First, let me say, there has been much ink spilled on this subject. Most of it is a lot better than anything I could put together. If you want to know why I don’t think the training tools mentioned in the title of this blog are necessary and can actually be harmful, you can read great, level-headed posts on the specifics in the following places:
Eileen and Dogs Blog has a great compilation of information: http://eileenanddogs.com/shock-collar-info/
Awesome Dogs has an awesome (pun intended) article on prong collars and our perception of pain here: http://awesomedogs.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/pinch-me-a-k-a-prong-me/
Fearful Dogs has an interesting article on learned helplessness caused by punishment here: http://fearfuldogs.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/stockholm-syndrome/
Doggerel does a nice piece on breed stereotyping and what kind of training you should do when you have certain breeds: http://thedoggerel.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/becoming-a-german-shepherd-person/
And the list goes on and on and on. This post is not like the ones above. If you want an easy to read, rational, level-headed and kind post, please go read one of the ones mentioned. This post has nothing to do with why you shouldn’t use these training tools. It has nothing to do with science. It has to do with perception which as much as we all hate to admit it, controls almost every facet of our lives. And these are, above all, my perceptions, let me make that abundantly clear.
So here we go.
As we all know, I do not use any of these training tools on my dogs. I have, in the past however, used one of them. Smokey wore a choke chain for about four or five months after we adopted him, and his dog aggression got worse. That choke chain landed itself in the trash and never again has one even been contemplated in our home. Period. I did try a martingale collar on Panzer once (and Shelby wears one when she’s in heat, just in case). The martingale collar made Panzer submissive pee when I went to put it on and when he had it on he refused to walk off the front porch. Even though I only put the collar on him twice, he continued to submissive pee at the sight of the leash for two months. I can only imagine what one of these other tools would do. That’s neither here nor there, but I am just setting the record straight on that one.
Over the years of being a dog owner and a “clicker trainer” as I’m going to loosely classify myself, I’ve done a lot of observation of dogs that wear these collars. So much, in fact, that I’ve been able to do a lot of snap judgments about the owners and the dog’s homelife. I know, snap judgments, right? But if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s what most of do with people (and dogs) most of the time. So here are some of my snap judgments about these tools (and don’t think I’m the only one judging you). And yes, I’m fully aware that when I walk my dogs without a leash and a clicker and a bait bag I’m getting judged by other people too. I live with that.
Little Dogs Wearing Choke Chains: My basic impression of these people is that they’re just silly and don’t know what they’re doing. Maybe they want the little dog to look tougher, I don’t know, but the choke chain is absolutely unnecessary, especially when the dog is being carried or wheeled around in a stroller (and yes, I’ve seen that too). Sorry folks, but if you have a dog that would lose a fight with a cat, you don’t need a choke chain and quite frankly, you’re irresponsible in my opinion because you’re risking serious spinal damage to that dog.
Big Dogs Who Wear Prong Collars and are still ripping their owner’s arm off: How’s that working out for you? These people almost always make me smirk. Undoubtedly, they bought that collar because they genuinely want to walk their dog(s) but the dog is attempting to quarter them and someone on some online forum recommended a “pinch” collar, and they went to the store and Petsmart or Petco made money off of their naivety. TRAINING folks! These are the people I wish I could hand Carolyn’s card to or pass a training book.
Puppies Wearing Shock Collars and Running Around Off Leash: Disgusting. I will never ever ever be able to look at this situation without feeling absolutely and one hundred percent ill. And I’m sorry but if you tell me it’s not that bad because you only have to shock your puppy every once in awhile and that most of the time they come when they hear the beep or feel the buzz, I’m only going to be more revolted by you. Number one, dogs don’t typically learn in one repetition unless the consequence is extremely memorable. If they’ve learned after one or two repetitions to come to you when they hear the beep or feel the buzz, it’s because that shock terrified them so badly that they are going to come. Inflicting emotional pain on your dog does not make me like you more. Especially if that dog is a puppy. Puppies are the most malleable creatures on planet earth, they don’t need shock collars. They just don’t. Stop being lazy and train your f’ing dog.
Dogs Wearing A Choke Chain or Prong Collar with Their Regular Collar: If you’re going to use it, at least learn to use it properly. A collar correction is not going to work (and yes, I will admit collar corrections do work – but at what cost?) if you’re constantly pinching the dog’s regular collar because it’s caught up in the prongs.
Dogs Wearing Choke Chains and Being Walked With A Flexi-Lead: This is your first dog huh? This is a head shaker to me. I will never understand it. It’s also a double whammy, because I hate flexi-leads almost as much as I hate shock collars. Let me introduce you to a long line. Again, here’s a card to a trainer.
Dogs Wearing More than One of These At Any Time: Your dog is out of control, and you have no idea what the hell you’re doing. In the dog training world, more is not equivalent to better. If you feel you need both a shock collar and a choke chain or all three of these on your dog at once, you are most certainly not doing something right and causing serious, serious emotional and potentially physical damage to your dog and your bond with your dog. Seek professional help immediately. If a professional recommended this to you, fire that professional, now, and demand a refund. It absolutely is not necessary. It’s just not. If I see you walking your dog like that on the street and most of these people are still being yanked around by dogs with increasing aggression (gee, wonder why?) I will move my dog as far away from your dog as possible. Seriously. And if you give me the stink eye I will give it back harder. Trust me. Been there, done that.
So this concludes my rant. And believe me when I say there are plenty of dogs I’ve seen that are out of control without the use of these tools as well. I’m not perfect either, trust me on that, but I’m also human and not above judging.