We are a force-free, fear-free, pain-free, and coercion free organization. This means that we do not use aversives, corrections, or harsh punishments in our animal training, animal interactions, or programming. This also means that our volunteers will never use aversive equipment when working or volunteering with our therapy animals. We require all program participants, whether taking our classes, seminars, events or, actively working within our Therapy Animal Program, to pledge to abide by our position and policies.
AAP promotes the use of positive operant and respondent training methods, both personally and professionally, and holds that all training should be conducted in a manner that encourages animals to enjoy the learning process. We are in agreement with the PPG's position (statement) and the following statement (Tudge, 2017), "By ensuring that pets enjoy the training process, trainers and pet owners using positive techniques will see more confident and well-adjusted pets. Optimizing the use of applied behavior analysis to systematically identify and resolve problem behaviors using the least aversive and intrusive methods, tools and equipment, rather than resorting to ‘quick fix’ aversive devices that risk causing long-term physical and/or psychological damage, is undoubtedly the way forward as the science of animal behavior marches into the 21st century." Any use of aversives and/or corrections, including the use of equipment such as shock, prong, or choke collars, are prohibited within our programming. This includes teams volunteering or working within the community.
In addition, it is the position of AAP, in agreement with the PPG, that "dominance theory is an obsolete and aversive method of interacting with animals that has at its foundation incorrect and misinterpreted data which can result in damage to the animal-human relationship and cause behavioral problems in the animal." Rather, AAP advocates for effective animal training procedures focused on the use of behavioral science, developmental psychology, biology & genetics, and neuroscience to understand, appreciate, an appropriately teach, condition, prepare, and address behaviors and skill-sets in animals.
Should a program participant or volunteer not adhere to/abide by the above positions, participant(s) or volunteer(s) will be immediately removed from our program and prohibited from participating in future opportunities with AAP.