News & EVENTS
March 6, 2017
From the IACP Newsletter-
"It was just brought to my attention that a bill has been introduced into the Georgia Assembly (House Bill 313 ) which would require that any time a dog is being sold or adopted which belongs to the any of the following breeds: American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Chow Chow, Husky, Great Dane, Akita, Boxer, or Wolf Hybrid breed, that an “informational document” be provided which includes dog bite statistics (not specific to that particular dog, but general dog bite statistics). These statistics would include injuries caused to humans by dogs, reported number of humans bitten by dogs, total medical costs related to injuries caused by dogs in the United States, and the total amount of damages awarded to victims of dog bites or attacks in the United States. This legislation obviously is an example of breed discrimination and is intended to deter individuals from owning dogs of these breeds."
March 2, 2017
It seems that Toronto has banned slip leashes, choke-type collars, and prong collars. Apparently, the legislation was slipped in as the City Council was amending their City of Toronto Municipal Code. Toronto residents can find their Councilperson using the link below. Speak up. Don't think this can't happen to you in your town...
Link provided by IACP
February 15, 2017
Another Bill (bill # 1640) has been introduced by the New Jersey Senate, concerning the care and confinement of dogs. This bill proposes to place restrictions on keeping dogs outdoors, the practice of tethering, and the crating/confining of dogs. This bill has already passed through its second reading by the Budget and Appropriations committee, so it's up for serious considerations by law-makers.
Contact your NJ State Senators to be heard. You can view the Bill at the link below.
Link provided by IACP
February 11, 2017
Also in New York, Nassua County has proposed additional legislation (bill #619-16). This Bill spells out more specific licensing requirements for dog trainers operating in the County. It would require all new dog trainers to attend a dog training school, or be apprenticed under another experienced trainer, gaining at least 150 hours of experience. Of course the County would collect a nice fee for the Certification requirement.
January 4, 2017
On December 16, 2016 a Bill (bill # s144) was introduced into the New York State Senate which would require licensing and educational standards for individuals providing canine training for non-police and non-service dogs. Obviously, this licensing requirement would greatly impact the lives of all dog trainers living and/or operating in the State of New York. Speak up.
March 23, 2017
From Hillsborough County Florida-
The Board of Commissioners in Hillsborough County, Florida is contemplating a vote on an ordinance that requires licensing for dog trainers. More importantly, this ordinance implies requirements for a reward-based-only approach to training.
Paragraph 3 of the ordinance:
3. However, in no way shall a Dog Trainer use or promote any aversive training methods or techniques, use techniques that are improper for the particular behavior (or breed), causes undue physical or mental discomfort, is cruel, painful, or will cause or are likely to cause injury, torment, suffering, or death.
Clearly, such language can be easily used to justify and enforce the use of a specific approach to dog training, while simultaneously prohibiting the use any technique or method that could be interpreted as aversive or uncomfortable. The banning of certain types of training equipment would surely follow should such an ordinance pass. Remember, these are the goals of such fringe groups-- to push their own extreme training agenda while banning any training tools or equipment that does not fit their ideology, thus effectively outlawing any training approach other than their own.
There will be a public hearing on April 5th to discuss the matter. This meeting is the most important one, so if you are in the area, show up! Call, write, spread the word... do something.
March 30, 2017
From Bad to Worse in Hillsborough County Florida-
The Board of Commissioners in Hillsborough County, Florida is now seriously considering an ordinance that requires licensing for dog trainers, thanks to a campaign by extremist activists. This ordinance is an attempt to require dog trainers and owners to use only those specific training methods endorsed by these activists. From the IACP:
Section 3.c.3 of the new ordinance relates punishment to “dominance training techniques”. This is a very misleading association. Punishment has nothing to do with “dominance”; it is a natural, important, and unavoidable part of learning for all animals and humans alike. This section also prohibits causing “undue physical or mental discomfort”. In theory I agree with this statement, however the word “undue” leaves it open to wide-ranging interpretation. Given the broad range of ideologies in the industry this could mean something as rational as “don’t physically beat a dog” or something as extreme and irrational as “never require a dog to do something it doesn’t want to.” The latter would make virtually all dog ownership and care impossible.
