Why we Dont Use Prong or electric Collars

Stated quite simply, prong collars are an aversive device that will cause pain to your dog. Sure, they can be a quick fix, but:

 

  • Your dog is only walking nicely to avoid punishment.

  • Your dog is not being taught WHAT to do, in that the old behavior will return when the prong collar is removed.

  • Anything present in the environment when your dog experiences pain can take on a negative association, including other dogs, children and strangers.

  • In NO WAY, does a prong collar emulate the correction of a mothers teeth to a puppy. This is a MYTH plain and simple, and is unproven in any scientific study.
     

Regarding the quick fix, why not invest in a little time and extra effort in positive reinforcement training, so you will not have to hurt your dog? Clicker training is remarkably effective and trainers look for and record quantifiable results. Granted, some dogs come with pulling behaviors already well installed, such as that adopted 3 year old Chessie, but less aversive equipment is readily available, such as Premiere Easy Walk Harness (very effective) and Gentle Leader Head Collar. These both work, they won`t hurt your dog, and coupled with positive reinforcement training, your problem should be should be solved. Best of all they won`t damage your relationship with your dog, because pain is being inflicted. According to Pat Miller on her list of 12 Pitfalls to Positive Punishment, damaging a relationship is possible.

We owe it to our dogs to communicate clearly to them WHAT we would like them to do, instead of automatically punishing undesired behaviors. In operant conditioning, it is a given that a behavior that is reinforced is a behavior that will be repeated. If your dog is reinforced for a loose leash, they understand that. They don`t understand pain, only that something hurt them. They quit offering any behaviors because they are afraid to. This is not much of a life for a dog.

You can bet your last dollar that when the prong collar is removed, the pulling will return, so you are looking at a dog wearing a prong collar for life. Reinforced behavior becomes automatic behavior to your dog, and when a behavior is learned, requires only occasional reinforcement to remind your dog that he is doing what you want.

When your dog feels pain and sees children, other dogs, and strangers on a consistent basis, he could make a connection that children, other dogs, and strangers might not be so great, because he feels pain when he sees them. The same thing is true of electric fences: when a dog repeatedly runs at the fence and gets too close to passersby at the boundary, he gets shocked and makes that negative association. Pat Miller writes of this in a Whole Dog Journal article.

Finally, mother dogs DO NOT use their teeth to inflict pain on their youngsters. They may lift an unruly youngster by the scruff, or nudge an overly enthusiastic feeder off a teat, but in no way does that replicate the myth of a pinch collar being like the correction of a mothers teeth. The mother dog does not apply pressure to the skin on both sides of the neck with strong powerful pressure. Period. The former is how the pinch collar works. In the hands of the uninitiated and the overly enthusiastic, (those who enjoy the power) the pinch collar is an aversive piece of dog training equipment whose use is unnecessary. Be kind to your dogs and investigate positive reinforcement training and equipment that is not aversive.

In doing some further research, I came up with useful statements from well-respected dog trainers and behaviorists in support of positive reinforcement, statements also detailing the dangers and side effects of using prong collars. As well, I think it no coincidence that some dogs I have trained, those with some of the most severe behavioral problems, have had a history of aversive equipment and training methods being used.

From Pam Dennison, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, author of many books, including: How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong, comes the following statement. The Merck Veterinary Manual, in Behavioral Problems Associated with Canine Aggression, states: "Almost without exception, physical punishment, including the use of prong collars and electric shock collars, alpha rolls, and dominance downs can make an already aggressive dog worse. Owners should be discouraged from using these techniques." That sounds like a pretty powerful statement right there.

Famed Applied Behavior Analysts, Marion and Bob Bailey, in the APDT Dog Trainers Resource article, the ABC`s of Behavior,make the following assertion: "Aversives in general, and punishment in particular, may have bad consequences for the dog and trainer. They can produce uncontrollable fear, not only of the trainer, but the entire training situation. Aversives can suppress virtually all behavior. They may also encourage aggressive responses. More acceptable alternatives, such as reinforcement, should always be considered before using aversives."

 

Marion Bailey was one of B.F. Skinners (Operant Conditioning) early undergraduate and graduate students. She and her husband trained over 15,000 animals over 50 years. These wonderfully educated people were not just training dogs, they were analyzing behavior as it applied to training methods.

Finally, Pat Miller, CPDT, CDBC, owner of Peaceable Paws, respected seminar speaker, author of multiple books and Training Editor for Whole Dog Journal, gives the following perspective in her widely acclaimed book Positive Perspectives:

"Choke chains, prong collars and shock collars utilize mild to severe punishment, called ‘corrections’ by trainers who use them, to let the dog know when she has done something wrong. I don`t recommend their use. Punishment can be difficult to administer effectively- timing and severity of the correction are critical to effective punishment training - and even when done properly there is a high risk of unintended and undesirable side effects, including aggression. ...Make no mistake however, those prongs do cause pain-that`s why they work. If you doubt that, slip one over your wrist and give it a solid yank. Then think about doing that to your neck."


