An Open Letter to Pet Industry Representatives Regarding the Use of Shock in Animal Training

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.

Diversity and Breed Distinction of Canis familiaris

The domestic dog, Canis familiaris is said to be the most morphologically variable of the mammalian species. According to scientist, artificial selection contributed heavily to the rapid development and variation in color, shape and behavior we see in dogs today. The difference among dog species rivals that of any other species in the family Canidae.

Learning, what does this mean? How is learning applied in dog training and behavior modification?

Learning applied in dog training, by professional dog trainers, certified in dog behavior, located in Bradenton and Sarasota FL Specializing in Puppy Training, Dog Training, Aggression, Separation Anxiety, House-Training, Jumping, Barking, Cognitive Dysfunction, OCD, Canine Communication


IAABC Statement on LIMA

What Is LIMA? LIMA requires that trainers and behavior consultants use the “least intrusive, minimally aversive technique likely to succeed in achieving a training [or behavior change] objective with minimal risk of producing adverse side effects.” It is also a competence criterion, requiring that trainers and behavior consultants be adequately trained and skilled in order to ensure that the least intrusive and aversive procedure is in fact used. 1 LIMA Is Competence-Based LIMA requires that trainers/behavior consultants work to increase the use of positive reinforcement and lessen the use of punishment in work with companion animals and the humans who care for them. LIMA protocols are designed to be maximally humane to learners of all species. In order to ensure best practices, consultants/trainers should pursue and maintain competence in animal behavior consulting through education, training, or supervised experience, and should not advise on problems outside the recognized boundaries of their competencies and experience.2


Experiencing Anticipation Training Dogs – Using Time Outs versus Stops

“A common flaw in stimulus-controlled behavior is anticipation: Once the cue has been learned, the subject is so eager to offer the behavior that it acts before the cue has actually been given” (Pryor, 1984, 1999). I prefer to use the training correction “stops” given the context is connected with actively training dogs versus using timeouts for social corrections. There are inherent differences between the two types of context and use. To avoid confusion and provide consistent feedback between dog and owner/handler, understanding when, why, where, and for what reason should be considered at all times. Dogs learn best when provided clear rules concerning their behavioral responses, doing this avoids anxiety produced when any subject is unsure about any consequences that may result from their behavior. This also explains why using punishment, especially incorrectly, can cause serious learning deficits.

Canine (Dog) Communication

Canine Communication Understanding how to communicate with dogs effectively is partly achieved by understanding how dogs developed under domestication, as well as how they adapted to their ever-changing environment. Another reason why is partly founded in one’s acceptance or non-acceptance that “animals are endowed with a private experience or self-awareness comparable to our own” which presents a “moral crisis” according to Lindsay (2000) that “would revolutionize how we view and treat animals under our care.” Temple Grandin (1995), suggests dogs are “…akin to the thinking style of artists or musicians” considering things in “…terms of their immediate sensory significance, relevance to the animal’s current motivation state and associated memories” added into the context or situation (Lindsay, 2000). What does communication mean? Communication among animals is described as a transmission of information between one animal and another or between groups of animals with the intent to affect behavior. Typically, communication takes place-using signals that may include verbal, tactile, odors (pheromones), facial expressions and body movements. The communication exchange will usually have three components. These components consist of 1.) the person sending the message, 2.) the person receiving the message and 3.) the communication signal. The purpose of the message is to change the attitude, mood or behavior of the recipient. The receivers’ response indicates whether the senders’ message, the function of the behavior has served its purpose. Communication can take place between the same species (intraspecific) or with another species (interspecific). In the case of dogs, Canis lupus familiaris communication is common in both situations. The ethological definition according to Miklosi (2005) is the “…skill to change the behaviour of the other occurs always in a functional context like aggression, courtship, parental behaviour, cooperation etc.” He further says, “[t]he evolution of dog-human communication depends on both changes in the communication system and changes in other behavior systems that have facilitatory effect on communication.” Why do species communicate? According to Lindsay (2000), “…expressive social behavior…exercises an important modulatory effect over emotion and mood.” Communication is a behavior, says Horwitz (2001), having a “goal and function.” Communication in higher organisms serves to “regulate social interaction” among members of the group with the purpose to facilitate “cooperative behavior,” according to Lindsay (2000), which is vital to the groups survival. Wolves have developed complex ritualized communicative behaviors of “threat and appeasement signals” for sustaining “dominant-subordinate relations” among pack members (Lindsay, 2000). Dogs in both intraspecific and interspecific relations, utilize some of these same behaviors with the purpose of increasing (agonistic) and decreasing (affiliative) social interaction.