Where Can I Find A Humane and Ethical Pet Care Professional?

< A version of this article was published in the September 2020 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 20SEP20 >

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

People often ask me to refer them to other pet care professionals when they are not in the Green Acres’ service area. I know and recommend many such individuals throughout the USA. Still, if I don’t know someone in a specific community, I always refer people to the Pet Professional Guild’s (PPG) Find An Expert page on the PPG website < https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Zip-Code-Search >.

At PPG’s website, you can enter your zip code or country, and you will be able to review a list of pet care professionals that are PPG members that are closest to you. You can click on the details and learn more about them, including the services they offer and how to contact them. If one of these professionals does not provide the services you need, they may still be your best contact for finding someone close to you that does offer what you are seeking.

I recommend PPG members before anyone else because the Pet Professional Guild is unique. They are the only association of pet care professionals in the USA that requires that their members abide by a comprehensive set of Guiding Principles. The following are the non-negotiables in the Guiding Principles.

“To be in any way affiliated with the Pet Professional Guild all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Pet Professional Guild members understand Force-Free to mean:

No shock, No pain, No choke, No fear, No physical force, No compulsion based methods are ever employed to train or care for a pet.”

In June of 2020, the PPG took the next step by establishing a new Code of Ethical Conduct. The code was developed to address “…the need for a level of oversight in the pet training and services industry, specifically regarding business practices, transparency, and marketing.” It includes a Personal Code of Conduct which requires:

    1. Members consider the emotional, physical and environmental well-being of each client, i.e. both the pet and the guardian/owner/caretaker of the pet, in all actions.
    2. Members do not condone or endorse any treatment by a pet’s guardian that in any way compromises the pet’s physical or mental well-being. PPG members will not be party to any such acts.

The code covers much more, including business practices. It concludes with the statement:

    1. By joining PPG, members agree to PPG’s standards, codes of practice, education and training philosophies. Failure to abide by the Guiding Principles and this Code of Ethical Conduct may result in sanctions up to and including the termination of the member’s membership.

Because of the PPG Guiding Principles and Code of Conduct, I feel confident recommending a PPG member to someone without hesitation. While other organizations represent various pet care professionals, none of them have anything close to the Guiding Principles and Code of Conduct. Therefore I cannot give their members an unqualified endorsement.

The Pet Professional Guilds Guiding Principles and Code of Conduct are based on the knowledge and experience of experts in the world of pet care, animal behavior and training, and in the shelter and rescue world. The rationale for the principles is supported by a series of position statements that include references to peer-reviewed scientific literature that support those documents. Some of the position statements you might find of interest address: Breed Specific Legislation, Dominance Theory in Animal Training, TV Dog Training, The Use of Choke and Prong CollarsThe Use of Shock in Animal Training, and Cat Declawing.

Long before I joined the ranks of pet care professionals, I was a pet parent, and the PPG did not exist. I was not as knowledgeable as I am today. Due to my ignorance, I made some grievous errors, unknowingly electing to work with people who hurt my dog. < FMIhttp://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance >. It was a decision I regret to this day. I do not want this to happen to anyone else.  Please do yourself a favor, make sure the professional you choose is a member of the PPG.

I also encourage you to take advantage of the Pet Professional Guild’s FREE membership, especially for pet owners. By joining, you will receive access to various articles on dogs, cats, birds, and horses. The PPG is a fantastic educational resource for all of its members, professional, and pet parent.

As a member, you will receive a discount on some of the excellent recorded and live webinars offered by the PPG. You will also receive access to an electronic copy of their quarterly publication, Barks From The Guild.

I know you want what’s best for your pet; by joining the PPG, you will get access to information to help you achieve that goal. < FMIhttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Canine-Archives > & < FMIhttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Feline-Archives >

If you have children or grandchildren between the ages of 8 to 20 years old, I encourage you to consider enrolling them in the Pet Professional Guilds Junior Membership program. The program helps children and young adults learn about pets while providing insight into working with animals in a force-free and fear-free way. If you have a child in your life that thinks they want to work with animals, this education program is a great way to help start on this journey. A young adult that has successfully completed the PPG Junior Membership and Accreditation program would be well equipped to apply for an entry-level position at Green Acres Kennel Shop.

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 – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationshiphttp://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance

Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too!http://bit.ly/ThanksPPG-Gus

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

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

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

 

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

Pet Professional Guild (PPG) Find An Expert pagehttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Zip-Code-Search

Pet Professional Guild Guiding Principleshttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PPGs-Guiding-Principles

Pet Professional Guild Code of Ethical Conducthttps://petprofessionalguild.com/Code-Of-Ethical-Conduct

Pet Professional Guild Position Statementshttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Position-Statements

PPG Position Statement on Breed Specific Legislationhttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Breed-Specific-Legislation

PPG Position Statement on Dominance Theory in Animal Traininghttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/DominanceTheoryPositionStatement

PPG Position Statement on The Reality of TV Dog Traininghttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Realitydogtrainingpositionstatement

PPG Position Statement on The Use of Choke and Prong Collarshttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/chokeandprongcollarpositionstatement

PPG Position Statement on The Use of Shock in Animal Traininghttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

PPG Position Statement on Cat Declawinghttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Statement-on-Cat-Declawing

PPG FREE Membership for Pet Ownershttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Owner-Members

PPG Barks from the Guildhttps://barksfromtheguild.com/

PPG Canine Article Archiveshttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Canine-Archives

PPG Feline Article Archiveshttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Feline-Archives

PPG Junior Membershiphttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Junior-Members

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

©20SEP20, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Recommended Resources on Kids & Dogs

< Updated 28MAR20 >

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

Dogs and children can become wonderful companions. However, do not assume for one second that a dog and a child will automatically enjoy one another and live together harmoniously every moment of their lives. Parents need to teach both child and dog how to interact with one another appropriately.

Most children have multiple caregivers; parents, grandparents, older children, other family members, babysitters, and more. Therefore, ALL caregivers must be knowledgeable about dogs and infants, toddlers, children, and young adults and how to manage their interactions.

Below I have listed resources I believe you will find useful in working with your children and dog. These are my favorites resources on the subject.

Books

A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog! By Niki Tudge – If your family includes children and a dog, if you have children that spend time with friends and family members that have a dog, or if you have a dog that spends any time around children, you, your children, and your dog will benefit from this book. This is not a book you hand to your child, but it is a book you need to read with them. You can read our full review by clicking this link http://bit.ly/BkRvw-KidsGuide-Tudge

The Doggone Safe websitehttps://doggonesafe.com/

Living with Kids and Dogs…Without Losing Your Mind: A Parent’s Guide to Controlling the Chaos by Colleen Pelar – This book provides a realistic, down to earth discussion about how to successfully manage the probable mayhem that accompanies a home with dogs and kids. You can read our full review by clicking this link http://bit.ly/BkRwv-LvngKidsDogs-Pelar

Colleen’s website – https://www.livingwithkidsanddogs.com/

Family Paws Parent Education

( https://www.familypaws.com/ )

Working to increase safety and reduce stress in homes with young children and family dogs.

Free Downloadable Handouts from Family Paws
Click on the title to view/download as a PDF

Pet Professional Guild Junior Membership

( https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Junior-Members )

Is your child actively participating in the care and training of the family pets? If so, I encourage you to consider enrolling them in the Pet Professional Guilds (PPG) Junior Membership Program. The program helps children learn and understand about pet care and training and will be especially beneficial to those contemplating working with pets as a volunteer or as a career. There are three levels to the program; Basic (for ages 8 to 12), Advanced (for ages 13 to 17), and Apprentice (for ages 18-20).

The PPG Junior Membership program allows participants to earn preliminary credentials in force-free pet care. Junior Members receive a membership badge and certificate and a free e-book –A Kid’s Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog. They will also be invited to participate in the Annual Training Deed Challenge. All Junior Members also have access to the Provisional Junior Accreditation Program for their age group, as administered by the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB). Junior Members who successfully complete the accreditation process and receive an accreditation card will receive a 50% discount on the Green Acres Kennel Shop training class of their choice.

The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) is a membership organization representing pet industry professionals who are committed to results-based, science-based, force-free training, and pet care. Members include veterinarians, veterinary technicians, behavior consultants, dog trainers, dog walkers, pet care technicians, pet sitters, and groomers. PPG represents training and behavior professionals across many species. All members of the Green Acres Kennel Shop staff are members of the PPG.