Leslie Fisher Pat Miller 
Certified Trainer Affiliate 
Peaceable Paws.

Do NOT use a pinch collar or any other pain-to-neck device (including especially a bark-corrector or remote shock collar) on any dog with an aggression problem. Pain tends to in crease aggression. For dog-aggressive dogs, any pain in the neck can trigger the same fight response as would be triggered by being bitten in the neck by the other dog. So use of neck pain to a dog who is dog aggressive is likely to cause the dog to start a fight as a pre-emptive strike under less and less provocation from the other dog. Additionally, if a pinch collar or chain collar is on a dog who is grabbed by the neck by another dog, the grabbing dog may catch and break a tooth on it, which causes great suffering to that dog and great expense to whoever has to pay for a root-canal procedure.

 

If you have question, please call our office 618-303-6868

 

Dominance and Dog Training

By Association of Professional Dog Trainers

 

The use of dominance and pack theory in explaining dog behavior has come under a great deal of scrutiny as of late. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers wishes to inform the dog owning public about the ramifications of a reliance on dominance theory as it relates to understanding dogs, interpreting their behavior, and living harmoniously with our canine companions.

 

Theory and Misconceptions

Contrary to popular thinking, research studies of wolves in their natural habitat demonstrate that wolves are not dominated by an "Alpha Wolf" that is the most aggressive male, or male-female pairing, of the pack. Rather, they have found that wolf packs are very similar to how human families are organized, and there is little aggression or fights for "dominance." Wolves, whether it be the parents or the cubs of a pack, depend on each other to survive in the wild; consequently wolves that engage in aggressive behaviors toward each other would inhibit the pack's ability to survive and flourish. While social hierarchies do exist (just as they do among human families) they are not related to aggression in the way it is commonly portrayed (incorrectly) in popular culture. As Senior Research Scientist L. David Mech recently wrote regarding his many years of study of wolves, we should "once and for all end the outmoded view of the wolf pack as an aggressive assortment of wolves consistently competing with each other to take over the pack." (Mech, 2008)

Read the Rest of the Article.

OurTraining Philosophy​

 

 

At SmartyPaws Dog Training, we both love and respect dogs. We hold fast in our belief that it is not necessary to cause pain or use force with our companion animals in order to train them. Our saddest days are those when we meet someone who has never seen, and therefore cannot understand, the power of positive reinforcement.  Having worked with thousands of shelter dogs in the course of our experience, we know these methods work! 

 

We are dedicated to helping our clients deepen their relationships with their dogs by opening up the lines of communication across species. Training should be FUN, for both you and your dog! 

 

Happy, well trained dogs doesn't just happen. At SmartyPaws Dog Training Center we believe the key to effective training is understanding K-9 learning and effective communication.  We teach owners to communicate with their puppies and dogs by luring, shaping and capturing acceptable behaviors.  We believe training for both the dogs and people must be positive, productive, and FUN!

The relationship between people and their K9's is the most important component to training.  We go beyond training skills for obedience and agility.  Our trainers continually study animal learning theory and the science of how dogs learn.  We strive to be well-versed in current scientific research.

We have created a unique system which incorporates practices from internationally respected trainers and behaviorists.  There are four main principles to SmartyPaws' system:

Relationship

Discipline (this does not mean punishment)Presence Control

Practical Work 

 

Through years of teaching and evaluating, we have had the opportunity to observe these four principles in action and appreciate how they all affect one another.

We invite you and your K-9 to enroll in one of our classes and experience the joy that comes from strengthening your relationship with each other.

 

Hello SmartyPaws,

I am writing in because I have noticed that you talk a lot about positive reinforcement in dog training, and I get the impression that you don’t believe in prong or choke collars. With my other dogs, I have always used choke collars, and I also used a prong collar on a very strong, large dog that I had, who would bark and lunge at other dogs when on walks. If I didn’t have that prong collar on him, I don’t think that I could have controlled him. I am now getting another dog soon, and I am wondering what would be best for me and my dog. I had always trained my dogs with these kinds of collars, but now I am wondering if I should still keep doing this. I have also heard some people say that they are illegal now. So many people are saying so many different things, and it’s just so confusing. What would you advise?

Eileen

Hello Eileen,

Thanks for writing in with such a great question! I totally understand your apprehension, and your concerns, especially since prong and shock collars are now in fact illegal in many countries, if they cause undue harm to the animal wearing it.

