Mark's Dog Blog

Is there a correlation between current training methodology & the increase in dog bites?

Is there a correlation between current training methodology & the increase in dog bites?

I have been working with dogs full-time in a professional capacity for 36 years now.. So I feel this gives me a right to voice my opinion on the major changes I have seen in dog behaviour over this period. I tell you... I have seen it all!

graph
This graph is borrowed from the website 'Victoria's future in responsible canine guardianship' (https://responsiblecanineguardianshipvictoria.wordpress.com)

The above graph shows the dramatic increase in dog bite hospitalisations over the period 1999 to 2014 in Victoria. So what has changed over this period to cause such a dramatic increase?

16 years ago, balanced and traditional training methods were the norm. Dog owners weren't fearful of correcting their dogs to set rules and boundaries and to establish structure based on predictable consequences. Training utilising the 4 quadrants of operant conditioning was the norm, totally accepted, and more importantly proven to be effective. Over the past 16 years the increase in emotive based positive-only trainers and training methodology has been increasing to such a level that they now out number the more traditional or balanced type trainer. I firmly believe the increase shown in the attached graph is directly in proportion to the increase in the numbers of positive-only trainers operating over this period, and the numbers of dog owners attracted to their emotive based agenda. Pushing the furbaby concept and wrap your little babies in cotton wool, so as not to hurt their feelings.

operant quadrants1
The 4 quadrants of operant conditioning. Traditional dog training

16 years ago, you rarely came across vets advertising puppy preschools. These preschools only became the norm due to the advent of the positive-only movement. Now, more than 90% of Vet surgeries hold puppy classes, and more than 95% of these are positive-only. Now if more dog owners now than 16 years ago, are taking their pups to preschools to learn how to raise them correctly, why is the incidents of dog aggression increasing and not decreasing? Why over the past 16 years have I seen a dramatic increase in the cases of dogs with high levels of anxiety?

Do a search on Google, and you will find that positive-only trainers now vastly out number the more traditional and balanced trainers, and their numbers continue to grow at an alarming rate.

More dogs than ever before are being prescribed psychotropic drugs such as Prozac and Valium, to mask behaviours that the current new age training methodology cannot in most cases help with, such as anxiety and aggression based behaviours. Where the more traditional and balanced type training methods have an incredible success rate, with these behavioural issues, and without the need for medicating.

Dog bites are continuing to increase at an alarming rate, due to a lack of proper discipline by not following the 4 quadrants of the training matrix. These training methods are proven to ensure well balanced dogs, and teaching dogs to avoid many of these unwanted and dangerous behaviours.

Dog to dog aggression, such as on-lead reactivity has increased by unrealistic levels over the past 12 years or so, and has now become a major epidemic. My number one call out is for on-lead reactivity, and yes majority of them had previously followed the positive-only rhetoric that correcting your dog was cruel and inhumane.

More dogs than ever before are being dumped in pounds or PTS due to unacceptable and/or aggressive behaviours.

Discipline in the past 16 years has increasingly been pushed aside and virtually outlawed by these extremists groups getting a foothold, by feeding on dog owners emotional heartstrings, and pushing political correctness. Behaviour management has become the norm, with a strong push to medicating.They push the abusive trainer concept, stating that any type of punishment is inhumane, and publish misleading imagery and sensationalist propaganda to push their agenda, to feed on dog owners emotions.

Common sense needs to prevail and be put back in to the equation in regards to how these new age and emotive based training methods are affecting our relationship with our dogs. A 'proper' study should done on the effects of dog training methods and their changes over the past 16 years, and how these dramatic changes have impacted on our relationship with our dogs. This study needs to be unbiased, and not conducted in some laboratory to push an emotive agenda. But a serious study. To me its obvious..surely you too can see there is a very strong correlation between the dramatic change in training methods over the past 16 years, and the increase in dog bites, unwanted behaviours, the numbers of dogs now prescribed psychotropic drugs, and even PTS because of behavioural issues?

My views on Victoria Stilwells latest blog