Dog Training Science 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

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If you are interested in the science of dog training, this is the place to start. This page includes links to scientific research studies on pet dog training and related topics, as well as links to places where you can read about those studies (including 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 (companimalpsych at gmail dot com). 

If you want to start with a summary of the research on dog training methods, you might like seven reasons to use reward-based 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.

You might also like my book Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy, which discusses this research (and its implications) along with practical tips to help you with your dog. 

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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

Casey, R. A., Naj-Oleari, M., Campbell, S., Mendl, M., & Blackwell, E. J. (2021). Dogs are more pessimistic if their owners use two or more aversive training methods. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 1-8.
  • Covered by Zazie Todd PhD at The Pawsitive Post Issue No. 9

China, L., Mills, D.S. & Cooper, J.J. (2020) Efficacy of dog training with and without remote electronic collars vs. a focus on positive reinforcement. Frontiers in Veterinary Science,

Cooper, J. 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), e102722.

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

Dodman, N. H., Brown, D. C., & Serpell, J. A. (2018). Associations between owner personality and psychological status and the prevalence of canine behavior problems. PloS one, 13(2), e0192846.

Dubé, M. B., Asher, L., Würbel, H., Riemer, S., & Melotti, L. (2020). Parallels in the interactive effect of highly sensitive personality and social factors on behaviour problems in dogs and humans. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-9.

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. DOI:

Fernandez, E. J. (2022). Training as enrichment: A critical review. Animal Welfare, 31(1), 1-12. DOI:

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

Masson, S., de la Vega, S., Gazzano, A., Mariti, C., Pereira, G. D. G., Halsberghe, C., ... & Schoening, B. (2018). Electronic training devices: discussion on the pros and cons of their use in dogs as a basis for the position statement of the European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology (ESVCE). Journal of Veterinary Behavior. DOI;

Masson, S., Nigron, I., & Gaultier, E. (2018). Questionnaire Survey on The Use Of Different E-Collar Types in France in Everyday Life With A View To Providing Recommendations for Possible Future Regulations. Journal of Veterinary Behavior.

Overall, K. L. (2018). Beware the misdirection offense: the truth about shock, aversives and punishment. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 25, iv-vi.

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

Todd, Z. (2018). Barriers to the Adoption of Humane Dog Training Methods. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research.  25C(28-34). Available for free via this link until 9th June.

Vieira de Castro, A. C., Barrett, J., de Sousa, L., & Olsson, I. A. S. (2019). Carrots versus sticks: The relationship between training methods and dog-owner attachment. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 219, 104831.

Vieira de Castro, A. C., Fuchs, D., Morello, G. M., Pastur, S., de Sousa, L., & Olsson, I. A. S. (2020). Does training method matter? Evidence for the negative impact of aversive-based methods on companion dog welfare. Plos one, 15(12), e0225023.

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

Bremhorst, A., Bütler, S., Würbel, H., & Riemer, S. (2018). Incentive motivation in pet dogs–preference for constant vs varied food rewards. Scientific reports, 8(1), 9756. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-28079-5

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

Carter, Anne J., Donal S. McNally, and Roshier, Amanda L., (2020). "Canine collars: an investigation of collar type and the forces applied to a simulated neck model." Veterinary Record.

Chapagain, D., Virányi, Z., Wallis, L. J., Huber, L., Serra, J., & Range, F. (2017). Aging of attentiveness in border collies and other pet dog breeds: the protective benefits of lifelong training. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 9, 100.

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

Dinwoodie, I. R., Zottola, V., & Dodman, N. H. (2021). An investigation into the effectiveness of various professionals and behavior modification programs, with or without medication, for the treatment of canine aggression. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 43, 46-53.
  • Covered by Zazie Todd PhD at The Pawsitive Post Issue No. 28

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. (2017) 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:

Feng, L. C., Howell, T. J., & Bennett, P. C. (2018). Practices and perceptions of clicker use in dog training: A survey-based investigation of dog owners and industry professionals. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 23, 1-9. DOI:

Feng, L. C., Hodgens, N. H., Woodhead, J. K., Howell, T. J., & Bennett, P. C. (2018). Is clicker training (Clicker+ food) better than food-only training for novice companion dogs and their owners?. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 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

Feuerbacher, E. N., & Wynne, C. D. (2014). Most domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) prefer food to petting: population, context, and schedule effects in concurrent choice. Journal of the experimental analysis of behavior, 101(3), 385-405. DOI: 10.1002/jeab.81.

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

Gibsone, S., McBride, E. A., Redhead, E. S., Cameron, K. E., & Bizo, L. A. (2021). The effectiveness of visual and auditory elements of a compound stimulus in controlling behavior in the domestic dog (Canis familiaris). Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 46, 87-96.
  • Covered by Zazie Todd PhD at The Pawsitive Post Issue No. 25

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

Karl, S., Boch, M., Virányi, Z., Lamm, C., & Huber, L. (2019). Training pet dogs for eye-tracking and awake fMRI. Behavior Research Methods, 1-19.

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

LaFollette, M. R., Rodriguez, K. E., Ogata, N., & O'Haire, M. E. (2019). Military veterans and their PTSD service dogs: associations between training methods, PTSD severity, dog behavior, and the human-animal bond. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 6:23.

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

Riemer, S., Ellis, S. L., Thompson, H., & Burman, O. H. (2018). Reinforcer effectiveness in dogs—The influence of quantity and quality. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 206:87-93. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2018.05.016

Scandurra, A., Alterisio, A., Aria, M., Vernese, R., & D’Aniello, B. (2018). Should I fetch one or the other? A study on dogs on the object choice in the bimodal contrasting paradigm. Animal cognition, 1-8. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-017-1145-z

Siracusa, C., Provoost, L., & Reisner, I. R. (2017). Dog-and owner-related risk factors for consideration of euthanasia or rehoming before a referral behavioral consultation and for euthanizing or rehoming the dog after the consultation. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 22, 46-56. DOI:

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

Williams, E. J., & Blackwell, E. (2019). Managing the Risk of Aggressive Dog Behavior: Investigating the Influence of Owner Threat and Efficacy Perceptions. Risk Analysis

Woodward, J. L., Casey, R. A., Lord, M. S., Kinsman, R. H., Da Costa, R. E., Knowles, T. G., ... & Murray, J. K. (2021). Factors influencing owner-reported approaches to training dogs enrolled in the Generation Pup longitudinal study. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 242, 105404. 

This page was last updated on 16th January 2023.

Zazie Todd, PhD, is the award-winning author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy and the forthcoming Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy. She is the creator of the popular blog, Companion Animal Psychology, writes The Pawsitive Post premium newsletter, and also has a column at Psychology Today. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband, one dog, and two cats. 

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