KIRAS Security Research

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F&E-Dienstleistungen > 2014

Positive reinforcement versus punishment - Breaking new grounds in police dog training

Positive reinforcement versus punishment compares the new and the old training schedule for police dogs in Austria. Constrains for police dog services are investigated and evaluated to see, if the new training schedule decreases stress and strain of the dogs.

Positive reinforcement versus punishment compares the new and the old training schedule for police dogs in Austria. It is proved, that dogs worked primarily positive show at least the same performance as dogs corrected with the aid of pain. Constraints for police dog services are investigated and evaluated to see, whether the new training schedule decreases stress and strain of the dogs. Reduced stress may enlarge the time of service of police dogs and therefore makes training much more efficient. Confident, resilient dogs with a high drive and the necessary potential of aggression are best suited for police dog service. During a mission the police dog has to follow the command of its handler under massive stress.

For the training of police dogs the Austrian Protection of Animals Act (2004) allows the use of pitch collar. In the eyes of several trainers this type of punishment is necessary to train dogs with a high drive, which are best suited as police dogs. They assume that if this training aid to execute negative reinforcement is forbidden police has to resign on best suited dogs for police dog service. The “new” training schedule for police dogs in Austria avoids negative reinforcement and tries to train police dogs with positive reinforcement mainly. The success of this training method was already investigated by scientific studies for police dogs and military working dogs.

The scopes of the proposed project are to

  •  describe the legal framework for training and mission of police dogs in Austria,
  • discuss ethical aspects of police dogs missions,
  • describe requirements of police dogs by incident commanders, trainers and handlers and compare them with the training schedule,
  • compare the performances of police dogs trained with the old and the new training schedule,
  • and to evaluate stress and strain by actual observation during training and certification resp. by analyses of the police dogs health records.

At the end the project should draw a broad picture of stress of the police dogs during training and mission and should illustrate measures for enlarged time of service and efficient trainings of police dogs in Austria.

Project Coordinator:
Prof. Dr. Ulrike Berninger, Dr. Leopold Slotta-Bachmayr, Paris-Lodron Universität Salzburg (PLUS), Fachbereich für Ökologie und Evolution

Project Partners:

  • Bundesministerium für Inneres
  • Agentur für europäische Integration und wirtschaftliche Entwicklung
  • Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
  • Forschungsstelle für Ethik und Wissenschaft im Dialog, Universität Wien

Contact:
Dr. Leopold Slotta-Bachmayr
Universität Salzburg, Fachbereich für Ökologie und Evolution

Hellbrunnerstr. 34A-5020 Salzburg
Tel.: 0664/2828667

E-Mail: Leopold.Slotta-Bachmayr@sbg.ac.at
Homepage: http://www.uni-salzburg.at/index.php?id=81&MP=200409-200745