American Veterinarian Society on Animal Behavior Dominance Statement.

Key Points•

Despite the fact that advances in behavior research have modified our understanding of social hierarchies in wolves, many animal trainers continue to base their training meth- ods on outdated perceptions of dominance theory. (Refer to Myths About Dominance and Wolf Behavior as It Relates to Dogs)

Dominance is defined as a relationship between individual animals that is established by force/aggression and submission, to determine who has priority access to multiple resources such as food, preferred resting spots, and mates (Bernstein 1981;Drews 1993). Most undesirable behaviors in our pets are not related to priority access to resources; rather, they are due to accidental rewarding of the undesirable behavior.

The AVSAB recommends that veterinarians not refer clients to trainers or behavior consultants who coach and advocate domi- nance hierarchy theory and the subsequent confrontational training that follows from it.

Instead, the AVSAB emphasizes that animal training, behavior prevention strategies, and behavior modification programs shouldfollow the scientifically based guidelines of positive reinforcement, operant conditioning, classical conditioning, desensitization, and counter conditioning.

The AVSAB recommends that veterinarians identify and refer clients only to trainers and behavior consultants who understand the principles of learning theory and who focus on reinforcing desirable behaviors and removing the reinforcement for undesirable behaviors.

Read the entire statement here: https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Dominance_Position_Statement_download-10-3-14.pdf

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