If you’re aggressive, your doggie won’t lag behind

February 18th, 2009 - 11:52 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 18 (IANS) People who use confrontational methods to train their dogs, will only end up raising equally aggressive animals, according to a year long veterinary survey.
The study showed that using neutral training methods such as additional exercise or rewards elicited very few aggressive responses.

“Nationwide, the number one reason why dog owners take their pet to a veterinary behaviourist is to manage aggressive behaviour,” said Meghan E. Herron, co-author of the study from University of Pennsylvania.

“Our study demonstrated that many confrontational training methods, whether staring down dogs, striking them or intimidating them with physical manipulation does little to correct improper behaviour and can elicit aggressive responses.”

The team from the School of Veterinary Medicine at Penn suggest that primary-care veterinarians advise owners of the risks associated with such training methods and provide guidance and resources for safe management of behaviour problems.

“This study highlights the risk of dominance-based training, which has been made popular by TV, books and punishment-based training advocates,” Herron said. “These techniques are fear-eliciting and may lead to owner-directed aggression.”

Prior to seeking the counsel of a veterinary behaviourist, many dog owners attempt behaviour-modification techniques suggested by a variety of sources, said a Penn release.

Recommendations often include the aversive-training techniques, all of which may provoke fearful or defensively aggressive behaviour.

Their common use may have grown from the idea that canine aggression is rooted in the need for social dominance or to a lack of dominance displayed by the owner. Advocates of this theory therefore suggest owners establish an “alpha” or pack-leader role.

The report was published in the current issue of Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

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