There has long been debate on how best to train dogs, but animal lovers around the world agree that positive reinforcement training should be the go-to method for a variety of well-deserved reasons. Surprisingly, and sadly, despite enormous support for positive training techniques, punishment is still used as a training tactic – even by institutions that train service dogs.
As an organization that works to ensure the humane treatment of all animals and trains service dogs for veterans suffering from their own invisible wounds, it is especially troubling to know that the use of barbaric tools, like shock collars, are still employed by some trainers. This technique is simply unacceptable and organizations that train service dogs should immediately pledge to cease this cruel practice.
There are multiple studies demonstrating that punishment-based training can have deeply negative effects on a dog’s personality. Some dogs will become fearful and shut down, losing their confidence altogether, while others become aggressive. Positive reinforcement training, however, is a kinder and more thoughtful approach that leads to the development of behaviors that are more deeply ingrained in the mind of the dog.
The fact that shock collars are still being used, despite all the evidence pointing to the negative repercussions of such methods, is inexcusable and inhumane. Service dogs are heroes who deserve the highest level of care, including when they are still in their training phase. Service dogs should not be subject to painful and unnecessary training methods, nor should any animal.
We at American Humane use only positive, reward-based training methods as outlined in our service dog standards that were developed by a Scientific Advisory Committee of scientists, veteran experts, mental health professionals, animal welfare specialists, veterinarians, dog trainers and other key advocates. All training methods grow and enhance the human-animal bond, building trust and love, not fear and anxiety. As such, our Pups4Patriots™ program sets the bar for the humane treatment of service dogs and we call on all service dog trainers and organizations to join us and take our pledge to commit to the humane treatment of service dogs-in-training. Immediately and explicitly prohibiting the use of shock collars and pledging to utilize fear-free training methods is a must.
Commit to be ‘Shock Free’ and sign the pledge here: https://www.americanhumane.org/ShockFree/