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

What Is Dog Traininghttp://bit.ly/WhatIsDogTraining

How to Choose a Dog Trainerhttp://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer

A Recommended Reading and Listening List for Pet Care Professionalshttp://bit.ly/ForPetCarePros

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

 

Podcast – The Woof Meow Show – Babies, Toddlers, Kids & Dogs with Jennifer Shryock from Family Paws Parent Education, aired 28MAR20 – < bit.ly/WfMw-Kids_Dogs-28MAR20 >

< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Shared Blog Post – No Pain, No Force, No Fear: An Interview with Niki Tudge by Dr. Karen Becker

< Updated 23FEB20 >

< A short link for this page – http://bit.ly/BeckerTudgeFEB20 >

Dr. Karen Becker interviews Niki Tudge the founder of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and discusses why and how Tudge decided to launch what is today an 8000+ member organization of pet care professionals committed to the training, husbandry, and management of pets that is Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free as outlined in the PPG Guiding Principles. The Pet Professional Guild is an organization grounded in science, facts, and ethics committed to education. I encourage any pet care professionals to join and support the PPG and suggest that anyone with pets looking for a pet care professional start their search at the PPG’s Find A Professional page.

Tudge describes the Guiding Principles as “…how do we behave towards animals, how do we behave towards our industry, and then how do we behave towards our customers? She elaborates on the PPG’s philosophy of no pain, no force, and no fear and how PPG has defined force as “…any approach that causes physical or emotional fear with the intent of damaging” while also emphasizing that it is essential to give the dog a choice to interact in the training process, and if the dog is not enjoying the process we need to modify our approach.

Becker and Tudge discuss various PPG programs, including the PPG’s junior membership, which has three levels for children; 8 to 12, 13-17, and then an apprentice level for young adults 18 to 20 years of age.  If you have a child that is interested in dogs, I strongly encourage you to enroll them in this program, especially if they are interested in a career working with companion animals.

The interview also introduces PPG’s brand new Pet Rescue Resources Program, which is a free program targeted to shelters and resources, which will include guidelines, videos, handouts for protocols that they need to have in place to provide the best possible care for the homeless pets in their charge.

One of the best comments from the interview, “Dr. Becker: You allow your dogs to be dogs, I think is the best way to say that.”

You can view the video of this interview at https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2020/02/23/no-fear-training-for-dogs.aspx

Recommended Resources

Dr. Karen Becker Interview with Niki Tudgehttps://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2020/02/23/no-fear-training-for-dogs.aspx

Transcript of Dr. Karen Becker Interview with Niki Tudgehttps://mercola.fileburst.com/PDF/HealthyPets/Interview-NikiTudge-ThePetProfessionalGuild.pdf

The Pet Professional Guildhttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/

The Pet Professional Guild Guiding Principleshttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PPGs-Guiding-Principles

The Pet Professional Guild Find A Professional Pagehttps://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Zip-Code-Search

PPG Junior Membership https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Junior-Members

Podcast – What’s Shocking About Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training

< A short link to this post – http://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatShock-27JUL19 >

< Click to Listen to Podcast >

In this episode of The Woof Meow Show from July 27th, 2019 Kate interviews Don, asking him about his 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, the journal of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG).

The use of electric shock for training, containing, and caring for dogs is extremely controversial. In this podcast we examine and discuss what peer-reviewed scientific studies report about the use of shock and answer four common questions; Does electric shock hurt?, Is electric shock more efficient for training dogs than reward-based training?, Is electric shock necessary for training behaviors like snake aversion?, and Does electric shock save dogs lives? Additionally, we review the formal positions taken on the use of shock by several organizations of pet care professionals from around the globe, and also examine the countries where the use of shock has already been banned.

If you are using shock or contemplating using shock you will want to hear what science says by listening to this show/podcast; your dog’s health and welfare may depend on you understanding this controversial tool and its harmful side effects. We also recommend you also read Don’s article and all of the scientific studies that he cites in the article, all of which you can link to at Don’s blog at http://bit.ly/ShockBARK-JUL2019.

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on Z62 Retro Radio, AM620, and WKIT HD3 at 9 AM on Saturday. If you are not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show. You can download this show and others at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/, at Don’s blog http://bit.ly/Words-Woofs-Meows and the Apple iTunes store.

< Click to Listen to Podcast >

References

American Animal Hospital Association. (2019). AAHA behavior guidelines offer solutions to managing behavior problems with your pet. Available at: http://bit.ly/AAHABhx2015

Anderson, E. (2012). What is Shock Training? – Is It Really Just A Tap? Shock Collar Training Explained. Available at:   http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Anderson-WhatIsShock

Blackwell, E.J., Bolster, C., Richards, G., Loftus, B.A., & Casey, R.A. (2012). 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 (8) 93. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Blackwell-BMCVR-2012

Brewer, P. (2019). Do let the dogs out: Huge fines for pet confinement part of ACT animal welfare overhaul. Available at: http://bit.ly/2Wx0Qu8

British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (2019). Position Statement on Animal Training. Available at: http://bit.ly/2XEb8W2

British Small Animal Veterinary Association. (2019). Position Statement on Aversive Training Methods. Available at: http://bit.ly/2F0HdAa

British Veterinary Association. (2018). Aversive training devices for dogs. Available at: http://bit.ly/2XByUlv

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. (2015). Humane Training Methods for Dogs – Position Statement. Available at: http://bit.ly/2KHCcQr

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. (2010). Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs: Project Code AW1402. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-DEFRA-AW1402-2013

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. (2011). 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: Project Code AW1402a. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-DEFRA-AW1402a-2013

European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology. (2017). ESVCE Position Statement: Electronic Training Devices. Available at:  http://bit.ly/SHOCK-ESVE_Pos

Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J., & Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2004). Dog training methods—their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Animal Welfare (13) 63–69. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Hiby-AnimWelfare-2004

New Zealand Veterinary Association. (2018). Use of behaviour modifying collars on dogs. Available at: http://bit.ly/2F1z6Dj

Pet Professional Guild. (2012). Guiding Principles. Available at: http://bit.ly/PPG-GuidingPrinciples

Polsky, R. (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. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Polsky-JAAWS-Aggx-2000

Sandgrain Films. (2017). Shock Collar [Video File]. Available at: http://vimeo.com/235106629

Schalke, E., Stichnoth, J., & Jones‐Baade, R. (2005). 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. 5th International Veterinary Behavior Meeting. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 139‐145.

Schalke, E., Stichnoth, J., Ott, S., & Jones‐Baade, R. (2007). Clinical signs caused by the use of electric training collars on dogs in everyday life situations. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 105 (4) 369‐380. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Schalke-AABS-JUL2007

Schilder, M., & van der Borg, J. (2004). Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects. Applied Animal Behaviour Science (85) 319–334. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Schilder-AABS-MAR2004

Shock‐Free Coalition. (2019). Myths and Misconceptions. Available at:  https://www.shockfree.org/Education/Myths-and-Misconceptions

The Kennel Club. (2018). The Kennel Club and Scottish Kennel Club Welcomes the Scottish Government’s Effective Ban on Shock Training Devices. Available at: http://bit.ly/31r1Zm7

Tudge, N.J, & Nilson, S.J. (2016). The Use of Shock in Animal Training. Available at: https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

Tudge, N.J, Nilson, S.J., Millikan, D.A., & Stapleton‐Frappell, L.A. (2019). Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the Bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People. (n.p.): DogNostics Career Center Publishing – https://petindustryregulation.com/

Yin, S. (2011). Are Electronic Shock Collars Painful – A New Study Reveals Some Answers. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Yin-Pain-2011

Yin, S. (2012). How Technology from 30 Years Ago is Helping Military Dogs Perform Better Now. Available at: http://bit.ly/POS-REI-SpyCats

Resources

American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) 2015 Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines: http://bit.ly/AAHABhx2015

European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology ‐ Position Statement on Electronic Training Devices: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-ESVE_Pos

Pet Professional Guild ‐ Rattlesnake Avoidance Training Using Force‐Free Methods [Webinar]: https://petprofessionalguild.com/event-1913569

Pet Professional Guild ‐ Member Search: http://bit.ly/PPG-Find-A-Prof

Pet Professional Guild ‐ Position on Shock Training: https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

Shock‐Free Coalition: https://www.shockfree.org/

Shock‐Free Coalition Pledge: https://www.shockfree.org/Pledge

Other Related Resources

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

Hanson, D. (2004-2018). The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars, Available at: http://bit.ly/ShockCollars

Hanson, D.  (2018) Helping Your Dog Thrive with Brambell’s Five Freedoms, Available at: Brambell’s Five Freedoms

Hanson, D. (2018, 2019). Things I Wish I Had Known…, Available at: http://bit.ly/ThingsIWishIHadKnown

Hanson, D. (2006). Green Acres’ First Statement on Being A Pet Friendly-Facility, Available at: http://bit.ly/GAKS1stPetFriendly

Hanson, D. (2006). Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care, Available at: http://bit.ly/GAKS_Pet-Friendly

Hanson, D. (2018). The Shock-Free Coalition: What’s Next?, Don Hanson explains how to keep the momentum going once you have signed the Shock-Free Pledge, http://bit.ly/BARKS-ShockFreeMAR2018

Hanson, D.  (2018) Celebrating the 1st Year of the Shock-Free Coalition – +R Rocks, Available at: http://bit.ly/Shock-FreeRocks

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

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

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

 

 

©27JUL19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

What’s Shocking about Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training

< A short link to this post – http://bit.ly/ShockBARK-JUL2019 >

< UPDATED – 27JUL19 >

< A short link to a podcast on this topic – http://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatShock-27JUL19 >

< The original version of this article was published in the July 2019 issue of Barks from the Guild, a publication of the Pet Professional Guild. >You may read it in its original format by clicking here, or you may download a printable PDF file by clicking here.

