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  • Writer's pictureKrisztina Harasztosi

Say No to Pain: The Case Besides Aversive-Free Dog Training Methods

When you walk into a pet store, the sheer variety of products can be overwhelming. It's easy to assume that if something is on the shelf, it's safe and recommended for use. However, this assumption can be dangerously misleading, especially when it comes to aversive training tools like choke chains, prong collars, shock collars (often euphemistically referred to as e-collars), and even no-pull harnesses [1][2].


Aversive Tools: Outdated and Dangerous

Aversive tools and techniques, such as wrapping the leash around your dog's belly, are not just outdated; they are unequivocally dangerous. These methods can lead to a range of negative outcomes, including anxiety, aggressive behavior, and a damaged bond between you and your dog. The idea that causing pain or discomfort can effectively train a dog is a myth that has been debunked by numerous studies and professional organizations.


sad white cartoon dog with a choker collar crying
Sad dog with a choker

No-Pull Harnesses: Not a Harmless Alternative

While no-pull harnesses are often marketed as a humane solution to leash pulling, they can also have unintended side effects. Studies and professional advice indicate that these harnesses can alter a dog's natural gait and potentially lead to shoulder injuries [6].


Professional Stances Against Aversive Tools

Several reputable organizations have taken a firm stance against the use of aversive tools in dog training. For instance:

  • BCSPCA (British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) emphasizes the harm these tools can cause and advocates for humane training methods [3].

  • Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has clear position statements promoting positive reinforcement and discouraging aversive methods [4].

  • American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) strongly advises against the use of punishment-based techniques due to their potential to cause fear and aggression [5].

  • International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) and the Canadian Association of Professional Dog Trainers (CAPDT) both support ethical training practices and have codes of ethics that prohibit the use of these harmful tools [1][2].


Scientific Evidence

Research has consistently shown that aversive training methods can cause significant psychological harm to dogs. Studies have found that these tools are linked to increased anxiety and aggressive behaviors. For example:

  • A study published in ScienceDirect found a correlation between aversive training methods and increased stress levels in dogs [6].

  • Another study demonstrated that dogs trained with aversive methods are more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors towards humans and other dogs [7].

Additionally, no-pull harnesses can affect a dog's gait and lead to musculoskeletal issues. Dr. Christine Zink, a veterinary sports medicine expert, advises that no-pull harnesses can restrict shoulder movement and potentially cause injury over time [8].


choke collar, e-collar, shock collar, spray bottle, prong collar stop!!
No Aversive Tools in dog training

Global Bans on Aversive Tools

It's also worth noting that several countries and regions have recognized the dangers of these tools and have implemented bans. Shock collars are prohibited in places like Germany, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Wales, Quebec (Canada), and some states in Australia. Similarly, prong and choke collars are banned in New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Switzerland, and Quebec.



Why Positive Reinforcement is the Way Forward

Positive reinforcement, aversive-free dog training, which involves rewarding your dog for good behavior, is not only more effective but also fosters a stronger, healthier relationship between you and your pet. This method is supported by extensive research and is advocated by the leading animal welfare and veterinary organizations. [9] [10] [11]


Conclusion

In conclusion, just because you can buy something in a pet store doesn't mean it's safe or ethical to use. Aversive tools are not only outdated but also pose serious risks to your dog's mental and physical well-being. By choosing positive reinforcement techniques, you can ensure a happier, healthier life for your furry friend and a stronger bond built on trust and respect.

For more information, check out these position statements and studies:

  1. [IAABC Position Statement on Animal Training](https://iaabc.org/about/position-statements/)

  2. [CAPDT Position Statement on Humane Training](https://capdt.ca/position-statements/)

  3. [BCSPCA Position Statement on Animal Training](https://spca.bc.ca/programs/services/leaders-in-our-field/position-statements/position-statement-on-animal-training/)

  4. [Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Statement on Humane Training of Dogs](https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/policy-and-outreach/position-statements/statements/humane-training-of-dogs/)

  5. [AVSAB on Aversive Dog Training Practices](https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2021-11-01/veterinary-behaviorists-no-role-aversive-dog-training-practices)

  6. [Study on Stress Levels and Aversive Methods](https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159117302095)

  7. [Study on Aggression and Aversive Methods](https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1558787817300357)

  8.  [Dr. Christine Zink on No-Pull Harnesses and Shoulder Injuries](https://www.caninesports.com/post/the-ultimate-guide-to-no-pull-dog-harnesses)

  9. [Comparison of Behavior and Welfare of Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) Trained with Positive Reinforcement and Aversive-based Methods](https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159106000804)

  10. [Training Methods and Owner-Dog Interactions: Links with Dog Behavior and Learning Ability](https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S016815910700242X)

  11. [The Use of Positive Reinforcement Training to Reduce Fear in Dogs](https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781118701846.ch9)

Let's move towards a more humane and effective way of training our beloved pets.

No Aversive, No Fear, No Force, No Pain, No Intimidation! Train with kindness!


By Krisztina Harasztosi MSc. CDBC

ADT-IAABC, CBATI-KA, PST-CI

The Gibsons Dogrunner


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