Dog training

The expert in companion animals: AVSAB changes its position on dog training


As a strong supporter of forceless, positive reinforcement dog training methods, learning that one of the world’s largest recognized animal behavior institutes has changed its official stance on dog behavior techniques is exciting and encouraging to say the least. .

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, or AVSAB, has long been considered the epicenter of scientific education and information regarding animal behavior and welfare in North America.

Until recently, AVSAB supported the notion of “balanced” dog training; mixing a combination of reward-based techniques with certain negative reinforcement components. Negative or “aversive” training uses punishment to modify a dog’s behavior.

Examples of aversive training range from forcefully saying “no” to a dog, using water sprays, using corrective collars (claw collars, choke chains, electronic shock collars, etc.), and more.

While many trainers believe aversive techniques can be an effective way to train a dog, studies (Hiby et al, 2004) show that these methods can have long-term adverse effects on a dog’s mental health, as well as on the delicate bond between man and animal.

Recently, AVSAB has taken a strong stand in favor of positive reinforcement dog training, also known as the “reward-based” method. This style of training promotes positive interactions with dogs and is based on compassion, respect and science. AVSAB states that rewards-based training offers “… the most benefit and the least harm to the well-being of the learner. “

Jodie Hawker, Meaford-based positive reinforcement dog trainer and owner of Happy Paws Canine Solutions, has been an advocate for reward-based training for many years. “Dogs are individuals, they thrive on love and respect,” Jodie said. “Using positive training techniques will not only give your dog the best possible outcome, but will also strengthen your common and mutual bond.”

What Is Positive Reinforcement Dog Training?

This gentle method of dog training uses cues to request behaviors and reward the dog using food and / or positive praise. Many dogs are highly motivated by food and therefore respond favorably to the use of training treats as a way to maintain focus and motivation during training. Aside from food as a motivator, other dogs may feel rewarded with praise, attention, or time spent playing with a favorite toy.

These positive cues can be verbal, such as “sit”, or visual, such as simple hand gestures.

Reward-based dog education is very effective in teaching basic daily commands, but it is also a powerful tool in correcting unwanted behavior. These techniques encompass a compassionate and gentle training model; therefore, dogs are unlikely to develop negative fear-based emotions, which is much more common when aversive methods are used. Fear-based emotions like anxiety and aggression are harmful to a dog’s long-term well-being and are likely to limit the people, pets, and environments your dog may be exposed to in any way. security.

What is not considered positive reinforcement?

Not all training techniques that use negative (aversive) reinforcement, even a little bit, are considered positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement techniques use punishment, pain, intimidation, domination, etc. This may include the use of choke collars, shock collars, water bottles, shouting, jerking on a leash, etc.

It was previously believed that these were the best methods for training a dog; establishing yourself as the “alpha” of the pack, especially with dogs that behave difficult. However, science has shown that this is not the case, and reward-based techniques are unequivocally the most effective and humane.

In fact, AVSAB states, “There is no evidence that aversive methods are more effective than reward-based methods, regardless of the context. Their recent statement concludes: “AVSAB therefore advises against using aversive methods in the training of animals or for the treatment of behavioral disorders. “

As a global influencer in canine behavior and welfare, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s shift in stance on dog education is colossal news for the forward-thinking community of animal education and is a giant leap in the promotion of animal welfare in North America.

Brandon Forder, known as The Pet Expert, is Vice President of Canadian Pet Connection, an industry leader in healthy lifestyles for pets. Brandon is board certified in animal nutrition and has over twenty-five years of experience specializing in the health and behavior of companion animals. He has written hundreds of informative articles on pets for newspapers, magazines, radio, and the popular Ask the Pet Expert blog. Brandon is highly skilled at solving pet-related problems and enjoys teaching others how to own a smart and responsible pet. To learn more, visit


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