What is “force free”?

Force free professionals and pet owners prioritize the animal’s comfort and happiness during training, medical care, and day to day life. They use positive reinforcement and close observation of body language to ensure that animals are able to communicate their discomfort and be willing participants in these activities. In addition, they avoid the use of fear, pain, intimidation, and startling when working with an animal, including the use of aversive equipment such as prong collars, e-collars, and choke chains.

Why force free?

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 Many people, in a sincere effort to help their pets, have attempted to use out-of-date punitive methods to change their dogs’ behaviour, and been shocked at the side effects that they were not informed were a possibility.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.

Cash - Alberta Force Free Alliance

Events and Seminars

The Alberta Force Free Alliance is dedicated to providing educational opportunities for animal professionals and members of the public. You can find us at pet-related events around the province giving demonstrations and information. We also hold our Why Force Free? seminar across Alberta throughout the year. This seminar is a prerequisite for joining the Alberta Force Free Alliance as a member, but we also welcome the public and new employees of current members. We and our members may also host guest speakers that may be of interest. Follow the links below for dates and registration information.


Dogs have been an integral part of communities and families for many years, and unfortunately some misinformation and myths have developed in that time. With an unregulated training industry and an endless supply of contradictory articles, books, and videos, it’s all too easy to be misled. Check out Myths and Misunderstandings for some help sorting through the confusion.