Written by The IAABC Editing Team (effective July 13, 2021) Dominance is a concept we frequently encounter in discussions of companion animal behavior. Many pet owners believe that the most important thing they can do to ensure their animal behaves appropriately is to establish themselves as “dominant,” “the alpha mare,” or “the flock leader.” When …
The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) strives to standardize and support the practice of animal training and behavior consulting and maximize the effective use of reinforcers to modify animal behavior. Scientific research has clearly established that best practices in animal training and behavior require positive reinforcement-based strategies, competent evaluation of effectiveness, and the ability to communicate effectively with both human and animal clients. Further, these strategies must be founded on established principles of learning and assessment.
What is a Dog? This is an honest question! After 25 years of working with all sorts of dogs I am still mystified by them. They are so common and familiar, yet they are still so unexpected and amazing. I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot lately. My guess is that different people have vastly different answers to this question. Why does it matter? I think that’s what I’m even more interested in exploring! It matters because our vision of dogs shapes our treatment of them. And our treatment of them is vital to their mental and physical health.
The cats-in-boxes issue was put to the test by Dutch researchers who gave shelter cats boxes as retreats. According to the study, cats with boxes adapted to their new environment more quickly compared to a control group without boxes: The conclusion was that the cats with boxes were less stressed because they had a cardboard hidey-hole to hunker down in. Let this be a lesson to all cat people – cats need boxes or other vessels for environmental enrichment purposes. Hidey-holes in elevated locations are even better: Being high up provides security and a birds’s-eye view of the world, so to speak.
New Literature Review Recommends Reward-Based Training A review of 17 papers concludes that reward-based dog training has fewer risks and may even work better than aversive methods. The review, by Dr. Gal Ziv (The Zinman College of Physical Education and Sport Sciences) looks at the scientific literature on dog training methods. Seventeen studies were identified that include surveys of dog owners, intervention studies, and reports from veterinarians. The paper identifies some methodological issues with the literature, but the conclusion is that people should use reward-based methods to train their dogs.
Shocking pet dogs remains a common, if controversial, training practice worldwide. In this open letter, Pet Professional Guild (PPG) combines decades of research, the opinions of certified animal behaviorists, and the question of ethics to explain why using electric shock in the name of training and care is both ineffective and harmful. PPG concludes that shocking constitutes a form of abuse towards pets, and, given that there are highly effective, positive training alternatives, should no longer be a part of the current pet industry culture of accepted practices, tools or philosophies.