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

UPDATED: Young deckhands backed out of fatal Arctic Fox II trip just before fishboat departed

Inexperienced twin brothers had ‘gut feeling’ and bailed before going to open ocean

Police investigating alleged assault on Oak Bay Avenue

Staff at Oak Bay Home Hardware say one person was taken to hospital

Oak Bay neighbourhoods rocked by blasting activity

Oak Bay seeks new rock blasting bylaw regarding ‘continuous’ noise

Greater Victoria hardly making a dent in greenhouse gas emissions target

One-per-cent drop from 2007 to 2018 a far cry from the 33-per-cent goal for 2020

VIDEO: Seal pup and mom play and ‘kiss’ in Oak Bay Marina

BRNKL seal cam captures harbour seal growing up in busy harbour

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Most Read