Post BSL – Creating Safe Havens
The White House released a statement in regards to Breed Specific Legislation on August 23rd 2013 that summed it up by saying it was a “bad idea”. They primarily took the stance that the CDC has taken and that is a very good and logical stance to take.
This statement by the White House has lent huge support towards the collective efforts of everyone that has been working to rid the planet of BSL. Even though the White House position statement is in spirit at this stage, it is still a very good source to draw upon in future discussions when confronted with anti dog legislation aimed at certain breeds or types.
I want to thank a man I only know as “Noah” that started the petition submitted to the White House that gave us this boost of support. Thank you Noah!
I want to thank the White House and President Obama for taking a stand against BSL and calling it a “bad Idea”, that sums it up perfectly! This is the first and only administration that has ever addressed BSL in the past 30 years it has been around, so this is a big deal. We should all be very happy; regardless of “politics”, this is a big win for dogs and a big win for us humans that are working to end BSL, dangerous dog laws and or housing restrictions for certain types of dogs.
I want to also thank every person that signed the petition and any person that helps in bringing awareness to the ravages of BSL. Don’t stop, it is not over.
Thanks go out to people that educate about the plight of pit bulls, all humans helping dogs in shelters, in the rescue groups, thanks to all the efforts in all the many ways that are finally adding up to a cumulative statement from the highest of offices, that indeed BSL is a “bad idea”. This is long overdue.
This is most assuredly a time to be thankful and use this energy towards ending BSL and educating as many people as possible about the plight of dogs in general.
Breed Specific Legislation will eventually go away, as all bad ideas one day do. It may be sooner than we all think, or it may linger in places that have no intention of learning and changing. Or it will stay in some places due to some having a financial interest in keeping it alive. After all somewhere some one is making money from BSL or else it would have all been voted away by now.
Where breed bans and restrictions will most likely linger and fester will be home owners and apartment insurance not covering certain types of dogs and the housing authorities or apartment building restrictions that get applied to certain types of dogs, and these dogs may not even be remotely called “pit bull”. This is why BSL is dangerous; it spreads irrational fears about all dogs.
Creating tangible safe havens for dogs.
To live in a post BSL utopia of sorts, and to have it really matter, we’ll need to start placing importance on education in regards to proper behavior assessments, dog training and behavioral modifications. After all, dogs will always need proper help in those areas, and that starts with proper education for humans.
This will supersede any laws, as humans will then be interacting appropriately and more safely with dogs, thus dogs will be more sound and safe. It will not cost anything financially. In fact all one has to do is change their behavior which does not cost any money at all. There are also some great options for people that want to obtain a proper education about dogs that will be included at the end of this blog.
The focus alongside of eradicating BSL must be addressing a unifying problem facing all dogs and their guardians, which is the misinformation about training and behavior. It is rampant, and this misinformation affects all dogs of every type, breed or mix, everywhere on the planet. It is often filled with pseudo science, and abusive approaches wrapped in mumbo jumbo about “dominance”. This is also another “bad idea” that has run it’s course that needs to be addressed and eradicated.
Ending BSL and addressing the abuses in pet dog training have been my two concurrent goals since I began working in advocacy for dogs. I knew from the start that stressing the importance of educating about dog behavior with legitimate scientific information was crucial for BSL to be eradicated.
After all the crux of every issue with dogs and humans resides in behavior.
This tact proved instrumental in helping end BSL In Ohio at the state level in 2010 and as well as other places that have had the Pit Bull Hoax film presented. Learning about dog behavior properly will solve many problems both literally and intellectually that people have with dogs.
Dangerous Narratives and Dangerous Approaches
Educating people about what constitutes, as humane and inhumane dog training or courses of action to take with dogs is not always easy, because everyone brings some cultural or emotional baggage with them into “dogs”.
As a professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, In some cases I am detailing to people about abuses such as low-grade yelling or leash jerks that have caused behavioral fallouts, all the way up to why they cannot use electric shock on dogs without some sort of behavioral detriments occurring. These folks may have had dog’s prior or never before, they all have one thing in common, they have or are about to create behavior problems and possibly an unsound dog due to unsound advice.
Sure, someone will post that they did these things and the dog is/was “fine”. “Fine” is not a behavioral assessment, and environmental context keeps many dogs out of dangerous circumstances, however many dogs do not benefit from their human directed circumstances.
No matter the fear and pain based approach all dogs have some adverse behavioral, physical, emotional or health problems due to the stress, and many times the results are dogs biting and then being euthanized.
The scourge that BSL has created is a poisoned mindset in some people; even people that are normally fair minded and “love dogs”. BSL came along and affixed itself to certain dogs and in a general way so has this irrational notion that dogs are in some way “out to get us”.
An idiot on TV magnified this meme, used fear and pain based “training”, threw some catchy phrases around muddled bullshit like “dog psychology”, and now many professionals, or people with limited dog experience or even worse, people that have never so much as had a dog, think they “know about dogs” and “what to do”. Which these hacks claim is to calmly verbalize a “shzzt” sound and jab the dog in the neck, and if the dogs do anything other than take it, they do the abusive move again until the dog submits or defers. If they do not submit they ramp it up. If that does not work the dog to them is some how internally damaged by way of some mythical obstinacy I suppose.
The same process for these types of people that align with using aversive methods applies to using electric shock, or choke or what have you; if the dog does not comply, then ramp it up, and if the dog still does not do what the human wants, usually the criteria is vague, the dog must be messed up some how; and then these people that hold this mind set euthanize the dog or give the dog away to a shelter or rescue or “back to the breeder”. Heck, it was not going to be much of a life any way living with the constant threat of being hurt or scared.
The problem is this, when humans do not understand the dog properly and they are instructed to address the issues with startle, force, fear and pain based tools, they will use it as a “go to”, and the dog will either shut down or the dog will aggress further. Either way, the humans are building unsound dogs. Period. No other results will occur. There are plenty of shut down dogs right now being “assessed” as “calm and submissive”, when in fact they are “shut down and scared shitless” and are more likely to bite or get an illness due to the stress.
This mindset that the dog is doing something to us “on purpose” to gain “rank”, is now sadly a big part of culture for dog guardians, of working in a shelter, when doing rescue, with trainers, with groomers, sadly some vets, this mindset is rampant.
This single meme that “the dog may be up to no good and trying to get back at humans or” hurt” humans” is the same parallel cause for BSL and as much a concern/issue/problem, as it is the same insidious lie that BSL was founded on, that the dog is out to get humans.
In fact, this meme effects all dogs, as far as “training” or assessing behavior goes, not just the dogs that people want to ban. So in many ways this is a larger more far-reaching part of the issue with dogs, which is, the misinformation about dogs passed on as fact through fictional memes causes problems, not solutions.
This “dog is out to get us” meme must be eradicated. It should be as vigorously addressed as BSL, because freedom for certain types of dogs without proper understanding about them is just another context for more abuse to take place. After all the larger, stronger, prejudged dogs that may be judged unfairly due to BSL, will usually get the harshest treatments by people that have this adversarial mindset or a predisposition to be fearful of certain dogs. This speaks nothing of the unfair behavioral standards with which some people will hold certain types of dogs to.
Many people are fearful of dogs, even many professionals. Most of that fear in the pro dog camps or with people that are fearful intrinsically is simply based on improper education or no education at all, or some bad experiences with one type or other, that could have been avoided in many cases with proper education and or the media and cultural memes have conditioned them.
The good thing, and it can be proven every time, with science and math, based on an honest history; dogs are innocent. It is the environment and the dog’s cumulative history, largely created by human’s direct or indirect decisions that are the largest influences on dog behavior. Dogs do not have a moral agenda to take us over intellectually or otherwise. That is pure fiction, a lie. Poppy cock.
Dogs do not have the same intellectual morality as humans, and this is a great thing. It makes communicating with them, once one learns how properly, much easier than one could imagine.
Sure there are times when the dog does not comply, and dogs forget when they get stressed, or do things that make us scratch our heads, the bottom line is that they need help from us, they are not doing anything to us “on purpose” as far as doing it to make us angry or upset, they may want our attention, but again that’s what friends do. Don’t most of our friends at one time or other need some help or ask us for attention, and maybe we’re busy or stressed?
Well, our human friends can understand more in the way of language, and infer from context more so than dogs, so we need to reciprocate the deference that dogs show us in order for things to stay safe and well bonded.
