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American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior – Position Statement on Humane Dog Training

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The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior just released a position statement regarding training methods this week, and this is BIG DEAL. I’ve linked it below for you to read, and I encourage you to take a few minutes of your day to check it out.
As a professional in the field one of the biggest concerns I have, and topics I am most passionate about, is industry regulation. It may surprise some of you to know that there is no mandatory regulatory governing body currently in the animal training and behavior field. What does this mean? Anyone can call themselves a dog trainer or behavior professional, anyone. This allows for vast discrepancies in the industry, and in some cases, this can be dangerous.
The AVSAB releasing this statement is a big step in the right direction to standardizing the industry and ensuring that we are following the science, and the science is clear. Humane methods of teaching are not only just as effective for learning, they come without the potential fallout that comes along with using aversive techniques. Aversive methods work, there’s no question there, and many dogs have been trained using these methods. However, we know now there are alternative ways to teach and modify behavior that do not require the use of physical/psychological pain or intimidation. As a LIMA trainer (Least Invasive Minimally Aversive), I am committed to using humane and scientifically founded methods in my training program. When we know better, we do better.
My commitment to myself, and to you and your dog, has and always will be, to continue my education with a passion for learning and a promise to be the best I can be for the dogs. I continue to regularly attend classes/seminars/workshops to stay up to date on the most current information regarding training and behavior, always keeping an open mind to learning new information and improved techniques. I hope that in my lifetime I will not only be witness to this paradigm shift within our industry, but that I will be a part of effecting this change. Here are some excerpts from the AVSAB’s position statement that resonated for me…
“Many methods of changing behavior in dogs are effective; however, the evidence-based veterinarian or behavior consultant should be concerned not just with what is effective but what
does the least harm and produces the best long-term results.”
“Based on current scientific evidence, AVSAB recommends that only reward-based training methods are used for all dog training, including the treatment of behavior problems. Aversive training methods have a damaging effect on both animal welfare and the human-animal bond. There is no evidence that aversive methods are more effective than reward-based methods in any context. AVSAB therefore advises that aversive methods should not be used in animal training or for the treatment of behavior disorders.”


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About The Author:  Seren Maxwell CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed) is the founder and owner of Wonderpup Dog Training and Behavior Services. She has been working with a variety of species including dogs, cats, rats, and horses, over the last fourteen years. Seren dual-specializes in puppy development and behavior modification (fear/aggression/reactivity) for dogs. For more articles like this, be sure to subscribe to our blog.