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Effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs - AW1402

Description
This proposal aims to assess the welfare of dogs trained with pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse collar systems (excluding electric dog fences). A number of versions of such training aids are available in UK, which differ in two ways. Firstly in the intensity of re-inforcement with most devices operating over a range of intensities. Secondly, devices can include a warning or secondary conditioning stimulus to precede application of the reinforcing stimulus.

Whilst many dog owners and trainers consider these devices to be valuable training aids, their use is controversial and electronic devices have been banned in several European countries. Critics of remote static pulse training aids argue that they cause unnecessary pain; and that other methods, such as positive reinforcement training, should be employed to modify dogs’ behaviour. Those in favour of remote static pulse training aids argue that, when applied correctly, they can successfully recondition undesirable behaviour, especially behaviour that is highly motivated and difficult to control using other methods. Evidence of the impact of such devices on dog's overall quality of life is inconclusive, particularly on the long-term effects of the use of electronic training aids. This proposal aims to address these concerns, assessing the immediate and longer term physiological, behavioural and psychological effects of the use of these devices. in adition, the physical characteristics of the devices will be evaluated by bench testing their outputs and reliability.

It has been argued that inappropriate use of such devices, for example, failure to link delivery of the reinforcer with clear conditioning stimuli, or poor timing of response and re-inforcement, could lead to welfare problems. For this reason it is considered unethical to induce such bad practise experimentally and avoiding exposure of dogs to additional, inappropriate or unavoidable potentially aversive stimuli is a feature of the project. The project will sample adult dogs (over 6 months of age) from dog population in England.

In summary, the project will
1. Investigate the resistance in the neck skin of a range of dogs to help assess any likely differences in the impact of the devices in different individuals

2. Measure the physical output properties of the devices under investigation

3. Evaluate methods for recording behavioural/psychological measures of emotional state in the context of dog training.

4. Investigate the short term behavioural and physiological effects of using training devices in dogs undergoing training with remote, static pulse training collars

5. Investigate the long term behavioural, physiological and psychological effects of using training devices on the domestic dog in a case-control study design.

Objective
1. Investigate the resistance in the neck skin of a range of dogs

2. Bench testing: physical evaluation of training collars

3. Evaluate methods for recording behavioural/psychological measures of emotional state in context of dog training

4. Investigate the short term behavioural and physiological effects of using training devices in dogs undergoing training with remote, static pulse training collars

5. Investigate the long term behavioural, physiological and psychological effects of using remote static training devices on the domestic dog in a case-control study design
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : AW1402 SID5 Final Report   (550k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2007

To: 2010

Cost: £469,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Bristol, University - Lincoln, Central Science Laboratory
Keywords
Animal Welfare              
Companion Animals              
Dog              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare