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Positive Reinforcement Training

With so many training options available, it can be hard to figure out which is the best method for you and your pet. The animal training industry remains unregulated, leading to a variety of opinions about what methods are the “right” methods. In alignment with our mission to “eliminate pain, fear, and suffering in all animals,” the Humane Society of Utah chooses to use evidence-based force-free training.

We are committed to a behavior program based on positive reinforcement. When training or handling animals, we advocate the use of humane training techniques utilizing evidence-based learning theories. We know that committing to positive reinforcement helps us build trusting relationships with animals while effectively meeting our training goals.

Scientific evidence in support of positive reinforcement-based training has been overwhelming.

Studies show that positive reinforcement leads to improved welfare of companion animals, has a positive influence on the human-animal bond, and is effective in achieving training goals.

We pride ourselves on remaining up-to-date and using the latest information that the scientific community has to offer regarding companion animal training and animal welfare. Our behavior staff are all certified dog trainers and regularly participate in continuing education to ensure that they are familiar with the latest understanding and best practices pertaining to animal behavior. We feel it is our responsibility to provide the most effective training options for our community.

Why Don’t We Use Correction-Based Training Methods?

  • The use of aversive-based methods and equipment, including e-collars, prong collars, choke chains, and other tools can result in fallout including:  
  • Aggression (directed towards the handler or others)
  • Escape/avoidance behavior  
  • Learned Helplessness (apathy)  
  • Generalization of fear to other elements in the environment (including the handler)  
  • We want to grow the human-animal bond by increasing understanding between humans and their pets, establishing clear communication, and putting the welfare of both human and animal first. 
  • The science of behavior across species is well-established and has been studied for decades through fields such as applied behavior analysis and animal welfare science. This field overwhelmingly proves that positive reinforcement is the most humane and effective method to teach and to modify behavior.
  • Using punishment becomes habitual and easily escalates. This is not the relationship we want to promote for pet guardians in our community.


American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Position Statement on Punishment

Does training method matter? Evidence for the negative impact of aversive-based methods on companion dog welfare. Vieira de Castro et al. December 2020

University of Pennsylvania. “If You’re Aggressive, Your Dog Will Be Too, Says Veterinary Study.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2009.

Efficacy of Dog Training With and Without Remote Electronic Collars vs. a Focus on Positive Reinforcement China et al. July 2020

Electronic Training Collars Present Welfare Risk to Pet Dogs. Cooper Et Al September 2014

IAABC Statement on LIMA

“What’s Wrong With This Picture? Effectiveness is not Enough” Dr .Susan Friedman

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