I currently hold two dog training and behavior credentials. Unfortunately, the two organizations that issued those credentials believe that using a shock collar is acceptable. Their position is contrary to the science that indicates that aversives, such as shock, choke, and prong collars, are unnecessary and carry a significant risk of physical and emotional harm. To me, that is unacceptable. While I believe credentialing is vital to our profession, I am no longer comfortable being part of credentialing organizations that believe hurting pets in the name of care and training is okay. Therefore, I am seeking accreditation from the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB).
The PPAB believes that there is no place for shock, choke, prong, fear, or intimidation in canine training and behavior practices. They are not alone. The Pet Professional Guild (PPG), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), American Society of Veterinary Behavior (AVSAB), and Pet Industry Advocacy International (PIAI) have all taken positions, based on science, that state the use of aversive methods and tools in the training and care of pets is not only unnecessary but harmful.
I stand with those committed to the humane treatment of our pets and encourage all pet care professionals to join me. Using tools and methods designed to cause pets physical or emotional distress is NOT ethical pet care or training; it is abuse.
In August, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) issued a position statement on humane dog training. I encourage all veterinarians, dog trainers and behavior consultants, other pet care professionals, animal shelters and rescues, breeders, and pet parents to familiarize themselves with the position statement and the cited studies. This is information they MUST be familiar with to practice ethically. The position statement refutes many myths about dogs, their behavior, and training, such as dominance, pack hierarchy, and the need to be “alpha.” AVSAB concludes its statement with the following:
“Based on current scientific evidence, AVSAB recommends that only reward-based training methods are used for all dog training, including the treatment of behavior problems. Aversive training methods have a damaging effect on both animal welfare and the human-animal bond. There is no evidence that aversive methods are more effective than reward-based methods in any context. AVSAB therefore advises that aversive methods should not be used in animal training or for the treatment of behavior disorders.” [emphasis added]
AVSAB joins the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), which have similar position statements. FMI – https://bit.ly/Pos_HumaneTraining
One of the critical reasons for this position is that aversive methods and tools negatively affect animal welfare. They cause distress which is inhumane.
“In observational studies, dogs trained with aversive methods or tools showed stress-related behaviors during training, including tense body, lower body posture, lip licking, tail lowering, lifting front leg, panting, yawning, and yelping.” 4–8
In contrast, “Dogs trained with reward-based methods showed increased attentiveness to their owner.” 5
As a pet parent, minimal or no stress and increased attentiveness are precisely what I want in my dog. As a professional dog trainer, I know it is what my clients desire as well. Having a relationship with your dog based on mutual trust is essential to successful training. Anyone who has been intentionally subjected to force, pain, or fear by someone knows those things will NEVER build trust.
Unfortunately, there are also long-term effects related to the use of aversives.
“Survey studies have shown an association between the use of aversive training methods and long-term behavior problems including aggressive behavior towards people and other dogs, and anxiety-related behaviors such as avoidance and excitability.” 8–15 Additionally, “Several studies show the effect of aversive training persists beyond the time of training. After dogs learned a cue taught using aversive training methods, they continued to show stress-related behaviors when the cue was presented, suggesting the cue itself had become aversive.” 5,7,8
In other words, the use of aversives can create a lifetime of chronic stress for a dog. Most of us consider our dog our companion, and many refer to their dog as their best friend. But, who wants a life of chronic stress and fear for their best friend? No one, I hope.
Dogs with behavior issues such as reactivity, aggression, anxiety, and hyperactivity are challenging to live with and often have chronic stress in their lives, often creating distress for their person. Since these undesirable behaviors result from an emotional response, they cannot be “trained” away without first building trust. As noted above, aversives NEVER build trust. FMI – http://bit.ly/Canine-Stress
As a trainer, one of the first things I teach my clients is how to manage their dog and the environment to avert behaviors like aggression and anxiety. These behaviors are much easier to prevent than they are to fix after they develop. Incidentally, studies by Blackwell and Hiby10, 14 demonstrated that dogs trained using rewards are less likely to develop behavior problems than dogs trained with aversives.
Proponents of inhumane training techniques often argue that force is the only way to get results. However, that position is not supported by science. On the other hand, ample evidence in the peer-reviewed literature demonstrates that reward-based training works very well.
“Reward-based training methods have been shown to be more effective than aversive methods” .1,2,17
“Multiple survey studies have shown higher obedience in dogs trained with reward based methods.”9,14,18
A study by Hiby et al. (2004) “…found that obedience levels were highest for dogs trained exclusively with reward-based methods and lowest for dogs trained exclusively with aversive-based methods.” 14
The evidence from multiple studies is clear; if you want a well-trained dog, the best way to achieve that goal is with rewards, not punishment. I genuinely believe that no one with a dog wants to hurt their dog. If you or your trainer cannot get results without punishment, step back and recognize it’s time for you to learn a better way. Many trainers can help you get the results you want without resorting to aversives.
When looking for a trainer, AVSAB recommends:
“An appropriate trainer should avoid any use of training tools that involve pain (choke chains, prong collars, or electronic shock collars), intimidation (squirt bottles, shaker noise cans, compressed air cans, shouting, staring, or forceful manipulation such as “alpha rolls” or “dominance downs”), physical correction techniques (leash jerking, physical force), or flooding (“exposure”). The learner must always feel safe and have the ability to “opt out” of training sessions. All efforts should be made to communicate effectively and respectfully with the learner.”
