Scientific article night at OhMyDog!

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Every so often, the team and other science-crazy friends meets up around a glass (or two) of beer and cocktails to discuss an interesting research article around dog behaviour or cognition.

It gives us a moment to really take in the results of the latest scientific developments in our field, and read the more obscure articles we wouldnot necessarily have taken the time to read thoroughly otherwise. Last night, we read Meghan Herron et al’s 2009 article comparing the safety of confrontational vs. reward-based methods to address undesired behaviour.

Some interesting points:

  • People talk to their trainers about their dog’s behaviour problems rather than to their vets (good)
  • People get their advice on serious dog behaviour problems from … TV, the internet and neighbours (not good)
  • The article doesn’t make a distinction between a trainer and a behaviour therapist. (not so good) Nor between a GP vet and a vet behaviourist (not so good)
  • Faaaaar too many dog professional still advise unethical and unsafe confrontational methods like jabbing the dog in the neck, hitting the dog, etc.
  • The confrontational methods covered were perceived by the owners as being relatively effective. The reward-based methods covered were perceived by the owners as being very effective.
  • The confrontational methods covered resulted in backlash (dog attacking back) in much much much greater proportions than reward-based methods did (close to 0 backlash reported).

We won’t bore you with methodology, but there were, as with every article, some issues (acknowledged by the authors, kudos there) around sampling, etc. and the statistics were simplistic.

In case you’re interested, the article is here.

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