Thursday, 21 April 2011

Aversive training methods and why they might work

This is a place holder - based on some experiences at Crufts 2011 and reading "remote collar training" websites (i.e. shock collars) I've been doing some thinking about why these methods can appear to help, and why sometimes they do. This does NOT mean I advocate their use!

I'll be back to write more shortly, but one of the key concepts that keeps popping up for me is that we have selectively bred animals that are pretty darn forgiving of us no matter what we do to them. Its really not that surprising that dogs continue to seek out affection despite abuse, or obey handlers who use aversive methods - while we might think it demonstrates blind loyalty, or the ability to forgive, these are characteristics we have selected for. The dog that responded to violence with teeth will rarely have been bred in many cases we get away with our behaviour because we have set the situation up in this way.

That doesn't mean its the morally right thing to do, and just because it 'works' doesn't always make it okay either. Sometimes I wish the dogs I see would respond more obviously when they dislike something, so the owners can't tell me "oh he doesn't really mind when I smack him over the nose"....