I sincerely hope that all veterinarians, pet care professionals, pet training and behavior associations, breeders, and animal shelter and rescues will develop their own positions statements and policies that support the AAHA, AVSAB, and PPG positions. It is long past time for people to continue abusing dogs in the name of training.
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), where he serves on the Board of Directors and Steering Committee and chairs the Advocacy Committee and The Shock-Free Coalition ( shockfree.org ). Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.
Our pets do not come with a user manual, and their normal behavior can often be quite different from what we expect or desire. When we chose to live with another species, it is important to understand their normal behaviors as well as abnormal behaviors, if our relationship with them is going to be mutually beneficial.
In 2015, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) issued their Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines, which state: “More dogs and cats are affected by behavioral problems than any other condition, often resulting in euthanasia, relinquishment of the patient, or chronic suffering.” The report explains that a major reason for behavioral problems is erroneous information about pets and what constitutes normal versus abnormal behavior and appropriate training methods. Misinformation often comes from family, friends, neighbors, rescues/shelters, and even pet care professionals such as veterinarians and trainers. The following resources will provide you with current, and accurate information based on science, so you can better understand your cat or dog, and have a more harmonious relationship with them
Canine Behavior, Dog Training, and Dog to Human Communications
Articles & Blog Posts
Pet Health and Wellness – Your Pet’s Behavioral Health Is As Important As Their Physical Well-Being – A review of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) 2015 Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines and the importance of attending to our pets emotional and behavioral well-being. – http://bit.ly/WWM_AAHA_Bhx
PODCAST – Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic – In this podcast from The Woof Meow Show Kate, Don and Dr. Dave Cloutier of the Veazie Veterinary Clinic discuss the American Animal Hospital Associations (AAHA) new guidelines on behavior management for dogs and cats. This groundbreaking document represents the first time that a major veterinary organization has addressed pet behavior. According to the guidelines, “More dogs and cats are affected by behavioral problems than any other condition, often resulting in euthanasia, relinquishment of the patient, or chronic suffering.” The guidelines outline how the continuing promulgation of erroneous information about pet behavior and the ongoing use of aversives to train and manage pets are major causes for behavior problems, and recommend that concepts like dominance and the use aversives are not scientifically sound and are, in fact, counter-productive and harmful to the pets in our care. Every pet care professional needs to be aware of the 2015 American Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – http://bit.ly/WfMw-AAHA-Guidelines-13MAR16
2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – You may read the entire document and references at this link, or download a copy as a PDF file. If your veterinarian is not familiar with this document, I recommend you share it with them. – http://bit.ly/AAHABhx2015
How to Choose a Dog Trainer – Don and Kate believe that finding a good dog trainer, even before you get your puppy or dog, is every bit as important as finding the best veterinarian for your pet. In this blog post and podcast, they suggest criteria you can use when looking for a dog trainer. – http://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer
Do I Need A Dog Trainer or a “Behaviorist” – Don discusses how to determine what type of professional may best be able to help you with your canine challenges.– http://bit.ly/WWM-Trainer-Behaviorist
Reward-Based Training versus Aversives – This blog post discusses how dog training has changed from using aversives to being aversive-free. Dog training should be fun, and that means it is pain-free, force-free, and fear-free, a position supported by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Both the AAHA and the PPG have position statements that indicate that aversives must never be used in the training or management of a dog. – http://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive
The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars (Podcast) – While Don and Kate would never recommend using a shock collar on a dog for any reason, they recognize that not everyone who uses a shock collar on their dog does so understanding the harm it can cause. Sadly, often, the companies that sell and manufacture shock collars do not provide you with all of the information you need to make an informed decision. This podcast addresses the following questions; What is a shock collar?, How are shock collars used?, How does a shock collar change a dog’s behavior?, What makes the use of a shock collar inappropriate?, What do experts say about shock collars?, and what can people concerned about a dogs well-being do to help prevent dogs from getting shocked? We invite you to tune in and learn more about shock collars and their dangers. – http://bit.ly/ShockPodcast
The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars (Blog Post) – This article provides a detailed analysis of shock collars, how they are used, and why there is always a better choice for both training and management. References to the scientific literature supporting the conclusion of this article are listed. – http://bit.ly/ShockCollars
Dominance: Reality or Myth – Both a podcast and blog post, this article discusses the myth of dominance and explains why it is so detrimental to the human-dog bond. The blog post also cites the scientific articles referenced and provides links to those articles, where available. – http://bit.ly/Dominance-RealityorMyth
Introduction to Canine Communication – This blog post discusses canine body language and contains photographs illustrating common calming signals. – http://bit.ly/CanineComm
How Can I Tell When My Dog Is Anxious or Fearful? Most behavioral issues with dogs are rooted in anxiety. It is essential for anyone working with dogs to have a thorough understanding of the signs of anxiety. This blog post list resources that will help you to understand better what a dog is trying to tell you.– http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear
Helping Your Dog Thrive – Brambell’s Five Freedoms – The following articles were originally published in Downeast Dog News in January of 2018 through May 2018. These articles discuss how one can use the five freedoms to help ensure their dog has a long, fun-filled life. I examine the role of nutrition, basic husbandry, veterinary care, training, behavior, and the management of a dog, as they all play a role in the quality of its life. Anyone that shares their life with a dog, as well as all pet care professionals, will benefit from understanding Brambell’s Five Freedoms. – http://bit.ly/Brambell-1thru5-PDF
Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellness – This post from Don’s blog is a handout from his presentation Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellness given on Saturday, October 29, 2016, as part of Green Acres Kennel Shop’s fundraiser for The Green Gem Holistic Healing Oasis. It discusses the importance of addressing behavior as well as the reason for behavior problems becoming a more common issue for pets. – http://bit.ly/PetBhxWellness
Understanding, Identifying, and Coping with Canine Stress – Stress is a major contributor to behavior problems. This post from Don’s blog looks at both good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress), discusses their physiological effects on the body, and reviews what animals do when afraid. Common causes of stress are reviewed, along with how you can identify stress and reduce it. How stress can escalate and go from an acute event to a chronic condition is reviewed. Any dog exhibiting behavioral issues is under stress, as are most dogs in a shelter or rescue environment. That is not typically due to any fault of the shelter; it is just the nature of being homeless and uncertain. – http://bit.ly/Canine-Stress
Does My Dogs Breed Matter? – This post is was first published in Downeast Dog News as a three-part series in July, August, and September of 2017. It discusses the seven breed groups currently defined by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and examines behavioral traits in these groups and why they matter. – http://bit.ly/DoesDogBreedMatter
A Rescue Dogs Perspective – Written from the perspective of Don’s rescue dog Muppy, this article first appeared in the January 2016 issue of Downeast Dog News and on Don’s blog. It discusses training from Muppy’s point of view and why sometimes delaying starting a training class can be in a dog’s best interest. – http://bit.ly/Rescue-Muppy
Dangerous Dogs! – What Shelters, Rescues, Prospective Adopters, and Owners Need to Know – This article was originally published in Downeast
What’s Shocking about Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training – Barks from the Guild July 2019– In this article from the July 2019 issue of Barks from the Guild, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) and Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), Don Hanson review the many peer-reviewed scientific studies that have reported that shock collars cause undue stress to dogs and often have a negative impact on their health and well-being. Hanson reviews the professional organizations and legal jurisdictions that believe shock collars should never be used. He then looks at these questions and what scientific research tells us; 1) Does the electric shock from a shock collar cause pain?, 2) Is training a dog with an aversive such as a shock collar more efficient than using positive reinforcement training and food?, 3) Is the use of aversives necessary to train behaviors such as snake avoidance?, and 4) Does using a shock collar save dogs’ lives? – http://bit.ly/ShockBARK-JUL2019
Podcast – What’s Shocking About Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training – In this podcast from July 27th, 2019, Don and Kate discuss the article What’s Shocking about Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training published in the July 2019 issue of Barks from the Guild. – http://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatShock-27JUL19
Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog
The following are a series of articles I have written where I acknowledge some of the mistakes I have made during my journey with dogs. Mistakes are learning opportunities, and I share this material with the hope that others can learn from my experience and save their pets from suffering from human error and ego.
Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You A Better Friend to Your Pet, John Bradshaw, Basic Books, 2011, 2012 – Dr. John Bradshaw is an animal behaviorist and if you look at recent scientific papers on dog or cat behavior, you will often find Bradshaw listed as one of the authors. In Dog Sense, Bradshaw summarizes the latest research for dog lovers like you and me. Topics he covers include; how the dog evolved, the fallacy of the dominance construct, how the dog’s role in society is changing and how that has led to higher expectations for non-dog like behavior and how these changes might affect the dog’s future. He addresses breeding issues and how the dog fancy’s focus on appearance rather than temperament and health may threaten the existence of many breeds. He also talks about how dogs learn and how research has demonstrated the many advantages of positive reinforcement/reward-based training over the old training model based on force and intimidation.
Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, Linda P. Case, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018 – If You Love Dogs or Work with Those Who Love Dogs, You Need to Read This Book! The science of canine behavior and dog training is continually evolving. As such, every year, I like to select a new book to recommend to my students, my staff, area veterinarians, and my colleagues that I feel will be the most beneficial to them and their dogs. For 2018 I have chosen Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog by Linda P. Case. Case’s book addresses several issues which anyone with a dog, or anyone working with a dog, needs to be aware of and must understand. These are dominance, dog breeds, the importance of puppy socialization, and the unnecessary use of aversives for the training of dogs. Her book is packed with the latest science on dogs and offers excellent advice on the best and most humane ways to train them. You can read my full review at http://bit.ly/BkRvw-Case-DogSmart
What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers, Amy Sutherland, Random House, 2008 – While not a traditional dog training book, this is a book where you can not only learn a great deal about training your dog, but it can also help you have a more harmonious relationship with those around you. The author notes, “The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don’t,” the same thing we will tell you when teaching you how to train your dog. If your goal is to live in harmony with all the living things around you, read this book.
Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, John Bradshaw, Basic Books, 2013 – I first read John Bradshaw’s two previous books on cats; The True Nature of the Cat and The Behaviour of the Domestic Cat back in 2003. Cats, and specifically cat behavior is still under-researched compared to dogs, but Cat Sense nicely sums up what we do know. Bradshaw also discusses how the cat and society are changing and suggests what that means for the cats’ future. Bradshaw has posed some important questions and concerns about neutering and breeding which merit further discussion and action.
