Most of the time, we find our dog the apple of our eye. But let's be honest. It's an animal with its own instincts and idiosyncrasies, and there are times when it's making us want to yell at it.
However much you want to, though, a new study proposes that you should never yell at or otherwise punish your dog.
According to research that came out in pre-print in 2019, which PLOS ONE now published, "aversive training" like positive punishment, as well as negative reinforcement, could result in long-term impacts on the mental state of the dog.
In their paper, the researchers wrote, their study findings present that companion dogs trained using "aversive-based methods" had poorer welfare during training sessions compared to dogs that were trained using "rewards-based methods."
Dogs that were also trained with greater extents of aversive-based methods were found to have experienced "poorer welfare outside the training context" compared to dogs trained with reward-based methods."
Negative Effects of Aversive Training
According to ScienceAlert, this sort of study has been conducted in the past and found that aversive training has negative impacts, although such effects have mainly been observed in police and lab dogs.
Additionally, the said science report said the aversive training inclines to be "shock collar training," which is one of the many tools used.
Therefore, the international research team which Portugal-based Universidade de Porto's biologist Ana Catarina Vieira de Castro led, the study authors conducted their new research on pet dogs.
The said dogs were recruited from several training schools in Porto. Forty-two dogs came from three schools that apply reward-based training such as play or food treats, and 50 dogs from four schools that apply mild aversive-based training like yelling, physically controlling the dog, or leash-jerking.
The said two schools employed mild aversive-based training tactics, and two were found harsher. Each of the dogs was filmed during the three training sessions' first 15 minutes, and saliva samples were collected to examine stress levels from training - three from every dog that relaxed at home to begin stress home cortisol's baseline levels, and three from every dog after training.
Dogs' Behavior During Training
The study investigators also studied the dogs' behavior during training to identify stress behaviors like yawning, lip-licking, and yelping, among others.
No longer surprising, the dogs who went through aversive training sessions presented elevated stress behaviors specifically, lip-licking and yawning.
The dogs' saliva substantially had increased cortisol levels, too, compared to when they were at home, relaxing. On the contrary, the positive reinforcement dogs were quite chill, far fewer less stress behaviors, and much more normal levels of cortisol.
Next, the researchers assessed the longer-term impacts of stress. One month following the assessments of the dogs at training, 79 of the dogs were then trained to associate one bowl containing a sausage snack on one side of a room.
The researchers found that if the bowl on that particular side, it was "held a delicious treat," if located on the opposite side, the bowl did not have any treat.
The study investigators then moved the bowls around the room to vague sites to find out how fast the dogs would approach in quest of the treat.
The high-speed result was inferred to mean the dog was expecting a spoonful of delectableness, while a slower speed meant the dog was more negative about the content of the bowl.
Check out more news and information on Positive Training for Dogs in Science Times.