The Anti-Aversives Animal Behavior or Training Professional
In addition to possessing the necessary expertise (including depth and breadth of experience, study, and credentials), an anti-aversives animal behavior & training professional is a professional who provides their services 1) refusing to use pain, force, intimidation, or fear to rehabilitate / behavior modify / train. This means the professional will not use, recommend, or condone aversive equipment or methods -- for example, no shock collars (aka e-collars, stimulation units, remote collars, remote communication devices, ultrasonic devices, etc.), anti-bark devices, prong collars, choke collars or other equipment designed to choke, no corporal punishment or other corrections, no shake cans or other startle equipment, no squirting, leash popping, collar dragging, scolding, yelling, etc., AND who 2) believes they must do everything possible to avoid inadvertent aversives for your dog, WHILE 3) helping you to achieve an anti-aversives lifestyle for your dog.
An anti-aversives professional is committed to the positive approach, not an approach based on "balanced" (indicates aversives are used), "pack leader," or "dominance" type beliefs and misconceptions. The "consequences" an anti-aversives professional provides are keeping the dog safe, helping the animal feel safe, and providing pleasant, desireable (to the animal) conditioning since this is what evidence-based research and practice have shown will continue to improve behavior and well-being. An expert behavior & training professional understands that, especially for fearful dogs, aversive consequences (e.g., verbal or physical corrections, intimidation, force, fear-leveraging, et cetera) are harmful because even if they don't deliver physical discomfort, the mental/emotional discomfort they cause tends to result in negative associations, which then tend to result in undesired behavior. This problem quickly becomes cyclical and self-perpetuating.
The Fearful Dogs Project believes that some practices commonly taught and accepted elsewhere as "fear free" are not really fear-free* practices. For example, restraining an animal rather than implementing cooperative care and handling will almost always result in fear for the animal, since restraint may be considered a type of force, and being forced, especially in order to have additional aversive experiences delivered, is likely to result in increased fear. Therefore, except in the case of 'life or limb' emergencies, even small aversives such as restraint should be avoided. There are other examples; if you'd like to learn more, contact us, and consider our Fear Abatement Mastery program.
*Actually, it is impossible to be a "fear free" provider, since fear is at least largely an emotion, and the emotions of others are not within anyone else's absolute control. It is not up to us whether an animal feels afraid. It is up to us to avoid being or allowing the scary stimulus, however. For this reason, we feel the principles and practices of an "anti-aversives" professional are more helpful when working to prevent and treat fear, distress, anxiety, trauma, and the behaviors that often correlate.