Recently, while walking my dogs in a local off-leash park, I led a young dog, who was not responding to calls and whistles, back to his owner. When she then proceeded to put a prong collar on the dog, I was sorry I had participated in returning him. I walked away deeply distressed for this beautiful puppy who was now being led home with a device around his neck that is designed to inflict pain. Prong collars are made of metal chain material with metal spikes on the inside that dig into and pinch a dog’s neck if he pulls on the leash.
Although the owner probably believes she is doing the right thing to stop her dog pulling, she’s not. Far from resolving behavioural issues, these devices create them. The BCSPCA website states: “Dogs trained with physically punishing methods, in general, are more likely to display signs of fear and aggression, and because many ‘problem behaviours’ are rooted in underlying fear or anxiety, using techniques that cause pain or fear can make these behaviours worse.”
While the use of a prong or shock collar, or a choke chain, may stop your dog pulling in the moment to avoid pain, you have not taught your dog anything other than that he can’t trust you not to hurt him. You haven’t taught your dog how to walk comfortably on a leash, and you have created a situation that will give rise to far worse behaviours and consequences.
Learning how to walk safely and harmoniously on leash is part of the responsibility of having a dog. I urge those who are using aversive devices and methods to contact a positive reinforcement trainer to learn how to walk with your dog without the use of fear, force and pain.
Sandy Middleton, Gibsons