The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) was founded in 2012 by current president, Niki Tudge. As a dog training and pet care professional, Tudge, like many of us, was discouraged by the flawed and harmful information being disseminated around the profession, including by some trainers, day care operators, groomers, boarding kennels, breeders, shelters, rescues, veterinarians, and even “reality” television shows. In some cases, the latter were promoted as offering “expert” dog training advice, but were, in fact, just like most “reality” TV: entertainment based on conflict and drama.

From its inception, PPG has been committed to the training, care, and management of companion animals that are free from pain, force, and fear. Its Guiding Principles (2012) state that members are obligated to follow this philosophy: “To be in any way affiliated with the Pet Professional Guild, all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Pet Professional Guild members understand Force-Free to mean: No shock, No pain, No choke, No fear, No physical force, No compulsion based methods are ever employed to train or care for a pet.” [Emphasis added]

This guarantee to kind, compassionate and scientific training methods is why I am a member of PPG and why the Find A Professional section of the PPG website is the first place I go when looking to refer to another pet care professional. Whoever I recommend reflects on my reputation and that of my business, so it is essential I know that those receiving my referrals are committed to training, care, and management that comply with PPG’s Guiding Principles.

In January 2015, the PPG Advocacy Committee was born with its mission defined thus: “To reduce or eliminate the practice of using electronic shock devices in the training of domestic pet animals. PPG will achieve this goal through strategic professional, respectful and energetic processes of advocacy and education. These efforts will at all times adhere to the Guiding Principles of PPG and will be accomplished through the development of specific action plans, as determined by members of the PPG Advocacy Committee.”

Key to this plan was to use the existing and developing scientific literature, demonstrating that using shock to train animals is unnecessary and often harmful and not in the interest of animal welfare, as a foundation. Next came the Shock-Free Coalition, established in September 2017, a child of the Advocacy Committee, but a separate entity with its own website and a very clear mission: “The key purpose of the Shock-Free Coalition is to build a strong and broad movement committed to eliminating shock devices from the supply and demand chain. This goal will be reached when shock tools and equipment are universally unavailable and not permitted for the training, management and care of pets.”

Critical steps in this process are:

  • To engage and educate pet owners and shelter/rescue workers to help them make informed decisions about the management, care, and training of the pets in their charge.
  • To build a worldwide coalition that provides pet owners access to competent, professional pet industry service providers.
  • To create widespread pet industry transparency and compliance regarding how professionals implement their services and communicate their philosophy to pet owners.
  • The Shock-Free Coalition website serves as an educational resource for anyone wanting to learn more about the organization and why ending the use of shock is so essential. It also offers anyone the opportunity to support the cause by taking the Shock-Free Pledge, either as an individual or as a business. Participants may pledge at several different levels ranging from simply signing the pledge to signing the pledge and making a recurring financial contribution to help the mission continue toward its goal.

What Does Science Tell Us about Shock?

The Shock-Free Coalition did not come to its conclusion that using shock for the training, care, and management of pets was unnecessary and harmful out of the blue. Its position is based on the careful review of the growing number of peer reviewed, scientific studies that demonstrate that shock is not only unnecessary, but is harmful, both physically and psychologically.

What Do the Professional Organizations Say?

The current scientific data, in addition to the moral and ethical concerns about mental and physical damage to animals subjected to methods using force, fear and/or pain have moved a number of representing professional organizations to advocate for the use of humane training techniques founded on evidence-based learning theories and avoid training methods or devices which employ coercion, pain, force and/or fear (Tudge & Nilson, 2016). These include, but are not limited to:

  • “The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) guidelines oppose aversive training techniques, such as prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls (forcibly rolling a pet on his or her back), electronic shock collars, entrapment, and physically punishing a pet. The guidelines note that aversive training techniques can harm or even destroy an animal’s trust in his or her owner, negatively impact the pet’s problem-solving ability, and cause increased anxiety in the animal. Aversive techniques are especially a concern if pets are already fearful or aggressive, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous. According to the AAHA guidelines, the only acceptable training techniques are non-aversive, positive techniques that rely on the identification of, and reward for, desirable behaviors. Positive reinforcement is the most humane and effective approach.” – American Animal Hospital Association (2015).
  • “The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) supports the use of humane training methods for dogs that are based on current scientific knowledge of learning theory. Reward-based methods are highly recommended. Aversive methods are strongly discouraged as they may cause fear, distress, anxiety, pain or physical injury to the dog.” – –          Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (2015).
  • “Aversive, punishment-based techniques may alter behaviour, but the methods fail to address the underlying cause and, in the case of unwanted behaviour, can lead to undue anxiety, fear, distress, pain or injury.” – British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (2019).
  • The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) “recommends against the use of electronic shock collars and other aversive methods for the training and containment of animals. Shocks and other aversive stimuli received during training may not only be acutely stressful, painful and frightening for the animals, but may also produce long term adverse effects on behavioural and emotional responses…The BSAVA strongly recommends the use of positive reinforcement training methods that could replace those using aversive stimuli.” – British Small Animal Veterinary Association (2019).
  • “The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has concerns about the use of aversive training devices to control, train or punish dogs. The use of devices such as electronic collars, as a means of punishing or controlling behaviour of companion animals is open to potential abuse and incorrect use of such training aids has the potential to cause welfare and training problems…Electric pulse devices are sometimes used in dog training as a form of punishment to prevent a dog from repeating bad behaviour. Although training a dog is important for their well-being, research shows that electric pulse collars are no more effective than positive reinforcement methods. BVA has consulted with experts and examined the evidence. Research by Schalke, Stichnoth and Jones-Baade (2005) showed that the application of electric stimulus, even at a low level, can cause physiological and behavioral responses associated with stress, pain and fear. In light of the evidence, BVA has concluded that electric pulse collars raise a number of welfare issues, such as the difficulty in accurately judging the level of electric pulse to apply to a dog without causing unnecessary suffering.” – British Veterinary Association (2018).
  • “The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) does not support the use of electronic behaviour modifying collars (e-collars) that deliver aversive stimuli for the training or containment of dogs. E-collars have the potential to harm both the physical and mental health of dogs. They are an aversive training method that have in some studies been associated with significant negative animal welfare outcomes. Positive reinforcement training methods are an effective and humane alternative to e-collars for dog training…The use of pain to train dogs is no more acceptable or humane when it is administered by remote control, than if it was delivered as a physical blow such as a punch or kick.” – New Zealand Veterinary Association (2018).
  • “E-collar training is associated with numerous well documented risks concerning dog health, behavior and welfare. Any existing behaviour problem is likely to deteriorate or an additional problem is likely to emerge, when such a collar is used. This becomes an even greater risk when this aversive tool is used by an unqualified trainer (as training is largely unregulated throughout the EU, it appears that a large number of trainers are unqualified). Additionally, the efficacy of these collars has not been proven to be more effective than other alternatives such as positive training. Hence, European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology (ESVCE) encourages education programmes which employ positive reinforcement methods (while avoiding positive punishment and negative reinforcement) thereby promoting positive dog welfare and a humane, ethical and moral approach to dog training at all times.” – European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology (2017).
  • In addition to these professional bodies, several countries, including England, Wales, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, the province of Quebec in Canada, and the states of New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in Australia, have already banned electronic stimulation devices. Under recent amendments to ACT animal welfare legislation, anyone who places an electric shock device, such as a shock collar, on an animal, will attract a maximum penalty of AU$16,000 [$11,000] and a year’s imprisonment (Brewer, 2019). In Scotland, “strict guidance” has been published by the Scottish Parliament which provides “advice on training methods and training aids for dogs, with particular focus on the welfare issues that may arise from the use of aversive methods including e-collars. It highlights the potential consequences of the misuse of aversive training aids, including possible legal consequences.” (The Kennel Club, 2018) (Tudge, Nilson, Millikan & Stapleton-Frappell, 2019).

Examining Arguments

Meanwhile, there are pet care professionals, pet owners, and moneyed interests, such as the companies that manufacture and sell shock collars, who disregard all the research and advocate for the continued use of shock. Common arguments include that the shock “does not cause pain or discomfort” and therefore cannot be abusive or inhumane; shock is “more efficient” for training than positive reinforcement training; shock is the “only way” certain behaviors can be trained (e.g., snake avoidance training); and using shock “saves dogs’ lives.” Let’s now look at each of those arguments individually and examine them from a scientific perspective.

