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Pain to Train: The Reality of Choke and Pinch Dog Collars

Last updated on February 17, 2016

choke collar

Today I choked my co-worker into doing what I wanted him to do.

Last week, I saw a lady on the bus pinch another lady because she would not stop talking.

Both of the above scenarios sound disturbing because they are. Yet, every day in this country, a certain contingency of dog owners are training their dogs by choking, pinching, or shocking them. The reality of choke and pinch dog collars is all too real, especially since I walked into a scenario involving them over the weekend.

The Reality

If you’ve ever had a puppy or a dog who pulls while attempting to walk them on a leash, you know how frustrating it can be to change that behavior. After all, who among us doesn’t want a dog who comes “ready made” and knows how to walk properly without yanking us down the street?

Like all things in life that require nurturing and training, it just doesn’t work that way.

Why Do I Care

Every week, my spouse and I take our dog for a “Mommy and Me” night of fun. We visit our local PetSmart store as part of our festivities where our dog, Dexter, can get some sniffs and we can seek out some bargains for retail therapy. We generally meet other dog parents and engage in conversation.

Imagine our glee when this cutie pie crossed our path at our local store:

Choke collars are bad

 

As he attempted to come towards my dog and engage in some play, his attempts were quickly thwarted by the contraption on his neck.

A pinch collar.

My heart sunk and my stomach sickened.

One of three scenarios could have played out. Which of the following would you have done?

  1. Say nothing about the collar;
  2. Get angry about the collar and express it to the lady;
  3. Attempt to educate the lady and offer alternatives to the pinch collar;

I chose (C) and the conversation went like this:

“Is your dog a puller?” I mused.

“Yes, he is crazy. He pulls all the time. I have his Mom and Dad, and they were pullers, too.”

“He is beautiful,” I continued, “and you know, there are some other ways of….”

Off she went. Right in the middle of my sentence. She did not want to hear anything further.

At first, I had no idea what just happened.

“She doesn’t want to be told of anything else that might help her dog, Carol,” my spouse shared.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish for the lady to have a pinch collar on so I could stop her forward motion just to educate her on the topic.

dog collars
I just wanted to pick him up and run.

From Whence I Came

I’ve trained two dogs in my lifetime with everything from house training to trick training and how to walk without pulling, the latter of which I did so with positive reinforcement, a mesh harness, time, and patience.

Choke and prong collars are designed to punish dogs for pulling by inflicting pain and discomfort. They can cause serious physical and emotional damage and over the years, I’ve met folks at the dog park and veterinary office whose dogs suffered for their usage.

“I’ve had dogs all my life and never had to use these collars or any pain inflicting tools,” dog mom Nancy Brisebois says.

Upon showing dog mom and pet miniature artist, Lucy Maloney, the photo of pinch collar on our Cocker friend, her reaction is, “Seriously a pinch collar??!! I hate anything causing pain. People need to learn to train a dog with love!”

There are those who will say their dog learned from a pinch or choke collar and that their dogs are not scarred emotionally or physically. I am still against their usage: Positive reinforcement is the key to any healthy relationship. Inflicting pain to get one’s way does not make it right. In fact, animals who are exposed to the pain of choke and/or pinch collars are exposed to a gamut of physical injuries. Some of these include, crushing of the trachea, esophageal bruising, asphyxiation, skin and tissue injury, and even brain damage.

cute dog
Positive reinforcement is key to teach a dog not to pull.

The Pros Speak Out

I am not an expert dog trainer nor am I a professional veterinarian, so I asked those who are what the deal is with pinch, prong, and choke collars.

Andrea Arden of the famed Andrea Arden Dog Training School, is currently on Animal Planet’s hit shows Dogs101, Cats101, Pets101, America’s Cutest Dog and America’s Cutest Cat, and was the trainer for Underdog to Wonderdog and The Pet Department, FX’s Emmy award winning daily show.

andrea arden
Andrea Arden gets some lovin’ from my dog, Dexter.

“I am not a fan of tools to teach that are based on inflicting pain”, she shares. “Not only do I not want to cause pain to animals because I adore them, but I also don’t think this is an effective route to learning. When in a state of stress (which would presumably be induced by pain) an animal is less likely to be open to absorbing and retaining information. One need only imagine themselves in a classroom where there was a threat of pain by the teacher to understand why this scenario is not ideal.”

Instead, she recommends positive training and gentle tools. By doing so, dogs will not experience negative side effects such as stress, fear, and aggression.

Famed dog trainer, Laurie Williams agrees. Williams is a canine education specialist, dog behavior counselor and trainer for over 25 years. She is the owner and Director of Training and Behavior Counseling at Pup ‘N Iron Canine Fitness & Learning Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

According to Williams, dogs, and all animals for that matter, will repeat or not repeat behaviors for one of two reasons :

  • to be rewarded with something they want or desire; –OR–
  • to avoid something they don’t want.

“The whole purpose of prong, shock collars and even choke chains is to produce a sensation (very often pain) that a dog wishes to avoid,” Williams explains. “That’s the whole purpose of using those tools. If the sensation isn’t unpleasant enough for the dog to want to avoid, it is ineffective.”

She prefers to use training methods that prompt a dog to work willing, happily and enthusiastically to earn a reward as opposed to avoiding pain and discomfort. For Williams, that is better for a close, mutually respectful partnership and working relationship.

pinch collar
Not exactly a loving looking device is it?

Physical Effects

“Generally, I am not a fan of pinch, prong, and shock collars for my canine patients,” veterinarian Patrick Mahaney says. “ Unfortunately, they are commonly used inappropriately and can damage a dog’s skin, muscles, joints, vertebrae, intervertebral disks, or other structures in the neck.”

Mahaney is a veterinarian and President at California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness (CPAW).

Mahaney is not alone in his assessment. Dr. Laurie Coger, veterinarian and author of Vaccines Explained: The Wholistic Vet’s Guide to Vaccinating Your Dog, has used a variety of collars over the years of training and showing dogs. She sees people using pinch/prong collars to prevent pulling, but all they teach the dog is that pulling on that “special” collar is not worth the price.

My least favorite, and the one I see more injuries from, is the invisible fence collar,” Coger says. “Owners often leave this collar on at all times. This can result in pressure sores and secondary infection, as the prongs rub the skin of the neck. Inadvertent shock, as the owner puts the dog in the car without taking the collar off, can also occur if the fence line is crossed. Finally, if a dog has gotten outside the fence, he is often reluctant to come back in. The shock occurs no matter which way he crosses the fence.”

Want to see for yourself? Put these words in Google: “pinch collar effects” and then view the images that pop up, but make sure to brace yourself. It isn’t pretty.

Dexter by the Snack Bar
Dexter learned to walk without pulling with this no-pull mesh harness.

Victoria Speaks

In her book, It’s Me or the Dog, famed dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell, says she HATES choke chains and collars. “The reason why I will not use them is that I have seen too many dogs end up at the vet suffering from collapsed windpipes because their owners did not know how to use the collars properly and jerked too vigorously on them.”

For serious pullers, she says, not even the discomfort of a crushed trachea will stop him from pulling.

What To Use and Do Instead

There are a variety of humane leashes and collars available on the market, but the bottom line is the method by which you train a dog to walk without pulling. Use positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement:

* Helps dog learn by succeeding;

*Strengthens the bond between pet parents and pet;

* Helps dogs understand better without fear, force, or pain;

* Can be used with any size or age of dog.

Which teacher in school did you learn more from: The one who made you feel good about yourself or the one who threatened you with a paddle or worse?

Develop a strong bond with your dog that comes from the heart and does not require pain. Love isn’t supposed to hurt.

BONUS CONTENT

There are two other fantastic bloggers who are weighing in on the topic of why shock/pinch/prong collars are bad.

Please visit It’s Dog or Nothing and see what Kelsie MacKenzie has to say. She’s a dog mom to Great Pyrenees and she has a lot to say about this topic!

Also visit Susan Bewley’s fab blog, Budget Earth. She is dog mom to Alaskan Malamutes, Ivi and Reya, and she weighs in, too.

fidose

What are your thoughts on collars like shock, pinch, and choke?

Comments

  1. Ellen says

    What a great article. I couldn’t agree more about the use of choke or prong collars. My neighbor would use this collar and I can’t tell you how many times I told her how ineffective it is. It wasn’t until the dog developed a damaged trachea that she stopped using it. Why would anyone want to inflict pain on their pet?

  2. Lara Elizabeth says

    You know I love this post! Good for you for taking the time to constructively offer suggestions to the pinch collar lady…some people just don’t want to hear that there is another way.

  3. margaret says

    I am in total agreement about this. I learned it in 2002 the first time I took my girl Liberty to a puppy socialization class. The trainer indicated that we were never to use collars such as these. The fact that this owner walked away from you mid-conversation and had nothing to say for herself, is a typical response when someone knows they are wrong and cannot even defend themselves. It speaks volumes when she did not. As Liberty got older, she always had a tendency to be a puller. Many times my shoulders would get sore from the pulling, but we walked, everyday and I never used a collar like this. I did try a gentle leader and it did work, but only after an initial bucking bronco episode every day for the first ten minutes it was on. Eventually she calmed down and she was easier to walk. Long story short, there many great options available (gentle leader, harnesses, clicker training, etc, ) other than one that has the potential for such harm!!!

  4. Sharon Gilbert says

    I hate the shock, pinch or choker collars. My friend had a choker on her dog and I said please get it off and I will buy you a new collar. You are going to hurt your dog throat and you could do some real damage. Yes I did buy her a new collar for the dog.

  5. dawn rae says

    Good article. I hope you post a part two, explaining some of the alternatives in-depth. I had a rat terrier who was horrible on a leash (i think because a dog jumped on her when she was young and on a leash). I was never able to retrain her. So far, Willy is great on the leash. But I won’t know how to re-train him if something happens.

  6. MyDogLikes says

    I have no interest in using them. It breaks my heart to think of that sweet cocker on that collar, its so unnecessary. Harley was an old soul when we adopted him at 2 and a quick little correction on a flat collar was all he needed to learn. Our little hopping,pulling bunny boy, Charlie was a little more challenging-No, a lot more challenging. It took months, a freedom harness, and lots of frustrating walks but now we hops in place and doesn’t pull (except when golden puppy brain takes over). With 100% certainty I know that Charlie’s progress is because of sustained positive reinforcement. He LIVES to make me happy and show me what he can do. He looks to me for direction-no choke collar could have made that relationship!

  7. Ruth Cox says

    From 60 pounds of coonhound I have learned how to stop a dog from pulling, the positive way. It is called persistent patience. This dog is 3 years old, a shelter dog I’ve had for 4 months. He rarely pulls now and no longer tries to back out of a collar or harness, which 4 months ago he did every walk! I am learning it isn’t about training the dog, it’s about training me. No need for painful collars for my dog!

  8. Mayor's mama says

    Thank you so much for writing this great article, Carol. It breaks my heart every time I see someone using these hurtful collars to train their dogs. There is no need for these tools what so ever and I even wonder why pet stores (who are supposed to be animal friendly) sell these. It gives pets parents a false impression that it is ok to use it when it’s not.
    I love the fact that you added the opinion of experts in your article, too. It just reiterate how wrong and HARMFUL it is to use these “tools.” I wish your article would appear in every pet magazine, every newspaper, and even on the news because it would reach out and educate many people who might think that it’s what they need to use in order to train a dog (which is clearly NOT!)
    I said it and I will say it again, I’ve had dogs all my life and I was even a foster family for a seeing eye dog (for training and socialization) and I NEVER, EVER used these collars.
    Thank you! This was certainly an article that needed to be written!

  9. Kari says

    Excellent post. I can’t believe how prevalent these collars are, and that there’s such a backlash against positive training. How can anyone be against postitive training???

    Someone on Google + argued with one of my posts, called “Ditch the Pinch Collar,” saying that “used properly” those tools don’t hurt the dog. Then she said her dog has never been a puller. Which makes me wonder, why use the prong collar at all then?

    The other day I watched some videos from trainers who use shock collars and prong collars, to see what I’m missing. Sure, those dogs look well trained, but they also look automated. I prefer my dogs having minds of their own!

  10. Abby Chesnut says

    I see a lot more people from older generations using these collars compared to people from younger generations. I think the change from dog owner to dog parent is going to make them non-existant!

  11. Dolly the Doxie says

    First, I agree with you, but until you have tried to walk Dolly you wouldn’t know why I had to train her with a pinch collar. She is so food motivated, our park is just one big smorgasbord to her. I wouldn’t be able to control her from pulling towards the food without it, causing her more damage without it. I actually believe that the pinch collar protects her neck from injury that a collar would cause. I’ve tried harnesses, all of her strength is in her chest, she just pulls harder and I can’t control her. When I adopted Dolly I knew nothing about training a dog so I admit using a pinch collar to teach her to walk on a leash was the easy way out, but I couldn’t stand to see her choking and gagging with a regular collar. Then came Taffy, she was never trained to walk on a leash, her pulling, weaving and bobbing caused so much pain in my back I had to stop walking her. She choked herself so bad on her collar, once we put the pinch collar on her I was able to start walking her again. I have taken gum, cigarette butts, bottle caps, rubber bands and rocks out of her mouth while walking her, with the pinch collar I am able to keep her head up when walking, eating that stuff can cause a lot more damage. I have a no pull leash to try on her when the weather gets better so I do want to stop using it, its just not as easy as you think it is! Because of my back surgery I can’t handle any pulling from the dogs so trying to train them with positive reinforcement isn’t possible. You have to trust that people know what works best for their dogs and them.

