The MSPCA-Angell believes that the best approach for training and behavior modification is with rewards-based methodologies. We philosophically oppose those that use aversive stimuli. To this end, we do not recommend the use of force in animal training as it can cause pain, injury, and/or mental suffering for the animal. Additionally, scientific evidence shows that identifying the cause of problem behavior, designing alternative behaviors, and controlling the environment to reduce instances of the behavior using primarily positive reinforcement, desensitization, and counterconditioning, produces the fewest side effects such as increased fear and/or aggression. In some cases, medication is appropriate to increase the effectiveness of training.
The MSPCA-Angell believes that the “Five Freedoms” should be incorporated into the behavior and training activity with all owned animals and those being cared for in adoption centers.
Therefore, the MSPCA-Angell will:
- recommend new options in dog head collars and harnesses that are safe, easy to use, and humane, while also strongly discouraging the use of choke, electronic, and prong collars.
- encourage pet owners to discover their pet’s best reinforcers (appropriate for the species) and use reinforcement in the form of food, praise, and sometimes toys, in order to increase desired behaviors and decreased unwanted behaviors.
- educate the public about how to achieve the best results for long-term behavior by focusing on changing motivation and creating alternative behaviors when animals exhibit problem behaviors.