Position Statement

1. Purpose

“proHOUND was established to collaboratively centralise and circulate credible and scientific fact, to share know-how, and to influence the respective regulation and legislation on all disharmonies surrounding the domestic canine."

proHOUND addresses canine welfare via the U-Triad:

  • Unhealthy: by majority, dogs are obese, are fed processed convenience ‘food’ and are often victims of the mature, multi-billion-dollar pet industry.

  • Unhappy: by majority, reactivity is normal, as is leash-pulling, under-stimulation and emotional tension. All of these normally occur due to a fundamental lack of knowledge and/or misunderstanding of the most essential aspects of the domestic canine species.

  • Unwanted: by majority, shelters are full. Yet puppy-mills, backyard breeders and reputable breeders continue to worsen the population problem.

  • proHOUND aims to have a profound effect on making the world’s dogs happy, healthy and wanted. proHOUND’s default stance and priority in all topics is to establish and address the root causes to the problems identified above. proHOUND fully intends to remain neutral to all other industry frictions that fall out-with this stance.

    2. Challenges

    proHOUND acknowledges that this mature, shambolic and, ultimately, corrupt industry will be extremely difficult to influence and, as a result, has short-, medium- and long-term goals. This Position Statement will therefore be updated continuously for transparency.

    We live in a world of instant access to (poor quality) information, gross entitlement and strong opinions from "internet-educated experts" where a growing number of captive carnivores have been made humanised as well as domesticised. This is unacceptable: dogs are complex, carnivorous, sentient creatures with instinct and drive, varying physical and mental stimulation needs, a biological requirement for a diet of fresh meat, and they have their own behavioural and social cues. It is now rare for a domestic dog to be of sound mind and live peacefully alongside a human with no issues.

    The pet industry is a multi-billion dollar, very robust industry with large corporations and large influencers. Consumers and pet owners are unwittingly impacted by the Disinformation for Profit Business Model. proHOUND acknowledges that a carefully crafted, progressive and strategic approach will be required.

    proHOUND is the first purpose-driven, innovative collaboration that the pet industry has seen.

    3. Separation of Fact and Opinion

    Any opinions published in any way can only be considered to be credible, legitimate and valid if they acknowledge these facts:

    1) Fact:
    Using artificial selection, humans originally bred dogs for specific jobs requiring training with resultant mental and physical stimulation. Humans have now decided to remove these jobs and it is cruel for a human owner to not replace this basic genetic requirement in a form appropriate for a domesticated dog.

    proHOUND therefore actively encourages training for the purpose of fulfilling the mental stimulation needs set above. Furthermore, dogs should receive training to a set minimum level at least to ensure the safety and harmonious life of not only the dog in question but also the other dogs and humans it may encounter (namely impulse control, on-leash contentedness and off-leash control).

    2) Fact:
    Domesticated canines share 99.9% of wolf DNA (but are now considered a different species) and they are of course both facultative carnivores.

    proHOUND advocates that the only species-appropriate diet for a domesticated canine is a carefully proportioned raw diet (with the appropriate additions to ensure correct nutrition) balancing over time as does every other species on the planet.

    3) Fact:
    Each dog is an individual.

    Each dog deserves to be treated as an individual with its own: anatomy, resilience, personality, unique stimulation requirements, motivations/reinforcers, confidence levels, set of associations, history etc.

    4. Problem Areas and Stance

    proHOUND has 4 distinct problem areas; every act of proHOUND is undertaken with commitment to at least one of these.

    The majority of commercially-fed dogs are overweight and are likely to be simultaneously malnourished, due to the lack of bioavailability and digestibility of most processed ‘dog food’.

  • proHOUND actively discourages the feeding of a processed/commercial/convenient diet

  • proHOUND actively encourages the feeding of a species-appropriate (raw/fresh) diet

  • proHOUND actively encourages physical stimulation suited to the breed, age and medical history of the dog

    It is now considered rare for two dogs to walk past each other peacefully (applicable to on-leash and off-leash). Human reactivity is also now more common.

