What is a Best Practice?
The question of how a best practice is defined in the currently unregulated pet industry is historically troubling and has continually been one of the key sticking points between and across key industry associations and credentialing bodies. Because these entities play a critical role in establishing and recommending best practices, codes of practice, education, leadership and technical standards that interface directly with the general public, it is a responsibility that should be taken very seriously.
In animal training, chasms can develop due to the fact that the application of each of the four quadrants is totally dependent on the individual trainer. Each professional has their own line in the sand in terms of how they will determine, apply and justify (or not) the use of aversives, i.e. stimuli that are scary or painful for the pet.
When structuring hypothetical arguments on a wholesale front about training approaches, it is also important to be careful not to apply generalizations on paper that do not play out in a training scenario. Professionals can achieve this by possessing a comprehensive knowledge and thorough understanding of canine social behavior and communication. Training must always be beneficial to the pet in front of the trainer and the animals communication should indicate this!
Across these differing approaches to dog training and behavior modification, professionals may commonly be insistent on using the tools they deem to be best or most appropriate with little concern to the emotional state expressed by the pet in front of them. All too often there is a myopia to what the pet is actually communicating, feeling, or even how he is reacting or responding. As such, subtle signs of stress, anxiety or fear may be missed due to the insistence that the chosen approach is acceptable. For example, feeding a dog treats while undergoing a training session in a stressful environment, or with a rough hand, is not going to constitute a positive approach to the training task. Indeed, we often see in such scenarios that the pet is too emotionally aroused to even take interest in a treat, much less actually consume one.
Learn more about this subject and review our recommended Best Practice model here