    • Kirby the Dorkie says

      Try the Ezydog Chest plate harness with the sparky leash. Kirby (Dachshund/Yorkir) is a very strong puller who would actually make our arms and shoulders sore. Once we started using these together there was a huge difference because when he pulls the leash has a bungee effect that pulls him back as an immediate correction which we can hardly feel. The harness protects his neck placing any force squarely on his chest.

    • Alicia says

      I’m right there with you, my dogs will snatch anything off the ground. The one thing I find funny about the experts is almost all of them say “if used improperly”. I used to be terrified of pinch collars. I actually have put one on myself to see how it felt because I will never put something on my dog I wouldn’t put on myself. It doesn’t hurt, it’s slightly uncomfortable but it doesn’t hurt. It’s actually safer than flat collars, harnesses and halti’s because it doesn’t put complete pressure on the trachea. As long as it’s used properly there will be no chance of trachea or any sort of neck damage. Harnesses actually put pressure on dogs shoulders which hurts the joints. My dogs have both graduated from pinch collars, which were only needed for six months to teach not to pull and to condition the word “no’, and both walk wonderfully next to me on flat collars. They listen when I tell them no now and treat the word itself like a correction.

  12. Jordan Walker says

    Thank you for this helpful article. I will share this to my social sites so that my friends and followers will know exactly the effects of pinch and choke collars to our dogs. There are other alternatives that can be used instead of these collars.

  13. Kathie Meier says

    When I brought my first Berner home in 1979 and enrolled her in training classes with our local dog training club, choke chain collars were required standard equipment. Fast forward to 20+ years ago and our local Humane Society began offering dog training classes – all based on positive reinforcement. Since that time my Berners have never worn anything but a flat collar and the training results have been amazing. It is a sad fact however that many of the dog owning public are not really dog savvy or training savvy. I think it would go a long way if pressure were put on PetSmart, Petco and other pet stores to stop selling choke chains, prong collars and shock collars. If you look at Pet Smart’s list of collar selections under “everything you need for your puppy – collars” – a pinch collar is prominently featured on the first page of the results. These collars certainly cannot be a big part of their business and focusing on the humane collars and harnesses would go a long way to promoting positive reinforcement based training methods.

