If a dog acts up, it’s time to show it who’s boss. Or maybe not. A new client survey from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that many confrontational training methods elicit aggressive responses from dogs, not obedience.
Clients who brought dogs to the school for behavioral training filled out a 30-item survey that asked whether their previous training methods resulted in positive, neutral, or negative reactions from the dogs. Roughly 25 percent said their dogs reacted badly to confrontational methods, including:
> hitting or kicking the dog
> growling at the dog
> physically forcing the release of an item from the dog’s mouth
> staring at—or staring down—the dog
> rolling the dog onto its back and holding it (presumably to show the
dog you’re the alpha animal)
> forcing the dog onto its side
> or grabbing the dog by the jowls and shaking it.
Most owners reported they learned their methods on their own or from dog trainers. In addition, dogs brought to the hospital for aggressive behavior towards familiar people were more likely to respond aggressively to some confrontational techniques than dogs brought in for other behavioral reasons.
“This study highlights the risk of dominance-based training, which has been made popular by TV, books, and punishment-based training advocates,” says Dr. Meghan Herron. “These techniques elicit fear and may lead to owner-directed aggression.”
The study was published in the February 2009 issue of Applied Animal Behavior Science.