#1: Does the electric shock from a shock collar cause pain? States Anderson (2012): “During the initial training period, [shock] must be painful, uncomfortable, or frightening, or it wouldn’t work. It has to have some unpleasant feeling that is robust enough to get the dog to work to make it stop.”

Science, through published peer reviewed research, is quite clear 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. If it did not hurt, it would not work.

Several studies have reported that shock collars cause undue stress to dogs. A study by Schilder and van der Borg (2004) examined guard dogs who were specially bred for toughness and low sensitivity to pain and stress and found that training with shock collars caused long-lasting stress effects — to the point that the dogs 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 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.” (Schilder & van der Borg, 2004).

Fear and Anxiety

Late veterinarian Dr. Sophia Yin (2011) discussed this study in a post on her blog and made the following key conclusions:

  • Overall, the researchers concluded that even when compared to working dogs trained using choke chain and pinch collar corrections, dogs trained with electronic shock collars showed more fear and anxiety behaviors than those trained by other traditional police dog and watch-dog methods.
  • Avoidance behavior and fear postures during the shocks indicated that the shock elicited both pain and fear and therefore were not just a distraction or nuisance.
  • “The enormous rewards the dogs experience during training i.e. chasing down, catching a criminal and winning the sleeve, do not counter the negative effects of getting shocked. This is in spite of the fact that handlers of non-shocked dogs admitted that they use prong collars and that their dogs experienced beatings and other harsh punishment, such as kicks or choke collar corrections.” (Yin, 2011).

An important point to note here is that shock collar users may sometimes say something along the lines of, “I don’t use the shock feature any more. I only use the collar with the beep on now.” However, the Shock-Free Coalition (2019) points out that the tone itself can become as aversive and damaging as the shock once the association has been established: “If I pull out a gun, and I cock it, are you any less scared than if I fired it? If your dog does what you ask when he hears the beep, it means that he has learned that the beep predicts a painful shock, just like cocking the gun predicts a bullet hitting you. While the collar is no longer physically hurting the dog, it can still be scarring him emotionally.”

Another study, by Schalke, Stichnoth, Ott and Jones-Baade (2007), examined the use of shock for training to stop undesirable hunting/ chasing behavior. This study also revealed that the dogs being trained with shock found it to be very stressful. The authors concluded, “…the general use of electric shock collars is not consistent with animal welfare.”

A third study, AW1402, conducted by the University of Lincoln and the University of Bristol for DEFRA in the United Kingdom (2010), compared the features of several shock collars and examined how they are typically used by pet owners. The researchers concluded that “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.”

The AW1402 researchers also observed that the instruction manuals that came with shock collar products did not provide an adequate explanation of how to use the device. 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 chose to ignore them. The researchers concluded that “…some of the reported use was clearly inconsistent with advice in e-collar manuals and potentially a threat to the dog’s welfare.” (DEFRA, 2010).

As noted in the AW1402 study, misuse and inappropriate use of shock collars are not uncommon. One of my employees witnessed such abuse at a field trial event. A dog owner with two dogs was working with one dog and had a second dog in his truck in a crate. The dog he was working with did not respond to a cue, so the owner pressed a button on the remote to shock the dog. The dog still did not respond to the cue, so the owner shocked the dog again. Meanwhile, the dog in the crate was yelping each time the owner intended 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 the wrong dog as he was using the wrong remote unit.

Ultimately, I think the question everyone with a dog needs to ask themselves is, “Do I want to be working with a pet care professional that does not understand the basic principles of learning?” States veterinarian and veterinary behaviorist Dr. Lisa Radosta in the 2017 documentary, 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.” The sad fact is that dog training is an unregulated profession, and because of that, there are far too many people in the profession spreading disinformation about dogs, their behavior, and how to train them.

For anyone who understands how animals learn, what could be their motivation for using, recommending, and selling shock collars all the while telling people it’s not really a shock and/or it won’t hurt their dog? They are certainly not being truthful. Sadly, greed has caused humans to do unethical and unnecessary things from the beginning of time. I believe this excerpt from Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats (2017) further illustrates my point about shock causing pain as well as the motivation for selling shock collars. It begins with Dr. Radosta’s statement cited in the previous paragraph and continues with a video of someone demonstrating a shock collar on themselves. I use this excerpt in my orientation program for all my Basic Manners students and in a presentation for my aggression clients, and it does help people understand that shock is very painful.

#2. Is training a dog with an aversive such as a shock collar more efficient than using positive reinforcement training and food? The next argument we might hear in favor of using shock is that the pain it causes is “irrelevant,” because, as a training method, it is “so much more efficient.” Well, is it?

The DEFRA AW1402 study (2010) indicates that not only does shock cause pain, it is often misused. This led to a second DEFRA study, AW1402a (2011), to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs. AW1402a 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 Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) in the United Kingdom using positive reinforcement. The researchers found “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 no more effective at resolving r call and chasing behaviors than positive reinforcement training.

Ethics and Welfare

A study by Hiby, Rooney and Bradshaw (2004) specifically assessed the effectiveness of different training methods (positive reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative reinforcement) and how they affected a dog’s behavior. The scientists did not just look at shock as an aversive, but even evaluated vocal punishment and physical punishment. They concluded: “There are ethical concerns that dog training methods incorporating physical or verbal punishment may result in pain and/or suffering. We provide evidence that, in the general dog owning population, dogs trained using punishment are no more obedient than those trained by other means and, furthermore, they exhibit increased numbers of potentially problematic behaviours. Problematic behaviours can compromise welfare as they are often associated with an increased state of anxiety (e.g. Askew, 1996) and they can also lead the owner to relinquish the dog (Serpell, 1996). Because reward-based methods are associated with higher levels of obedience and fewer problematic behaviours, we suggest that their use is a more effective and welfare-compatible alternative to punishment for the average dog owner.” (Hiby, Rooney & Bradshaw, 2004).

A 2012 study by Blackwell, Bolster, Richards, Loftus and Casey specifically looked at the use of shock collars for training dogs, why owners used them, and how effective they were. The researchers concluded that “more owners using reward based methods for recall/chasing report a successful outcome of training than those using e-collars.” (Blackwell, Bolster, Richards, Loftus & Casey, 2012).

Aggressive Behavior: Case Studies

How can shock cause aggressive behavior? I believe most everyone understands that there are times when they have been anxious, reactive, rude, or outright aggressive when they were experiencing any type of pain or stress. Often, the target of that aggression will be whatever they are focusing on when they experience the pain. Here are two cases involving dogs that were brought to me for a behavior consultation due to aggressive behavior. In both cases, the owners believed the aggression had been caused by the use of a shock collar.

Case #1: Jake

“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 neighbors. He loved visiting with them and they enjoyed having him there. For what they believed was Jake’s protection, the family installed an underground fence system that would keep him in their yard. They trained him to the system per the manufacturer’s instructions.

After the system was installed, Jake saw the neighbor out in her yard. Since he had always liked his neighbor, he ran straight toward her, but was shocked when crossing the invisible line. This happened a few more times, until, 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 her with being shocked. This incident could have been pre-vented with the installation of a real fence or by supervising Jake when he was out in the yard.

Case #2: Jenny

“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 an energetic and powerful dog. They had made no attempts to train Jenny and were frustrated with being dragged around 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. She was trying to look fierce to scare the dog away before he hurt her, when she was shocked yet again. Jenny, now anxious and confused about other dogs, learned to become aggressive because of her fear of the shock, which she associated with other dogs.

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 and made use of a front-connect walking harness, they could have taught her to walk nicely without ever causing her any pain or fear.

These are not isolated occurrences. I have training colleagues throughout the country that could tell you of similar incidents. A study by Polsky (2000) examined five cases of severe attacks by dogs who had been trained or contained via electric shock. None of the dogs had a history of aggression before being shocked. The study concludes there is a high probability that experience with shock was at least partially responsible for the aggressive behavior. This is very similar to Jake’s story.

#3. Is the use of aversives necessary to train behaviors such as snake avoidance?

Why use a shock collar if we know it can cause pain and can create previously nonexistent behavior problems like anxiety and aggression, especially when it is no more effective and often less effective than reward-based training? One answer we may often hear is that there are certain behaviors you can “only” teach a dog with an aversive like a shock. A typical behavior that is often used as an example is training a dog to stay away from rattlesnakes, or any other kind of venomous snake. While there is no peer reviewed literature to support the argument that shock is not necessary for training snake aversion, nor is there any peer reviewed literature to suggest that it is. Meanwhile, there is ample anecdotal evidence that demonstrates shock is not necessary in training more challenging behaviors. Certified professional dog trainer Pamela Johnson conducted a webinar for PPG where she explains exactly how to train your dog to be safe around snakes without resorting to the use of shock.

