Dog Training Research Resources

The scientific evidence on dog training, conveniently located in one place, with links to research papers and blog posts.

A Parsons JRT illustrates research on dog training methods

If you want to know what science tells us about dog training, this is the place to start.

This page includes links to research studies on dog training and related topics, as well as links to places where you can read about those studies (coverage on this blog and elsewhere). So if you aren't sure if you want to read the full academic paper, you can read a summary first.

The first section lists scientific research on dog training methods (positive reinforcement vs aversives, shock collars etc). The second section looks at other aspects of the science of dog training (body language, preference for types of positive reinforcement, etc).

This page is updated regularly. If you have suggestions for additions, please send an email (address in the sidebar, top right). If you want to start with a summary, you might like my series on the science of positive reinforcement dog training. And if you want to know more about the practical aspects of how to train a dog, start with my user-friendly guide to positive reinforcement in dog training.

There is now also a sister page on the science of cat training.

To stay up to date on the science of people's relationships with their pets, subscribe to Companion Animal Psychology.

Scientific Research on Dog Training Methods

Arhant, C., Bubna-Littitz, H., Bartels, A., Futschik, A., & Troxler, J. (2010). Behaviour of smaller and larger dogs: Effects of training methods, inconsistency of owner behaviour and level of engagement in activities with the dog Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 123 (3-4), 131-142 DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2010.01.003

Blackwell, E., Bolster, C., Richards, G., Loftus, B., & Casey, R. (2012). The use of electronic collars for training domestic dogs: estimated prevalence, reasons and risk factors for use, and owner perceived success as compared to other training methods BMC Veterinary Research, 8 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1746-6148-8-93

Blackwell, E., Twells, C., Seawright, A., & Casey, R. (2008). The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behavior problems, as reported by owners, in a population of domestic dogs Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 3 (5), 207-217 DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2007.10.008

Casey, R., Loftus, B., Bolster, C., Richards, G., & Blackwell, E. (2014). Human directed aggression in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris): Occurrence in different contexts and risk factors Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 152, 52-63 DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2013.12.003

Dog training research resources for happy dogs like this border collie
Cooper, J., Cracknell, N., Hardiman, J., Wright, H., & Mills, D. (2014). The Welfare Consequences and Efficacy of Training Pet Dogs with Remote Electronic Training Collars in Comparison to Reward Based Training PLoS ONE, 9 (9) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0102722

Defra AW1402 (2013) Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs. University of Lincoln / University of Bristol / Food and Environment Research Agency.  Final report prepared by Prof. Jonathan Cooper, Dr. Hannah Wright, Prof. Daniel Mills (University of Lincoln); Dr. Rachel Casey, Dr. Emily Blackwell (University of Bristol); Katja van Driel (Food and Environment Research Agency); Dr. Jeff Lines (Silsoe Livestock System).

Defra AW1402a (2013) Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs; field study of dogs in training. Final report prepared by Prof. Jonathan Cooper, Dr. Nina Cracknell, Jessica Hardiman and Prof. Daniel Mills (University of Lincoln).

Deldalle, S., & Gaunet, F. (2014). Effects of 2 training methods on stress-related behaviors of the dog (Canis familiaris) and on the dog–owner relationship Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 9 (2), 58-65 DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2013.11.004

Fernandes, J. G., Olsson, I. A. S., & de Castro, A. C. V. (2017). Do aversive-based training methods actually compromise dog welfare?: A literature review. Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

Haverbeke, A., Laporte, B., Depiereux, E., Giffroy, J., & Diederich, C. (2008). Training methods of military dog handlers and their effects on the team's performances Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 113 (1-3), 110-122 DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2007.11.010

Herron, M., Shofer, F., & Reisner, I. (2009). Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 117 (1-2), 47-54 DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2008.12.011

Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J., & Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2004). Dog training methods: their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare Animal Welfare (13), 63-69

Rooney, N., & Cowan, S. (2011). Training methods and owner–dog interactions: Links with dog behaviour and learning ability Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 132 (3-4), 169-177 DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.03.007

Schalke, E., Stichnoth, J., Ott, S., & Jones-Baade, R. (2007). Clinical signs caused by the use of electric training collars on dogs in everyday life situations Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 105 (4), 369-380 DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2006.11.002

Schilder, M., & van der Borg, J. (2004). Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 85 (3-4), 319-334 DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2003.10.004

Ziv, G. (2017) The effects of using aversive training methods in dogs – a review. Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, 19:50-60.