When humans are properly taught how to finesse those times of stress without fear or force or intimidation, the dog learns better and the stress for all involved stays at reasonable levels. As time goes on it is easily circumvented in most cases due to having a sound plan and creating a safe history for the dog.
This meme is exactly the same meme that has affixed itself to “pit bulls” and other types of dogs, that they are in some way viewed as “ticking time bombs”, and the solution is to ban or euthanize them, which has clearly not accomplished anything other than pain and misery. Or another alternative is treating them with a heavy hand so they will “obey”.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Kind consistency, proper education in dog behavior, and understanding reinforcement will get you all you need.
When dogs do have bona fide issues involving stress, fear and aggression, it is even more crucial that be addressed with safe and humane approaches that do not further the concerning behaviors.
The problem persists as professional pet dog trainers dance around the three main subjects that need addressing in regards to the profession of pet dog training.
1 – Pain trainers are abusing dogs and stealing money from people while causing harm and falsely educating consumers. This is a consumer protection problem wrapped in an animal cruelty issue. Answer; call the better business bureau or your local humane police. I suggest both.
2 – Lack of proper education for professionals and consumers. No matter what camp the trainers fall into or if they are one of those confused “balanced trainers” that do “a little of everything”, the main issue is that most pet dog trainers, and consumers do not have the proper education in dog behavior, or about human behavior and how it effects dog behavior, so both sides are equally devoid of proper information to either teach or to learn.
3 – Companion dogs are to be taught and trained based on the needs of the human dynamic they are in. Far too many “trainers” are not taking into account the human dynamic and the dog’s living contexts. Instead they issue abstract suggestions and training approaches based on what amounts to more memes and fictional assessments. What dog guardians need are practical, tangible ways to train in every day situations that also include safe ways to manage dogs on leash and or in the home or yard.
Sadly far too many pet dog trainers, and many guardians of dogs do not have the physical mechanical and timing skills to adequately undertake many of the cases/dogs they take in. Additionally many people do not have a clear and legitimate understanding of how behavior works in conjunction with reinforcement, and how the environment affects it.
Thus, they cannot properly assess the dog and the dynamic in which the dog lives. Hence, they cannot properly educate their clients or provide a thorough service.
In addition, when “trainers” are adopting and suggesting a mindset that “the dog is doing it to humans to dominate”, it’s akin to blaming the baby for crying and then using fear and pain based approaches to address the behavior. All this does is create an adversarial relationship. It erodes the bond of many dogs and their humans and causes stress in the home and stress in the community. This does not sound like what humans considered to be our “best friends” when once upon a time the dog was worshiped and protected.
The great thing about this problem is that anyone can change their mind, change their behavior, become properly educated and stop doing harmful things to dogs right away. No need to contact any politicians or sign any petitions, no laws need to pass for people to be more humane with dogs in training and in general, all that takes is for people to do it. You do not need permission to become educated, just go for it.
When it comes to using fear & pain to “train” dogs or interact with them, just stop doing it. Just stop buying in to it. Just stop thinking it will be a solution. It may end up being the final solution, as the dog may end up euthanized. It is another “bad idea” that has run its course.
When people stop doing harmful abusive things to dogs that are founded in “training” mumbo jumbo like “pack leader”, and stop recommending it from every corner of dog culture, then it will go away. Then anyone that does it will be the fringe; they will be viewed as the abusers that they actually are. They’ll be on the outskirts of culture where snake oil salesman and fast talking TV pitchmen go to peddle their falsehoods and scams.
I am not spouting bleeding heart opinions about dogs here, nor am I some mammy pamby dog trainer who tosses cookies at dogs because I lack skills or knowledge of reinforcements. I worked with hundreds of dogs each year, and I see it and hear it all.
What I am is a person that figured it out. I figured out how dogs learn, how they view their world as safe, unsafe or neutral, and most importantly I figured out how to communicate with dogs with the least possible stress, based on my behavior, so they learn and stay sound.
I also work primarily with pit bull dogs, and I can tell you first hand all those far-fetched myths about the dogs “fill in the prejudice myth of the week” these are just that; myths. Even where there might be a “thimble of the truth”, you still do not have the rest of behavioral package to make any correlations or determinations, about any “types” of dogs, because all behavior is contextual and has pathology created largely by humans and their choices.
Far too many “pit bulls” and dogs of a certain “type” are being “trained” harshly, simply due to an irrational fear of any dog that may look like a “pit bull”.
I along with many other professional pet dog trainers and behavior consultants are tired of having to re educate and deprogram in some cases, the nonsense that has lodged itself into a persons psyche about dogs. At times we need to detail to people just how bad off the dog is and just how unsound the dog is, due to humans using fear & pain. Maybe now the dog needs to be euthanized because they choked the dog or shocked the dog over and over until they determined the dog was “calm and scared shitless” or as some determine, “submissive”.
Or perhaps, we’ll have to detail that now the dog cannot be around people or dogs, and now the work that is needed is very crucial, very time and attention intensive, and not always fun or purely safe, the risks are greater. We explain it could have been avoided a year ago had they not been duped by some hack with a business card proclaiming they are a “whisperer”.
That part needs to go. The part where someone buys into some crap about “dominance” from a hack “trainer” and spends a year flipping the dog over and getting in their face, because they paid for the “advice”, until the dog bites the neighbor who goes to pet them. At that point we legits get contacted and they say, “something went wrong”, ya think?
Substitute “flipping dog over and getting in their face” for a year or so with “shock collar, prong collar, jabbing the dog in the neck, kicking the dog” etc… Think I am exaggerating? I saw a women the other day while I was stopped at a traffic light, for what amounted to the dog slightly raising it’s front legs off the ground, she jerked the dog off it’s feet back towards her, and then she kicked the dog in the ribs. This was a perhaps a 30-pound dog. The woman was not “small”. She did not change her expression; she did not address the dog in any other way. After the jerk & kick routine the dog stood there frozen and looked stressed. This is abuse that occurs as a matter of course for many dogs and the humans do it because it is accepted and in some it has been conditioned.
Once it becomes a person’s “way” it becomes daily abuse, as that is what the “go to move” is. All the hack pain “trainer” has is the fear and or pain and to ramp it up, or keep it going at low-grade levels for intimidation. If not the dog must be “dominant” and “bad” if they do not submit. Truth is dogs have loads of deference and many simply shut down.
Also, dogs many times, simply do not care about the aversive as the stimuli is too great to ignore such as with prey or if they are fearful of something momentarily.
If that was all there is to it, to hit or yell or cause the dog stress, then why would so many dogs have so many issues? They’d get it “correct” right away, right? No so. Too much stress is not healthy and human directed stress is a sure fire unsafe signal to the dog.
The one two punch of pain and then more pain will never truly work due to extinction of behavior being sensitive to context changes and spontaneous recovery being sensitive to time passing as a temporal context. In addition some dogs learn to predict the pain due to sequential triggers, and can create a chemical “brace” for the pain, by producing more cortisol, and thus a “masking” effect starts to occurs time goes on. See the damaging cycle?
If you do not know what that means and you are a professional pet dog trainer, then go find out ASAP. It is why behavior does what it does in many cases. If you do not understand the statement about extinction and spontaneous recovery, and you are a professional dog trainer, you should reconsider your career choice, or become better educated. If you are a dog guardian and still think it is a good idea to cause fear and pain and call it training keep reading.
The Reality of Pet Dog Training
There is already enough pain and misery out here intrinsically in dog culture, especially in dog training culture. The last thing anyone needs is to get bad advice based on bad ideas and be the cause of their dog’s fear and aggression issues and possibly the dog’s subsequent death due these approaches.
I have been on the last leg of these journeys and they are not fun. They often end in euthanasia after the dog has been abused and then bitten someone really badly. I am usually the last trainer in the dog’s life at this stage and I have to recommend the death sentence. There is no free ride in behavior; there is always freight to pay so to speak.
What I am asking here is each and every person that has a dog or works with dogs is to consider this; does it make any sense to use fear and pain on an animal that can land 25 bites in 4 seconds? Does it make sense to address your “best friend” with fear and pain? Dogs have loads of deference, which is why they do not bite as often or as badly as they could. Does it make sense to take advantage of their innate trust and deference towards us? No it does not.
We allow fellow humans quite a bit of behavioral flexibility and it is time we started affording that to dogs by learning about them properly.
By using fear and pain based methods the dog is still not receiving proper help for issues if the approaches are harmful and not reducing the unwanted behavior or perhaps replacing the behavior with a shut down dog.
