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Principles of The Fearful Dogs Project Code of Conduct

This code of conduct includes an anti-aversives stance regarding the care, treatment, handling, and training of animals.  While TFDP understands that no one is perfect and that not all aversives can be avoided at all times since some aversives are not in our control, and since the animal decides what is aversive to that animal, an anti-aversives stance is a commitment to do everything possible to avoid aversives for the animal.  


Generally, an aversive is anything that an animal would prefer to avoid or escape--simply put, anything the animal finds unpleasant. However, we consider some things inherently aversive:  Shock collars (aka remote collars, electric collars, electrified fences, “stim,” “tens,” “vibration,” anti-bark devices, “invisible” fencing, et cetera, no matter what the euphemism is) and/or any other type of shock; choke collars/tightening equipment; pain; force; compulsion; intimidation; scare or startle methods, or fear-leveraging.

Since the animal is unable to advocate for herself/himself, when working with or for an animal, we prioritize the animal’s safety and well-being. Therefore, we view seeking to do only what is beneficial and not what is detrimental to the animal and the animal’s progress as one of our responsibilities as anti-aversives professionals. 


Additionally, it is not our place to decide euthanasia for someone else's animal, nor to recommend euthanasia; such serious decisions are only for the owner to make. Our job is to provide requested/appropriate anti-aversive behavior instruction, coaching, consultation, and encouragement toward progress and well-being, operationalizing assessments and potential behavioral outcomes to each owner and clearly explaining that an animal’s slower versus faster pace of progress is not unusual and is not necessarily an indicator of poor prognosis. In cases of a truly dangerous animal or an animal who we, in consultation with other TFDP certified professionals and the owner, believe will not improve, our job may also be to clearly outline likely or possible outcomes--to both the animal and involved persons--of every possible choice of action, so that the owner may make the best possible decision.

Additional specifics:


1/ Uphold anti-aversives and other procedures & principles of the Fear Abatement Mastery (F.A.M.) program and the Fear Abatement Cumulative Training (F.A.C.T.) process.

2/ If a fear-related case is not within your field of expertise, or if you are unable to achieve progress with a case, in order to decrease the risk of euthanasia or other undesired outcomes, immediately refer to, or at minimum consult with, a current TFDP certificant or TFDP instructor.

3/ Do not condone, employ, or recommend shock, prong, choke, anti-bark, or similar equipment.

4/ Do all that is possible to avoid causing physical or emotional/mental discomfort in an animal. Do not condone, employ, or recommend scare tactics, fear-leveraging, intimidation, compulsion, force, or “correction.”

5/ Recommend and/or implement habitation and conspecific conditions in which the animal feels safe, is secure, and is physically and emotionally comfortable, and  provide or recommend enrichment specific to the individual animal’s interests and comfort.

6/ Avoid exposing an animal to any situation that needlessly causes or heightens the animal’s fear or other discomfort or distress.

7/ Work at the animal’s own pace, and prioritize the animal’s safety and sense of safety at all times.

8/ Prioritize the scared animal’s emotional and physical well-being before the desire for any non-vital result in the animal’s behavior.

9/ Operationalize behavior rather than use labels, especially life-threatening or misleading labels such as “fear aggression.”

10/ Avoid recommending behavior-based euthanasia for fearful dogs owned by other individuals and organizations; instead  advocate for conditions and efforts that promote a sense of safety and well-being for the animal. We may outline the array of possible options and outcomes available but we do not make euthanasia  decisions for others.

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