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

Just Posted

Police investigating string of break-ins at closed Saanich care home

Electronics, tools reported stolen from Mount Tolmie Hospital

Laid-off hotel workers begin hunger strike demanding job protection

Laid-off workers not sure what they’ll do when government support programs end

Improvements flowing to Sooke salmon hatchery

Sooke River Jack Brooks Hatchery hooks major funding

UVic, rowing coach sued over alleged ‘fat shaming’ and verbal abuse

Lawsuit says Barney Williams subjected coxswain Lily Copeland to offensive and belittling language

Victoria’s top 10 worst intersections for crashes in 2019

Last year saw 2,560 crashes in Victoria

VIDEO: Disabled Vancouver Island feline teaching foster kittens ‘how to cat’

Life goes from sour to sweet for Lemon, an adopted cat from B.C. SPCA Nanaimo

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Infamous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and other destinations

COVID-19 could mean curtains for film and TV extras

Background performers worry they’re being replaced by mannequins on film and TV sets

‘Huckleberry’ the bear killed after B.C. residents admit to leaving garbage out for videos

North Shore Black Bear Society said it was local residents who created a ‘death sentence’ for bear

Researchers find cannabis use in pregnancy linked to greater risk of autism

Researchers caution findings only show association — not cause and effect

Small Manitoba town mourning after well-liked teens killed by tornado

Melita residents feeling profound grief after the deaths of Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury

Antonio Banderas says he’s tested positive for coronavirus

Acclaimed actor celebrating his 60th birthday in quarantine

Parksville artist takes home Sooke Fine Arts People’s Choice Award

Francine Street’s winning piece is titled ‘Ken’

Shady Lady: legendary Catalina touches down on Vancouver Island

Two flying boats test the waters west of Youbou, make Port Alberni pitstop

Most Read