Excellent article!

Love and a Six-Foot Leash

I’ve been having a thought lately, brought about in large part by the behavioral work I’ve been observing at the Canine Center in Austin, and it goes a little like this:

If I bully Fido, Fido will bully others.

Popular religious thought seems to agree with this concept (“Do unto others . . .”), as do popular parenting theory and our criminal law framework. So why are so many of us still bullying our dogs?

A friend recently shared with me an article about a 2009 study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Behavior Science concerning the outcomes associated with confrontational and non-confrontational behavior modification techniques in dog training. The study surveyed 140 dog owners seeking the help of a veterinary behaviorist, asking what methods they had attempted to improve the problem behavior in the past and what the result of these methods had been.  In summary, the study…

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3 thoughts on “

  1. As a behavioral ecologist, and with a PhD in animal behaviour, I always am interested in these types of conversations. However, I tend to look at behavior from the context that it would serve in the environment. Using a negative stimulus would tend to be in order to induce avoidance behaviours (i.e don’t eat that or I get sick, don’t go near that dog or he will attack etc). This is obviously a vital part of behavioural evolution. However, positive stimuli tend to produce longer lasting behaviours and better for most things.

  2. Thanks for leaving a comment on my brand new blog. 🙂 I’m havign fun reading through yours — we share a lot of the same philosophies! I had to comment on this post, because it’s so true! I’m a clicker trainer of both dogs and horses. It’s amazing how well non-confrontational methods work, even with behaviors like aggression. Maybe especially with behaviors like aggression.

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