On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas, Dogwise Publishing, 2006 – This book and its author, Turid Rugaas, have influenced my understanding of dogs more than any other book or seminar. While this book is few in pages, it is rich in information depicted in great photos. This gentle, kind, woman is incredibly knowledgeable about canine behavior and ethology. She has taught many how to live in harmony with our dogs by helping us to understand better what they are trying to tell us, and in turn, she has taught us a better way to express ourselves to our dogs.
Full of photographs illustrating each point, On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals focuses on how dogs use specific body language to cutoff aggression and other perceived threats. Dogs use these calming signals to tell one another, and us, when they are feeling anxious and stressed and when their intentions are benign. If you have more than one dog, or if your dog frequently plays with others, or if you are a frequent visitor to the dog park, you need to be familiar with calming signals. This book will help you learn ‘dog language,’ for which you will be rewarded with a much better understanding of your pet and its behavior.
A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog!, Niki Tudge, Doggone Safe, 2017. A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog! is written to be used as an interactive resource and uses cartoons and photographs to illustrate body language dogs use to signal when they are happy, afraid, and angry. By teaching children and adults how to read and respond to these signs, the book helps keep people and dogs safe. The world is full of children and dogs, and we must teach them how to interact safely. A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog! combined with a parent or teacher does just that.
For the Love of A Dog Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend, Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., Ballantine Books, 2005, 2006 – This book explores the emotional connection we make with our furry, four-footed canine companions. She also discusses how revolutionary it is to view animals as having a vibrant emotional life. Kudos to McConnell for being one of the few scientists with the courage to admit what almost everyone has known all along; animals experience joy and fear and everything in between. We do not know what it is they are feeling, but it is obvious they have a rich emotional life; in some cases, very joyous and others quite sad.
After reading For the Love of A Dog, you will have a better understanding of the science behind emotions and why our dogs and we get along so well. McConnell has also included an excellent section on canine body language, one of my favorite subjects, and one that is not emphasized enough in classes for pet professionals and dog owners. If you take your dog to the dog park, you MUST know this stuff.
The Other End of the Leash – Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs, by Patricia B. McConnell, is an information-packed, immensely readable book. In it, you will learn how to have an improved relationship with your dog through better communication. As a scientist who has studied both primate and canine communication systems, Dr. McConnell has a keen understanding of where the communication between humans and dogs often breaks down, creating frustration and stress for both species. For example, she explains how simple innate greeting patterns of both species can cause conflict. We know that when two people meet, the polite thing to do is to make direct eye contact and walk straight toward one another, smiling. However, as Dr. McConnell notes: “The oh-so-polite primate approach is appallingly rude in canine society. You might as well urinate on a dog’s head.” Direct eye contact and a direct approach are very confrontational to a dog.
Dr. McConnell also emphasizes how dogs communicate visually, while humans are a very verbal species. The picture she paints of the frustrated chimp, jumping up and down, waving their hands, and screeching repeatedly is only a slight exaggeration of the frustrated human, saying, “sit, sit, sit, ahh please sit” while displaying countless bits of body language. Primates, including humans, “…have a tendency to repeat notes when we’re excited, to use loud noises to impress others, and to thrash around whatever is in our paw if we’re frustrated. This behavior has no small effect on our interactions with dogs, who, in spite of some barks and growls, mostly communicate visually, get quiet rather than noisy to impress others, and are too busy standing on their paws to do much else with them.” With these fundamental differences, it’s amazing we can communicate with our dogs at all.
The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller, Howell Book House, 2001. I have been reading Pat Miller’s articles in the Whole Dog Journal for years and have loved everything she has written. She is a skilled and compassionate dog trainer who knows how to communicate with dog owners through her writing. This book is a superb “basic dog book” for anyone with a dog, and I highly recommend it.
Doggone Safe – Committed to education about safe human-canine interactions to prevent dog bites that can ultimately lead to serious and life-altering ramifications for both people and their pets. – https://www.doggonesafe.com/
I Speak Dog.org – Is an excellent resource for learning to understand your dog by better understanding how they communicate with other dogs as well as with you. You cannot effectively teach your dog if you do not speak their language. – http://www.ispeakdog.org/
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.
In this second of a two-part series, Kate and Don interview dog trainer and author Linda Case about her book Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog. In the last episode, we focused on foundational material covered in the book. This week we get into the nitty-gritty of dog training and talk about:
The benefits of working with a professional dog training instructor.
Qualities to look for in a dog training instructor and what to avoid.
Why it is so important to teach students how a dog learns and the most important things we can teach them on this topic.
What is clicker training and why it is so useful when training a dog?
The power of using food as a reward when training a dog.
How we help students address undesirable behaviors, they experience with their dogs.
The four most valuable behaviors we teach our students to train their dogs.
If you want to learn about your dog and how to live together happily, you will want to listen to this show and read Linda’s book.
In this first of a two-part series, Kate and Don interview dog trainer and author Linda Case about her book Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog. When Don read and reviewed Linda’s book last December < Click to read review > he stated “If you love dogs or work with those who love dogs, you need to read this book!” and he knew we needed to get Linda to talk about her book on The Woof Meow Show.