  14. Jennifer Vaughn-Wiseman says

    First I want to say that this is a well-researched and thoughtful post, and I appreciate how many experts were consulted. But I differ in opinion, and I hope that the writer of this post, as well as the people who have passionately commented and supported it, would recognize that there is room for another opinion here (after all, there are many different schools of thought on/methods of dog training).
    I use a Martingale collar on my dogs, and I would pivot and walk away from anyone who attempted to “educate” me about why that’s wrong (the word “educate” among adults is patronizing). I was taught basic dog training methods as an employee of a trainer who worked for Andrea Arden, and what I learned from her was that positive reinforcement does not last on all dogs. Her exact words were “dogs get demoted over time, receiving fewer treats; those who are extremely willful will not continue to behave when treats are not present.” This is why I moved from an exclusive positive reinforcement (I’m gonna call it PR for brevity) focus to one that mixes it with what I have learned to call behavior modification (the term that is apparently used to describe a pack leadership dynamic).
    I have a dog who was so traumatized by an attack from a neighborhood dog who escaped its leash that he is now fear-aggressive, and when my own PR techniques failed, I turned to a behavior modification trainer who I had watched working magic in a local park. He took my dogs’ leashes in hand and they instantly understood that he was the pack leader. They cowered and heeled as a response to his mere posture and presence. When my female challenged him and walked ahead, he did a Cesar-style poke in her hip and she immediately slipped back in place. And my fear-aggressive male was confident enough in his hands to lay on his back next to an unneutered male dog. I can walk my dogs peacefully due to his work. I had implemented PR training with my dogs for years and was given nothing like the control and respect that BM gave me (admittedly, I hate that acronym, it is open to way too many jokes).
    Staunch supporters of PR training will take issue with the fact that my dogs “cowered,” but I wonder why so many people feel we should train our dogs as if they’re humans. Wolves nip at their young to keep them in line, and they cower to show deference to superior pack members. Why should we not communicate our desires to our dogs in THEIR language, rather than begging them in ours? I’ve never seen a wolf pat a pup on its head and toss it a treat in a National Geographic doc.
    I would simply caution crusaders of vigilante dog justice to pick their battles wisely and with empathy. If you see someone responsibly using a Martingale, choke or prong collar…i.e., not STRANGLING their dog (of course these things should be used in short pulses and in conjunction with either PR or BM direction)…don’t try to spread your anti-choke gospel. It drives me crazy when I am clearly looking out for a dog’s best interest, dressing it in a fleece onesie on a cold day and looking down constantly to make sure it isn’t ingesting something harmful, and someone runs up to me and yells “how would YOU like to have that thing around your neck!?” I don’t try to throttle myself into moving traffic, or eat chicken bones, or clothesline little old ladies with my leash. I don’t need a collar, the DOG does. And for what it’s worth, I never saw a collapsed trachea due to use of a choke collar in my six years as a veterinary technician. That clearly does not mean they don’t HAPPEN, but it likely means that they are statistically uncommon. I walked a huge Goldendoodle whose owners chose to send her to the Monks of New Skete, trainers infamous for using prong and shock collars, and despite my conflicted feelings about using these items on her (I tested the shock collar on my hand and was so disconcerted by its power that I lied to the owners and told them I was using it but didn’t…that was my choice), she grew into an unharmed, untraumatized, dopey, happy dog.
    P.S. Fidose of Reality-I love your blog and have followed it for a very long time. The good before the BUT… Even Andrea Arden would tell you that insisting your dog be allowed to approach the Cocker Spaniel in the photo isn’t fair. Was the dog in-training? Was the owner trying to teach it that she was in charge and had to approve of the interaction before he was allowed to approach? Last week I was training a Beagle pup and encountered a woman and her four small dogs. The Beagle broke focus on me and my treat and gave into her impulse to pull like crazy for the four dogs. The woman was annoyed at my holding her back and asked why I didn’t let the pup “just say hi.” I didn’t have to give an explanation, not doing so is my right as a New Yorker, as a dog professional and, well, as a human, but I was in the mood to, so I informed her that letting my pup have her way and greet the dogs now that she had ignored me would teach her that she was in charge. This would reinforce her dominant behavior. The woman told me I was a bad person and flipped me off. That’s where my superfluous explanation got me.
    In short, dog training is a lot like religion. We all feel very strongly about our “right” ways and “wrong” ways of doing it. But if a dog isn’t being tortured, maybe we should all butt out. I think that when we get red-in-the-face upset just by seeing a choke collar on a dog, it might mean that we haven’t seen very much real suffering.

    • Carol Bryant says

      I appreciate you weighing in and voicing your beliefs, and I truly appreciate you being a fan of the blog. That means a lot.

      Jennifer, I am truly just not a fan of inflicting any sort of pain to train, no matter if that is a “poke” in the ribs or a shock to the neck.

      In my profession, I interview a good number of experts. Collapsed trachea is often mentioned in reference to collars that are on too tight or the neck that is pulled upon. Dr. Jean Dodds is one of the veterinarians whose work I follow. Read into her collar and thyroid condition research.

      In reference to the Cocker Spaniel noted and pictured in this article, we did ask if we could approach prior to doing so. I practice what I preach.

      I will never let a dog I love wear a collar that can inflict harm nor would I inflict pain to train.

      Love should never hurt.

  15. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says

    I don’t use them, but I know shock collars are effective training tools. My friend uses one on her dogs and she is happy with the results.

      • Emily says

        “effective” isn’t really something you get to disagree with – something either works or doesn’t. Results are measurable, not subjective.

        The question is not whether prong or shock collars work. They work. The jury is out. They work, or people wouldn’t use them. Human behavior is also drive by positive reinforcement, and if prong collars didn’t produce results that people found reinforcing, people would not use them.

        The real issue is the potential for emotional and behavioral side effects, and the fact that there are less invasive, safer, and more enjoyable (for the dog) methods that are *also* effective, and produce measurable results. That being the case, we should always opt for the least invasive option that is still effective.

