Updated: Oct 5, 2021
A common trend on social media has caught my eye recently, that of trainers and pet parents who use aversive* (definition at bottom) stimuli and tools attempting to discount the science with videos captioned with:
“Look how excited my dog is to see their e-collar!”
“My dog doesn’t mind it at all, they put it right on!”
“Does this dog look shut down?”
Or variations on the theme that the observer can see that using aversive methodology or tool has not caused any adverse side effects in a <60 sec. clip. This is not new, these are attempts to justify the use of aversive stimuli that have been around as long as the tools themselves, however the idea seems to be gaining new traction in a fantastical world of manufactured and brief footage. Unfortunately these arguments ignore the very nature of what science tells us about the application of aversive stimuli in training and behavior. Without truly understanding the point of contention, it is difficult for these arguments to be taken seriously. Additionally, it puts pet owners and their pets at risk by perpetuating a misguided misinterpretation of the science.