Reward Based Training versus Aversiveshttp://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive

Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too! – from the May 2017 issue of the Pet Professional Guild journal, BARKS from the Guildhttp://bit.ly/ThanksPPG-Gus

Dog Training – How science and reward-based training have pulled dog training out of the dark ages – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/21/dog-training-how-science-and-reward-based-training-have-pulled-dog-training-out-of-the-dark-ages/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy – Part 1http://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 )

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars

The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudge

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The Pet Professional Guild and Force-Free Pet Care with Niki Tudge

Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – Dr. Dave Cloutier – Veazie Veterinary Clinic

 

Other Publications & Blogs

BARKS from the Guild – May 2017 – Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too! https://issuu.com/petprofessionalguild/docs/bftg_may_2017_online_edition_opt/58

BARKS blog – Choke Collar Pathologyhttp://ppgworldservices.com/2017/06/13/choke-collar-pathology/

 

Videos

Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats (The entire film)    https://vimeo.com/230807934

Malignant Behavior: The Cesar Millan Effect (from Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats ) https://vimeo.com/243498663?fbclid=IwAR3RYOlIP7LeePV0B8ZaHhed5pPDYZbPu8KQbXNxfzOodWCRKspgcSQrwnc

Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats – The Mind of Cesar Millanhttps://vimeo.com/236013182

Position Statements

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB)

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior AVSAB Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animalshttps://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Dominance_Position_Statement_download-10-3-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior AVSAB Position Statement on The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf

Green Acres Kennel Shop

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://bit.ly/GAKS_Pet-Friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://bit.ly/GAKS-Pos-NoPain-NoForceNoFear

 Pet Professional Guild (PPG)

Pet Professional Guild – Guiding Principleshttp://www.bit.ly/2mUCTqN

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Choke and Prong Collars – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/chokeandprongcollarpositionstatement

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Pet Correction Devices – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Equipment-Used-for-the-Management-Training-and-Care-of-Pets

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Shock in Animal Training – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

 Books

Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, Linda P. Case, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018read a review at http://bit.ly/BkRvw-Case-DogSmart

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

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

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

 

________________________________________________________________________
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 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). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonam.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©02FEB19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 1

< Updated 02FEB19 >

< A version of this article was published in the January 2019 issue of Downeast Dog News >

< A short link to this article on my blog – < http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1 >

< A short link to all the articles in this series – http://bit.ly/ThingsIWishIHadKnown >

In September I wrote the 1st of a series of columns entitled “Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs” [ FMI http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance ] which I have since renamed Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog, because there are things I will be sharing that are not about training.

This month I am addressing the next stage in Gus’ training.

In 1991, dogs were routinely trained with collars explicitly designed to administer an aversive; positive punishment or negative reinforcement. At the time there were two primary types of training collars; choke collars or prong collars.

Choke collars are typically made of a metal chain or nylon. They are used to give a “leash pop” or “correction” when the trainer quickly jerks the leash. The intent is to cause the dog discomfort or pain around their neck.

A single correction with a choke collar may restrict breathing, cause damage to the spine, the thyroid gland, and even to the eyes. The use of choke collars has also been reported to cause brain damage.

Prong collars, also called pinch collars, consist of a metal chain that contains several prongs that rest against the dog’s neck. Just as with the choke collar, the trainer jerks on the leash causing the prongs to press against the dog’s neck causing pain or discomfort. Prong collars, like choke collars, can cause both physical and psychological injury to a dog.

The fundamental training philosophy behind the use of choke and prong collars is to set up a training scenario where the dog will react inappropriately (e.g., the dog does not sit when cued or the dog pulls on leash) whereupon the trainer administers a correction by jerking on the leash. This jerk causes an aversive or pain which is meant to deter the dog from misbehaving in the future.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “aversive” as “Tending to avoid or causing avoidance of a noxious or punishing stimulus – behavior modification by aversive stimulation.”

I find the above definition somewhat cumbersome and unclear, so I define an aversive as;

An aversive is anything that makes your dog anxious, afraid or uncomfortable. An aversive makes our dogs want to be away from whatever they believe caused the aversive. If they believe we caused the aversive, they will no longer want to be near us.”

Since most people get a dog to be their companion, I have to ask; why would anyone want to use a tool that would cause our best friend to want to avoid us? Today it makes no sense to me. Unfortunately, not knowing any better back in 1991, the next stage of Gus’ training involved the use of a choke collar.

We taught Gus to sit, to lie down, and to stay when he was given a verbal cue by using a correction with a choke collar. We worked on the heel but never mastered it without using the choke collar; something fairly common with dogs trained in this manner. Gus never had a reliable recall until we discovered reward-based training.

There are those who use choke and prong collars that will insist that when used correctly there is no pain involved with the use of these tools. They are either in denial, do not have a thorough understanding of operant conditioning and the science of learning, are being dishonest to themselves and anyone that they recommend use a choke or prong collar, or just don’t care because “Hey, it’s just a dumb animal.”. Choke and prong collars were specifically designed for two purposes; to administer positive punishment or negative reinforcement as part of a dog training regime.

With a skilled trainer, both choke and prong collars can accomplish the task of training a dog. However, neither collar was meant to be used on the dog for life. If someone is still using these devices a year after they “trained” their dog, the training was obviously not successful.

Even though these tools can work, based on what science has taught us about dogs and how they learn, those in the pet care profession that believe in continuing education, know there is no acceptable use for choke or prong collars today. Dr. Lisa Radosta, a veterinarian and a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behavior, put it best in the 2017 documentary film Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats where she stated “If your trainer is still using pinch collars and choke collars they haven’t read a book or gone to a scientifically based seminar in 25 years.”

