Although animal behaviour has been widely studied, and there is consensus in the scientific community about what effective training and handling looks like, unfortunately this information has not fully trickled down into the unregulated world of animal training and care. Many people, in a sincere effort to help their pets, have attempted to use out-of-date punitive methods to change their dogs’ behaviour, and been shocked at the side effects that they were not informed were a possibility. The devastating fallout of these methods includes anxiety, fear, and aggression, ranging from mild to severe. These issues are exhausting and often expensive to fix once they’ve surfaced, and often end in heartache for the family and their dog.
Force free methods are effective and have very little risk associated with them. While it can be extremely difficult to change your thinking and your approach, know that the first step is being willing to learn. Many of us have switched over from punitive methods ourselves, and understand the negative side effects very personally. Before obtaining an education in the science of dog behaviour, Carol Neil, the founder and a board member of the Alberta Force Free Alliance, was completely unaware of the risk of aggression she was undertaking when she began training her dog, Cash. She was heartbroken when she had to euthanize him for severe aggression issues. The Alberta Force Free Alliance is dedicated to Cash.