Skip to main content

Pet Professional Guild publishes open letter to pet industry associations on the use of shock

Calls on organizations representing pet professionals to drive significant change by publicly saying “no” to any training technique that causes pain or fear

PPG Logo Hi Res Dog and CatTAMPA, Fla.March 6, 2017PRLog — Pet Professional Guild (PPG) has released an open letter to pet industry representatives on the use of electric shock as a tool for training and behavior modification in pets. In the letter, PPG draws on a number of scientific studies and surveys to explain why shock constitutes a form of abuse towards pets, and should no longer be a part of the current pet industry culture of accepted practices, equipment or philosophies, particularly when there are highly effective, positive, humane and scientifically sound alternatives.

One such study is Ziv’s (2017) The Effects of Using Aversive Training Methods in Dogs – A Review, recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research. Ziv concludes that “there is “no evidence to suggest that aversive training methods are more effective than reward based training methods” and that, in fact, studies suggest “the opposite might be true in both pets and working dogs.” At the outset of the letter, PPG asks three key questions of professional associations and credentialing bodies, speculating whether they can work within the confines of applied animal behavior without endorsing or enabling shock collar practitioners; whether they can redefine the rules for humane hierarchies simply by applying a layer of ethics that rules out certain equipment choices deemed highly aversive and invasive; and whether they should be identified by training philosophy and tools of choice, thus enabling pet owners to make informed and transparent choices on behalf of their pets.

PPG notes that there are many “organizations, associations and councils responsible for the representation, guidance and certification of pet industry professionals” that still adhere to the belief that “shock is an acceptable way to train, care for and manage pets,” and sets out the many problems with such an approach, not least the infliction of stress and pain (unintentional or not), global suppression of behavior (or “shut-down”), generalization, escalation, redirected aggression, and suppressed aggression, amongst others. The letter also refers to glossy marketing terms that “mislead unsuspecting owners looking for humane ways to train their pets” and states that such terms are “carefully crafted to appeal to pet guardians who may not always understand the various training methods available, or the fallout and unintended consequences of making the wrong choice… [and do not] provide consumers the autonomy to make ethical decisions on behalf of their pets.”

PPG goes on to point out that industry associations and credentialing bodies “play a critical role in establishing and recommending best practices, education, leadership and technical standards in their respective arena. With this role comes the obligation to take a transparent and consistent position on important and urgent issues, including training practices and equipment use.” The letter states that professional animal training and behavior associations must take “full responsibility for the fact that pet owners are encouraged to purchase services from their members purely by association, and through their efforts to market said members to the general pet owning public.” PPG recognizes, however, that this, unfortunately, “does not take into account the vast differences in methodology and philosophy that may exist across an organization’s membership body.”

“Because of this, there is little, if any, transparency in terms of the risks and benefits associated with the type of training, behavior modification or pet care services provided, nor any differentiation between members of professional associations who practice a force-free training philosophy, and those who still risk physical or psychological harm to pets through their approach and the use of aversive tools and techniques,” said PPG president, Niki Tudge. “To bring about change and improve the welfare of pets all over the world, PPG encourages all organizations to embrace unequivocally the vast body of scientific research that details the many advantages of positive training methods, including this latest review, and publicly say “no” to any techniques that cause pain or fear — including those administered via equipment that delivers electric shocks. By working together, we have the ability to achieve this, and successfully reach the ultimate goal, which must be to do no harm to the animals in our charge.”

Read the complete Open Letter to Pet Industry Representatives Regarding the Use of Shock in Animal Training.

Spread the love