Shouting at your dog increases the likelihood of grief, according to a recent study.
It's not always easy to get a new puppy trained. Overwhelmed pet owners frequently turn to yelling because of the risks of accidents and property damage when dealing with a puppy or untrained dog. Training methods that were originally assumed to be innocuous, such as using light punishment, are now showing to have long-lasting consequences on our pets. Before you shout at your dog, take a moment to stop and consider how to react.
There are many options when it comes to dog training academies and programs, so it's vital to familiarize yourself with the most prevalent training methods. As you read about different training techniques, you're likely to come across two main approaches:
The term "positive reinforcement/reward training" encompasses a wide variety of methods, including clicker training, reward-based methods, and methods that do not include the use of physical force. To use this strategy, one sets up a marker for the accuracy and timeliness of a behavior and then reinforces it with a reward or playtime. Consider the method of training your dog to sit with a clicker. Your dog will quickly learn that once you pull out the clicker, it's time to pay attention so you can give them a reward. A click and a reward are given when the dog follows your command. A well-trained puppy that is eager to please may be readily obedient when you employ positive reinforcement in the training process. Each additional command adds complexity to this procedure, but the underlying principle remains the same: issue a command, then provide a reward.
Training centered on intimidation or punishing your dog to establish your authority is known as "negative reinforcement" or "discipline." A variety of "corrections” that may be used in this method include actions such as shouting, leash tugging, hitting, and shock collars to instill obedience. This form of training has existed long before positive reinforcement training, but the latte has been demonstrated to improve a dog's mental health in the long run.
It was time to explore how our canine friends felt about our training methods, since the vast majority of research on dog behavior and punishment training has been conducted on police and military canines. University of Porto researchers (study directed by Ana Catarina Vieira de Castro) wanted to test the effects of negative reinforcement on real-life companion dogs, thus they enlisted the participation of both 42 dogs trained using food or play incentives and 50 dogs trained using yelling and leash jerking.
All of the dogs' stress levels were measured by testing their saliva for the stress hormone cortisol before and after training, and by keeping detailed records of the training sessions.
Dogs with greater levels of cortisol in their saliva during training and at home in the hours after training sessions indicated short-term effects of more "fear-based" training. They also showed signs of stress in the form of physical behavior, such as yawning and lip licking. Cortisol levels and stress-related behaviors did not increase in dogs that received positive reinforcement training.
It's obvious that the training techniques you use have an immediate influence on your dog's stress level, but what about the long-term consequences?
Impacts Over Time:
Through observing how 79 of the dogs responded to a food reward, the researchers were able to determine whether or not the training methods they used had long-lasting impacts. First, scientists conditioned the dogs to learn that a delectable sausage reward was only on one side of the room. Were the bowl to be found on that side of the room, a sausage would be within. On the other side of the room, all of the bowls would remain devoid of food at all times.
Next, they observed how fast the dogs would run to a new dish that had been put at varying distances between the two extremes.
Researchers classified canines as pessimistic or optimistic. During training, the optimistic dogs were taught with treats and praise, while the pessimistic dogs were disciplined gently. Researchers characterized these two categories of dogs as having "glass half full" vs "glass half empty" attitudes, respectively.
A dog with a "positive outlook" would rush forward to the bowl, expecting to discover a tasty sausage from within, whereas a dog with a "negative outlook" would approach the bowl more cautiously.
Negative outlooks were linked to separation anxiety and other behavioral issues in the doggy subjects. There was a direct correlation between the harshness of their punishment-based training and the severity of their outcomes.
What Was Found:
The results of this research show that the effects of our method of dog training are long-lasting. Though the topic of training methods' efficacy or which choice is "better" was not discussed, it is evident that the permanent impact on a dog is rather sad.
Critically, our research suggests that the well-being of companion dogs taught via unpleasant approaches may be jeopardized.
Some research suggests that using a reward-based training method might assist our dogs in learning from their experiences rather than simply being afraid of a certain stimulus. It is now evident that incentive training is considerably better for your dog's happiness and mental health, regardless of the approach you choose to adhere to.
There's a general consensus that reward-based training is the most effective method for teaching reliable behavior under all conditions. When dogs are trained via fear, they learn to link a certain human caregiver or trainer with negative reinforcement. Your dog may not listen to you in public if you use this approach of teaching him.
As pet parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that our pets have a happy and comfortable existence. By employing a positive reinforcement training strategy, we can teach our dogs basic obedience without the stress and anxiety that comes with using a punishment-based approach.
Our dogs have their own unique set of annoying habits, but even these may be dealt with in a calm and kind manner. You should keep this in mind the next time you feel like yelling at your animal best friend: their happiness and comfort are in your control.
Reference: “Does Training Method Matter? Evidence for the Negative Impact of Aversive-based Methods on Companion Dog Welfare.” Plos One, 16 Dec. 2020, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0225023.