The AVA Annual Conference is the nation’s premier veterinary event, covering all fields of veterinary science and in 2017 brought together over 920 veterinary professionals and 115 exhibitors.

We hope you will join us for the 2018 AVA Annual Conference in Brisbane, 13-18 May.    
Visit conference.ava.com.au to register.    To download a pdf file of the entire program click here.
Wednesday, May 16 • 11:30am - 12:30pm
Just because it works doesn't mean it's right: The ethics of training animals

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Animal training whether for management, performance or behavioural modification, often involves intense interactions between human and animal and poses some interesting welfare and ethical challenges and resulting discussions. There is often a misunderstanding or poor application of learning theory and confusion over terminology (eg positive vs negative reinforcement), which can impact on the animal’s training experience. Training involves the manipulation of an animal’s behaviour and emotions, through the application of methods that rely on the animal’s ability to learn and to remember. It stands to reason that methods/equipment used for training animals based on provoking negative emotions such as fear or pain, which may lead to short term successes, will also most likely lead to the development of behavioural responses and fear memories that are not desirable for animal and human safety in the long term. There is a plethora of equipment and training practices that are commonly used, such as choke, anti-bark and electric collars for dogs, whips and spurs for horses, dominance training techniques, and owners are often unaware of the potential problems these can cause for them and their pet. Ethical and effective animal training relies on the handler/trainer having a good knowledge of the animal’s ethology, its individual motivation, how learning theory works, recognition of mild signs of stress/pain as well as setting realistic goals for an individual and a training session. Training should be a positive experience for an animal in order for it to learn effectively, and the trainer should at the very least adopt the ethical approach of ‘doing no harm’ during their interactions with the animal.

avatar for Nat Waran

Nat Waran

Executive Dean and Professor (One Welfare), Eastern Institute of Technology, Te Aho a Māui
Nat gained a first class Zoology degree from Glasgow University, and PhD from Cambridge University’s Veterinary School funded by the British Veterinary Association. She joined Edinburgh University in 1990 to develop a unique PG Masters in the relatively new area of Applied Animal... Read More →

Wednesday May 16, 2018 11:30am - 12:30pm
Mezzanine M3 Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre