The range of beautiful collars stocked at POINTY EARS DOG SHOP are fitted with a flat buckle. You will not find a check (choke) or half-check in sight. In fact, you NEVER will!
Many years ago, such collars were standard equipment to be used in many dog training clubs, but thankfully they are no longer permitted at many clubs as they are simply regarded as unkind, inhumane and to be honest, they do not work! How many times do you see a dog on a check chain, gasping for breath as they pull the owner along on a walk? The dog doesn’t learn not to pull, just very sadly to cope with the pain.
In the past, check chains fitted perfectly with the general approach that dogs needed tor be punished when they did not do what we want. The idea was that an experience was made to be unpleasant (i.e. painful) then the dog would not want to repeat the behaviour. Choke chains make it simple to administer such punishment. Unfortunately, many dogs just become so stressed that they are unable to learn, and they suffer as a result.
The Risks of using choke methods
Studies have shown that corrections using choke collars can cause pain, discomfort and injury to a dog’s neck, head or spinal cord. Just imagine someone putting a chain around your neck and it tightening as you walk. Why would it feel any less distressing to your dog? Your dog’s trachea, oesophagus, thyroid gland, larynx, lymph nodes, jugular vein are all in this location. These body parts perform vital functions for life. The only protection a dog has from a check chain is a layer of skin and fur. Interestingly, our skin layer is approximately 10-15 cells thick, whereas a dog’s is only 3-5 cells thick.
There are many injuries that may be caused by the improper use of such equipment. When a dog pulls, the thyroid gland can become inflamed. In the longer term this can lead to hypothyroidism and the serious consequences this may bring. It is even understood that choke chains can collapse the trachea of the dog or lead to prolapse of the eyes as pressure is applied. Why would anyone wish to choose this for their dog when there are other, much kinder options available?
It is true that care is needed when walking smaller dogs who pull on the lead. Smaller breeds have more fragile trachea and other delicate areas that need careful protection. Smaller breeds can be walked more comfortably using a correctly fitted and comfortable harness. However, do remember that under the law (Control of Dogs Order, 1992) all dogs must also wear a collar with an identification tag, stating the owner’s full name and address.
The Kind, Effective Way
Training methods have thankfully come a long way and the best techniques are based on the way dogs actually learn. Much research has shown, that without doubt, dogs benefit from positive reinforcement. This simply means –
WHAT GETS REWARDED, GETS REPEATED!
It is so much kinder and more effective to teach dogs in this way. Instead of punishing them for what they do wrong, owners are taught to praise and reward the good stuff. Owners focus on what they WANT the dog to do. That is the whole point of training isn’t it? Dogs enjoy the training too and they learn quickly as they understand the rules and know how they can earn treats too.
Teaching a dog to walk on a loose lead is no different. Kind, patient methods do work. Would you prefer your dog to walk by your side as he / she is frightened of the consequences? Would you rather your dog walked happily next to you, because he / she wants to and finds the experience a happy and positive one? It seems an obvious choice!
Article produced by Joanne Owen BA Hons. ADip CBM
Registered Accredited Animal Behaviourist (Animal Behaviour & Training Council)
Registered Animal Training Instructor (Animal Behaviour & Training Council)
Member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (01216)
This article remains © Joanne Owen 2019