When it comes to teaching animals “mission critical” behaviors, far more advanced than rattlesnake aversion, one only need to look to the work done by Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE) and the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Training program. Marian and Bob Bailey were part of both of those efforts and trained animals to do many amazing things all with positive reinforcement training. Yin (2012) discusses how Bailey and Bailey continued to use their expertise to help train military dogs and also shares a little-known story about work they did in the 1960s training cats for the Central Intelligence Agency. What were the cats trained to do? To follow people through airports. If you want to learn more about how animal training moved from being a craft to a science, you might want to track down a copy of a film ABE made on the subject called Patient Like the Chipmunks.

#4. Does using a shock collar save dogs’ lives?

Sometimes we might hear or read on social media that “using shock can save a dog’s life.” This is essentially the argument for using shock to train snake avoidance. In reality, it is a last-ditch attempt to “shock” an owner into a state of fear and anxiety, because no one wants their dog to die. The fact is there is no peer reviewed research to prove or disprove this statement, and never will be, because the design of such a study would never be approved by a review board because it would not be ethical.

How You Can Help

If the Shock-Free Coalition is going to be successful, we need the help of every single PPG member as well as all of the pet parents that want the best life possible for their furry friend. Here are some things you can do to help:

Sign the Pledge

If you are a PPG member, a pet parent, or a pet care profession and have not signed the Shock-Free Pledge), please do so! I get it, we’re all busy, and sometimes we put things on a “to do list” and then just never get to it. As a PPG member, you have already committed to The Guiding Principles, so we know that you understand the importance of ending the use of shock collars. It is important that we get all PPG members to sign the pledge.  It is equally important that we get pet parents and pet care professionals to support our call to end the use of shock for the management and training of dogs.

Position Statements

Familiarize yourself with the PPG Position Statement on Shock Training and the AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines. These two documents, especially when used together, make a compelling and scientifically sound argument for never using shock. Ask the veterinarians in your community if they are familiar with the AAHA Guidelines, especially those that are AAHA accredited facilities. If they are not, print a copy and share it with them. You might even highlight the most important parts.

Even though the ESVCE Position Statement on Electronic Training Devices focuses primarily on Europe, being one of the most recent position statements, it is a valuable resource anywhere. Ask the veterinarians in your community if they are familiar with this document and if they are not, print a copy and share it with them.

On the Web

The Shock-Free Coalition website is full of excellent information for you to review and share with others as you help spread the word about the importance of educating people about the use of shock. This material is freely available to you for when you need to speak to clients and others about the reasons for selecting positive reinforcement training as opposed to using aversives.

A special thank you to Susan Nilson, the BARKS from the Guild editor-in-chief, for her contributions to this article.

References

American Animal Hospital Association. (2019). AAHA behavior guidelines offer solutions to managing behavior problems with your pet. Available at: http://bit.ly/AAHABhx2015

Anderson, E. (2012). What is Shock Training? – Is It Really Just A Tap? Shock Collar Training Explained. Available at:   http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Anderson-WhatIsShock

Blackwell, E.J., Bolster, C., Richards, G., Loftus, B.A., & Casey, R.A. (2012). 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 (8) 93. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Blackwell-BMCVR-2012

Brewer, P. (2019). Do let the dogs out: Huge fines for pet confinement part of ACT animal welfare overhaul. Available at: http://bit.ly/2Wx0Qu8

British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (2019). Position Statement on Animal Training. Available at: http://bit.ly/2XEb8W2

British Small Animal Veterinary Association. (2019). Position Statement on Aversive Training Methods. Available at: http://bit.ly/2F0HdAa

British Veterinary Association. (2018). Aversive training devices for dogs. Available at: http://bit.ly/2XByUlv

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. (2015). Humane Training Methods for Dogs – Position Statement. Available at: http://bit.ly/2KHCcQr

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. (2010). Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs: Project Code AW1402. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-DEFRA-AW1402-2013

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. (2011). 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: Project Code AW1402a. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-DEFRA-AW1402a-2013

European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology. (2017). ESVCE Position Statement: Electronic Training Devices. Available at:  http://bit.ly/SHOCK-ESVE_Pos

Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J., & Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2004). Dog training methods—their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Animal Welfare (13) 63–69. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Hiby-AnimWelfare-2004

New Zealand Veterinary Association. (2018). Use of behaviour modifying collars on dogs. Available at: http://bit.ly/2F1z6Dj

Pet Professional Guild. (2012). Guiding Principles. Available at: http://bit.ly/PPG-GuidingPrinciples

Polsky, R. (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. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Polsky-JAAWS-Aggx-2000

Sandgrain Films. (2017). Shock Collar [Video File]. Available at: http://vimeo.com/235106629

Schalke, E., Stichnoth, J., & Jones‐Baade, R. (2005). 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. 5th International Veterinary Behavior Meeting. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 139‐145.

Schalke, E., Stichnoth, J., Ott, S., & Jones‐Baade, R. (2007). Clinical signs caused by the use of electric training collars on dogs in everyday life situations. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 105 (4) 369‐380. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Schalke-AABS-JUL2007

Schilder, M., & van der Borg, J. (2004). Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects. Applied Animal Behaviour Science (85) 319–334. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Schilder-AABS-MAR2004

Shock‐Free Coalition. (2019). Myths and Misconceptions. Available at:  https://www.shockfree.org/Education/Myths-and-Misconceptions

The Kennel Club. (2018). The Kennel Club and Scottish Kennel Club Welcomes the Scottish Government’s Effective Ban on Shock Training Devices. Available at: http://bit.ly/31r1Zm7

Tudge, N.J, & Nilson, S.J. (2016). The Use of Shock in Animal Training. Available at: https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

Tudge, N.J, Nilson, S.J., Millikan, D.A., & Stapleton‐Frappell, L.A. (2019). Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the Bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People. (n.p.): DogNostics Career Center Publishing – https://petindustryregulation.com/

Yin, S. (2011). Are Electronic Shock Collars Painful – A New Study Reveals Some Answers. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Yin-Pain-2011

Yin, S. (2012). How Technology from 30 Years Ago is Helping Military Dogs Perform Better Now. Available at: http://bit.ly/POS-REI-SpyCats

Resources

American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) 2015 Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines: http://bit.ly/AAHABhx2015

European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology ‐ Position Statement on Electronic Training Devices: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-ESVE_Pos

Pet Professional Guild ‐ Rattlesnake Avoidance Training Using Force‐Free Methods [Webinar]: https://petprofessionalguild.com/event-1913569

Pet Professional Guild ‐ Member Search: http://bit.ly/PPG-Find-A-Prof

Pet Professional Guild ‐ Position on Shock Training: https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

Shock‐Free Coalition: https://www.shockfree.org/

Shock‐Free Coalition Pledge: https://www.shockfree.org/Pledge

Other Related Resources

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

Hanson, D. (2004-2018). The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars, Available at: http://bit.ly/ShockCollars

Hanson, D.  (2018) Helping Your Dog Thrive with Brambell’s Five Freedoms, Available at: Brambell’s Five Freedoms

Hanson, D. (2018, 2019). Things I Wish I Had Known…, Available at: http://bit.ly/ThingsIWishIHadKnown

Hanson, D. (2006). Green Acres’ First Statement on Being A Pet Friendly-Facility, Available at: http://bit.ly/GAKS1stPetFriendly

Hanson, D. (2006). Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care, Available at: http://bit.ly/GAKS_Pet-Friendly

Hanson, D. (2018). The Shock-Free Coalition: What’s Next?, Don Hanson explains how to keep the momentum going once you have signed the Shock-Free Pledge, http://bit.ly/BARKS-ShockFreeMAR2018

Hanson, D.  (2018) Celebrating the 1st Year of the Shock-Free Coalition – +R Rocks, Available at: http://bit.ly/Shock-FreeRocks

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

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

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

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

©27-Jul-19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

The Shock-Free Coalition: What’s Next?

Don Hanson explains how to keep the momentum going once you have signed the Shock-Free Pledge

<A version of this article was published in the March 2018 issue of Barks from the Guild, a publication of the Pet Professional Guild>

< A short link to this page – http://bit.ly/BARKS-ShockFreeMAR2018 >

I have been waiting for an organization of pet professionals to take a stand against the use of shock collars since 2002, so when PPG launched the Shock-Free Coalition on September 25, 2017, I was more than ready to sign the pledge to eliminate shock devices from the supply and demand chain. However, I also knew that signing the pledge, while an important step, was not going to be sufficient to stop the use of shock collars. Signing the pledge is just the beginning of what will very likely be a long campaign.

