Post List

All posts; Tags Include "Punishment"

(Modify Search »)

  • February 15, 2017
  • 01:00 PM

"Dominance" Training Deprives Dogs of Positive Experiences

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Dominance is an outdated approach to dog training – and it also means dogs miss out on fun.Approaches to dog training based on dominance rely on the idea that you have to be the ‘alpha’ or pack leader. Unfortunately, this type of dog training is not just out-of-date and potentially risky, but modern approaches to dog training are also a lot more fun – for you and the dog.What is dominance in dog training?We sometimes hear the phrase ‘my dog is being dominant.’ ‘Your dog is being do........ Read more »

  • August 17, 2016
  • 12:45 PM

In Dog Training, Balance Is Off

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

It’s not a good thing when dog trainers describe themselves as ‘balanced’. Here’s why.When you think about balancing dogs, your first thoughts might be of a dog walking along a beam, all nicely balanced and not falling off. Or maybe of a dog posing for a photo with a pile of cookies balanced on their muzzle, to show off how good their balancing skills are.But, unfortunately, this is not what people mean when they refer to ‘balanced’ dog training.Balance is one of those weasel words i........ Read more »

  • June 16, 2016
  • 09:30 AM

Seven Reasons to Use Reward-Based Dog Training

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

It’s amazing what we can do when we use rewards to train our companion animals. Here are some reasons to give it a try.Positive reinforcement is recommended by professional organizationsMany professional organizations have spoken out against the use of punishment in dog training because the scientific evidence shows that it carries risks.For example, Dogs Trust recommend the use of rewards in dog training. “In order to be effective and to gain the best results, all training should be based a........ Read more »

Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J., & Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2004) Dog training methods: Their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Animal Welfare, 63-69. info:/

  • June 8, 2016
  • 11:00 AM

Canine Science is Better than Common Sense

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

We need canine science because common sense can lead us astray.Recently I wrote about why science matters to our dogs and cats, based on findings from Dr. Paige Jarreau’s research that suggests science blogs (like this one) may contribute to readers having a better knowledge of science.I thought of this again recently because a comment I often see from readers – on any kind of science story on the internet – is "don’t we know this already? Isn’t it just common sense?"I understand the c........ Read more »

  • September 16, 2015
  • 09:30 AM

Make your dog happy. Train force free.

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

We can promote animal welfare by making learning a rewarding experience.By now, many people are familiar with the idea that using aversives to train dogs can have side effects. Studies show a correlation between aversive techniques (such as hitting, pinning, leash jerks and shock) and behaviour problems like aggression (Herron et al 2009; Casey et al 2014). One study found dogs in a training class that used aversives showed signs of stress and were less likely to look at their owners than in a s........ Read more »

  • July 22, 2015
  • 09:30 AM

Re-Arranging Metaphors for Dogs

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

The problems with the wolf pack metaphor go deeper than you think.One of the metaphors many dog trainers despair of is that of the wolf pack. According to this, you are supposed to be ‘leader of the pack’ to your dog, who is trying all the time to be ‘dominant’. The way you stop this is to be ‘dominant’ yourself which involves awful things like ‘alpha rolls’. It’s surprisingly pervasive. It is not really based on science but on a kind of folk science, of how wolf packs are........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2015
  • 09:30 AM

Where Do People Get Information About Dog Training?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Can people be blamed for dog training mistakes when there is so much erroneous information out there?Recently I saw a man walking a German Shepherd. Even from a distance it was clear the dog was nervous: his posture was low to the ground and the way he was walking made me wonder what kind of equipment he was on. As I waited at the traffic lights, I got a chance to see: a prong collar, tight, positioned high on his neck.There are easy alternatives, the simplest being a no-pull harness. I began to........ Read more »

Branson, N., Cobb, M., & McGreevy, P. (2009) Australian Working Dog Survey Report. Australian Animal Welfare Strategy. info:/

Deldalle, S., & Gaunet, F. (2014) Effects of two training methods on stress-related behaviors of the dog. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 9(2), 58-65. info:/

  • March 24, 2015
  • 06:40 PM

Did belief in ghosts help kick-start civilization?