        .

  16. The Daily Pip says

    I have never used a choke collar. The two dogs I have had as an adult were/are on the smaller side so we have used harnesses instead of collars. Pip, our first rescued Yorkie, came to us with a partially collapsed trachea. He had breathing issues for much of his life as a result. The vet definitely feels it was a result of wearing a collar that was too tight (not sure if it was a choke collar, but maybe) in his first home.

  17. Amanda Love says

    I have cockers myself and we use a harness with them. That contraption just looks dangerous and I have no idea why anyone would want to put that on their animal. Just seems like a mild form of abuse to me.

    • Lea Ann says

      Flat collars do more physical damage to dogs than prong collars. Dogs will damage their tracheas pulling into a flat collar – some will even choke themselves on flat collars. Looks are deceiving. Pinch or Prong collars apply pressure evenly around the neck (not just at the opposite end of the leash). Dogs don’t damage their tracheas pulling into a prong collar – they stop pulling before the damage can occur.. The feeling of a prong collar on MY neck is not painful (Herm Sprenger brand – not pet store brands which do have sharp edges to the prongs). Not abusive at all if used properly (I recommend learning how to use them from a professional – every pet owner I’ve worked with that said they were already using a prong collar was using it wrong).

      When used properly the prongs are resting painlessly on top of the skin. Many pet owners with no training keep constant pressure on the leash – that is wrong. Corrections are quick “pops”, then the pressure is instantly gone again. The strength of the “pops” can vary (imagine a 1-10 scale). Soft dogs often respond to just a jiggle of the leash, hard tempered dogs are not phased by hard corrections. The correction that would be effective for my Catahoula would be dog abuse if applied to my Whippet.

      I see many comments in this thread based on ignorance of how a prong/pinch collar works.

      Humans and dogs both learn via all quadrants of operant conditioning, and pure positive trainers often believe that negative punishment is better than positive punishment, but the reality is that for a lot of dogs negative punishment causes much more stress than positive punishment (correctly applied).
      My dogs jump for joy when the prong collars come out – it means they are going for a walk.

      • Carol Bryant says

        I have witnessed countless hundreds of dogs coming into rescue with damaged tracheas, scarred necks, strangulated barking, and more with prong collars. I respectfully must disagree with your reply, Lea-Ann. Shock or prong collars will never be recommended, advocated for, nor used nor recommended.

  18. Tamara says

    We don’t use them at all.
    It would be tough not to say something to the other owner! I would have probably done what you did – which I thought was gentle. I can’t believe she walked away.

  19. Spencer the Goldendoodle says

    Great post and ever thorough!

    My human grandpa had a service dog and the company who trained her used prong collars. Her collar was used appropriately. She knew when her harness and the collar went on she was now “working” and needed to focus on her job.

  20. Earl Lover says

    We don’t use them. They just create further problems and stress for the dog, never mind pain! Everything abusive humans do to dogs should be done back to the humans who do it!

  21. Talent Hounds says

    Positive reinforcement is the only way to train animals I truly believe. There’s no need for violence or pain, that just makes it worse and harder to train in the long run. I really hope these get banned soon.

  22. Pam says

    We have a dog that is a bit of a leash puller. Through positive reinforcement she has gotten a lot better about it. She could still be better about not pulling but she has come a long way so far! I like using positive reinforcement because I have seen good results.

  23. Star Traci says

    This is great information, I have a dachshund who is definitely a puller at times. we have never used these collars though I did not know the many dangers. We have found that a harness works much better for us than a collar. Thank you for sharing.
    Traci

  24. Jean Dion says

    I love the explanation of stress causing a brain shut down. That makes so much sense, and I’ve just never really thought about it that way. I’ll plan to use that little tidbit when I see pinch collars in my community. And unfortunately, I see them a lot. And some people have tried to recommend them to me for Liam. I’m doing something else.

    Over the summer, I enrolled him in an intensive class in which I worked on just one command for about 6 weeks. That command? “Watch me.” I didn’t want him to do anything but look at me when he got interested in doing something. Whenever he did, he got the best damn treat in the world. He’s a smart guy, but it did take him 6 weeks to be 100 percent.

    So now he does not pull on our walks. He looks at me when he sees something he wants, and he gets a cookie. Bingo!

    But he cannot go to crowded situations with tons of other dogs and behave perfectly. Not yet. I’m working on it with love and cookies and bacon. But pinching? No way.

