Science Says Don't Yell At Your Dogs, You Heartless Bastard


Scientists have confirmed it. Dogs don’t respond well if you act like an asshole.

In a research study conducted by molecular biologists from Portugal, it was discovered that dogs that go through aversion-based training, which utilizes yelling and shock collars, are drastically more stressful and less healthy than the lucky pups who go through reward-based training, which is based on positive feedback and treats.

In the study, which was published on open access repository bioRxiv, the researchers compared the stress levels and behaviors of 42 dogs from reward-based training schools and 50 dogs from aversion-based training schools. Unsurprisingly, the dogs that were taught with punishment and negative reinforcement, like yelling, had higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that’s associated with fear. Cue the outrage.

“Specifically, dogs attending schools using aversive-based methods displayed more stress-related behaviors and body postures during training, higher elevations in cortisol levels after training, and were more ‘pessimistic’ in a cognitive bias task,” researchers found.


These “stress-related behaviors” include licking their lips, yawning, yelping, and raising their paw—all indications of tension. Poor doggo.

Meanwhile, the dogs that were trained with calm, gentle teachers were quicker to perform tasks like sausage hunting, which the dogs with harsher teachers were slower at. The dogs were just too down to hunt for sausages. Sausages—the canine equivalent to crack. Now that’s saying something.

It should be a given that yelling at your pets in an effort to get them to “learn” is both ineffective and just plain mean, but this may be the first study with solid evidence against aversive-based methods. So for all the assholes out there that are mean to their pups, science has something to say about you yelling at your dog.

Long story short, give the good boy his treats. He deserves it. Don’t you, boy?

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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