In addition to signing the pledge, as many of us as possible must commit to educating others in our profession, other pet professionals, and pet parents about the dangers of shock. This educational effort will also require that many of us become advocates and publicly speak on behalf of dogs, who cannot speak for themselves.

Critical elements of being an advocate involve writing and public speaking and presenting logical and scientifically-based arguments for our position while being respectful of those that disagree with us. I know there are many reasons that not everyone in our profession is comfortable being an advocate. Some may have a fear of public speaking, an instinct to avoid confrontation of any kind, or a concern about how taking a position on what some consider to be a controversial issue, may affect their relationship with current and prospective clients and their business’s bottom line. These are all real concerns, and if they describe you, I understand. On the other hand, if you want to try to overcome these issues, know that there are others ready to help you.

How, then, do you get over the concern regarding how publicly taking a position may affect your business? This is not always easy. I have been in the pet care business for 22 years and started as a traditional trainer talking about dominance and alpha rolls, all while using a choke collar and corrections to train a dog. After teaching my first clicker class as an experiment, I knew I could never in good conscience show people how to train with force again. I threw out our existing curriculum, scrambled to create a new one, and our classes became force-free, pain-free, and fear-free. This change was made in spite of the fact that I feared we would lose many of our training clients and veterinary referrals.

I have to thank my friend Gail Fisher of All Dogs Gym in Manchester, New Hampshire for giving me the courage to do this. Fisher had a massive investment in correction-based training, both as an author and pet care professional, yet she made a complete transition to clicker training because she believed it was the best option for her clients and their dogs. As a result of my choosing to transition entirely to clicker training, my business has grown, and most of the veterinarians in our community became convinced of our kind, compassionate approach’s efficacy. Also, I could sleep at night because I was no longer teaching people to “strangle their dog.”

While I am comfortable speaking, writing, and arguing for a just cause, I know that ending shock will require similar actions by many of us. I am a firm believer in the concepts, “think globally, act locally” and that “many hands make light work.” I thus decided to launch a Shock-Free Coalition in Maine where I live.

My first step was to contact all the PPG members in Maine and to invite them to join me. This was a logical first step as PPG members have already indicated their commitment to ending the use of shock collars simply by joining the organization. Indeed, Section One of PPG’s Guiding Principles states: “Pet Professional Guild members understand force-free to mean: no shock, no pain, no choke, no fear, no physical force, no compulsion-based methods are employed to train or care for a pet.” (Pet Professional Guild, 2017). Like I said, all PPG members have essentially committed to the pledge simply by becoming members.

I know many pet professionals in Maine who are not yet PPG members. However, because I was confident that they felt the same way about shock collars as I did, I invited them to join our cause. My second recommendation, then, is to contact other pet professionals in your community whom you know are already opposed to shock. If you get them to join your coalition, invite them to join PPG as well.

I have taken several actions as an individual, all of which anyone can do, and I suspect many PPG members have already done too:

  • I sent out a press release with the news that my business, Green Acres Kennel Shop, has joined the Shock-Free Coalition. PPG makes this easy for us by offering a template.
  • I wrote an article for the October 2017 issue of Downeast Dog News titled Is Your Dog Your Best Friend or a Family Member? If Yes, Then Please Join Me and Take the Pledge which I also published on my blog. If you have a dog newspaper in your community, write an article and submit it. If you do not have a newspaper that focuses on dogs or pets, try your local weekly or daily paper. If you do not have a blog, start one.

I shared a link to my article, as well as an older article I had written (The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars), on my personal Facebook page as well as my business pages (  https://www.facebook.com/GreenAcresKennelShop/  & https://www.facebook.com/WoofMeowShow/  & https://www.facebook.com/WordsWoofsandMeows/  ), and continue to do so on a regular basis. Share your articles and blogs on why shock-free is important, and do it more than once. There are some great software tools available to allow you to post to Facebook and Twitter on an automated basis. My favorite is Post Planner.

  • I included an article on the Shock-Free Coalition in the email newsletter my business sends to our clients and asked them to join us by taking the pledge. No matter how you stay in touch with your clients, keep them aware of the shock-free movement and your part in it.
  • I changed my profile picture and cover on my Facebook page, and those of my business pages, to encourage people to take the pledge. This is one of the easiest ways you can make others aware of the shock-free movement and your commitment to it.
  • I put up signage in our store promoting the Shock-Free Coalition and our commitment to the “No Pain, No Force, No Fear” philosophy. I also include PPG’s “No Pain, No Force, No Fear” logo on much of our printed literature.
  • There is a large banner hanging on the lower half of our outdoor sign, proclaiming we have joined the Shock-Free Coalition.

The following are things I have done to promote the Shock-Free Coalition as an individual which may not be as easy for others, but they are worth exploring:

  • I invited Niki Tudge, PPG’s founder, to be a guest on my weekly radio show, The Woof Meow Show, where we discussed the shock-free movement. If you do not have a radio show, find out who in your community does. Community-based radio programs are always looking for guests. In addition to hosting Tudge on my show, I have also been a guest on two other shows in our area that gave me an opportunity to discuss why shock-free is so important.
  • My co-host and I recorded a radio show/podcast titled The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars as a companion piece to my blog post with the same title. I find it valuable to provide information in a variety of formats as some people prefer to listen to something rather than reading.

Our first group project in Maine was to place a full-page, color advertisement in the November 2017 issue of Downeast Dog News, a state-wide dog-centric newspaper. A total of 12 pet care professionals participated in the ad where we publicly announced our commitment to ending the use of shock and invited other pet care professionals and pet parents to join us. Since then, we have had an animal rescue organization join our cause, and I am in the midst of discussions with a large animal shelter and two veterinarians about joining us for our next advert.

My eventual hope is that other pet care professionals who might be on the fence will see the benefit to their bottom line if they take the pledge.

In addition to the ad, I have cobbled together a website describing our coalition’s mission, providing a directory of shock-free pet professionals for pet parents, and announcing our next educational and advocacy events. Meanwhile, we are discussing our next steps as to how to grow our group and get more people actively participating.

If you have already signed the Shock-Free Pledge, thank you! If you have not signed it yet, it is imperative that you do so.

All of us that want to see shock eliminated as an option in pet training and behavior modification have much work to do. I will try to keep you informed of what we are doing in Maine, sharing what works and what does not. In the meantime, please share your stories with other PPG members so we can all benefit from what others are doing. Together

we can make the world shock-free!

References

Pet Professional Guild. (2017). Guiding Principles. Available at: bit.ly/PPGGuidingPrinciples

Resources

Hanson, D. (2017, October 1). Is Your Dog Your Best Friend or a Family Member? If Yes, Then Please Join Me and Take the Pledge. Available at: http://bit.ly/BestFriendsAndShock

Hanson, D. (2017, October 22). The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars. Available at: http://bit.ly/ShockCollars

Shock-Free Coalition: https://www.shockfree.org/

Shock-Free Coalition News Release Template: bit.ly/ShockFreeCoalitionNews

Say No To Shock! (A List of Scientific Articles and More)http://bit.ly/SayNoToShock

Shock-Free Coalition of Maine Facebook Page: http://bit.ly/ShockFreeMEFB

Shock-Free Coalition Sign the Pledge: https://www.shockfree.org/Pledge

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

The Woof Meow Show (Producer). (2017, September 30). The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudge [Audio Podcast]. Available at: http://bit.ly/PodCastShockFree-NikiTudge-2017

The Woof Meow Show. (Producer). (2017, October 21). The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars [Audio Podcast]. Available at: http://bit.ly/ShockPodcast

Don Hanson ACCBC BFRAP CDBC CPDT-KA 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.

 

©01MAR18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Shared Article – Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too!

A version of this article was published in the May 2017 Issue of  BARKS from the Guild

By Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA

< This is short link to this article on my blog
< http://bit.ly/ThanksPPG-Gus >

I was not allowed to get my first puppy until I was a junior in high school in January of 1975. I am not sure why my parents succumbed to my pleas after twelve years, but they did. When I purchased my cute little puff of black fur, a Keeshond/Poodle and we never caught the father mix, neither the pet store nor the veterinarian suggested training her. Other than some basic housetraining, Trivia had no real training during her life. She was a happy dog who liked everyone and was with us for 14 wonderful years. However, I believe that the life Trivia and I shared could have been so much better if I knew then what I know now. I am thankful that PPG exists today because they are an excellent resource for anyone who has just adopted their first dog.

My first venture into training a dog was when my wife Paula and I got our first puppy as a couple. It was the spring of 1991, we had just purchased our second home, and we decided we needed something to shed on the carpets; just kidding! We did some research,

Don & Gus in 1991, Before the Alpha Roll

and on the advice of Paula’s boss, a veterinarian, we went looking for a Cairn Terrier puppy.  We found one and named him Laird Gustav MacMoose or “Gus,” because he just acted like a “Gus.” On the advice of Paula’s boss, we immediately enrolled ourselves and twelve-week-old Gus in a puppy kindergarten class offered by the local dog club. We also purchased, and read both, Mother Knows Best and How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend because those were the two dog training books that were recommended at the time.