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

In a remote highland region of south-eastern Turkey lies the remains of what is possibly the world’s old temple. Dating to 11,000 years ago, it predates even the rise of agriculture – as far as we can tell, it also predates the first complex societies. Now, not all religions are the same. Some (a minority, [Read More...]... Read more »

Watts, J., Greenhill, S., Atkinson, Q., Currie, T., Bulbulia, J., & Gray, R. (2015) Broad supernatural punishment but not moralizing high gods precede the evolution of political complexity in Austronesia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282(1804), 20142556-20142556. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.2556  

  • January 7, 2015
  • 09:30 AM

Does It Matter What Age You Neuter Your Kitten?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

New research investigates whether age of neutering affects feline behaviour – and looks at punishment and other variables too.Photo: NCAimages / ShutterstockThere are so many cats without homes that some shelters neuter kittens early, at 8 – 12 weeks old, so they are neutered prior to adoption. This is the only way they can guarantee that a kitten will be neutered. Normally, cats are neutered at 6 – 8 months old. Kittens, like puppies, have a sensitive period that is an important soci........ Read more »

  • February 12, 2014
  • 09:30 AM

Dog Training, Animal Welfare, and the Human-Canine Relationship

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Many people are concerned that aversive-based dog training methods can have side-effects. A new study by Stéphanie Deldalle and Florence Gaunet (in press in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior) observes dogs and their humans at training classes using either positive or negative reinforcement. The results support the idea that positive reinforcement is beneficial for the canine-human bond and better for animal welfare.Photo: godrick / ShutterstockThe scientists looked at on-leash walking an........ Read more »

  • January 15, 2014
  • 09:30 AM

Dangerous Dogs: Time for a Rethink?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

What are the risk factors for aggression in dogs? New research suggests it’s time to stop thinking of dogs as either ‘safe’ or ‘dangerous’. In most cases canine aggression seems to be a learned response to a particular situation, not a personality characteristic, since a dog that growls or bites in one situation may not do so in other contexts. Normal 0 false false false EN-CA X-NONE X-NONE ........ Read more »

Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J., & Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2004) Dog training methods: Their use, effectiveness, and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Animal Welfare, 63-69. info:/

  • May 1, 2013
  • 09:30 AM

Describing Dog Training: Weasel words or clear descriptions?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Dog training is an unlicensed profession. Sometimes it surprises people to learn there is a science to training, the origins of which can be traced back to Pavlov and Skinner. When studying how ordinary people train their dogs, scientists have to map between technical terms and everyday language. How do they do this?You’ve probably heard the phrase that “dogs do what works”, as explained by Jean Donaldson in her wonderful book The Culture Clash. What this means is, the behaviours tha........ Read more »

Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J., & Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2004) Dog training methods: Their use, effectiveness, and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Animal Welfare, 63-69. info:/

  • July 21, 2011
  • 04:55 PM

We condemn more when we think we're being watched

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

In a nice new study, Pierrick Bourrat (at the University of Sydney) and colleagues have shown that people are more likely to judge others severely when they are given even subtle hints of being watched.

The set-up was simple. The subjects (recruited from the Campus Universitaire de Jussieu in Paris) had to read a tale of a minor misdeed - finding a wallet in the street and keeping the cash, or falsifying a resume - and then judge how morally wrong it was.

The twist was that half the subjects h........ Read more »

Bourra P, Baumard N, & McKay R. (2011) Surveillance Cues Enhance Moral Condemnation. Evolutionary Psychology, 9(2), 192-199. info:/

  • November 27, 2010
  • 06:20 PM

Religion promotes punishing wrongdoers - but is that a good thing?

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

"Costly punishment" is the term used to describe an interesting phenomenon in which people will punish wrongdoers even if it brings a cost to themselves. For example, you could imagine a situation where a vigilante attempts to beat up a criminal - risky, if the criminal gets the upper hand. It's an understandable reaction if you are going to have to deal with the individual again.

Yet lab studies show that people will punish misbehaviour even if all the transactions are anonymous and "single-sh........ Read more »

McKay R, Efferson C, Whitehouse H, & Fehr E. (2010) Wrath of God: religious primes and punishment. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society. PMID: 21106588  

  • January 6, 2010
  • 06:15 PM

Atonement, self-punishment, and guilt

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Atonement is a funny concept. Essentially, it's the idea that you can cancel out a wrongdoing not by doing a good deed, but by engaging in some act of self-punishment.Although the classic example comes from Christianity (the tortured death of Jesus) similar concepts of penance are widespread in other religions. Penance goes beyond the more normal concepts of justice (revenge and punishment) because it's voluntary.Perhaps there's more going on here than meets the eye. Rob Nelissen and Marcel Zeel........ Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SRI Technology.

To learn more, visit