In this first episode we discuss some of the foundational material in the book such as the damage done by the myth of dominance, pack hierarchy and violence focused training, why your dogs breed matters, the importance of socialization and how it is often misunderstood, and the importance of understanding canine body language.
If you want to learn about your dog and how to live together happily, you will want to listen to this show and read Linda’s book.
On Saturday, November 10thth, Don Hanson of the Green Acres Kennel Shop presented a seminar for the P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center of Camden, Maine entitled Understanding Dog Behavior, How Dogs Learn, and the Most Humane (Best) Ways to Train Them. This blog article contains links to articles and podcasts that may be used as a reference to material presented at the seminar.
Podcast – Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 2– 19JUL15 –http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2015/07/19/podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-2/
On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas, Dogwise Publishing, 2006, An excellent book on understanding a dog’s body language. Includes descriptions of how you can use your own body language to better communicate with your dog.
Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, Linda P. Case, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018, If you love your dog, or if you work with people that love their dogs, you owe it to them to read Dog smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog.
Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You A Better Friend to Your Pet, John Bradshaw, Basic Books, 2011,
A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog!: A Fun, Interactive, Educational Resource to Help the Whole Family Understand Canine Communication. Keep … Generations Safe by Learning to “Speak Dog!”, Niki Tudge, Joanne Tudge, 2017
The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller, Howell Book House, 2001. I have been reading Pat Miller’s articles in the Whole Dog Journal for years and have loved everything she has written. She is a skilled and compassionate dog trainer who really knows how to communicate to dog owners through her writing. This book is a superb “basic dog book” for anyone with a dog, and I highly recommend it.
The Other End of the Leash – Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs, Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., Ballantine Books, 2002, An information-packed, immensely readable book. In it you will learn how to have a better relationship with your dog through better communications. Dr. McConnell clearly explains the manners in which dogs and their people communicate.
For the Love of A Dog Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend, Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., Ballantine Books, 2005, 2006, A superb review of emotions in both dogs and their people and how they bring us together and can rip us apart. Once again Dr. McConnell helps us to better understand our dogs and in doing so have the best possible relationship with them.
Dogs: A new Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution,Raymond and Lorna Coppinger, University of Chicago Press, 2001, An evolutionary biologist and dog lover, Coppinger outlines the likely process that resulted in the longstanding canine-human relationship.
Last month I introduced you to Brambell’s Five Freedoms and how they provide a valuable reference point for assessing a dog’s quality of life. I discussed the first of the freedoms; Freedom from Hunger and Thirst. This month we will examine Freedom from Discomfort.
an inconvenience, distress, or mild pain
something that disturbs or deprives of ease
to make uncomfortable or uneasy
– Collins English Dictionary
Many things in our dog’s life may cause pain or anxiety. This may vary in individual dogs depending on their genetics, temperament, anatomy, size, age, and other variables.
Are you familiar with how your dog expresses discomfort so that you recognize when your dog is anxious and afraid? – Dogs often indicate stress by various changes in their body language, often called calming or displacement signals. Signs such as looking away, yawning, and tongue flicks will typically occur before signals such as growling or snapping. If you wish to keep your dog comfortable, you first need to know how they indicate their discomfort. Just because a dog is not reacting does not mean they are comfortable. Most people have not been taught how dogs communicate, yet it is one of the most important things they need to know. ( FMI – http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear )
Is your dog’s environment free from things that may cause anxiety, stress, and pain? This will vary with the individual dog. Common causes of anxiety can include children, adults, other animals, objects, loud noises, having their picture taken, having their nails trimmed, being hugged, wearing a costume, and many more. One of the easiest ways to avoid these issues is to spend time thoughtfully socializing and habituating your puppy to novel stimuli during their critical socialization period which occurs between 8 and 16 weeks of age. (FMI – http://bit.ly/SocializationPuppy ) If your dog was older than 16 weeks of age when they joined your family it is very likely that they were not adequately or appropriately socialized. Remedial socialization is possible with an older dog, but it is even more essential that you plan such sessions carefully and that you proceed slowly. In this case, consulting with a professional fear-free, force-free, pain-free trainer is highly recommended. ( FMI –http://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer )
Have you trained your dog? When a dog joins a family, many expect them to automatically fit in, even though dogs and humans are two very different species with different cultural norms. We must teach our dogs how to live in our world, and that can best be accomplished through reward-based training. Failing to train our dog is almost sure to cause discomfort for both them and us. ( FMI –http://bit.ly/WhatIsDogTraining )
Are you committed to NEVER using aversives to manage or train your dog? If you are using an aversive (shock collar, choke collar, prong collar, leash corrections, or anything where the intent is to physically or emotionally punish) to train or manage your dog, you are making your dog uncomfortable. The very definition of an aversive is to cause discomfort, possibly up to the point of causing physical or emotional pain. Dogs that are trained in this manner are unlikely to be happy and have a much greater probability of becoming aggressive. ( FMI –http://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive )
Does your dog have shelter from the elements, especially extremes of temperature, wind, and precipitation? This one seems straightforward, yet every year dogs are left out in dangerous weather and freeze to death.
