(Picture of Elka "paws up", taught through positive reinforcement techniques, to prevent this post from being a wall of text)
In the study, the results were that punitive methods resulted in "aggressive response in at least a quarter of the dogs on which they were attempted". In the comments in my other post, some people mentioned having used Alpha rolls, and their dogs were better for it. There are individual differences in people, and in dogs, that make some techniques more useful than others. There are situational differences as well. I don't have a crystal ball, and I'm not a veterinary behaviorist (Though as stated, Patricia McConnell is. And Dr. Meghan E. Herron is). I'm not even a professional dog trainer. Maybe that makes me more dangerous? I'm a dog owner with a psychology degree and a blog. On the Internet, anybody can be an expert, so you do have to be careful who you listen to. Make good choices for yourself, and for your dog.
But, the study, lead by Dr. Meghan E. Herron, received back from owners a total of 140 surveys; 90 purebreds and 50 mixed breeds were the "participants". Not a big sample size, but these are owners self reporting to the survey questions, one would assume (hope) honestly. I actually emailed Dr. Herron to see if I might read the survey owners received, and to my pleasant surprise, she shared it with me. So thank you again, Dr. Herron!
The questionnaire, as one would hope, really covers the bases. Familiar people, unfamiliar people, children, varying situations, that kind of thing. There are very good descriptors the owners could select from in the different sections, describing their dog's body language and behavior. Among "indirect confrontation" in the questionnaire was "force exposure" which, if I'm assuming correctly, is also what one would refer to as "flooding". My understanding is that in dogs, flooding will frequently cause them to shut down; while this seems like an extinction of the behavior, it's typically a temporary state, and results in a more fervent resurgence. Flooding is a technique I've seen Cesar Millan use, and I'm extremely uncomfortable with the way it seems to make dogs feel. Lots of stress, there: head turns, tongue flips, roaching of the back, etc. To me, it's so much more rewarding to work around the problem, working the dog under threshold, using "Look at That", that kind of thing. Maybe it takes longer, but to me, it seems far less damaging and much more like genuine learning and problem solving.
Also of interest in the study is the source of behavioral treatment information. I.e., where the owner learned about/heard of the method, including friends, books, Internet, television, and the vet. I'm sorry to say that it would seem at least one vet recommended "rubbing his nose in it" for a house soiling, but not a single vet of the surveyed participants recommended a neck jab or "Dominance down" (separate from the "Alpha Roll", which some vets did recommend. Argh. [My own "Argh", not reflected in the study]).
I admit my bias happily (I'm not the one who conducted the study, after all, so my opinions do not color the statistical results) when I say that I'm pleased to see the reported positive results in the "reward based" category of the study. Things like "Look at me" and "sit for everything" were owner reported to have a positive effect on behavior. These sorts of self control exercises with clear criteria are methods I especially like, as they make both the dog and the owner think, not react. I feel that they teach the dog that thinking is an option, and that we're hear to give them direction in situations that have left them uncomfortable or feeling unsure.
I cannot claim to never yell at Elka, or use "No" in a particular way, but I do try. I try to redirect to a behavior I want instead, rather than the one being presented. But there are times I'm aggravated already, or short of patience, and she's whining in just the right way, and I'll yell. And then I'll see the tongue flip, the yawn, the look away, and I'll feel immediately guilty. I also try to keep in mind the notion of constantly reinforcing behaviors I do like; when she voluntarily goes to her bed, tells me "Out", sits for her leash. She's four now, and still learning, and I'm still learning with her. It's been a fascinating experience, truly.
A quote on the study from Patricia McConnell (linked above) that I like (and articulates things so very well):
the study is not so much about “reinforcement” and “punishment,” as about what happens when you threaten your dog, or forcefully and physically respond to misbehavior. Please be clear that I am not saying that if one of us occasionally raises our voice to our dog, or has a moment of humanity and loses our temper, we are going to destroy our dogs forever. Neither am I saying that aversives are always bad: aversive events are part and parcel of life, and we all need to know how to handle them, dogs included. However, as many of us have observed for years, using force and confrontation as a primary method of dog training often backfires and creates some of the very problems it is trying to solve.
Despite my having this blog and handing out my advice, whether it's wanted or not, I do recommend dog owners seek help when necessary from trained professionals, rather than turning to the Internet. If you feel your dog has behavioral issues which make life uncomfortable, or even make things dangerous for the dog or those around him or her, a board certified veterinary behaviorist is really the best option. For the United States, you can perform a search to Find a Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist on the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists web site. Anybody can call him or herself a behaviorist, much like anybody can call him or herself a dog trainer. It's important, for your sake and your dog's, to work with a true professional.
Edited to add: 2BrownDawgs pointed out, rightfully, that there is in fact a difference between a "survey" and a "study". This was, even according to the title, a survey. I've changed my post title to reflect that.