    Jean from Welcome to the Menagerie

    • Carol Bryant says

      That makes me so sad that people use them. I am trying so hard to educate and through the power of community maybe we can change some minds to the bright side.

  25. Kimberly says

    Just seeing pictures of the collars makes me sick but then to see them on a dog….ugh. It makes me sick, sad, and mad. Positive reinforcement is always the way—with dogs, cats, and people!! Thanks for another thought provoking, educational article Carol. <3

  26. Rosey says

    That’s the most ridiculous looking device I’ve ever seen for a collar. I didn’t know they existed, and I can’t believe that they do.

  27. Tamason Gamble says

    I have never had to train a dog but I can’t imagine this being effective in any way. Could you imagine putting something like this around a human being’ neck when they are learning to do something.

  28. Jessica Harlow says

    I would never consider using any of these types of collars. I can’t imagine thinking it would make a positive difference in training any animal.

  29. Cathy Armato says

    Thanks for writing about the inhumane aspects of these devices, they are awful. I have a Husky, so believe me I struggled with Leash pulling! The no pull harness is an extremely effective device and isn’t cruel. She walks beautifully on Leash now.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  30. Emily says

    As a professional, I do not believe in guilting or confronting people who use punitive tools. Positive methods work best for humans as well. It saddened me you expressed a desire to use punishment on the woman in the pet store. It’s not any better than doing so to a dog. You punished her with confrontation, so she responded to your punishment with avoidance. A pretty normal behavioral response for any organism. She’s not using a prong collar because she likes hurting her dog, it’s what has worked for her and what has been reinforced.

    Show people it can be done another way, tote a well trained dog and a positive attitude, and move on if you see something you don’t like. No one is interested in being confronted on the tools they use, and I have literally NEVER seen confrontation change somebody’s attitude. Just like with dogs, discomfort is a poor way to teach people, and the mark of weak teaching skills. I work frequently and in close quarters with trainers who DO use these tools, and I lead by example. I achieve the same if better results without such tools, and it opens their minds to what might be done. This is a reality I live daily.

    Please, I’d urge you to reconidser prosteletizing to those using tools you don’t like. It’s futile at best, and backfires at worst. Unsolicited advice is never warmly met. Years and years ago, I used a prong collar on my dog and had a woman try to pull the very same thing with me, a passive aggressive confrontation. I laughed at her, told the story to my friend who shared a laugh, and we moved on, sure the woman was a loon. Her opinion meant nothing to me, she was no one to me, and frankly I STILL believe she really had no business telling me how to train my dog, even if I agree with her ideas now. No one asked for her help (later I found out she was a really, really bad trainer with horrible behaved dogs LOL!) and I had no reason to want her advice. I firmly believe these confrontations (however pseudo-friendly they may appear) are for the benefit of the confronter, not the dog – because rarely do they change the outcome for the dog, but they often empower the confronter.

    These actions reflect really poorly on the positive reinforcement community. Don’t be that person. Change doesn’t happen because we force it on people or confron them. It happens because we motivate them – just like dogs. And just like dogs, when we punish mistakes instead of focusing on reinforcing good behavior, we demotivate people, create resentment, and make them afraid to try and learn.

    The true measure of effective positive reinforcement theory is not how well we apply it to dogs, but how well we apply it to each other. I paraphrased that from a quote by Dr. Susan G Friedman

  31. Leslie says

    I agree with Emily 100%. Whether or not you like them, it’s not your place to condescend to other dog owners under the guise of “educating” them because you believe that you are right. It’s a truly obnoxious behavior and it’s absolutely none of your business. You have no idea why others may make the choices they do and no one should be subject to confrontation like that. If only self righteousness could be trained out of humans.

    After trying several other methods and weighing the pros and cons, I trained my dog using a prong collar under the guidance of a trainer and even though I thought it looked terrible, I have no regrets. It worked extremely well when used with positive reinforcement and I can tell you my dog is much happier now that he has a very clear sense of what is off limits. I tried on the collar before I ever put on my dog and I can tell you, when applying the right amount of force, it doesn’t cause pain. Perhaps instead of trying to educate others you start with yourself.

    • Carol Bryant says

      It does cause pain, I tried it and consulted with dozens of reliable trainers who believe in positive reinforcement and not pain to train.

  32. Brian says

    The most annoying type of person is one that’s trained 2 dogs and thinks they know enough to tell the world what they’re doing wrong.

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