  • proHOUND actively discourages the ‘on-leash greet’

  • proHOUND actively encourages 100% off-leash control, or no off-leash privileges until such control is achieved

  • proHOUND actively discourages the “mindless walking” of a dog, unless thought has been given as to the purpose and goal for that walk. Mindlessly walking an un-content dog will only escalate problems and often results in PA4

    The overall standard of training is poor, as is evident from viral social media posts or even when taking a stroll in the streets.

  • proHOUND actively encourages sufficient mental stimulation (a sub-branch of this is known as enrichment), appropriate to the age, health and breed of every dog in question

  • proHOUND actively encourages (and reiterates) that the absolute bare minimum of training required is 1) impulse control 2) on-leash contentedness and 3) off-leash control

  • proHOUND acknowledges that UK shelters are full – the population has exceeded demand

  • proHOUND acknowledges that shelters can often provide false, unhelpful and untrue information to prospective new families due to a lack of education on their part, and can also provide a very severe lack of true information (in summary: these charities lack (human) training and robust processes)

  • proHOUND acknowledges that puppy mills still exist, increasing the population, whilst also infiltrating the population with very serious health issues and behaviour issues

  • proHOUND acknowledges that backyard breeding still exists, increasing the population, with no focus on artificial selection theory (unhealthy traits are being passed on)

  • proHOUND is acutely aware that even reputable breeders also increase the overall population

  • proHOUND acknowledges that ‘charities’ exist whose sole purpose is to manoeuvre stray/feral animals from abroad, increasing the overall population and whose behavioural issues add to the already disharmonious population.

  • 5. The Role of the General Public

  • It is not a human right to greet dogs encountered in public. This is becoming an alarmingly common problem whereby owners either feel threatened by constant waves of interruptions, or the owner has no idea that they are sacrificing their hard work and relationship. So, these actions, at best, may impact the human-dog engagement/relationship and, at worst, risks safety: where the dog doesn’t perceive the interaction as a reinforcer but instead a threat, a bite is entirely possible. proHOUND advocates that it is not a requirement of a dog to accept being touched at any point by strangers. proHOUND actively discourages humans interacting with strange dogs.

  • proHOUND will actively promote basic education amongst school-age children on how to behave responsibly around canines, as a different species, who for example can find eye contact confrontational. Parents have an ethical responsibility to teach their children how to treat dogs and prevent their children from accessing dogs if the individual child either does not know how to treat dogs or cannot be trusted to do so appropriately and kindly.

  • Pet owners themselves should always have their dogs under tight control; even if the dog is friendly, it is still a breach of Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act to lose control. proHOUND actively discourages dog-dog greetings overall. proHOUND actively encourages on-leash contentedness and/or off-leash control. Dogs are a danger to themselves or others otherwise.

  • 6. Ongoing Friction

    There are several ongoing frictions in the pet industry. As aforementioned, proHOUND intends to remain neutral to all industry frictions that fall out-with the default stance (to establish and address the root causes to the problems identified in the U-Triad).

    A brief summary:

  • Traditional vets use commercially available products including repetitive pharmaceutical dosages as well as packaged pet diets. Traditional vets dominate the vet industry.

  • Holistic vets (fully registered, proactive vets) prescribe a fresh and nutritious diet as the main medicine. Holistic vets are often sought once a pet has reached a critical stage, requiring rehabilitation involving removal from the commercial lifestyle. People are beginning to question commercialism and their pets’ best interests, and interest is slowly growing.

    For simplicity, proHOUND has omitted incompetence for this overview. A brief summary:

  • "Balanced" training takes scientific fundamentals from dog psychology and apply the appropriate necessities for the goals and the dog in front of them, achieving undeniably successful results. The relationship with the dog revolves around PR (Positive Reinforcement). In summary, they are trainers who use all 4 quadrants and tend to dominate the working dog world.

  • "Force Free” training is often described as “Positive Only”. In operant conditioning, this limits them to “addition only”. This implies they are 2-quadrant trainers. They often advocate choices for the dog and they tend to dominate the pet owner world; the same world that is dominated by PA1, PA2, PA3 and PA4 (as mentioned in Section 4).

