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

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
B.C. forestry companies agree to abide by cedar protocols drafted by Indigenous council

Western Forest Products and Interfor Corporation among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

Shawn Decaire does a blessing ceremony for the Hama?Elas Community Kitchen in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Hama?Elas Community Kitchen progress shared

Strategic planning, progress made on various projects also discussed at CRDCEH meeting

Campbell River city council has given unanimous support to its mayor to continue the fight for the aquaculture industry on our coast. Black Press file photo
Campbell River city council unanimous in support of fish farms

‘I’m certainly not willing to roll over and accept a bad decision,’ says one councilor

(Black Press file photo)
One dead after single-vehicle accident in Campbell River yesterday

‘…we are hoping for a full recovery for both passengers,’ says RCMP

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. find its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring has expressed his frustration with harassment of people who have made racist comments online about Cowichan Tribes in the wake of a COVID-19 outbreak in the First Nation. (Citizen file)
Island mayor calls for de-escalation as social media gets uglier in racism fight

“Racism is wrong. But so is this kind of reaction”:

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said a lack of experienced crew members and the inability to detect navigational errors is what led to a Sooke search and rescue boat running aground in February 2019. (Twitter / @VicJRCC_CCCOS)
TSB: Sooke search and rescue boat crash caused by ‘misinterpretation of navigational information’

Crew members were lacking experience and unable to detect navigational errors

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in 60 B.C. First Nations by next week

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations for distribution by the end of February

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone questions the NDP government in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 25, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Todd Stone says he’s not running for B.C. Liberal leadership

Kamloops MLA was widely viewed as a front-runner

Most Read