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Effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs

Cooper, Jonathan and Cracknell, Nina and Hardiman, Jessica and Mills, Daniel (2010) Effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs. Project Report. DEFRA.

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Abstract

This proposal aims to assess the welfare of dogs trained with pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse collar systems (excluding electric dog fences). A number of versions of such training aids are available in UK, which differ in two ways. Firstly in the intensity of re-inforcement with most devices operating over a range of intensities. Secondly, devices can include a warning or secondary conditioning stimulus to precede application of the reinforcing stimulus.

Whilst many dog owners and trainers consider these devices to be valuable training aids, their use is controversial and electronic devices have been banned in several European countries. Critics of remote static pulse training aids argue that they cause unnecessary pain; and that other methods, such as positive reinforcement training, should be employed to modify dogs’ behaviour. Those in favour of remote static pulse training aids argue that, when applied correctly, they can successfully recondition undesirable behaviour, especially behaviour that is highly motivated and difficult to control using other methods. Evidence of the impact of such devices on dog's overall quality of life is inconclusive, particularly on the long-term effects of the use of electronic training aids. This proposal aims to address these concerns, assessing the immediate and longer term physiological, behavioural and psychological effects of the use of these devices. in addition, the physical characteristics of the devices will be evaluated by bench testing their outputs and reliability.

The project had a single aim, namely to assess the impact of use of remote static pulse electric training aids (ecollars)
during the training of dogs in comparison to dogs referred for similar behavioural problems but without ecollar
training. The specific objective was to use appropriate behavioural and physiological measures to make
inferences about the welfare of subjects including their aversion and anxiety during and following training. A
secondary objective was to evaluate the efficacy of treatment and possible explanations for any differences
between treatment groups. These included owner assessment of severity of problem, population characteristics,
trainer factors and temperament of dogs. The study design was developed following consultation with trainers to
ensure a protocol that was representative of advised best practice in use of e-collars. Adult dogs (n=63)
undergoing training by professional trainers were recruited to investigate the welfare consequences of
behavioural modification incorporating e-collars, in comparison to positive reward based training. Dogs had been
referred for problems commonly addressed using e-collars (recall problems and livestock/wildlife worrying) and
were divided into three populations; one using e-collars and two control populations where dogs were not
exposed to e-collars.

Additional Information:AW1402
Keywords:Dog training aids, e-collars, Animal welfare, Companion animals
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:11254
Deposited On:16 Jul 2013 13:41

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