Ugh... I hate prong collars. What I hate more than prong collars, is the pet owners that put them on their puppies. PUPPIES!
Come on people!! You don’t put a choke collar on your baby! You don’t use pieces of metal around their necks to prevent your child from running off! So why would you put that on your puppy?
But I guess that's why we’re here! To educate!
First off, I've spoken on other harmful topics in the past. Veterinarians need to take an oath that first, to do no harm. Is what we are doing causing more harm than good to the pet?
Puppies are innocent. That need to be worked with in order to become members of a household. How to walk on a leash without lunging at the nearest squirrel or squirrel-like dog on a leash coming towards them. Every puppy has the ability to perform appropriate leash behaviours, when in the hands of the right owner. Remember, puppies need appropriate socialization early on.
Here is the Canadian Veterinary Medical Associations take on humane training methods.
Reward-based methods are highly recommended. Aversive methods are strongly discouraged as they may cause fear, distress, anxiety, pain or physical injury to the dog.
the use of aversive devices such as choke, pinch, or prong collars are strongly discouraged in favour of more humane alternatives such as head halters. Devices such as electronic collars should only be used by a certified and/or experienced trainer or behaviourist, and only after all other training and/or behaviour modification methods have failed
Ask yourself why you want to put this piece of metal around the puppy's neck. Then, ask yourself is there an alternative to this. Usually it is leash pulling that an owner is attempting to diminish.
These are just a few samples of the metal prongs that get stabbed into a dog's neck when they are forced to wear one of these. Do I really need to tell you that this is wrong?
Just in case it isn't obvious to you. Here is a statement from the SFSPCA.
Myth: A prong collar isn’t inhumane if it fits right.
Fact: Sadly, this is a false statement that’s been perpetuated by aversive trainers. Even properly fitted prong collars dig into the sensitive skin around the neck, risking severe damage to the thyroid, esophagus, and trachea.
Here are three alternatives!
The Sense-ation harness: recommended by a trainer I met in Toronto. I highly recommend this type of front clip harness.
Halti head halter: a head halter works when the dog goes to pull, the nose of the dog then will be turned back towards the owner who is holding the lead. See how to use a Halti through a lot of YouTube videos or read here.
Gentle Leader head halter is another alternative.
While we are on the topic of collars... Can we ban shock collars?? Seriously antiquated methods of fear-based training.
What can you do?
Well, I found a website that has a lot of information on reasons against shock collars. Can we just say that shock collars cause fear, anxiety and pain for our animals that we deem to be our fur family - that it is wrong to contribute to the fear and anxiety of these animals?
Sadly, with social media, there is always spread of misinformation. People just cannot help themselves.
Take note that, with more people understanding how wrong fear and punishment based training is on the psychology of children, the more people are understanding that it is wrong for pets as well.
This month people are speaking out on the inhumane videos on YouTube from shock collar use by trainers. I would never allow someone to put that on my dog. Ever.
What are the solutions?
It's all well and good to say, don't use a prong collar or shock collar to train your dog. Puppy owners want an easy fix. Oh, but he does so well on walks with the trainer while using a shock collar. Or, I've sent him away for board and train and he did so well. But I just don't know why he is doing this. And so on.
Just as there are good veterinarians and bad ones, there are good trainers and bad ones.
So what is a good trainer? How do you know? It's not about the cost of the training. First off, the trainer is training the human. The dog is smart. The dog will learn. But the human does not speak dog, while dog's do not know human language. The human needs to learn to understand the dog. A good trainer will teach the human how to train their dog. A good trainer will understand what positive and reward based training is. Ahhh... and a good trainer should be willing to collaborate with your veterinarian when it comes to fear, anxiety and aggression in your dog. You as the pet parent need to be willing to learn and work with your fur baby.
Here's a link on how to choose a trainer.
Dogs show signs of distress when using shock collars. If they are misused, this can lead to fear-aggression. See this article for more information.
The #1 thing that I wish for you to take from all this is: Be humane.
If you are like me, and you want to see the science. Here's an article on the efficacy of positive reinforcement compared with using shock collars.
The BCSPCA's statement on the use of shock collars.
Countries (jurisdictions) where shock collars are banned. Let's follow their lead! Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Slovenia, Scotland, Sweden, Wales, and parts of Australia (from dvm360).
2018: Scotland - https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-42807728