While training your doggos through negative acts like punishments and shouting has long been questioned, we finally have the data to back up that this is the wrong way to go. A team of molecular biologists in Portugal recently published their study showing that aversive-based training negatively affects your dogs both in the short-term and long-term.
The study took into account a total of 92 companion dogs, 50 of which came from aversive-based training schools and 42 from reward-based training schools. Aversive training methods include shock collars, spraying, shouting, and more. Reward-based training is the simple positive reinforcement it sounds like. Of these 92 dogs, the study definitively found that those trained on the basis of rewards were better off, health-wise.
It was able to measure the well-being of these dogs through a number of methods. The first was by reviewing video recordings of 3 training sessions for both groups of dogs. These training sessions were dissected “to examine the frequency of stress-related behaviors (e.g., lip lick, yawn) and the overall behavioral state of the dog (e.g., tense, relaxed).” Obviously, dogs subjected to aversive-based training methods were more often caught displaying signs of stress.
Another method was to collect saliva samples from the dogs both before and after their training sessions. These saliva samples were then tested to determine the cortisol levels. Cortisol is, of course, the stress hormone that affects your mood, motivation, and fear. And unsurprisingly, the cortisol levels of dogs from the reward-based training group were significantly lower than those of the aversive-based training group.
Last was the long-term welfare assessment wherein the team had the dogs perform a cognitive-bias task. Dogs trained in the aversive method tended to respond with more pessimism than others.
All in all, the main takeaway is that we should shower our puppers with love rather than anger. If it’s a choice between a treat or a stick, why not just go for the treat?
What do you think about this?
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