Does your dog have a quiet, comfortable place where they can rest undisturbed and where they will feel safe? Dogs, like people, need downtime and a place where they will feel secure and safe so that they can get adequate rest. People and especially kids need to respect the adage “Let sleeping dogs lie.”
If you have multiple pets, does each pet have adequate resources? Many people have multiple pets. Do the pets get along and enjoy each other, or is there frequent conflict? Are there sufficient resources (food, space, and attention) for all of the pets? If your dog feels they do not have what they need to survive, or if they feel threatened or intimidated by another pet in your home, they are not free of discomfort.
Do you maintain your dog’s physical condition, so they do not experience discomfort? – Fifty percent of the dogs in the US are clinically obese. Just as with people, obesity often causes pain and discomfort. Many dogs with long coats require weekly grooming by us to prevent their coats from becoming tangled and matted and uncomfortable.
Next month we will examine the Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor. 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). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. He is committed to pet care and pet training that is free of pain, force, and fear. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.
As someone who has been living with dogs since 1975 and teaching other people how to live happily with dogs since 1995, I can assure you that finding a good dog trainer, even before you get your puppy or dog, is every bit as important as finding the best veterinarian for your pet.
In the USA, dog training is currently an unlicensed profession. Therefore, there is no legal standard that a dog trainer must meet to demonstrate that they have the requisite knowledge, skills, and ethics to be a competent and humane trainer. It is essential to be cautious when selecting someone to work with your family; you, other adults, your children, if you have them, and your dog!
Below you will find criteria, in order of importance, that I suggest you use when selecting a dog trainer.
Select a dog trainer that is knowledgeable on the latest professional research and standards in dog training and canine behavior, such as:
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), and the American Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) recognize the danger posed by choosing the wrong dog trainer.
In the following excerpts from the 2015 American Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines, the AAHA explains the type of dog trainer one should avoid and the type one should choose.
“This Task Force opposes training methods that use aversive techniques.1 Aversive training has been associated with detrimental effects on the human–animal bond, problem-solving ability, and the physical and behavioral health of the patient. It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous. 1
Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior1. Nonaversive techniques rely on the identification and reward of desirable behaviors and on the appropriate use of head collars, harnesses, toys, remote treat devices, wraps, and other force-free methods of restraint. This Task Force strongly endorses techniques that focus on rewarding correct behaviors and removing rewards for unwanted behaviors. “– [1 Emphasis Added]
The Guiding Principles of the Pet Professional Guild state:
To be in anyway 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 employed to train or care for a pet.1 The PPG Position Statement on the Use of Pet Correction Devices defines which training tools should and should not be used and explains why this is so important to your dogs quality of life. [1 Emphasis Added]
In the introduction to their Position Statement on Humane Dog Training, the American Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) states:
Evidence supports the use of reward based methods for all canine training. AVSAB promotes interactions with animals based on compassion, respect, and scientific evidence. Based on these factors, reward-based learning offers the most advantages and least harm to the learner’s welfare. Research supports the efficacy of reward-based training to address unwanted and challenging behaviors. There is no evidence that aversive training is necessary for dog training or behavior modification.
The application of aversive methods – which, by definition, rely on application of force, pain, or emotional or physical discomfort – should not be used in canine training or for the treatment of behavioral disorders. [1 Emphasis Added]
In summary, avoid dog trainers that tell you to be “dominant,” alpha,” or the “pack leader.” Also, avoid trainers that use or recommend; choke collars, prong collars, shock collars, alpha-rollovers, or any tool or technique involving force, intimidation, fear, or pain.
Select a dog trainer that has demonstrated their knowledge and skills by being accredited by one of the following independent credentialing agencies:
While the government does not currently have licensing requirements for dog training and behavior professionals, two independent organizations within the profession have created a psychometrically sound examination process. That means the test applicants must pass has been developed by an independent body other than the organization that taught the individual being examined. Additionally, the examination meets industry standards for being a reliable, valid, and ethical assessment of the individual.
Level 3 – Professional Canine Behavior Consultant (PCBC-A)
The PPAB offers the only Accredited Training Technician & Professional Canine Trainer certification for professionals who believe there is no place for shock, choke, prong, pain, force, or fear in pet training and behavior practices. They also offer the only psychometrically sound examination for Training & Behavior Consultants supporting these humane and scientific practices.
Personal Note from Don: For many years, I held credentials issued by organizations other than the PPAB. I have surrendered those credentials and am now credentialed by the PPAB. I did so because, at the time of this writing, the PPAB is the only credentialing agency in the USA that explicitly states that “…there is no place for shock, choke, prong, pain, force or fear in pet training and behavior practices.” as supported by the AAHA, PPG, and AVSAB documents noted above. [ FMI – https://bit.ly/DJH-PPAB ]
A training facility may have some trainers on staff working towards their certification. Ideally, they should be under the direction of at least one certified professional. In the case of the PPAB and CCPDT, a professional dog trainer must be in a lead teaching position for a minimum of 300 hours before applying to take a certification exam.
It is essential to understand that there are many “certifications” available, and they are not all equal. The credentials mentioned above are all issued by independent organizations and require testing, compliance with ethical standards, and continuing education to maintain certification. A “certificate” from “Don’s School of Dog Training” or “The XYZ Dog College” is far from being equivalent to the credentials above.
Certification by one of the above organizations is NOT a guarantee that a dog trainer’s methods are free of the use of force, pain, or free. Always ask, and if you find that a dog trainer uses fear, force, or pain, find a different dog trainer.
Dog training is a rapidly evolving profession, and those committed to it are members of these organizations to stay current in the field. The mentioned organizations offer a wide variety of continuing educational opportunities for pet care professionals; however, they have different ethical standards.
Personal Note from Don: I am a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) because of their Guiding Principles, which state: “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 that: No shock, No prong, No choke and No Pain, No fear, No Force are ever employed in the training, behavior modification, care, or management of any pet.” I also serve on the Board of Directors for both PPG and PIAI.
Look for dog trainers who treat people and dogs respectfully rather than with an “I am the boss” attitude. Remember, you will be the one being taught by this person. Professional dog trainers not only need to be able to train dogs, but they also need to be able to teach people of all ages to train their dogs. Therefore, classes should be such that you and your dog look forward to attending.
Ask the instructor about their methods for teaching people. Do they provide comprehensive written materials? Do they demonstrate how to teach a behavior? Do they coach you as you practice with your dog? Are they available for questions outside of class? Not all people learn the same way. Training classes, whether private or group, should accommodate an individual’s learning style. Many training programs today also offer videos you can watch in the comfort of your home to supplement in-person learning. In the case of a puppy class, where most of the teaching focuses on the people, a virtual training program can be very effective.
Look for classes with at least one instructor for every eight students. At Green Acres, our Basic Manners program is a semi-private class of two students and one instructor. A forty-five-minute lesson with 15 students and one instructor, not uncommon in the profession, leaves very little time for individual instruction.
Avoid trainers who object to using food as a training reward. Food is an acceptable and highly effective positive reinforcement training tool. Just like us, our dogs do things because there is something in it for them, usually food. Research demonstrates that food is a better reinforcer for most dogs than play and touch. Praise typically has the lowest value as a reinforcer. If a trainer insists that dogs should work for praise only, ask him if you can take their classes for free if you tell him he is a fantastic trainer. You can be assured that your praise will not work in that scenario.
Ask to observe a training class in-person or via video before enrolling. Are the dogs and people having a good time? Talk with a few participants and see if they are comfortable with the trainer’s methods. If a trainer does not let you observe a class, don’t enroll.
Check references. Ask area veterinarians, animal shelters and rescues, boarding kennels, daycares, and groomers whom they recommend for training and why they recommend them. Check several references so that you know you are getting objective recommendations.
Avoid trainers who offer guarantees about results. Trainers that guarantee results are either ignoring or do not understand the complexity of animal behavior. No living thing is one hundred percent predictable, and training a dog involves many variables that a dog trainer cannot control. These include your commitment level and compliance with the trainer’s In addition, most professional training organizations have a code of conduct or ethics statement that strongly suggests that trainers should not guarantee specific results.
Ensure your dog trainer will take care to protect your dog’s health in a group setting. Ask if dogs and puppies in classes must be vaccinated before class and, if so, which vaccines are required. Make sure you and your veterinarian are comfortable with the vaccination requirements.
The PPG suggests you ask any prospective trainer ten. I have reproduced these questions below and how we would answer them at ForceFreePets.
What dog training equipment do you use when training a dog or do you recommend I use? – We recommend using a 6-foot leash, a regular flat collar or a front-connect or rear-connect harness, a treat bag, treats, and a clicker. We do not use choke, prong or shock collars or any equipment intended to punish, scare or hurt a dog in our classes, nor do we allow them their use at our facility.
What happens in your training program when the dog responds in the way you want him to? – When a dog responds in a manner we desire, we reward the dog with food, a toy, or attention, something the dog likes. We remind people that the dog is often ignored when they are good and gets lots of attention when they are doing something we do not like. Make a point of looking for opportunities to reward your dog for being good.
What happens in your training program when the dog responds in the way you do not want him to? – We teach you how to manage your dog and its environment to prevent undesirable behavior. We suggest that you ignore or redirect any behavior that occurs that you do not like as long as it is not dangerous to any living thing or could result in the destruction of something valuable. Paying attention to this “bad” behavior could be an unintentional reward to your dog, making it more likely to occur again. For example, if the dog jumps up on you and you push them off, saying “No,” you have just given the dog attention in three ways: touching them, looking at them, and speaking to them. Jumping on a person is often an attention-seeking behavior. If you did what I just described, you have rewarded it threefold. After the “bad” behavior is interrupted, you can look at ways to reward a mutually exclusive behavior or prevent the behavior from happening in the future.
How will you punish the dog or advise me to punish the dog if he gets something wrong or exhibits a behavior I do not like? – We do not punish dogs for behavior because it is counterproductive. Instead, we focus on teaching you how to train and manage the dog to offer desirable behavior. Often people expect too much from a dog too soon, leading to frustration by both. That is why in addition to teaching you about training, we also teach you about normal and abnormal canine behavior, the importance of meeting your dog’s physical and emotional needs, and how to manage them and their environment to prevent behavior you do not like.
How do you ensure that my dog is not inadvertently being punished? – All of our staff, not just the trainers, receive extensive training on canine communication, body language, and stress to ensure your dog is having a good time. We aim to have you and your dog love ForceFreePets and Green Acres Kennel Shop! If we see that a dog is feeling anxious or stressed, we will let you know and look for ways to help reduce their anxiety.
