Why the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior says 'No' to aversive training: A humane approach to dog training.Feb 17, 2023
The wins keep coming for those who followed the science and embraced humane, fear-free dog training methods. A Position Statement released by AVSAB laid it out in no uncertain terms. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) is a professional organization that "unites veterinarians and research professionals who share an interest in both understanding animal behavior and treating behavior problems that affect the welfare of animals and the people who care for them".
The AVSAB's position statement on aversive training methods states that "punishment-based techniques can suppress behavior, but they do not teach the dog what to do instead." This means that while aversive methods may stop a dog from engaging in unwanted behavior, they do not teach the dog what behavior is expected of them. As a result, the dog may become confused or fearful, leading to a breakdown in the human-dog bond.
Aversive training methods can take many forms, including shock collars, choke chains, and physical punishment. The AVSAB points out that these techniques can cause both physical and emotional harm to dogs. Physical harm can result from the use of devices such as choke chains and prong collars, which can cause injury to the dog's neck and trachea. Shock collars can cause burns and tissue damage, and may also lead to fear and anxiety in dogs.
Emotional harm can result from the use of punishment-based techniques as well. These methods can cause fear, anxiety, and even aggression in dogs, leading to a breakdown in the human-dog bond. The AVSAB believes that positive reinforcement training methods, which reward desired behavior rather than punishing unwanted behavior, are a much more effective and humane way to train dogs.
Positive reinforcement training involves rewarding a dog for engaging in desired behavior, such as sitting, coming when called, or staying in place. Rewards can take many forms, including treats, toys, and praise. Positive reinforcement training teaches dogs what behavior is expected of them, rather than simply suppressing unwanted behavior through punishment.
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