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here’s a raging controversy in the field of dog training centered around training methods and

collars—reinforcement versus correc- tion/treat versus no treats. If your dog could talk, your dog would ask you to listen to the experts. As it turns out, it’s scientifically sound advice to be nice to your dog.

In a consensus article, Good Train-

ers: How to Identity One, the Journal of Veterinary Behavior (2006) states clearly that shock or prong collars and choke collars should be avoided “be- cause they increase fear and anxiety.” It specifically recommends “no pop and jerk.” The article outlines behavioral and psychological drawbacks of puni- tive methods and equipment: “There are many pitfalls of punishment; it ruins relationships, inhibits desirable learn- ing, doesn’t tell the pet what to do, and increases aggression and arousal.” These veterinarians recommend “bite- sized treats, harnesses and praise” as superior training tools. Scores of animal behavior experts in the scientific community and hu- mane organizations have spoken out on the reward versus punishment debate. Behaviorists from The American Hu- mane Association to the American Col- lege of Veterinary Behaviorists concur that using intimidation and pain-based methods to prevent or manage behavior can actually worsen existing behavior. So, why is punishment-oriented training so widespread and popular?

Could Talk Reward vs. Punishment DOG TRAINING by Linda Michaels

Well, there’s a charismatic TV trainer whose sensation-driven show warns viewers, “Don’t try this at home.” Addi- tionally, shock, prong and choke collars are marketed in every big box store, assuring buyers that they’re safe, ac- ceptable and “won’t hurt your dog.” The language of “stimulation” and “tickle” can mislead innocent pet parents. Shock collar training is still legal in the U.S. and there’s a great deal of money to be made on pet products. It works in the moment, but doesn’t create lasting change or address underlying problems. Shock collars were recently banned for dog training in Wales and are illegal in Italy, Denmark , Switzer- land, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, and many parts of Australia. States such as Connecticut have banned their use by private trainers and severely restricted their use by facilities. If you think of your pet as member

of your family, think of your dog as a two-year-old for life. Reward-based learning is what we should use with our children and with our companion animals, if we want relationships built on trust and love rather than on domi- nance and fear.

Contact Linda Michaels, dog psy- chologist, speaker and Victoria Stilwell- licensed dog trainer, at 858.259.9663or email at LindaMichaelsPositively@gmail. com for private obedience instruction and behavioral consultations. Also visit See ad on page 9.

Photo Courtesy of Cindy Staszak

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