THERAPY DOG TRAINING POSITION STATEMENT
Angel Paws honors and respects the uniquely intimate relationships we have with our dogs and believes that dog training is a personal choice. Every team begins with their own individual needs that take time to identify and address so we encourage all candidates to begin that process ASAP. We are here to help our candidates succeed in becoming a relaxed, confident, safe and effective therapy TEAM. However, Angel Paws' Pet Partners candidates are ultimately responsible for their own dog training.
Toward that goal, our Governing Board of Directors made a unanimous decision in July of 2010 that, although candidates are still free to train their dogs however they choose, our own list of recommended dog trainers (who are all professional members of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) AKC CGC Evaluators among other professional certifications) are now limited to trainers who have been trained in the use of and focus exclusively on true systematic Positive Reinforcement Dog Training methods for classroom training; and any Therapy Dog Training Courses we offer will focus exclusively on true Positive Reinforcement Dog Training balanced with benevolent Leadership & Socialization.
“Positive Reinforcement Dog Training” can mean many things to many people and there are many experienced and knowledgeable trainers using a combination of positive reinforcement with other practices so we find it necessary to be very clear on this issue. Although volunteer candidates are still, as always, free to train however they choose with whatever trainer they choose our referrals and recommendations (and certainly our own Therapy Dog Training Courses) are now limited to trainers who do NOT allow prong, pinch, choke or electronic collars or teach "leash popping" even on a plan collar in their training classes.
After attempting a compromise on this issue in past years this compromise has proven to be problematic for Angel Paws training and development for many reasons. In our efforts to offer our volunteer candidates the very best opportunity to be successful, confident, relaxed and effective Pet Partners we have found that use of these collars and leash popping techniques (which are not allowed during either Delta Society Pet Partners Skills & Aptitude Tests, therapeutic visitation, R.E.A.D., or any other Pet Partners activities) are far more often than not problematic and counterproductive to our goals even if only used for training purposes. (Adverse effects are described in detail on the AVSAB Position Statement quoted on the right of this page, their "Guidelines on the Use of Punishment for Dealing with Behavior Problems in Animals" and "Adverse Effects of Punishment" on both their web site and ours) as well as on our "Why NO Choke, Prong or E-Collars?" page.
We assure there will be no prejudice whatsoever to any candidate who chooses to train with these collars. And this is certainly not intended to impugn the reputation of any one individual or group of trainers who might allow or employ the use of these collars. The essential observable and applied working relationship between animal/handler Pet Partners while interacting with clients as required by Delta Society remain, as always, our ONLY concern during our screening process. How that relationship is achieved is entirely up to each individual.
HOWEVER, particularly in consideration of the unique work our candidates are preparing for - as a result of what our Director has witnessed as a registered Pet Partner since 1999 and as a licensed Delta Society Pet Partners evaluator/instructor since 2003- in conjunction with extensive research including consultation with a variety of professionals with extensive experience in both Delta Society Pet Partners dog training and evaluators training, in addition to various published resources, our recommendations are not to use these collars. In addition to specific volunteer candidate referrals our efforts are to advocate the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's (AVSAB) positions on Punishment and Guidelines on the Use of Punishment for Dealing with Behavior Problems in Animals with regards to the use of such collars.
We respect that there are differing opinions on this issue and that yours may differ from ours. However we do ask for your cooperation in our efforts to update and educate ourselves on ALL relative issues and share that awareness with the community at large - as reflected in our Core Values. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has a position statement on How to Choose a Trainer also and can be read by clicking HERE (or read below right).
For a more thorough understanding of the specific rationale and support for this position please review the AVSAB Position Statements copied on our web pages along with Does My Dog Need Special Therapy Dog Training? ,... Why No Prong, Choke or E -Collars,... and Canine Behavior Myths. A complete list including descriptions and links to our Recommended Dog Trainers can be found by clicking right HERE as well. AND, AS ALWAYS, PLEASE DON’T HESITATE TO CONTACT US DIRECTLY WITH ANY QUESTIONS, COMMENTS OR CONCERNS.
Journal of Veterinary Behavior Clinical Applications & Research
*** “They (choke, prong & e-collars) do not work the way people think they do, and there are better tools and understandings for accomplishing what people who use these seek to accomplish. Such tools ‘work’ by engendering fear, pain, and distrust, and in doing so they cause long-term damage that make dogs more reactive, less trusting, and less able to reach their full potential in their partnership with humans, no matter what form that partnership takes. These are not my opinions: these are the findings from the scientific literature, and this is an essential point. As a scientist I do not have the luxury of claiming that I am right because I have done something one way for years, nor do I have the ability to assert that a technique does not injure dogs when the evidence indicates otherwise. Science is about understanding patterns in how the world works and, as such, provides a methodology by which we can test claims and assertions. When these adversarial methods have been tested rigorously, they have been found wanting. ... 'Obedient' dogs can be quite distressed, and suffer from profound anxiety while complying with a request. ... A blind reliance on these methods is preventing handlers and trainers from having a partnership with science and scientists that would benefit both of them. The historic use of adversarial, coercive techniques no longer makes sense given what we now know about dog cognition and learning. We can do better. The canine handler teams that work best are those that best understand and trust each other. Anything that interferes with that trust and understanding is hurting the team."