  • 7. “Force Free”, “Positive Only”, “Balanced” and “Imbalanced” Training

    7.1 Definitions
    PR = Positive Reinforcement
    PP = Positive Punishment
    NP = Negative Punishment
    NR = Negative Reinforcement

    Positive = addition of something
    Negative = removal of something
    Punishment = ‘decrease of behaviour likelihood’
    Reinforcement = ‘increase of behaviour likelihood’

    7.2 Competence
    proHOUND iterates that, given that the industry is unregulated, there is a multitude of incompetent individuals, masquerading as and practising as "trainers" in the industry. Despite several strong efforts, there has thus far been no creation of robust regulation, professionals’ title protection, and competency assessment and verification - as with other recognised professions. Until such a time:

  • proHOUND actively discourages the use of all quadrants to anyone who is not acquainted with the theory. proHOUND also discourages PR here, because behaviours may be reinforced unintentionally, escalating problems and adding to PA4.

  • proHOUND actively discourages anything but PR for a pet owner with limited experience.

  • At present, and in absence of robust regulation, proHOUND actively encourages pet owners to equip themselves with their own research in order to find a trainer that is reputable and competent, such as the trainers listed on proHOUND resources (found in myHOUND).

  • Any trainer that uses any method from the historical dominance theory (proven inaccurate) is incompetent.

  • Any trainer who claims that the 4 quadrants of operant conditioning is outdated is incompetent.

  • Any trainer who does not begin a behaviour modification programme without identifying the root cause would be deemed grossly incompetent by proHOUND. Any trainer who then proceeds with a method of training that is not aligned with the root cause, proHOUND would also deem vastly incompetent.

  • 7.3 Tools and Equipment
    proHOUND actively discourages the use of any and all ‘specialised’ equipment (in particular, those that promise results by the seller), unless being professionally handled and/or supervised - proHOUND iterates that this is currently a (respectively) very small number of people.

    ‘Specialised’ equipment does indeed include halti/bridle/head collars often prescribed by RSPCA, IMDT etc and these specific examples should not be used in any circumstance.

    proHOUND acknowledges the challenges in the absence of regulation/competence definition, hence the default position to discourage.

    Basic and standard equipment (NOT mandatory equipment):
  • Basic collar and basic leash
  • Basic harness (anti-pull excluded, as are all "results-driven" harnesses)
  • Clicker/rewards (such as food, toys and treats)

    7.4 Foundational Core
    proHOUND emphasises that the very foundation and core of a relationship between human and dog should always revolve around Positive Reinforcement (one of the four quadrants of operant conditioning). Dog-handler engagement (the relationship and direct correlation to conditioned responses) is entirely dependent on PR. PR is the addition of something (to increase the likelihood of the behaviour happening again), with the intention of that something acting as a reinforcer. Reinforcers will vary between each individual dog; for example, some dogs don’t like being ‘petted’ and so will not accept this as a reward or as motivation to complete a behaviour.

    proHOUND addresses the mathematical manner in which quadrants have historically been described, disputing the implication that the 4 quadrants would ever be split into 4 quarters with an exact worth of 25% each ("balanced") and promotes the fact that ‘all-quadrant’ competent, reputable trainers by majority use PR as the core basis for the training relationship.

    7.5 “Force Free” and “Positive Only”
    proHOUND specifically addresses the recent success of the popular ‘force free’ and/or “positive only” brand. In dog training theory (operant conditioning), “positive” translates as “addition” - it is a falsity to abuse this definition for marketing purposes.

    proHOUND acknowledges and supports that this movement most likely had excellent intentions in a world of unregulated “trainers”. proHOUND also acknowledges that the history of some dogs today (as a result of human failure) would neither learn nor benefit from the use of all quadrants. Furthermore, proHOUND also acknowledges it is entirely feasible for a well-bred puppy to be trained with PR only its entire life and live contentedly and harmoniously. The co-founders own two between them. However, regrettably, proHOUND must overall oppose this new branding for the following reasons:

    It is yet another undefined and unregulated term to add to the dog industry; any "professional" can call themselves “force free” in a bid to appear competent, modern and even kind. This adds to incompetence within the industry and impacts PA4.

    It is ultimately misleading, implying that those who do not use this branding must use force. This is toxic and incorrect towards ethical, ‘balanced’ trainers who are an invaluable contribution to this shambolic industry. No competent and reputable trainer forces any dog to do anything. Desirable responses/harmonious behaviours are based on reinforcement history (including self-reinforcing-behaviours). “Force Free” marketing has successfully branded individuals who take this path as “kind” and has simultaneously tarred “Balanced Trainers” as cruel (as the only apparent alternative to not conforming to the "force-free" label). Incompetence aside, this is abhorrent and contradictory to the kindness they claim to display at all times.

