The Dangers of “Dog Whispering”
The APBC has joined with other behaviour and welfare organisations1 worldwide in warning of the possible dangers of using techniques for training dogs that can cause pain and fear, such as some of those seen used by Cesar Millan, who has announced a UK tour next year.
The organisations have joined forces to voice their serious concerns about techniques which pose welfare problems for dogs and significant risk to owners who may copy them. These concerns are shared, and the statement supported, by similar organisations around the world2 and in continental Europe3.
Aversive training techniques, which have been seen to be used by Cesar Millan, are based on the principle of applying an unpleasant stimulus to inhibit behaviour. This kind of training technique can include the use of prong collars, electric shock collars, restricting dogs’ air supply using nooses/leads or pinning them to the ground, which can cause pain and distress. The use of such techniques may compromise the welfare of dogs and may worsen the behavioural problems they aim to address, potentially placing owners at considerable risk. A number of scientific studies have found an association between the use of aversive training techniques and the occurrence of undesired behaviours in dogs.
The organisations believe that the use of such training techniques is not only unacceptable from a welfare perspective, but that this type of approach is not necessary for the modification of dog behaviour. Dog trainers all over the UK use reward-based methods to train dogs very effectively. Where dogs have behaviours which owners find unacceptable, such as aggression or destruction, qualified behaviourists achieve long term changes in behaviour through the use of established and validated techniques of behaviour modification without subjecting dogs to training techniques which may cause pain or distress.
We urge dog owners to carefully consider the help they choose to train their dogs or tackle behavioural problems. Anyone can call themselves a behaviour expert, but we believe that only those with a combination of appropriate qualifications, up to date knowledge as well as skills and experience should be treating dogs, and should only do so in a way which does not put the welfare of the dogs at risk.
Further information on:
- the misconceptions which underlie the use of aversive training techniques
- the development of behaviour in dogs
- the problems associated with the use of aversive training techniques
- finding a suitable trainer or behaviourist
can be found at: www.dogwelfarecampaign.org
1 Dogs Trust, The Blue Cross, Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), The Blue Dog, Wood Green Animal Shelters, World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), The Kennel Club, Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare, Canine Partners, UK , Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB), Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC), Association of Pet Dog Trainers, UK (APDT, UK), UK Registry of Canine Behaviours (UKRCB), Companion Animal Behaviour Therapy Study Group (CABTSG), British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) and British Veterinary Association (BVA).
2 Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), Australian Veterinary Behaviour Interest Group (AVBIG), American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB), The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) and The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, Inc. (CCPDT)(USA).
3 European Society of Clinical Veterinary Ethology (ESCVE), European College of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine – Companion Animals (ECVBM-CA), the Flemish Veterinary Working Group on Ethology (VDWE) and Norwegian Association for Pet Behaviour (NAPB) Norsk Atferdsgruppe for Selskapsdyr (NAS).
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The APBC, founded in 1989, is the leading organisation in the field of companion animal behaviour and many of its members are at the cutting edge of the latest research into this rapidly growing discipline. The APBC organises a number of seminars and events throughout the year for both the veterinary and behaviour professions. Further information can be found at www.apbc.org.uk