Our Brand Ethics

What Does Ethical Pet Ownership Mean to Us?


We believe in positive reinforcement training, including high-value rewards, praise, and lots of patience, for all animals. We do not promote the use of any aversive on any animal. (Want to learn more? Read all about positive reinforcement training.)

We believe in LIMA (Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive) standards. 

We believe in force-free and fear-free principles. 

We believe in qualified experts. We recommend always asking your vet about any dietary questions, medical issues, or changes in your pet’s behavior, and consulting a qualified, certified trainer about any behavioral issues. 

We do not promote “dominance theory,” “alpha theory” or any similar dominance-based theories of training, as these theories have been thoroughly debunked.

Our positions are in line with those of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

Finally, we are learning all the time! As a culture, our understanding of animal behavior, cognition and best practices is constantly changing. We are committed to learning constantly, and we strive to provide a safe and understanding space in the pet sphere for everyone to keep learning with us. We understand that others in the space may have different levels of understanding. We encourage every company in the pet space to look into positive reinforcement, LIMA, and force-free methods.


Meet Our Experts

When articles benefit from expert training or medical review, they are reviewed by a credentialed training or medical expert. We review articles for factual accuracy and safety, and always with our editorial ethics in mind.


(DVM) Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
(CPDT-KA) Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed
(KPAC-TP) Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner 
(FFCP) Fear Free Certified Professional 


Shopping Recommendations and Product Reviews


All product recommendations on Cuteness are purely editorial. The commerce team works exclusively with freelance contributors who are qualified experts in their fields, whether they be certified dog trainers, pet care providers, or veterinarians, in an effort to provide our readers with well-researched product recommendations. Every product is then vetted by a commerce editor to ensure it meets Cuteness’ standards of ethical pet parenting.

We occasionally recieve sample products from brands for consideration or review, but this does not influence our coverage in any way. We retain the right to cover, or not cover, any product we receive for free. When we do publish reviews, we test the products thoroughly over an extended period of time in case any issues arise. Our panel of dog and cat reviewers take their jobs very seriously and carefully consider the quality, durability, and functionality of each product … mostly by playing and eating. 

When recommending products we haven’t tested ourselves, we rely on the expertise of our editors and contributors, who bring a wealth of experience to their reporting. Our contributors conduct their research by interviewing other experts, reading product reviews, and scouring online forums and social media platforms. We encourage our contributors to share their honest opinions, pointing out the pros and cons of each product. Additionally, all of our commerce articles feature a ‘considerations’ section to help readers make informed purchasing decisions. 

The pet sphere is largely unregulated, and as pet guardians ourselves, we are committed to weeding through conflicting information and updating our product recommendations and best practices as new science-backed research is published. We approach every article from an ethical pet parenting stance, and we always encourage our readers to consult their veterinary care team when deciding whether a particular product is appropriate for their pet. 

Come across a product that seems off? Shoot us an email at [email protected], and we’ll look into it as soon as we can!


Frequently Asked Questions


Is 100% of your content up to these standards now?

No, it is a work in progress. We are committed to making all our content reflect our principles, but this is an ongoing process. If you find an article that doesn’t fit with the principles outlined here, please submit it to [email protected] and we’ll take a look!

Do you work with companies that sell aversive items?

The majority of retailers in the pet space still sell some aversive items, and while we do continue to work with them, we encourage them to reconsider this practice. The shift toward positive reinforcement is a relatively recent one, and we believe that as culture shifts, companies will follow. 

Where can I find more information about these topics?

We strive to provide you with all the information here on Cuteness, but we’d also like to give a shout out to these companies and organizations who are important sources of information:

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior

Pet Professional Guild

Fear Free Pets


adorable shorthair cat lying on front in bed looking bored; image credit: Kilito Chan/Getty Images
We'd love to hear from you
Contact us at: [email protected]