A new study says dogs trained with negative reinforcement may have worse long and short-term mental health than dogs trained with positive reinforcement. (Paul Henderson/File Photo)

Yelling at your dog might hurt its long-term mental health: study

Researchers find dogs trained using negative reinforcement are more ‘pessimistic’

Yelling at your dog can have negative impacts on its long-term and short-term mental health, according to a new study.

A group of European researchers set out to learn the short and long-term impacts of dog training using negative reinforcement (aversive-based methods) and positive reinforcement or reward-based methods.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria dog trainer recognized by BC SPCA for humane standards

The study used 92 dogs from three reward-based training schools and four aversive-based training schools and conducted a “short-term welfare assessment” in which training sessions were video recorded and saliva samples were collected both at home and after a training session.

The videos were assessed for stress-related behaviours – which according to the study include lip licking and yawning – and overall behavioural states. The saliva samples were tested for cortisol concentration.

According to researchers, dogs from aversive training groups displayed more stress-related, tense behaviour and body language. These dogs’ saliva samples also contained high elevation of cortisol after training.

In order to test long-term impacts, researchers had the dogs perform a cognitive task – in this case, finding a bowl that were in some cases baited with a sausage and in others just rubbed with the sausage. With certain locations associated with the bowl containing a sausage, and others associated with the bowl being empty. The time it took for the dogs to find the bowl was recorded. A final test with an empty bowl in the centre of the two locations determined how hopeful the dogs would be that the bowl would contain the treat.

READ ALSO: WATCH: BC Guide Dogs needs puppy training volunteers

The study reads: “Dogs from group Aversive displayed a more ‘pessimistic’ judgment of the ‘middle’ ambiguous test location in the cognitive bias task, revealing less positive underlying affective states.”

Researchers also found that dogs who were trained with positive reinforcement learned the cognitive task faster than the other groups.

“Critically, our study points to the fact that the welfare of companion dogs trained with aversive-based methods appears to be at risk.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Stevenson reflects on her seven years as Chemainus Elementary School principal

Strong community and parent support for the school always evident during her tenure

Camp Yellow Dog provides a structured home away from home

Pampered pooches enjoy the royal retreatment, but keep active, too

One piper piping during the pandemic

Tribute to health care workers reaches the 100th performance

Grads’ gratification goes beyond words for prom

Thankful Chemainus Secondary class enjoys a celebratory evening

Symphony pop-up concerts coming to Saltair

Only 40 tickets available so get them soon if you’re interested

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

RCMP investigate threat against Indigenous totem poles on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast

Police describe the nature of the threat as ‘sensitive’

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Most Read