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Author Topic: Welfare in Dog Training - Joint Press Release  (Read 2433 times)

Offline Bunter

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Welfare in Dog Training - Joint Press Release
« on: December 16, 2009, 15:14:19 PM »
This is not a Four Paws initiative in any way and we are not involved with the campaign nor the Press Release.  However, it is something we very much support.

Welfare in Dog Training

Press Release

Problems with aversive dog training techniques

An excerpt

Aversive training techniques, which have been seen to be used by Cesar Millan, are based on the principle of applying an unpleasant stimulus to inhibit behaviour. This kind of training technique can include the use of prong collars, electric shock collars, restricting dogs′ air supply using nooses/leads or pinning them to the ground, which can cause pain and distress. The use of such techniques may compromise the welfare of dogs and may worsen the behavioural problems they aim to address, potentially placing owners at considerable risk. A number of scientific studies have found an association between the use of aversive training techniques and the occurrence of undesired behaviours in dogs.

Supporting Organisations:
The Blue Cross
Dogs Trust
RSPCA
Wood Green Animal Shelters
WSPA
Canine Partners
The Blue Dog
Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare
BSAVA
BVA
ASAB
APBC
APDT
Companion Animal Behaviour Therapy Study Group
The UK Registry of Canine Behaviourists
The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB)
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB)
The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)
Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, Inc. (CCPDT)
The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA)
European Society for Veterinary Clinical Ethology (ESVCE)
European College of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine (Companion Animals) (ECVBM-CA)
The Norwegian Association for Pet Behaviour (NAPB) Norsk Atferdsgruppe for Selskapsdyr (NAS)
The Flemish Veterinary Working Group on Ethology (Vlaamse Diergeneeskundige Werkgroep Ethologie, VDWE)
« Last Edit: December 16, 2009, 15:23:26 PM by Bunter »

Offline Bunter

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Re: Welfare in Dog Training - Press Release
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2009, 15:21:30 PM »
What′s Wrong with Using ‘Dominance’ to Explain the Behaviour of Dogs?

An excerpt:
In the past, much of the behaviour of dogs was interpreted quite simplistically in terms of ‘hierarchy’ or social structure. It was believed that dogs were motivated (i.e. had an internal ‘drive’) to achieve a higher ‘status’ relative to other dogs or people, and that this desire led them to show behaviours such as aggression in order to achieve control. Lots of eminent behaviourists and trainers used to think in this way, but with the advancement of science and clinical behaviour practice, we now know that the foundations on which this theory was based are fundamentally flawed, and the majority of trainers and behaviourists have changed their practice as a result. We also have a much better understanding of how the brain works, and how animals learn, which has enabled us to develop a better understanding of why behaviours such as aggression do develop in dogs. In this article, we summarise why ‘dominance’ is no longer regarded as a useful explanation for the behaviour of dogs. A fuller review is available in Bradshaw et al. (2009).

Offline Bunter

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Re: Welfare in Dog Training - Joint Press Release
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2009, 15:25:22 PM »
If Not Dominance...How do we Explain the Development of Social Behaviour?

An excerpt:
Those working in dog training or behaviour are very familiar with the concepts of associative learning. We tend to talk about learning mainly in terms of training. For example, by giving a dog a treat each time it sits down, as long as our timing is good, the dog will associate this action with the reward, and is more likely offer to park its bottom on subsequent occasions. However, this apparently simple piece of learning actually involves complex processing in the brain.

Since being given the treat is an important event to the dog (assuming he or she likes treats), the learning process starts with the brain evaluating all the incoming information to identify what particular events might be predictive of the treat appearing, whether this is an external event or the dog’s own activity. In almost all ‘real life’ situations, it is combinations of specific cues and contexts that predict particular events. For example, many owners will be familiar with their dog learning to show a behaviour in one context (e.g. sitting when the owner says ‘sit’ AND is in the training class, and has a calm voice, relaxed posture, maintains eye contact, has their hand in their pocket, is wearing their jeans and is smelling of treats) but not immediately doing the same if some of these cues change.