    If a trainer wishes to only use Positive Reinforcement, proHOUND is of the opinion that they should at least label themselves as "imbalanced" or "PR only" - "force free" implies balanced trainers are cruel and "positive only" just displays a lack of education and is therefore misleading to a person who may wish to pay for their services.

    proHOUND reports that “balanced trainers” do in fact rehabilitate some of the most serious behavioural issues after several trainers recommend PTS. Successful rehabilitation is only possible through the ability to correctly identify and correctly address the root cause, great skill, competence and a very deep understanding of canine psychology. proHOUND also reports that these successful rehabilitations are often rescue dogs of breeds of extremely high drive. Whilst intentionally trying to remain neutral, proHOUND’s stance and priority in this regard, as with everything, is to address root cause. Human failure must stop, and with it, the need to rehabilitate in the first place. An “all needs met” approach from day one must be the only option. proHOUND politely requests that those who use all four quadrants and those who identify as "force-free" should put aside their differences and accept this as the real mission for canine welfare.

    It is disrespectful to canine psychology and the dog's inherent desire to achieve to ignore three of the four quadrants. Tapping into other quadrants simply assists the learning process (which is of course different for every dog): ethically telling a dog that it made the wrong decision to guide them to the desired decision eliminates the need for guesswork, unnecessary frustration and the potential need to reactively modify Learned Behaviours (as opposed to pro-actively preventing undesirable behaviours).

    5) FEAR
    In response to those advocating that balanced training leads to fear, proHOUND wishes to state that no competent and reputable trainer uses/creates fear, in any part of the training process. Such a trainer would immediately recognise fear and will also know the history of the dog in question to ensure fear does not surface. Anyone who uses/creates fear would also be hovering over a very thin legal line.

    "Force-free" methodology has been successful as a result of pulling on human heartstrings. Their ideal customer is someone who knows nothing about dog psychology. proHOUND wholeheartedly opposes the treatment of canines as though humans in every shape and form: it is unkind and consistently damaging to the species. This is not dissimilar to humans who advocate a vegan diet for their captive carnivore (this is cruelty).

    "Force-free" appears to promote ‘rational choices’ (choices for the dog). As aforementioned: desirable responses from the dog are based on reinforcement history; dogs do not have the cognitive function to make rational decisions and were in fact domesticated to be conditioned by their human partner for a harmonious and content life. Without this, they are very likely to make undesirable decisions, impacting PA4.

    8. Long Term Goals

    Ultimately, proHOUND exists to regain dignity and high standards of welfare for the domestic canine species. As a collaborative organisation, proHOUND will:

  • Begin the collaborative, gradual and long journey of eliminating problems that have occurred as a result of human failure

  • Increase the quantity of fresh diets across the UK, and provide support and partner to/with registered professionals already working on this objective

  • Increase awareness and facilitate education to the general public

  • Increase awareness and facilitate education to current dog owners

  • Increase awareness and facilitate tailored education towards shelters

  • Increase awareness and facilitate tailored education towards potential future pet owners

  • Decrease the overall (future) population, through prevention towards one that is more suited to real demand/committed owners, with emphasis on eliminating puppy mills and backyard breeders

  • Engage and develop partnerships with significant industry stakeholders

  • Begin the journey of regulation and competence around the dog training industry

  • Design and develop framework to collaboratively create one overarching association in which members (whether dog owners, prospective pet owners, dog trainers or prospective dog trainers) can achieve progressive and verified competence, register their verified status and join a network (as appropriate)

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    “proHOUND was established:
    to collaboratively centralise and circulate credible and scientific fact;
    to dispel 1) misinformation 2) disinformation 3) pseudoscience and 4) propaganda;
    to share know-how; and to influence the respective regulation and legislation on all disharmonies surrounding the domestic canine."

    ©2022 proHOUND®
    proHOUND is a trading name of proHOUND LTD.
    proHOUND is a UK-registered, non-profit organisation, limited by guarantee,
    under registration number SC672677

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