Dog training

Veterinary behaviorists: no role for aversive dog training practices

According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, reward-based dog education offers the most benefit and the least harm to learner well-being, which says there is no evidence that aversive practices are necessary for dog training or behavior modification.

The new AVSAB position paper published in September is based on scientific evidence from dog training.

Aversive methods rely on punishment and negative reinforcement, Zazie Todd, PhD, animal behavior expert, wrote in a blog post on the new position statement. Reward-based methods involve positively reinforcing desired behaviors and removing rewards for unwanted behaviors. They are also better at promoting the human-animal bond, according to the AVSAB statement.

Studies show that aversive methods can cause stress in dogs, which is why the statement says, “There is no role for aversive training in behavior modification plans.”

There are no exceptions to this standard, even for dogs with aggressive behaviors, according to the release.

Dr. Todd writes that the most common dog training problems can be solved with positive reinforcement and management.

For more complex behavior problems, she writes, it may be necessary to add behavior modification, additional management, and sometimes medication.

The declaration (PDF) includes answers to frequently asked questions, including how vets should choose dog trainers for referrals and the role of vets in behavioral care.

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