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New Research from Vets – Dog Whispering Likely to Cause Aggression

The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Science has released a pilot study that found that 1/4 of dogs trained with punishment/pinning/growling were likely to respond with aggression, versus almost no aggressive behavior that resulted from methods like the ones we use at Ahimsa.

Yes, you read that correctly. Methods that have the goal of dominating the aggressive dog with force were likely to cause aggression toward the owner and other people or dogs, rather than preventing it.

That’s because those methods create more fear in dogs, which is the root cause of most aggression. So instead of adding sugar to your coffee, pinning your dog is like adding salt to it and wondering why it’s not getting any sweeter.

This is considered a pilot study, because it’s the first of its kind and because the method was to ask 140 dog owners about what they did and what happened, versus observing it in the moment. However, it’s very promising research to support those of us who have known, for a long time, that dog-friendly techniques that eliminate fear, rather than the symptoms, are the way to go.

Meghan Herron, a resident Vet at Penn and the leader of the study wrote, “In the behavioral field, they’re cheering [about this paper]. But we’ve been on this page for years. It’s the public … and the vets that we want to reach.”

The direct link to the UPenn article from this week is here.