Section 3.c.4 states, “In no way shall a Dog Trainer use or promote any aversive training methods or techniques.” The use of an aversive (Negative reinforcement and Positive Punishment) is an integral component not only of dog training, but also as a part of the universal laws of learning and cognition. You have likely been led to believe that “science says” - negative reinforcement leads to fear, aggression etc. I know that this statement strikes a sensitive chord in anyone who cares for the well being of their dog(s), and leaves reasonable concerns about the possibility of trauma and abuse. The truth is there are only a small handful of studies that suggest this, and they have all been discredited for faulty research methods and clear biases. In fact the vast majority of legitimate science reports the exact opposite. As a part of a balanced training program, negative reinforcement not only adds exponentially to the efficacy of training, but also has been shown to improve the animal’s psychological resilience to stress. In other words, measured usage of negative reinforcement is an essential component to creating happy, well balanced companions that are prepared for the challenges of the real world.
The science is very clear that positive reinforcement methods alone are not sufficiently effective when it comes to managing and resolving problem behaviors. As long as people own dogs, there will be a need for some amount of aversive training or punishment. The way this ordinance may be interpreted could make it very difficult for professional trainers to properly educate dog owners about how to use negative reinforcement and positive punishment in fair, humane, and effective mays. Without proper education, dog owners will be left to improvise which will certainly lead the way to greater harm and abuse.
Both positive reinforcement and punishment have their advantages and disadvantages: punishment is better for suppressing behavior, positive reinforcement better for generating behavior; avoidance (punishment) schedules tend to produce more persistent behavior than reward schedules, and so on. The effects of positive reinforcement also dissipate when the reinforcement is withdrawn, and there is no positive-reinforcement procedure (including all differential reinforcement procedures) that produces such persistent behavior as a negative reinforcement schedule. Just as any other form of learning, Positive Reinforcement protocols can also provoke aggression and have undesired side effects. There are plenty of arguments on both sides, but the net conclusion is that the scientific evidence is pretty neutral in deciding between reward and punishment. Favoring reward over punishment is inconsistent with science and the basic laws of learning.
The discussion of the “Five Freedoms” is taken from the Farm Animal Welfare council. Key descriptions of what those freedoms are intended to represent/prevent have been omitted in this ordinance, again opening the door for extreme interpretations that could be damaging for companion animals.
Call, write, spread the word... do something. If it can happen here, it can and eventually will happen in your city or town. You can express your concerns to the following officials in Hillsborough County:
April 13, 2017
Re: Recent Legislation Proposals affecting Dog Trainers
The recent ban on dog training equipment in Toronto (see March 2, 2017) has apparently been over-turned, thanks to efforts by advocates and dog training organizations such as the IACP.
The proposed ordinance in Hillsborough County Florida (see March 23 and March 30, 2017) has been tossed out. This law would have banned dog training equipment, required trainers to be certified by ambiguous and narrowly defined standards, and would have severely limited trainers as to which methods/approaches they could use or even discuss with clients. These rules are particularly disturbing, as they represent the current efforts by certain extremist groups to effectively install their own philosophical beliefs at the city, county, and state levels of government. Not to mention, this ordinance was to be implemented in the United States, as opposed to Canada and various E.U. constituent countries.
It is likely not over in Hillsborough County however, as a new ordinance will surely be written to take its place. If you are concerned about the future freedom of training, make your voice heard on this issue.
October 24, 2017
Re: Recent Legislation Proposals affecting Dog Trainers in Florida
The link below is to the latest draft of the proposed Dog Trainer Ordinance in pdf format for Hillsborough County Florida:
Contact in Hillsborough County Florida:
Animal Advisory Committee
P (813) 612-8421
For those that are near Hillsborough County Florida, there will be a public meeting of the Board of County Commissioners on November 1st at 9:00am.
It is important to have your voice heard on this issue. If you plan to attend in person, make sure to show up early in order to have your name added to the list to speak. If you are concerned about the future freedom of training, make your voice heard on this issue.
October 25, 2017
Re: Legislation in Montreal to BAN ownership of Pitbull-type dogs
As many of you may already know, there is a battle over breed-specific legislation (BSL) going on in Montreal, Canada. There have been protests and petitions over this issue. It is important what happens elsewhere, especially in Canada and in Europe. Special-interest groups have slowly begun to impose their own agenda and beliefs on others, and in this case on pitbull-type dogs as well. You can Google it to see the latest developments. Below are links to a Change.org petition to reverse the ban, and a site with some updates on the current state of affairs there in Canada.
If you are concerned about the future freedom of owning a dog of any breed, make your voice heard on this issue!