People tend to remember how cute and adorable puppies are, but have forgotten how frustrating adolescence can be. It is the frustration that leads to them searching for Brisbane Puppy Training. We see so many people lose their patience and resort to punishment or techniques that cause discomfort. Unfortunately, well-meaning people do not realise that they are doing more damage than good and potentially setting their puppy up for a life of anxiety and aggression. Sadly, there are still a large amount of Brisbane puppy training that has not kept up to date with current research and still uses aversive training that causes pain or discomfort to your puppy. If you find a trainer who uses these techniques, avoid them like the plague as you will damage your relationship with your puppy and end up with more serious behavioural issues later in life that are difficult or impossible to treat. Some of the things we highly recommend avoiding are: shock collars, prong collars, choker chains, sporn harnesses, spray bottles, yelling, smacking, pinching, biting, pinning a puppy down, or yanking on the collar or leash. Basically, anything that your puppy finds uncomfortable.
The below outlines the consequences of using such methods for Brisbane Puppy Training and has been borrowed by a well-researched article produced by the Puppy Professional Guild.
Infliction of Stress and Pain
Devices or aversive techniques present an unknown stimulus to the puppy which, when not paired with a positive stimulus, is at best neutral and at worst is frightening and/or painful to the puppy, not to mention unpredictable. A stimulus is defined as any object or event that can be detected by the senses that can affect a person or puppy’s behaviour. Puppies who learn to exhibit a specific behaviour to escape or avoid fear or pain are, by definition, being subjected to an aversive stimulus. Studies have indicated that puppies trained in this way show stress signals as they approach the training area and frequently work slowly, deliberately and reluctantly. Such puppies are experiencing an extremely negative emotional state which, ethical issues aside, is not at all conducive to learning. Additionally, it can regularly causes physiological pain and psychological stress to the puppy, often exhibited by vocalization, urination, defecation, fleeing and complete shut-down. In some cases, electronic stimulation devices have been known to burn puppy tissue.
For behaviours to become reliable in any given context or situation, they must be repeatedly practiced in a variety of environments (known as “generalization”). In the initial stages of training, a behaviour is reinforced every time it occurs until it becomes learned, a process known as “continuous reinforcement.” Once learned, a knowledgeable trainer will switch to an intermittent, or random, reinforcement schedule where the puppy is reinforced for only some of his responses. This still reinforces the behaviour, but not enough to make the behaviour completely dependent on the reinforcer. Because reinforcement can occur at any time, the puppy will respond more consistently over time.
Imagine now the exact same situation but replacing positive reinforcement with an unpleasant stimulus such as electronic stimulation. In behaviour terminology, the presentation of an aversive event is known as positive punishment. According to basic learning theory (and in the same way as explained in the various reinforcement schedules above), a puppy would have to be continuously subjected to the electronic stimulation for the behaviour to have any chance of becoming reliable. There is also the risk that the puppy would be continually punished for other behaviours. Either way, the punishment would only cease if the correct behaviour happened to be performed. Then, to maintain the desired behaviour, the puppy would have to be subjected to the electronic stimulation on a random or intermittent basis. It is often the case in such a scenario that the behaviour being trained never becomes reliable. This is because, any time the electronic stimulation device is not present, it is missing from the cue system that the puppy associates with performing – or indeed suppressing – a behaviour. Therefore, in addition to being a highly aversive stimulus, an electronic stimulation device is ineffective unless it is worn frequently, if not constantly.
Global Suppression or “Shut-Down”
A puppy repeatedly subjected to aversive training for several different behaviours may go into a state of “shut-down,” or a global suppression of behaviour. This is frequently mistaken for a “trained” puppy, as the puppy remains subdued and offers few or no behaviours. In extreme cases, puppies may refuse to perform any behaviour at all (known as “learned helplessness”) and isolate themselves in an attempt to avoid any pain. This is obviously completely counter-productive to the training of any new behaviour and to the welfare of the puppy.
Fear, Anxiety and Aggression
Aversive stimuli have a variety of effects and can elicit powerful emotions such as fear and anxiety, emotions which can have a variety of undesirable effects. Even in situations where the fear of punishment makes an puppy work harder, fear or anxiety can lead to a poorer performance. Another possible consequence of presenting an aversive stimulus is that it can elicit aggression. Using aversive stimuli to reduce behaviours such as barking, lunging and growling may suppress signals like these that warn of a more serious imminent behaviour, which may well include biting. Without ritualised aggressive behaviours, people and other puppies have no warning before the puppy being subjected to punishment feels forced to bite.
We work with people every day who, unfortunately, had no idea pf the serious effect of these techniques when they did Brisbane Puppy Training. Fur Get Me Not is a positive canine coach and can assist you to either undo the damage that may have been done or train and raise a happy puppy that grows up to trust you. Contact us today.