 

I can also totally relate to you, how you’re questioning what will be best for you and your new dog, as I am in fact a crossover trainer, meaning that I used to use choke collars, and at times even prong collars when training dogs. If you worked with me about 9 – 10 years ago, the chances were high that I might have been using a choke collar when training.

 

Thankfully, I felt it was important to keep learning, and to keep sharpening my skills as a trainer. And the more I learned, the more I learned that these types of tools were not necessary to teach a dog to obey me, or to learn new behaviors. This was my beginning to becoming a cross over trainer.

Today in the training world, there are pretty much two camps. Those who believe in positive reinforcement training, and those who believe in compulsion training, or Pack Theory/ Dominance Theory training.

 

Some people will argue that these are two philosophies, and differing of opinion. And while they may be differing in opinion, opinions don’t really matter all that much when it comes to science. And there is a science to learning. There is a law that governs learning, and it’s occurring whether someone believes in it or not.

 

Not all collars are created equal.

Suffice to say that I am now a positive reinforcement trainer. I no longer use choke, prong or other aversive training tools when I am working with dogs to either teach them new behaviors, such as new obedience behaviors, or even when I am working with dogs, modifying existing behaviors, which includes serious behavioral problems, including aggression. These types of tools aren’t required, and can even make things worse.

Science has shown, time and time again, that using these types of tools carries a big risk of fallout. Science has also shown that painful tools such as these do not give long lasting results. They may suppress an unwanted behavior for a time, but they do not deal with the underlying emotion that caused the unwanted behavior in the first place. Which means that the behavior eventually comes back, either when the dog becomes too stressed, is over threshold, and often times, once the punishment, or tool is no longer used.

 

When you modify behavior in a dog, you are trying to either  extinguish behaviors (usually, unwanted behavior), or to elicit wanted behaviors. To stop a behavior, you use the punishment quadrants. To elicit behavior, you use the reinforcement quadrants. (Science says this, not just me.)


Each quadrant has a mathematical component of adding or removing wanted vs. unwanted stimuli. There is positive punishment, where you add an unwanted stimulus to stop a behavior. There is then negative punishment, where you remove a wanted stimulus to stop a behavior. In reinforcement, you again add or remove a wanted or unwanted stimulus to elicit behavior. With positive reinforcement you add a desired stimulus, and with negative reinforcement, you remove an undesired stimulus.

Positive punishment means that you add (the math part) something the dog doesn’t like, and will work to avoid, to stop the unwanted behavior. It doesn’t mean that the punishment is good….it means you are adding something to the equation. You are adding something the dog doesn’t like, or will work to avoid. This can be a leash correction, a leash pop, a yank, a choke, prong or electric collar, a yell, a hard stare, a kick….anything that the dog wouldn’t like. And keep in mind that it’s the dog who decides what it doesn’t like, not us.

 

For positive punishment to work correctly, the punishment needs to either scare or hurt the dog enough within only one or two tries so that the dog never ever tries the unwanted behavior again. If done correctly, after that first or second try, the dogs’ mind will be changed, and the punishment will never need to be used again. If done properly, it does work to stop the unwanted behavior. But the question of it being done properly is a serious one. As are the ethics with using it in the first place.

 

The problem here is that it’s very difficult to tell what would be hard enough to make the dog stop. If you go too hard, you can just shut the dog down, into a learned state of helplessness. (What you often see when someone tells you that a dog is in a calm, submissive state.) You can create such a negative association with the trigger, the handler, the environment, and/or whatever is around, that you ruin the dog. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen that often. But that creates a whole other problem, that can even be worse.

 

If you don’t scare or hurt the dog enough within the first two tries to extinguish the unwanted behavior, then you need to keep giving corrections until the dog heeds the corrections. And this becomes problematic as the dog is now becoming sensitized to the correction. And once the dog becomes sensitized to the correction, you have to use harsher and harsher corrections. And the biggest problem is that this very act of sensitizing the dog to the correction, actually strengthens the unwanted behavior that we have been trying to extinguish in the first place!

 

(Sensitization is a non-associative learning process in which repeated administrations of a stimulus results in the progressive amplification of a response.)

 

Another issue is that science has shown again that using painful tools, force or corrections in treating aggression just begets more aggression.

 

Over 95% of aggression is rooted in fear. There are really very few dogs with idiopathic aggression. Using painful methods to help a fearful dog does not help him overcome his fear. And keep in mind that fear is not just a dog who cowers. Fear can be seen in any distance increasing behavior. (Which is what most aggressive behavior is.) It also makes no sense to give corrections to a dog who is just obeying his instincts, especially ones that we’ve honed over thousands of years, as with a dog who is displaying predatory aggression. Much more helpful, and will also give you much longer lasting results would be to teach the dog a new alternative behavior instead of the unwanted behavior.

