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Science -Force Free and +Reinforcement only vs Balanced Training

Science - (Guilherme Fernandes et al., 2017)

This scientific literature review examines the consequences of unpleasant dog training techniques. This was cited in "Review of dog training methods: welfare, learning ability, and contemporary standards" by I.J. Makowska, M.Sc., Ph.D., published for the BCSPCA.

I am sharing this with you so that you may be assured that any training method you pick will employ aversive for undesirable behaviors, and that there is NO scientific evidence to imply that force-free training methods do not create as much or more stress on the dogs we love.

The authors of this literature review evaluated numerous scientific papers to determine whether unpleasant training tools compromise the welfare of dogs. They find, in part, that "scientific evidence regarding the effect of training approach on dog welfare is minimal." Existing literature indicates that unpleasant training methods (e-collar and pinch collar) cause some level of stress in dogs; nevertheless, "additional studies are required to reach definitive findings on the subject."

In order to accurately portray the effects of both aversive and reward-based training methods, the authors assert that empirical and experimental research must be conducted taking into account "the complete range of training tools and techniques employed in aversive- and reward-based training methods."

This is an intriguing subject since marketing in the dog training field would have you believe that e-collars and pinch collars utilize minimal training or reinforcement, and that they just employ reinforcement. Here is where the public is deceived. Due to the force-free industry's exaggerated claims and emotionally-charged allegations, they will insist that you equip your dog with a halti or no-pull harness, whose stress-inducing properties are beyond dispute.

If you have ever attempted to place a halti on a dog, you will see immediately that the majority of dogs are not okay with this method of control, often resulting in flailing and irritation. There is also no mention of whether or not the rope wrapped over the dog's nose to control it causes pain. This is a particularly delicate area of the body. People mistakenly believe that these instruments are not aversive, despite the fact that when the dog pulls, an uncomfortable outcome follows. People often spend months or even years training with these instruments. Nonetheless, the science-based trainers have no scientific evidence to support or refute the claim that these techniques cause less stress than others. There are always varying perspectives and opinions on every tool, but some contend that the halti is less unpleasant than the harness.

In order to have a full understanding of the impacts of each technique, the authors argue that "research on companion dogs of various breeds are required."

Authors conclude with this "In addition to the effects on welfare, the efficacy of training methods is also relevant to consider when selecting a training method. Furthermore, regardless of what science has to say about the effects of different training methods on dog welfare, it is important to note that the selection of a training method should not be based solely on its effects on animal welfare. Due to the fact that dog training is a purpose-built tool, its efficacy must also be examined. Currently, there is a paucity of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of various training methods, and it would be pertinent to integrate this element with research on the effects of various training methods on dog welfare."

All the discussion of abuse and the stress caused by unpleasant tools based on science that you find here is not only inconclusive, but the communities making these charges utilize aversive instruments for which there is no scientific proof demonstrating the effects or lack thereof.


Science is irrelevant; let's utilize common sense.


I contend that the time it takes to acquire a result (assuming they get a result) from the force-free environment may be the greatest source of stress. This film from the Fellowship of Animal Behaviorists demonstrates their success through side-by-side footage of a reactive dog before and after six months of training with a dummy dog in a field.

If you train an animal for six months, two years, etc. Unlike training with a trainer who utilizes effective aversive that create no fear or discomfort, as seen in this video with an extremely fear-reactive dog towards other dogs and humans. The benefits in just two hours (without medicine) are not only visible in the training, but a dog that would not normally be able to play with another dog begins to do so after a session instructing her what not to do and then what to do.

The owners of Ghost had some success with Ghost around humans as a result of the +R training they had been practicing for two years. However, they realized in the lesson that Ghost's success around humans had little to do with the confidence she gained, and more to do with the fact that running to a human and returning earned her a treat. This resulted in a trick-like behavior characterized by a rush of nervous energy up the human's body and a subsequent retreat. Ghost felt uncomfortable with humans, and because she had never been taught to relax, her mind had never been given the chance to overcome her phobia. If you put your hand down to say hi she reacted with great discomfort by ducking and fleeing. After meeting a new person and they exit and enter again a few minutes later she would react as if it were the first time seeing them.

It begins to provide a clearer picture of the abuse and deception perpetrated by "science-based" training educators and industry professionals against those really rehabilitating dogs or anyone questioning the veracity of their material. Professionals and organizations in the business, such as veterinarians, veterinary behaviorists, and the SPCA, have much to lose if they lose traction in an unregulated industry. If you look at any of the BC SPCA's content linked, you will notice that they aggressively promote science-based training and are building a community of accredited trainers. I've also been informed by veterinarians in Kelowna that the BC SPCA, despite having access to numerous force-free or +reinforcement trainers, euthanizes animals with minor behavioral difficulties. Including puppies as young as 8 months, according to a report from a BC SPCA employee. A Vet has accused me of being abusive on Facebook for training with e-collars. Nothing except "science." Balanced Trainers are not a lucrative investment. In the vast majority of instances, medication is unnecessary. And tools are just that, with the normal need lasting no longer than three months. Stand for your dog. Adhere to the truth. And retain your funds.


Ellie Punch Instinct to Heel 2022





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