Our first night in puppy class was a complete disaster. Things went downhill the moment I was told to command Gus to sit, and Gus failed to comply. Now, this was not a big deal to us nor a surprise, as Paula and I were well aware that Gus had not received any training. However, it was a huge deal to the two instructors. They told me, in no uncertain terms, that Gus is exerting his dominance and that I had to alpha-roll him to show him that I was the alpha. The alpha role was exactly what the books we were reading recommended. So not knowing any better I did as I was told. As I grabbed Gus by the scruff and pinned him, he immediately began thrashing around underneath me, growling and snapping, and trying to connect his teeth with any part of me, so that I would let him go. I know now that he was terrified.

When I was told to grab his muzzle and told to “hold it shut,” I again, naively, complied. That is when Gus’ taught me that the dog’s teeth will ALWAYS be faster than the human’s hand. Gus instinctively sunk his canines deep into my palm. I said something inappropriate and immediately let go and begin to bleed profusely all over the training room floor. As one instructor ran to get me some ice for my hand, the other gave me a dirty look and continued teaching the class. I handed the leash to Paula, disappointed in Gus and disappointed in myself.

After we had gone home, it was evident that the relationship between Gus and I was severely damaged. I was no longer being asked to “throw the ball” by the Cairn with a tennis ball in his mouth and a vibrating tail. Gus did not trust me, and I did not trust him. I let Paula handle him in the remainder of his puppy classes, and when she went on to the next level of classes, with a different training club, I elected not to participate. I am thankful that PPG exists and today can guide a young couple with a dog so that they can find a qualified trainer that will teach them how to create and maintain a relationship based on trust and positive reinforcement. I am grateful that PPG can also recommend which books to read, and equally important, which to avoid.

Over time Gus and I learned to trust one another again, and training and behavior became a something we both enjoyed. Paula and I adopted a second dog, and we were fortunate to discover Dr. Patricia McConnell and her Dog’s Best Friend Training facility, where we learned about the wonders of reward-based training. I worked with Gus, and Paula handled Shed, and the four of us learned a great deal but more importantly, we also had lots of fun.

Gus eventually became the catalyst for our getting into the pet care services industry. His behavioral issues, he became reactive when people tried to leave our home, led to my interest in aggression and reactivity. His bladder and urinary problems, determined to be due to diet, resulted in our preoccupation with pet nutrition. When Gus developed epilepsy, he sparked our interest in complementary medicine. Thank you, Gus, you were quite the teacher as well as being a fabulous, furry, friend.

In the fall of 1995, we moved from Wisconsin to Maine, after purchasing the Green Acres Kennel Shop. Paula and I jumped right into our new business. Having learned the value of professional organizations in my previous career, I found and joined both the American Boarding Kennel Association (ABKA) and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). Through the APDT email list, I met several people, many that are now wonderful friends, and started to read books that they recommended. I also began attending seminars, and I worked with our existing trainer to learn my craft.

In 1998 I attended my first APDT conference in Valley Forge, PA and stepped right into my first debate over shock collars. A shock collar company was exhibiting at the APDT trade show, and there was a significant discussion as to whether or not they should be allowed to do so. I was firmly in the anti-shock camp. After that conference, APDT adopted a policy that prohibited the promotion of shock collars at their conferences.

Three years later I was encouraged to run for the APDT Board of Trustees and started my first three-year term on the Board in 2002. Hoping to expand upon the ban on promoting shock collars at the conference, in July of 2002 I proposed that the APDT adopt a resolution defining dog-friendly dog training. At the core of my proposal was the statement “Dog-friendly training” does not include the use of tools or methods that cause pain, physical injury, suffering or distress.” Sadly, my motion died for lack of a second. I was very disappointed that no one was even willing to discuss my proposal.

I served on the APDT Board for two consecutive terms waiting for an opportunity to get APDT to take a more assertive position on dog-friendly practices, but it never happened during those six years. I was again encouraged to run for the Board in 2010, was elected to another three-year term. Sadly, it was evident the APDT was still not ready to take a stand. I do believe that APDT has done many good things for our profession, but it disappoints me that they have never been willing to take a strong position against the use of force, fear, and pain.

In 2014 I took my first serious look at PPG, applied for membership and let my membership in the APDT expire. Earlier I stated that I believe professional organizations are important. To me, membership in such an organization demonstrates an individual’s and a business’s commitment to the best practices of their profession. For that reason, as soon as a staff member at Green Acres’ completes their probationary training period, I enroll them as a member of the PPG no matter what role they play here. Every trainer, pet care technician, groomer, customer service associate, and manager is a PPG member and is expected to live up to the PPG guiding principles. It is a condition of employment.

I am so very thankful that I finally found a cohort of like-minded pet care professionals who are committed to the same things that I am and are willing to say so publicly. Thank you PPG and thank you Niki Tudge.

I became the manager of an email list for boarding kennel and daycare operators in 1996. Ten years later some members of the list began discussing how they used squirt bottles, spray nozzles on hoses, and anti-bark shock collars on their guests to control barking. I was appalled and made being pet-friendly a requirement of being a member of the list. Around the same timeframe, a client informed me that a kennel in our area used a shock collar on their dog while they were a guest. My clients were very upset that this had happened. As a result, Green Acres’s published our first position statement entitled “Green Acres Is A “Pet-Friendly” Facility.” Some of our competitors were not happy because they felt it made them look bad, but I believed then what I believe now. We were doing what was in the best interest of our clients and their pets. Our continued success confirms our clients agree. However, I have taken my share of flack from others in our profession and again, want to thank PPG for making the world a less lonely place.

Resources

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

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 Guiding Principleshttp://www.bit.ly/2mUCTqN

Pet Professional Guild – Pet Training, Management and Care: We Now Know Enough to Stop Shocking Our Pets – An Open Letter to Pet Industry Representatives Regarding the Use of Shock in Animal Training – http://bit.ly/2mUEj4Q

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

Dominance: Reality or Myth –  http://bit.ly/Dominance-RealityorMyth

______________________________________________________________________________

Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He also produces and co-hosts The Woof Meow Show heard on AM620 -WZON 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. He is committed to pet care that is free of pain, force, and fear.

Celebrating the 1st Year of the Shock-Free Coalition – +R Rocks

< A version of this article was published in the November 2018 issue of Downeast Dog News>

It was a year ago that I first wrote about the formation of the Shock-Free Coalition, an international initiative that “…believes that pets have an intrinsic right to be treated humanely, to have each of their individual needs met, and to live in a safe, enriched environment free from force, pain and fear. Members of the Shock-Free Coalition consider it to be their responsibility and utmost obligation to be vigilant, to educate, to remain engaged and work toward eliminating shock as a permissible tool so it is never considered a viable option in the training, management and care of pets.”    ( FMIhttp://bit.ly/BestFriendsAndShock ).

Since then the following has happened:

  • Niki Tudge, the founder of The Pet Professional Guild, appeared on The Woof Meow Show to discuss the Shock-Free Coalition ( FMIhttp://bit.ly/PodCastShockFree-NikiTudge-2017 )
  • Eleven pet care professionals representing thirteen businesses in the state of Maine joined together to run a full-page ad in the November 2017 issue of the Downeast Dog News announcing their support of the Shock-Free Coalition. ( FMIhttp://bit.ly/Shock-FreeME-Ad-NOV18DEDN )
  • In January of 2018 electric shock collars were banned in Scotland.
  • In February the Sun reported, “Electric shock pet collars to be banned for being ‘unnecessary and cruel’ forbidding their sale and use in the UK.”
  • The Shock-Free Coalition launched an improved website with chapters and regional coordinators in AZ, CA, CO, FL, HI, ME, OR, TX, Australia, Canada, England, Gibraltar, Ireland, Scotland, & Wales ( FMIhttps://www.shockfree.org/Chapters )
  • A paper published in Volume 25 of the Journal of Veterinary Behavior by Dr. Sylvia Masson et al. discussed electronic shock collars used to address barking, containment (underground fences), and remote training. The paper’s authors concluded “...there is no credible scientific evidence to justify e-collar use and the use of spray collars or electronic fences for dogs. On the contrary, there are many reasons to never use these devices. Better training options exist, with proven efficacy and low risk.” and recommend that the sale, use, and promotion of shock collars be banned.
  • The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) has designated Saturday, November 17th, 2018 as the first-ever International Day of Advocacy to celebrate its official launch of the Shock-Free Coalition one year ago. The focal point of the celebration will be Let’s Celebrate +R, a photo and video competition where pet professionals and enthusiasts can showcase the best of positive reinforcement-based pet training and education.

