The below is an extract from an article features in the Sunday Telegraph, print title “How to train your dog: with love” on line title “The dog training methods that leave your dog stressed”.
For owners of unruly dogs, a short yank on their lead and a stern telling-off can sometimes seem the only way of keeping their wayward pets in line. But a new study claims that such methods of making sure your dog behaves can cause the animal mental trauma and have an impact on its welfare. It found that pets who are trained using such, “aversive” techniques were 15 times more likely to exhibit symptoms of stress than those trained using more “positive” techniques, such as the use of treats for rewards and softer voices. Dogs taught using the latter methods were also found to display greater contentment and enjoy a better relationship with their owners.
The research serves as a repudiation of the authoritative style – still used to train many British dogs – popularised in the 1970s by Barbara Woodhouse and now advocated by many modern trainers, such as Cesar Millan, a prominent international expert known as the Dog Whisperer. However, the study has sparked controversy, with some experts claiming that relying solely on “positive” methods can lead to dogs failing to properly learn the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and can make them too “spoilt”.