Positive punishment uses an aversive stimulus with the intention of stopping a behavior such as a dog pulling while on a leash. If the dogs pulls, the handler jerks on the leash, administering an aversive pressure around the dog’s neck until the dog stops pulling and the dog returns to the side of the handler causing the leash to go slack. The handler continues to do this everytime the dog gets out of the heel position, with the hope that the dog will never pull again so that they avoid the aversive. An example of positive punishment with people would be someone getting a ticket for speeding or parking inappropriately. How many of those people go on to repeat the offense? While positive punishment works some of the time, it often fails.

Negative reinforcement uses an aversive with the intention of causing a behavior to occur by administering something aversive until the dog performs the desired behavior. For example, if a trainer wanted a dog to sit, they would use the leash to tighten the choke or prong collar to be sufficiently aversive so that the dog will sit, whereupon they will stop tightening the collar and end the aversive stimulus. In its most benign form, the alarm in your car that beeps until you fasten your seatbelt is an example of negative reinforcement. In its most nefarious application, negative reinforcement was the method used by the dungeon master as he stretches a person on the rack until they confess. The latter is defined as torture; something viewed as being morally wrong and which is illegal in most civilized societies. I often ask myself why we still allow animals to be tortured in the name of training, especially when a skilled trainer can get the same results using rewards?

I am not arguing that punishment and negative reinforcement do not occasionally work as training methods. I am alerting you to the fact that there are significant adverse side effects to using these tools. Peer-reviewed studies indicate reward-based techniques, emphasizing positive reinforcement, work as well or better than punishment. That is why organizations such as the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have policies that state:

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.” – 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines [ Emphasis added ]

This is what I would have liked to have known about aversives before I started training.

  • Aversive training tools and methods are designed to hurt, and if these methods did not cause pain, they would not work.
  • The use of aversives can cause physical injury and thus both acute and chronic pain.
  • The emotional and psychological trauma caused by the use of aversives can be just as debilitating as physical injuries.
  • Causing pain and discomfort is not necessary to train a dog.
  • The better the relationship you have with your dog, the easier they are to train. Aversives are damaging to the relationship.
  • The use of aversives can cause reactive and aggressive behaviors in a dog.

Next month I will address other aversives still used far too often to train and manage dogs.

Next month I will address other aversives still used far too often to train and manage dogs. < Click to Read part 2 NOW >

Recommended Resources

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

 

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

What Is Dog Training?http://bit.ly/WhatIsDogTraining

Reward Based Training versus Aversiveshttp://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive

Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too! – from the May 2017 issue of the Pet Professional Guild journal, BARKS from the Guildhttp://bit.ly/ThanksPPG-Gus

Dog Training – How science and reward-based training have pulled dog training out of the dark ages – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/21/dog-training-how-science-and-reward-based-training-have-pulled-dog-training-out-of-the-dark-ages/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy – Part 1http://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 )

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The Pet Professional Guild and Force-Free Pet Care with Niki Tudge

Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – Dr. Dave Cloutier – Veazie Veterinary Clinic

Other Publications & Blogs

BARKS from the Guild – May 2017 – Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too! https://issuu.com/petprofessionalguild/docs/bftg_may_2017_online_edition_opt/58

BARKS blog – Choke Collar Pathologyhttp://ppgworldservices.com/2017/06/13/choke-collar-pathology/

 

Videos

Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats (The entire film)    https://vimeo.com/230807934

Malignant Behavior: The Cesar Millan Effect (from Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats ) https://vimeo.com/243498663?fbclid=IwAR3RYOlIP7LeePV0B8ZaHhed5pPDYZbPu8KQbXNxfzOodWCRKspgcSQrwnc

Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats – The Mind of Cesar Millanhttps://vimeo.com/236013182

Position Statements

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB)

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior AVSAB Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animalshttps://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Dominance_Position_Statement_download-10-3-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior AVSAB Position Statement on The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf

Green Acres Kennel Shop

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://bit.ly/GAKS_Pet-Friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://bit.ly/GAKS-Pos-NoPain-NoForceNoFear

 

Pet Professional Guild (PPG)

Pet Professional Guild – Guiding Principleshttp://www.bit.ly/2mUCTqN

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Choke and Prong Collars – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/chokeandprongcollarpositionstatement

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Pet Correction Devices – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Equipment-Used-for-the-Management-Training-and-Care-of-Pets

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Shock in Animal Training – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

 Books

Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, Linda P. Case, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018read a review at http://bit.ly/BkRvw-Case-DogSmart

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

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

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

 

________________________________________________________________________
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 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). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonam.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©01JAN19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Link Page

< Updated 02FEB19 >

< A short link to this page on my blog – < http://bit.ly/ThingsIWishIHadKnown >

In August of 2018, I was interviewed and asked a series of questions about how to choose a dog trainer. One of the questions was “What would you like to have known when you started training dogs?” That question was the most interesting one asked and one where I believe my answers have the greatest potential to benefiting others and their dogs. Since that interview and my first column written based on how I answered, I had broadened the question to “Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog.”  I’ve expanded the topic of discussion because since I began my search for my first dog late in the fall of 1974, I have learned a great many things about dogs, not all related to training. This page will be a central repository to links to all of the articles I write on this series. I hope you find what I write useful and that it contributes to a wonderful, life long relationship between you and your dog that results in your becoming and remaining Best Friends for Life.

This is what I have written so far.

Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationship – first published 1SEP18 – < http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance >

Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 1 – first published 1JAN19 – http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1

Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 2 – WWM-FEB2019 –  http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-2

The Power of Positive Reinforcement Training and Food – first published DDMMM19 – < coming soon! >