Science has shown that what works best with aggression and fearful issues is a combination of both desensitization and counter conditioning. You use DS/CC in response to the trigger that makes the dog behave in the unwanted manner.

 

When you modify behavior in a dog, you are trying to either  extinguish behaviors (usually, unwanted behavior), or to elicit wanted behaviors. To stop a behavior, you use the punishment quadrants. To elicit behavior, you use the reinforcement quadrants. (Science says this, not just me.)


Each quadrant has a mathematical component of adding or removing wanted vs. unwanted stimuli. There is positive punishment, where you add an unwanted stimulus to stop a behavior. There is then negative punishment, where you remove a wanted stimulus to stop a behavior. In reinforcement, you again add or remove a wanted or unwanted stimulus to elicit behavior. With positive reinforcement you add a desired stimulus, and with negative reinforcement, you remove an undesired stimulus.

 

Positive punishment means that you add (the math part) something the dog doesn’t like, and will work to avoid, to stop the unwanted behavior. It doesn’t mean that the punishment is good….it means you are adding something to the equation. You are adding something the dog doesn’t like, or will work to avoid. This can be a leash correction, a leash pop, a yank, a choke, prong or electric collar, a yell, a hard stare, a kick….anything that the dog wouldn’t like. And keep in mind that it’s the dog who decides what it doesn’t like, not us.

 

For positive punishment to work correctly, the punishment needs to either scare or hurt the dog enough within only one or two tries so that the dog never ever tries the unwanted behavior again. If done correctly, after that first or second try, the dogs’ mind will be changed, and the punishment will never need to be used again. If done properly, it does work to stop the unwanted behavior. But the question of it being done properly is a serious one. As are the ethics with using it in the first place.

 

The problem here is that it’s very difficult to tell what would be hard enough to make the dog stop. If you go too hard, you can just shut the dog down, into a learned state of helplessness. (What you often see when someone tells you that a dog is in a calm, submissive state.) You can create such a negative association with the trigger, the handler, the environment, and/or whatever is around, that you ruin the dog. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen that often. But that creates a whole other problem, that can even be worse.

 

If you don’t scare or hurt the dog enough within the first two tries to extinguish the unwanted behavior, then you need to keep giving corrections until the dog heeds the corrections. And this becomes problematic as the dog is now becoming sensitized to the correction. And once the dog becomes sensitized to the correction, you have to use harsher and harsher corrections. And the biggest problem is that this very act of sensitizing the dog to the correction, actually strengthens the unwanted behavior that we have been trying to extinguish in the first place!

 

(Sensitization is a non-associative learning process in which repeated administrations of a stimulus results in the progressive amplification of a response.)

 

Another issue is that science has shown again that using painful tools, force or corrections in treating aggression just begets more aggression.

 

Over 95% of aggression is rooted in fear. There are really very few dogs with idiopathic aggression. Using painful methods to help a fearful dog does not help him overcome his fear. And keep in mind that fear is not just a dog who cowers. Fear can be seen in any distance increasing behavior. (Which is what most aggressive behavior is.) It also makes no sense to give corrections to a dog who is just obeying his instincts, especially ones that we’ve honed over thousands of years, as with a dog who is displaying predatory aggression. Much more helpful, and will also give you much longer lasting results would be to teach the dog a new alternative behavior instead of the unwanted behavior.

 

Science has shown that what works best with aggression and fearful issues is a combination of both desensitization and counter conditioning. You use DS/CC in response to the trigger that makes the dog behave in the unwanted manner.

 

In a nutshell, if you are to use painful punishment based corrections properly, and effectively, you need a clear understanding of canine learning theory, a great understanding of canine body language, and perfect timing and mechanics.

But if you have all of those attributes, you don’t need to use painful corrections at all in the first place.

 

So, in answer to your initial question….no, I don’t believe that using a choke collar, or a prong collar would be the way to go with your new dog. Instead I would suggest using a regular flat collar. If your dog has a very narrow head, that is slimmer than his neck (such as with a Greyhound, or at times a Doberman), then I would suggest a martingale collar. If you have problems with a dog who is a strong puller, I would suggest a front clip body harness. If you find you still need help, then I would suggest you come in to one of our Manners classes so we can teach you and your dog how to apply loose leash walking skills to your dog.

 

Remember, it’s never too early to start working with, and/or training your dog. Because your dog is learning, whether you think you’re training him or not.

 

Good luck and happy training!

 

The SmartyPaws Team

 

Professional Dog Training and boarding using

the Power of Positive Reinforcement

Contact us for Training and Boarding

Call or Text (618)303-6868

Email us at jerri@smartypaws.biz

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