Over time, by repeating the association between the word ‘sit’, the action and the treat in multiple contexts the dog learns that the only important predictive cue is the word ‘sit’ and will show the behaviour whatever else is going on. This type of learning does not only occur when we are training dogs, however, but goes on all the time, constantly shaping the way our dogs interact with their environment. Their brains are constantly evaluating what is important, what predicts important events, and what the consequences (good or bad) of their own actions are.

Offline Bunter

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Re: Welfare in Dog Training - Joint Press Release
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2009, 15:28:22 PM »
What are the Implications of Using Training Techniques Which Induce Fear or Pain in Dogs?

An excerpt:
If a dog shows a behaviour which results in a perceived positive outcome, he or she is more likely to show the behaviour again on subsequent occasions – this is known as reinforcement. If a behaviour results in a perceived negative outcome, the dog is less likely to show the behaviour again – this is punishment. Simplistically, in order to change a behaviour, one could either punish an undesired behaviour or reinforce the desired one.

‘Punishment’ tends to be an emotive word, but scientifically this just means a reduced chance of a behaviour occurring again. Hence, depending on the characteristics and experience of the animal, and the choices of the trainer, a ‘punisher’ could vary from a mild ‘no’ to a very aversive stimulus such as a tightened prong collar around a dog’s neck. Punishment has been used in animal training since animals have lived in close proximity with people. However, just because training techniques based on the induction of fear or pain have been used for a long time, does not necessarily mean that they are the best option in terms of efficacy or animal welfare. In fact, training a dog using such techniques carries a number of risks. These are:

•Increasing the dogs fear or anxiety about the situation in which it is used
•Decrease the dog’s ability to learn
•Associate other, coincidental events with a fear provoking event
•Inhibit behaviour, but leave the underlying emotional response unchanged increasing the chance of future problems
•Induce an new avoidance, or aggressive response
•Cause confusion as to which behaviour is required
•Cause physical injury

In addition, since training techniques are widely used that do not require the use of severe punishment, there is no need to use techniques which impact negatively on the welfare of dogs. The relative safety and effectiveness of using reward based or punitive training techniques must also be taken into consideration.

Offline Bunter

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Re: Welfare in Dog Training - Joint Press Release
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2009, 15:30:58 PM »
Should I Follow Status Reduction Programmes with my Dog?

An excerpt:
The basis for this type of programme is that dogs show behaviours because they are trying to achieve high status, and in order to prevent this, the dog has to be shown ‘who is the pack leader’. The problems with this argument, in terms of both evidence of the normal social behaviour of dogs, and their cognitive ability is explained in ‘What’s wrong with using dominance?’

The types of techniques used to achieve this goal can be very aversive to dogs, and can include devices such as prong collars, choke chains, ‘alpha rolling’ dogs, or other types of physical restraint. The use of these techniques is likely to adversely affect the welfare of dogs, and may result in injury to the dog. For the reasons explained in ‘What’s wrong with using aversive training techniques?’, using these techniques may lead to a worsening of existing problem behaviours, the development of further undesired behaviours, or the risk of injury to the owner.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2009, 15:35:17 PM by Bunter »

Offline Bunter

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Re: Welfare in Dog Training - Joint Press Release
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2009, 15:37:41 PM »
How do I Find a Suitable Dog Training Course?

An excerpt:
•Look out for the types of training methods used. You should not consider joining the class if instructors/assistants are recommending techniques which rely on inducing fear or pain, such as prong collars, or where they rely on shouting at dogs, or hitting them with hands, feet or the lead. There is no need for such techniques to be used in the training of a dog. Check that dogs are motivated to show the desired behaviours through the use of rewards such as food treats or playing with a toy, and not through fear of the consequences.
•Check whether there are an appropriate number of dogs and owners for the situation. For example, the APDT (UK) recommends no more than 8 puppies in a class with an instructor and one assistant. Lots of dogs crowded together in a hall can create problems, and too many dogs makes it difficult for the instructor to clearly see what is happening, and be available to help owners.
•Observe whether the class is calm and quiet – lots of shouting (by owners) and barking indicates that people and dogs are finding the situation stressful. Except in an emergency, there is no reason for an instructor to be shouting – at dogs or owners.