All the things that we’d like dog’s to do, especially in moments of stress need to be taught, not forced or coerced, so they are learning, not merely coping with stress. When dogs are stressed they do not learn as well, so by teaching them without stress they learn much better to deal with stress that may occur.
I am seeing a rise in positive humane science based training in pit bull culture, and dog culture at large, which is great! I am also seeing a better understanding of dogs and more empathy than I did 10 years ago, or from what I have read from past writings about the dogs, especially “pit bulls”. There are reasons to feel good about where things are headed, but there is still quite a bit of work to do.
The two solutions I suggest towards changing this mindset over time are the two following ideas.
1 – Add to the existing animal cruelty laws in each state, a statute that protects consumers and their dogs from abuses in pet dog training such as electric shock, choke and prong collars, kicking, hitting, and or other forms of physical and emotional abuse such as flooded restraint and coercion, taunting etc…Those are considered abuse in other contexts, why are they accepted as “training”?
2 – ALL pet dog trainers must have a licensed, bonded, insured and registered business. In addition they must have sufficient certification by a legitimate dog training school or behavior courses, letters of recommendation and commendations from credentialed mentors in the fields of training and behavior, or some such credentials that certifies them to teach and instruct both dogs and humans safely. Then consumers can reference these credentials. This is better then the popular alternative of “we did this for years, our own dogs are trained, so pay us”. That is not good enough and sadly that is what passes for “education” many times in professional pet dog training.
The more proper, and please know that I am stressing the word proper to mean non-force science based positive dog-training education, for everyone the better. I know this is a sticky point as some “schools” use the aforementioned fear & pain based approaches and indoctrinate their students with falsehoods about behavior.
Some people will want to float by on their “gift” and resist any formal education. Others will say that most dogs do not need training and that only dogs with problems need it or dogs just need training as “puppies”.
People bring loads of baggage to dogs. The truth is that many dogs do not need “training” per say with a capital “T”, but all humans that have dogs need training and education with a capital “T and E”, no matter what the dog’s pathology is or what stage they obtain the dog. It is the humans that need the proper education in order to understand the dog and maintain a sound animal and to communicate with the least amount of stress.
“Training” is something that encompasses many factors, most of which are hinged upon the humans mechanics and timing of reinforcements and their awareness of the environment.
Proper “ Canine Education” is something dog guardian’s need and that people in general would benefit from if they were to be around dogs.
Dogs are animals and animals have intrinsic needs and learning specifics to stay sound and retain information. This is the information that humans need to understand so they are making smart, safe choices. It is also not too difficult to learn these basics. When taught with an emphasis on teamwork and safety it’s really fun as well!
Animals have needs and desires that should be met based on their most basic natural functions, and that should be the narrative taught to humans, not “dog’s are second tier concerns, here’s some “tips” and tricks”, until they do something we don’t like or they get sick”, then blame them.
It is sad to say, but many times that’s when the dog starts to get some legitimate help, when they are in some behavioral trouble or health issue catch up. There is a big difference between having dogs and helping dogs.
That is the rub. Some people are still getting away with half ass-ing it and calling it training, or worse some have the gall to call themselves “behaviorists”, despite the fact that using fear and pain causes health issues, behavior issues and physical harm. How is that helping anyone, how is that “professional”?
Think I am exaggerating?
Here are recent examples of half ass-ing it and or abusive training and the results.
Veterinarian recommends letting the dogs “work it out”, says puppy will “learn”, the puppy was subsequently killed when it was shaken to death by the older dog that has resource guarding.
A “trainer” suggests (to a couple aged 70’s mind you) “press your body into the dog like a crashing wave”. Of course this was implemented when the dog was stressed, the intention is to calm the dog I suppose, or teach it who is “boss”, the report I saw was not clear, and thus, the elderly folks started getting bitten in the groin.
A dog is shy and apprehensive at 6 months, 5 years later after low grade abuses and pain “training” and seriously stunted socialization, that dog attacked a human, landed 2 level 4 bites and is now euthanized.
All true, that last incident happened to me. All due to humans not being properly educated. Period. In that last case the humans had access to proper education through me and decided for whatever reason to blow it off, again, people bring baggage to their dogs, and do what they do, the results in this case was a euthanized dog.
