Compliance might look fancy and impressive on social media and in advertising, but it can come at a hefty cost to both our relationship with the animal and to the animal’s welfare.
At Synergy, our methods are always evolving to keep up with the findings of science and ethical discourse in the world of behavior. When we design a training plan, our first priorities are always safety (for both animals and humans) and the emotional welfare of the animal.
These priorities are not shared by all trainers.
Animal training often has methods rooted in suppressing behaviors through coercion, punishment, and intimidation. While these methods can work to obtain results like obedience and compliance, they do not address the root of the behavioral problem. Science and experience have shown us many times that suppression must need to be continually applied in order to maintain results, and it comes with many well-documented and undesirable side effects and behavioral fallout- such as aggression and anxiety.
Because we prioritize real life, lasting results that do not come at the expense of the animal’s emotional well-being, we care far more about the process of training than the final “look.” Just because an animal is not trying to actively run away, bite, scream, or struggle, does not mean that the animal is calm, relaxed, or even comfortable. Teaching our students and clients to read their animal’s more subtle signals indicating stress, worry, or pain goes a very long way toward enhancing their relationship and boosting the positive effects of the training.
The best part about training this way is that a calm and happy animal is often a well-behaved animal! As humans, we have a choice in how we train and the impact that it has on the learner- when we know better, we should always do better.
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