The Science Behind Positive Training
"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong"
Our understanding of how dogs think, feel and learn is constantly evolving.
The more heavy-handed approaches that were so commonly used in dog training decades ago were borne out of an attempt to apply what people thought they knew about animal behavior to our domestic canine companions. But science is an ever-moving field, and our job as trainers and dog owners is to continue our quest to better understand these fascinating animals by staying up-to-date with what the modern behavioral scientific community is learning about animals in general and dogs in particular.
Science has indeed spoken about the use of punishment in training, the role of dominance in the dog world, the effectiveness of positive reinforcement and more. Though the argument rages on about the safest, quickest and most effective way to train dogs, modern behavioral science has definitively ended the debate.
Positive training is the future of dog training.
Click the links below to read from the scientific journals and publications citing the amazing work being done by the scientific community at large as it relates to our understanding of how to relate to our dogs.
Scientific Links About Positive Training vs Dominance and Punishment-Based Training:
- "The Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals", American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior
- "Whatever happened to the Term ALPHA Wolf?", article by L. David Mech, senior research scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey and founder and vice chair of the International Wolf Center.
- "Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs", Applied Animal Behavior Science, 2009; 117 (1-2): 47
- "Using ‘Dominance’ to Explain Dog Behavior is Old Hat", Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, May/June 2009, Pages 135-144
- "Dominance in dogs – useful construct or bad habit?",Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Vol 4, Issue 3, Pages 135-144 (May 2009)
- "Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs",David Mech, Canadian Journal of Zoology 77:1196:1203. (Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page) Version 16MAY2000
- "Rethinking the Causes of Canine Aggression" Veterinary Medicine
- David Mech YouTube clip regarding myth of the "Alpha" and the origins of the mislabeling.
- Considerations for shock and ‘training’ collars: Concerns from and for the working dog community (Overall) Journal of Veterinary Behavior (2007) 2, 103-107
- Training Dogs With the Help of the Shock Collar: short and long term behavioural effects(Schilder, van der Borg) Applied Animal Behaviour Science 85 (2004) 319–334
- Can aggression in dogs be elicited through the use of electronic pet containment systems? (Polsky) Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 2000 Vol. 3 No. 4 pp. 345-357
Other Useful Articles:
- "Fairy tales: The top 10 dog behaviour myths",Jean Donaldson, Behaviour Magazine, January 2008 Issue
- "The Long-Term Effects of Spanking",Time Magazine, May 3, 2010
- "Dog Training and the Myth of Alpha-Male Dominance", Time Magazine, July 30, 2010
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