Let’s Celebrate +R

Let’s celebrate +R is a competition open to all who wish to advocate for force-free training by demonstrating their skills as a way to promote the educational message of pain-free, force-free, and fear-free training. Most people do not want to harm their dog and do not understand that shock collars work by causing physical and emotional pain and fear.

To participate in the International Day of Advocacy 2018, all you need to do is take a photo and/or make a short video and submit it to one of the Let’s Celebrate +R competition categories. There are three competition categories in both photos and videos. The contest will run from November 10th through November 24th and is open to all.

Winners and runners-up from each category will have the opportunity to win fabulous prizes! The winners from each of the six categories will then be forwarded to the final judging category, Best Overall Entry.

Each entry will receive 1) One 2018 competitor medal – mailed to you in November 2018, 2) your supporter certificate, 3) access to purchase a unique event participant T-shirt, and 4) eligibility to win the grand prize, which is The Pet Professional Guild Annual Convention Package (USA: Portland, Oregon – April 26-28, 2019). ( FMIhttps://petprofessionalguild.com/Lets-Celebrate-Plus-R )

To Learn More

If you want to learn more about shock collars and why the Shock-Free Coalition believes that their use, sale, and promotion should be banned,  I encourage you to visit these two sites – http://bit.ly/ShockCollars or https://www.shockfree.org/About/What-Experts-Say. The scientific evidence against the use of shock is overwhelming with no scientific evidence to support its use.

Please Join Us!

If you agree that using electric shock to care for, train or manage a pet is harmful and counter to having a rewarding relationship with a pet, please take the shock-free pledge at https://www.shockfree.org/chapters/Maine and if possible donate https://www.shockfree.org/Donate

Thank you for helping to make the life of pets free of pain, free of force, and free of fear.

Recommended Resources

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

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

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

Shock-Free Maine Coalition Ad in November 2017 Downeast Dog Newshttp://bit.ly/Shock-FreeME-Ad-NOV18DEDN

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

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

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

Web Sites

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

About Don

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.

©1NOV18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Shared Blog Post – The Shock-Free Coalition Responds to the UK Government’s Decision to Ban Electronic Shock Collars in Pet Training, Care, Behavior Modification, and Management

The Shock-Free Coalition, the advocacy arm to the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) fully supports and applauds the Government of the United Kingdom’s decision to implement a nationwide ban on the use of remote control electric shock collars for the training, management, and care for pets. Further, PPG is in full agreement with the U.K. Kennel Club (2018) that “the use of electric shock collars as a training method has a long term negative welfare impact on dogs.”

There is a growing body of peer-reviewed, scientific research that shows, whether discussing dogs, humans, dolphins or elephants, that electric shock as a form of training to teach or correct a behavior is ineffective at best, and physically and psychologically damaging at worst. States renowned board-certified animal behaviorist and veterinarian, Dr. Karen Overall (2005): “There are now terrific scientific and research data that show the harm that shock collars can do behaviorally.”

It is PPG’s view that pets need to be well-socialized and mentally and physically healthy if a productive and safe relationship for all members of their family and the public at large is to be ensured. As such, PPG urges all parties involved in determining new legislation to focus first on education, operational standards and modern, humane methods. Governments have a responsibility to implement effective public health measures that increase the information available to the public and decision-makers, protect people from harm, promote health, and create environments that support healthy behaviors (Friedman, 2010).

FMIhttps://www.shockfree.org/Open-Letter-Response-To-The-UK-Decision-to-Ban-Shock-Collars/

Recommended Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationship

< Updated 2JAN19 >

< A version of this article was published in the September 2018  issue of Downeast Dog News >

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

In a recent interview, I was 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?” This post will be the first of a series of article inspired by that question.

This series of articles has since been renamed Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog, and you can find a complete list of posts in the series at < http://bit.ly/ThingsIWishIHadKnown >

Don & Gus in 1991, Before the Alpha Roll

In the spring of 1991, I had a new 12-week old Cairn Terrier puppy named Gus. I had no knowledge of dog training, but a desire to learn. I started to learn by reading two of the most popular dog training books at the time; How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend and Mother Knows Best. The basic premise of both books was that a dog is a wolf and the best way to train and care for a dog is to dominate it like an Alpha wolf would dominate a wolf pup. My wife and I also enrolled ourselves and Gus in a puppy kindergarten class offered by the local dog club.

Our first night in puppy class was a complete disaster. I was told to command Gus to sit, and Gus failed to comply. Now, this was not a big deal to us nor a surprise, as we were well aware that Gus had no clue what we wanted him to do when we said the word “Sit.” However, Gus’ failure to comply was a massive deal to the two instructors. They told me, in no uncertain terms, that Gus was exerting his dominance and that I had to alpha roll him to show him that I was the Alpha. The alpha roll was precisely what the books we were reading recommended, so not knowing any better I did as I was told. As I grabbed Gus by the scruff and pinned him, he immediately began thrashing around underneath me, growling and snapping, and trying to connect his teeth with me, so that I would let him go. I know now that Gus was terrified but at the time believed I was doing the right thing.

The instructor now became even more adamant: “We can’t have that! Grab his muzzle and clamp it shut!” My instincts said “Whoa! That’s not safe!” but these people were the “experts” so I tried grabbing Gus’ muzzle in my hand. Instantly, I felt his canines puncture my palm. As my blood started dripping on the floor, Gus broke free and moved as far away from me as he could. There is something to be said for listening to your gut instincts. Gus followed his; I failed to pay attention to mine.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, everything that I had read and been taught about the alpha wolf rollover was based upon flawed knowledge. My puppy was afraid for his life, and it was my fault.

When we got back home, it was evident that the relationship between Gus and I was severely damaged. I was no longer being asked to “throw the ball” by the puppy with the joyously vibrating tail. Gus did not trust me, and I did not trust him. Over many months Gus and I learned to trust one another again, and training and behavior became something we both enjoyed. We were fortunate to discover Dr. Patricia McConnell where we learned about the wonders of reward-based training. We had fun; our dogs had fun and that should be a primary focus of training.

So this is what I would have liked to have known before I started training Gus.

  • Just because something is in a book written by an alleged expert does not mean it is good advice or even factual.
  • The study of wolf packs in the wild has taught us that a wolf pack is a family working cooperatively to survive to pass on their genes. Their survival depends on cooperation, NOT competition to be the alpha within the pack.
  • The violent alpha roll described in the books I read has never been observed happening in a wolf pack. A wolf pup may voluntarily roll on its back and submit to an older wolf, but it is never physically forced to do so.
  • Karen Overall is a veterinarian who is also one of the few vets that is also a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behavior. She also has a PhD and is certified by the Animal Behavior Society as an Applied Animal Behaviorist. In other words, she is one of the leading experts on the planet on dog behavior. This is what she said about dominance at a PPG conference in 2016. “Dominance theory has shut off scientific research and has crept into medicine to the point where we think we can do things to animals whereby we are asking them to ‘submit’….dominance theory is insidious and has crept into everything we do with dogs and it’s wrong. It has gotten in the way of modern science and I’ve just about had it. Every single thing we do with dogs hurts them because we don’t see them as individuals or cognitive partners.” [ Emphasis Added ]
  • In the 2017 documentary, Dogs, Cats and Scapegoats Overall sums it up very well when she states: “In the evolutionary literature “alpha” was just a shorthand for breeding. I’m the alpha – that you feel that you have to compete with a dog in your household over some imaginary rank, what does that say for how you live with people?” [ Emphasis Added ]
  • The entire concept of dominance is not only an erroneous understanding of the dog-human relationship, but it is also counterproductive to a harmonious relationship with our dog and may cause aggression as it did with Gus.

Unfortunately the same bad advice I received in 1991 is still being promulgated today, in spite of the fact that major canine organizations such as the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT),  all warn of the use of dominance-based training.

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 Link Page http://bit.ly/ThingsIWishIHadKnown

Dog Behavior – Dominance: Reality or Mythhttp://bit.ly/Dominance-RealityorMyth

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

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

The Dominance and Alpha Myth –  http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2010-03-21-The_Dominance_Myth.mp3

Prof. Chad Montrie and the documentary Tough Love: A Meditation on Dominance and Dogshttp://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2013-01-26-Tough_Love_Chad_Montrie.mp3

Other Publications

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

Videos

Tough Love: A Meditation on Dominance and Dogs, Anchorhold Films, 2012https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIjMBfhyNDE

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

Dr. L. David Mech talks about the terms “alpha” and “beta” wolves and why they are no longer scientifically accuratehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNtFgdwTsbU

Position Statements

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

Association of Professional Dog Trainers –  APDT Position Statement on Dominance and Dog Traininghttps://apdt.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/dominance-and-dog-training.pdf

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

The Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – Dominance Theory in Animal Training – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/DominanceTheoryPositionStatement

 

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

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 (2ndedition), 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.

 

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