What is ‘evidence-based- in ‘Evidence-based dog behaviour therapy practice’?

Blog post about evidence-based dog behaviour therapy. February 2016
Article by Laure-Anne Visele. References and picture credits at the end of the post

About author: certified dog trainer and applied behaviourist in The Hague


Canis bonus: Laure-Anne Visele

My name is Laure-Anne and I am the dog behaviour therapist at Canis bonus, and Head Trainer at OhMyDog! (dog training school in The Hague).

I help people from The Hague, Rijswijk, Delft, Westland and region with their dog behaviour questions.

I studied Zoology, am a certified dog training instructor, and have a Postgraduate in applied animal behaviour (completed Magna cum laude).

If you want dog-friendly and evidence-based tips, drop me a line briefly explaining the problem and I’ll tell you if I think I can help.

Evidence-based dog behaviour practice?

Our dog training school in The Hague (OhMyDog!) has publicly stated its evidence-based standards. That’s fine and dandy, only we’ve found that the general members of the public don’t know what it means. Mmmmh, so much for an effective communication strategy. Worst still, when we explain what it means, some people take it to be an insult, a dogmatic stance, scientific arrogance or worse, an ideological position.

If it’s such an ingrate task, why do we bother promoting the concept? Because dog behaviour is our passion. And it irks us to see it dragged in the mud by con-artists or misguided amateurs, with often devastating consequences to the dogs and the families involved. Dog behaviour advice professions are largely unregulated (to my deepest regret), so we are passionate about protecting the consumer by giving them the tools to critically evaluate the advice they get and do right by their dog.

Skeptical face

Try as I might, it’s hard to make that face look like polite nodding.

The conversation can turn heated when we tackle it with someone with strong vested interests in something that is being criticized by evidence-based practitioners. It can be hard to explain that there are no reasonable grounds for believing that latest celebrity endorsement, alternative treatment, or paranormal intervention without coming across as jerks. But how else do you politely say something is tosh?

I am going to be writing a series of posts about the specific aspects of the evidence-based concept over the next few weeks to clear up some of the misconceptions that often get us in trouble. This will hopefully give evidence-based practitioners some communication tools to educate effectively without insulting. It will also, I hope, give people who are not familiar with the concept handy critical thinking tools. The first post is out: it concerns logical fallacies in dog training.


Illustration credits

Further reading

  • Canis bonus: Post 2 of the Evidence-based series: Fallacies and biases in dog training.
  • Canis bonus: My Pinterest board on running an evidence-based practice and fighting pseudoscience in the dog behaviour world: Woo Fighters
  • Good Thinking Society: The Good Thinking Society, a UK-based skeptics enquiry foundation, investigate and exposees paranormal and alternative claims.
  • OhMyDog!: OhMyDog!’s blog post on what it means to run an evidence-based dog training school.
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