Animal Update: Dominance And Dog Training Myths

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Christine Ponelle plays with her dogs Cholla and Puma at Bernal Heights Park (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Christine Ponelle plays with her dogs Cholla and Puma at Bernal Heights Park (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

MelissaCulross_180 Melissa Culross
Melissa Culross had intended to become a novelist but was side-lined...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— We’ve all seen trainers use dominance and punishment training techniques with dogs, but Dr. Jennifer Scarlett from the San Francisco SPCA explains why this kind of training may be outdated.

As we learn more about animal behavior, the American Veterinary Society on Animal Behavior has officially recommended that we not refer clients to trainers who use confrontational or coercive training techniques.

“It’s kind of like if your hammer of the world is a nail and using the same kind of negative reinforcement and punishment for all aspects of training just isn’t the right way to go,” Scarlett said.

Animal Update: Dominance And Dog Training Myths

KCBS Radio

She elaborated that this technique is based on old work with wolves where there’s an alpha male and female, which has to do more with reproduction than just general behavior. Dogs are incredibly social, but they’re not necessarily a pack animal that hunts like wolves. “It’s an unfair comparison,” she said.

Scarlett recommends trainers use positive reinforcement. “Behavior is complex and nuanced. When you understand it and use positive reinforcement you create a wonderful bond with your animal that doesn’t cause anxiety or pain in them.”

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