- Karen Overall, Journal of Veterinary Behavior Clinical Applications & Research (2007)
Therapy Dogs Today, Their Gifts, Our Obligation
*** "Effective visiting process consists of handlers who appropriately present their dogs and dogs who appropriately receive the people being visited. Handlers must be familiar with ways to reward appropriate behaviors and redirect inappropriate behaviors of their dogs during visits without using noticeable techniques or corrections during visits. ... It is important to note that a dog’s perception can differ greatly from a human’s perception of the very same event. ... All the screening and training in the world will not prepare a dog for the challenges of intimacy and emotion encountered in visiting animal programs. ... Handler’s who protect their dogs from undo stress increase their dog’s confidence. Success breeds confidence and confidence encourages continued growth. A dog’s level of confidence in the handler is based both on their lifelong relationship and how the dog perceives the handler’s behavior in the moment."
- Therapy Dogs Today, Their Gifts, Our Obligation
15 Questions to Ask Yourself if You Are Interested In Volunteering as a Pet Partner Therapy Team
Click on Fullscreen to view. This is not a test! Your candid answers to these questions will simply help us, and you, know how we may best help you get started on the road to success in our program.
Angel Paws' goal is to help Pet Partners volunteer candidates preserve and nurture our dog's spontaneous natural curiosity, interest, and joy for interacting with others - while teaching the appropriate manners and teamwork necessary to be a safe and effective therapy team!
WE HEAR YOU! Good Therapy Dogs DO "Think & Innovate while being themselves"! Our goal is to preserve and nurture your dog's spontaneous, natural curiosity, interest, and joy for interacting with others - while teaching the appropriate manners and teamwork necessary to be a safe and effective therapy TEAM! In order to do that we HIGHLY recommend true Positive Reinforcement Dog Training taught by a trained professional Positive Reinforcement Dog Trainer.
Consider how your dog experiences learning.
AVSAB Position Statement on How To Choose a Trainer
"Choosing a dog trainer can be one of the most important decisions that you make in your dog's life. The techniques that a trainer uses can strongly affect how you interact with your dog for years to come. Therefore, it is very important to choose your trainer wisely. Here are some guidelines for choosing a dog trainer. Remember, training should be a fun experience for both you and your dog. ... Trainers who routinely use choke collars, pinch collars, shock collars and other methods of physical punishment as a primary training method should be avoided. " - AVSAB
"AVSAB’s position is that punishment
(e.g. choke chains, pinch collars, and electronic collars)
should not be used as a first-line or early use treatment
for behavior problems."
- American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) is a group of veterinarians and research professionals who share an interest in understanding behavior in animals. Founded in 1976, AVSAB is committed to improving the quality of life of all animals and strengthening the bond between animals and their owners.
For more comprehensive information on this topic please see
AVSAB Position Statements
*AMERICAN VETERINARY SOCIETY OF ANIMAL BEHAVIOR POSITION STATEMENT ON THE USE OF PUNISHMENT FOR BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION
"AVSAB’s position is that punishment1 (e.g. CHOKE CHAINS, PINCH COLLARS, AND ELECTRIC COLLARS) should not be used as a first-line or early-use treatment for behavior problems. This is due to the potential adverse effects which include but are not limited to: inhibition of learning, increased fear-related and aggressive behaviors, and injury to animals and people interacting with animals.
AVSAB recommends that training should focus on reinforcing desired behaviors, removing the reinforcer for inappropriate behaviors, and addressing the emotional state and environmental conditions driving the undesirable behavior. This approach promotes a better understanding of the pet’s behavior and better awareness of how humans may have inadvertently contributed to the development of the undesirable behavior. Punishment should only be used when the above approach has failed despite an adequate effort as part of a larger training or behavior modification program that incorporates reinforcement of appropriate behaviors and works to change the underlying cause of the problem behavior.
AVSAB recognizes that both positive reinforcement and punishment require significant skill, effort, and awareness on the owner’s part. Both must be applied as the animal is performing the target behavior or within one second of the behavior to be most effective. Additionally, both work best when applied every time the behavior occurs so that the animal is not inadvertently rewarded for undesirable behavior during the modification process. If punishment is added to a modification plan, it should only be used if the owner has first demonstrated reasonable ability and consistency at rewarding appropriate behaviors and removing the reward for bad behavior. If punishment is suggested as part of a complete behavior modification plan, owners should not begin using it until they have ensured that the person helping them is able to articulate the major adverse effects of punishment, judge when these effects are occurring over the short term and long term, and can explain how they will reverse the adverse effects if they occur."
* AMERICAN VETERINARY SOCIETY OF ANIMAL BEHAVIOR POSITION STATEMENTS ON THE USE OF PUNISHMENT & DOMINANCE THEORY
* JOURNAL OF VETERINARY BEHAVIOR CLINICAL APPLICATIONS AND RESEARCH: "Considerations for shock and ‘training’ collars: Concerns from and for the working dog community"
* CANINE BEHAVIOR MYTHS
* THE ANIMAL BEHAVIOR RESOURCES INSTITUTE http://abrionline.org/index.php
PLEASE DOWNLOAD, COMPLETE & RETURN: Angel Paws Animal/Handler Team Application and "15 Questions ..." These files are open to be typed onto so please complete and return by email.
Links to our Important Dog Training Web Pages Include: