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Aversive Dog Training Methods - Why?

posted 25 Aug 2012, 13:55 by John Lawrenson   [ updated 25 Aug 2012, 13:55 ]
So, we have recently been privy to a few clients who have been encouraged to use aversives in their training methods as of late. For those that don't know, aversive methods generally rely on combating an unwanted behaviour by hitting, choking, squirting water at or making loud noises at a dog (amongst others).

How these methods are still utilised is beyond us here at Treat 'Em, and I personally find myself asking the users of these training methods the same old question.......why?

Think of it this way, you're in a square room and I want to train you to only stand in one corner. Which would be the best way to train you to do it? To beat you with a stick and turn a cold hose on you every time you go in the wrong three corners? Or to give you £5 every time you stood in the right one?

Both would work eventually, that's for sure. However, I imagine you would probably be a lot dryer and stress free with the latter method, not to mention your feelings towards me the trainer would be a little more on the friendly side if I'd been giving you five pound notes for most of an afternoon. I'm also inclined to think you'd be faster at figuring out where a nice thing took place as opposed to a negative painful one.

Now throw into the mix that you don't speak English, have the mental capacity of a four year old child, and are slightly wary of being in a new room. Welcome to your dogs world! Think of all the variations on the right actions you might need to try before getting it right, each one with a painful or upsetting consequence.

How long do you think the beating and cold water would take before you figured it out? Do you think this is a way to "show your dog who's boss" and train? I certainly don't.

Think the guys at the zoo can pull this stunt with Elephants, Dolphins, Sea Lions and Tigers? I certainly don't.

The dog is one of the only animals that will take "punishment" from an owner and still come back to us, does that mean it's acceptable behaviour?

I think it's about time we wake up to the sinister, lazy, aversive methods out there and start applying some common sense and understanding. What do you guys think?

Go on, Treat 'Em