How do you know that the type of reinforcement you have selected to train my dog is appropriate? – We have experience in using a wide variety of reinforcers to motivate your dog. We will start teaching you about reinforcers and how to choose the right one for a specific situation in class.
How will you know or how will I know if my dog is stressed during the training? – Our entire staff is trained to look for signs of stress so that we can prevent it. Additionally, we do extensive training on canine body language and communication with all employees. We will also cover some of this material in our training classes. If you read our blog, you can find information on this topic that you can use at home. To read Canine Behavior – Understanding, Identifying, and Coping with Canine Stress <Click Here>
Which professional dog training associations are you a member of? – All members of the Green Acres team, customer service, groomers, pet care technicians, trainers, and managers are enrolled as members of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) as soon as they complete their employee training. Green Acres Kennel Shop is also an organizational member of Pet Industry Advocacy International and ForceFreePets. com is a member of PIAI through our membership with the PPG, a founding member of PIAI. PPG and PIAI require that we comply with ethical standards. You can read our policies here by < click here >
We encourage you to ask any pet care professional you are considering to provide you with a copy of their ethical code of conduct and associated policies and procedures.
Will you guarantee your training results? – We do not guarantee training results because we are dealing with a living, breathing, sentient being. In reality, we cannot control all variables, including you and what you do at home. We are here to give you all the support we can, but you live and work with your dog for far more hours per week than we do, so you will significantly influence how well your dog does with training.
How do you think a dog’s behavior should be addressed if the dog is growling or snapping at people or other dogs? – Safety for all the people and dogs in our classes is our first concern. If your dog has a history of growling and snapping at people, please let us know before you enroll in a group class, as that may cause your dog’s aggressive behavior to get worse. If your dog is growling or snapping at people outside of class, talk to your veterinarian and us as soon as possible. Growling is often the result of fear, and it is something we can help you with through our behavior consulting services < FMI – Click Here > For more information on growling, read Canine Behavior – What Should I Do When My Dog Growls? < FMI – Click here >
A pet behavior consultant is someone that is trained and credentialed in animal behavior. These specialists can help you understand an animal’s normal and abnormal behavior and whether not an animal would be appropriate for a particular role. They also specialize in assisting pets with behavioral problems, just as mental health professional’s work with people. Unlike an animal trainer that focuses on teaching an animal to offer a particular behavior when given a specific cue, behavior consultants typically work with animals exhibiting an undesirable behavior based on instinct and emotion.
Those working in pet behavior will typically be a member of one one more of the following organizations; the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), The Animal Behavior Society (ABS), and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB).
Founded in 2004, the IAABC is working to standardize the practice of companion animal behavior consulting. With over 1,000 members throughout the world, IAABC members are an excellent resource for or those with pets with behavioral issues. The IAABC credentials Dog, Cat, Parrot and Horse Consultants. Those credentialed by the IAABC must demonstrate competency in counseling skills and social systems assessment, behavioral science, a general knowledge of animal behavior, genetics, neuropsychology, ethology and species-specific knowledge of healthcare, nutrition, husbandry, and behavior. Those certified are required to accumulate continuing education units on a regular basis. These individuals focus on the use of behavior modification protocols to treat animals. You can find a list of IAABC behavior consultants at this website: http://iaabc.org/consultants
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) is a group of veterinarians and research scientists dedicated to improving the lives of animals and people through an understanding of animal behavior. AVSAB has published several important position statements on animal behavior. The membership of AVSAB is restricted to veterinarians and those that hold a Ph.D. in animal behavior or a related field. However, unlike the IAABC, the ABS or the ACVB, AVSAB does not offer a credential to its members that presupposes a level of expertise in the field of animal behavior. You can learn more about AVSAB at https://avsab.org/
The Animal Behavior Society (ABS) is a non-profit, 501(3)(c) professional organization dedicated to promoting education and research in the field of animal behavior. Members who work with clients and their animals are Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAAB). These individuals are credentialed by the Animal Behavior Society and typically have doctoral degrees in animal behavior or related fields. They focus on more challenging cases and the use of behavior modification protocols to treat animals. There are very few such individuals in the United States. You can find a list of Animal Behavior Society Certified Applied Animal Behavior Consultants at this website: http://certifiedanimalbehaviorist.com/members/
Veterinarians that specialize in animal behavior are credentialed by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists as a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (DACVB). These are veterinarians who have completed an approved residency program in veterinary behavior and have passed a national board examination in that discipline. A board-certified Veterinary Behaviorist specializes in clinical animal behavior and can diagnose and treat medical and behavioral problems, as well as prescribe medications to treat those problems. There are very few such individuals in the United States, most of them in larger cities, major universities or veterinary schools. You can find a list of veterinarians accredited by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists at this website: http://www.dacvb.org/about/member-directory/
Green Acres’ Don Hanson is an IAABC Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, and an Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant. Don is also a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP). His BFRAP credential means that he has completed the required courses and examinations to be registered by the Dr. Edward Bach Foundation in the use of the Bach Flower Remedies with animals. You can review Don’s credentials at this link: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/about-the-owners/dons-credentials.html