What I have seen so far, in the past 13 years working in “dogs”, is a whole lot of people taking money and not delivering any real behavioral modification, or tangible skills taught to people, or properly written assessments, training plans etc, so that the consumers have something of value to reference or use going forward.
I have also seen an egregious lack of dedication towards dogs with fear and aggression issues, or even basic training issues, by the people in their charge. Being lazy about issues that start minor then become major is sadly very common. It is also one of the main reasons why people need to hire a legitimate dog trainer, from the start or when things become uncomfortable around the dog. Many times when things cannot be resolved dogs wind up in shelters.
Should there be an issue with the dog, it is not the dog’s fault and it is our responsibility to help the dog in some way that does not include blame and pain. This is the mindset that made the human dog bond special; we accepted dogs as innocent and treated them accordingly.
We need to get back to the mindset of affording dogs more behavioral flexibility based on true understanding, not on some memes passed along. This does not mean tolerating all behavior that is frustrating for the dog, or for us, or allow harmful behavior or behavior based in the fear and anxiety category to fester. It means flexibility by way of understand the dog is responding to the environment and we need to do something to help them to make the best choices.
At one time it was the humans “gut feelings” about dogs that supported the natural deference and kindness dogs’ have in spades. Now that has by some been misconstrued and discombobulated into a dangerous narrative based on an adversarial relationship. Some people don’t adopt this mindset in total, but still many people do buy in to some extent, and it can be damaging and waste precious time.
It is our responsibility to help the dog, we are not here to cause them harm in any way, especially in learning and training contexts, or when things are stressful, lest we want a dog that is unsound in some way.
By the way, dogs are learning with a capital “L” all the time, and the big lessons they take away are simply safe, unsafe, and neutral and those associations are made to all environments and their contexts.
Once we get back to the mindset, that dogs are not out to get us, but out to live and work willingly alongside us for safety and companionship we’ll have accomplished the major task towards the reeducation of humans about dogs. We need to promote helping dogs not simply having them.
As we forge ahead day to day working towards what is hopefully a better life for both dogs and humans it would be nice to get back to this mindset that dogs are truly humans best friends, are to be considered right along with all the other family members, and then hopefully people will stop abusing them based on being confused and scared or bad ideas passed off as cultural gospel.
When “ the dog is humans best friend” is the mindset that permeates most or hopefully all of culture once again, we’ll finally have completed the mission of setting up culture wide safe havens for dogs from many forms of abuse. Abuse for dogs starts with a person’s perception of dogs that results in some lack of empathy, which is usually founded on bad ideas and fear.
Once we rid the planet of the legislative prejudice and the internally programmed prejudice against dogs that has been largely promulgated by the media and by hack dog professionals, we’ll finally have reorganized the world back to its proper place where dogs are understood to be our friends.
Despite our collective appreciation and show of support for the recent White House position statement that BSL is a bad idea, we have lots of work to do ending existing BSL and stopping proposed BSL. In addition, there is a huge workload involved in improving the quality of pet dog training both professionally and in the culture of dog guardianship in general so dogs and their guardians are safe from fraud and abuses when they look for training and education.
We’ll get there; many good people are hard at work towards these ends. And after all, bad ideas one day are forgone for better ideas, and we certainty have no shortage of much better ideas than BSL and pain training.
Great blog by Nancy Tanner, http://nancytanner.com/2013/07/26/a-cautionary-letter/
This blog is a great illustration of just how bad it is out here for consumers in need of pet dog training.
The Heavy Hand Myth - Video discusses with top behavior professionals why there is no need to use fear & pain to train dogs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGZnQlFevf0
The Pit Bull Hoax DVD
Animal Learning Is Not Breed Specific Great blog explaining animal learning theory and positive training. by Kelly Shutt Cottrell
Interview with Dr. Karen Overall. Dr. Overall discusses training, behavior, pit bulls as working dogs, and misinformation in dog culture.
Interview with Drayton Michaels - In The Dog House Radio show. Discussing pit bulls, and positive training.
Interview with Drayton Michaels on PIX 11 NYC Morning show discussing White House Position Statement that BSL is a bad idea. http://video.pix11.com/Why-breed-specific-legislation-BSL-is-causing-a-controversy--25067012
Education For Professionals
The Academy For Dog Trainers
Karen Pryor Academy
Pet Professional Guild
National Canine Research Council