Other Scientific Research on Dog Training

Affenzeller, N., Palme, R., & Zulch, H. (2017). Playful activity post-learning improves training performance in Labrador Retriever dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) Physiology & Behavior, 168, 62-73 DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.10.014

Browne, C. M., Starkey, N. J., Foster, T. M., & McEwan, J. S. (2017). Examination of the Accuracy and Applicability of Information in Popular Books on Dog Training. Brill. DOI: 10.1163/15685306-12341453

Chiandetti, C., Avella, S., Fongaro, E., & Cerri, F. (2016). Can clicker training facilitate conditioning in dogs? Applied Animal Behaviour Science DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2016.08.006

D’Aniello, B., Scandurra, A., Alterisio, A., Valsecchi, P., & Prato-Previde, E. (2016). The importance of gestural communication: a study of human–dog communication using incongruent information Animal Cognition DOI: 10.1007/s10071-016-1010-5

Demant, H., Ladewig, J., Balsby, T., & Dabelsteen, T. (2011). The effect of frequency and duration of training sessions on acquisition and long-term memory in dogs Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 133 (3-4), 228-234 DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.05.010

Feng, L. C., Howell, T. J., & Bennett, P. C. (2016). How clicker training works: Comparing reinforcing, marking, and bridging hypotheses. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 181, 34-40.

Feng LC, Howell TJ, Bennett PC. Comparing trainers’ reports of clicker use to the use of clickers in applied research studies: methodological differences may explain conflicting results. Pet Behavior Science 2017; 3:1-18. DOI:

Feuerbacher, E., & Wynne, C. (2012). Relative efficacy of human social interaction and food as reinforcers for domestic dogs and hand-reared wolves Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 98 (1), 105-129 DOI: 10.1901/jeab.2012.98-105

Fugazza, C., & Miklósi, A. (2014). Should old dog trainers learn new tricks? The efficiency of the Do as I do method and shaping/clicker training method to train dogs Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 153, 53-61 DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.01.009

Fukuzawa, M., & Hayashi, N. (2013). Comparison of 3 different reinforcements of learning in dogs (Canis familiaris) Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 8 (4), 221-224 DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2013.04.067

Hasegawa M, Ohtani N, & Ohta M (2014). Dogs' Body Language Relevant to Learning Achievement. Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, 4 (1), 45-58 PMID: 26479883

Jakovcevic A, Elgier AM, Mustaca AE, & Bentosela M (2013). Frustration behaviors in domestic dogs. Journal of applied animal welfare science : JAAWS, 16 (1), 19-34 PMID: 23282291

Kis A, Szakadát S, Gácsi M, Kovács E, Simor P, Török C, Gombos F, Bódizs R, & Topál J (2017). The interrelated effect of sleep and learning in dogs (Canis familiaris); an EEG and behavioural study. Scientific reports, 7 PMID: 28165489

Kutsumi A, Nagasawa M, Ohta M, & Ohtani N (2013). Importance of puppy training for future behavior of the dog. The Journal of veterinary medical science / the Japanese Society of Veterinary Science, 75 (2), 141-9 PMID: 23018794

McGowan RT, Rehn T, Norling Y, & Keeling LJ (2014). Positive affect and learning: exploring the "Eureka Effect" in dogs. Animal cognition, 17 (3), 577-87 PMID: 24096703

Meyer, I., & Ladewig, J. (2008). The relationship between number of training sessions per week and learning in dogs Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 111 (3-4), 311-320 DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2007.06.016

Okamoto Y, Ohtani N, Uchiyama H, & Ohta M (2009). The feeding behavior of dogs correlates with their responses to commands. The Journal of veterinary medical science / the Japanese Society of Veterinary Science, 71 (12), 1617-21 PMID: 20046029

Payne, E., Bennett, P., & McGreevy, P. (2017). DogTube: An examination of dogmanship online Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 17, 50-61 DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2016.10.006

Smith, S., & Davis, E. (2008). Clicker increases resistance to extinction but does not decrease training time of a simple operant task in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 110 (3-4), 318-329 DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2007.04.012

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