Weaning Yourself and Your Dog from Compulsion Dog Training Collars

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I was recently approached by a former client (I would still be her dogs’ trainer if I lived close enough!  I really miss her pack of dogs!) to help some of her rescue friends find an alternative to some of the training collars they have been taught to use.

I don’t like training collars, except the gentle leader, because not only do most rely on compulsion and punishment they are rarely used for “training” like they were intended or as their name implies.

A training collar if utilized should be just that; only used to train or teach a dog something.

BUT, how many times do you see a 4 or 9 year old dog still using a prong collar?

One of the biggest problems is that dog owners have been taught to utilize these collars but instead of just teaching their dogs, they rely on these products constantly to get their dogs to comply with certain behaviors.  AND, the dog knows when the collar is and is not on!

Even though many of these people have been taught by a dog trainer HOW to use these items they are never taught how to wean their dog off of them or how to teach them a different way!

Did I mention I don’t like these collars?  I want to make SURE that everyone knows I NEVER recommend them!  After all, we are a “hands off” dog training system and nothing is more “hands on” than choke chains and prong collars!  So don’t send hate mail!!

Even though this is Disguised it is still a Prong Collar

But, I acknowledge that lots of people use them.  And, since you are most likely alone in your home reading this, you can admit to yourself that you just might be one of them!  I bet a very large percentage of my readers are currently using these products simply because they don’t know what else to do and their dogs are desensitized to anything else!

I use to not allow the dogs in my classes to wear any training collar except a Gentle Leader, then one day I drove past one of my clients who’s dog was sporting a prong collar.  It was a small community so I pulled over to inquire what was going on.  She was horrified and embarrassed but admitted she didn’t know how else to get her dog to listen.  She didn’t want to publicly admit she used the collar in my class and knew I wouldn’t allow it, so she just did her weekly homework with her dog in his usual prong collar.

It was at this moment I realized sometimes the only way I can truly help people change is by teaching them to wean themselves off these compulsion methods they think they need.  Whereas I never wanted her to use the collar again, I had to teach her how not to need it.  The last thing I wanted was for people to be too ashamed to ask for real help, or to go home and yank and pull their dogs into submission.

So it was then I came up with my program.  I promise my clients I can teach them how to never use a prong or choke chain again, and if I can do that for them they give me the collar they once used.  It is an exchange of knowledge and positive reinforcement for the negative compulsion collar and the methods.

Why Do People Use Them?

Because they are easy!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a lot of time and training to put on a prong collar and see a difference in a pulling dog.

And, unlike the Gentle Leader and other like head halters most dogs don’t throw a huge temper tantrum when these collars are put on.  Most dogs don’t even whimper or cry, but immediately they recognize that pulling is uncomfortable and not pulling makes the discomfort disappear.

Why Do Trainers Recommend Them?

Puppies and Young Dogs should NEVER need a choke chain or training collar!

Because they are LAZY!  Make no excuses!  There are better ways to teach your dog to respect his leash or not pull, but these methods take brain power, work, timing, and consistency.

Part of me wouldn’t be as irritated if these trainers at least taught their students how to quit using these tools, but again this would take time, work, and consistency.

Almost nothing is as nauseating to me as seeing a big, geriatric dog that has to deal with the pain and irritation of lugging around a pinch collar!

Don’t Judge or Blame!

I know this is a hard one, but most owners don’t want to inflict pain or hurt their dogs despite the ugliness of the collar most people hardly use it.

While it is true that in my career I have seen some truly malicious and cruel “corrections” given to dogs in prong collars, most owners have no desire to be barbaric.  And, those sadistic owners can usually not be reasoned with or educated.  I have to hope that someday they will be caught and prosecuted for their abuse.

Most people just get stuck in a rut or the collar was effective on their “last dog” so they default to using one on this dog.

Some people think that “certain breeds” require these types of collars but I disagree!  Dogs should be trained with your MIND not your body!  How do people think dogs respond to clients in wheelchairs? Rottweiler, Mastiff, Weimaraner, Chihuahua or Shih Tzu it is all the same to me!

How to Make a Change?

Most of these owners would like to change.  No one wants the looks or snippy comments when they see a prong collar but most people don’t know how to change.  You may want to utilize a buckle collar, but you don’t want your arm dislocated or broken on your next walk either!  Don’t laugh it happens!

This is what My Dogs Live for!

First

You must teach your dog the “Game” of positive reinforcement!  You have to teach your dog that he is in control of his environment, to some degree, you control what he has to do to get the reward but he feels like he is in control.

You need to build a foundation of fun and games.  Up until now you have been controlling your dog physically and a pinch collar cannot compare to a buckle collar when it comes to control, so you must teach your dog that there is a reason to listen to you and do what you want.

Don’t over use treats, but learn how to use them !

If your dog likes toys and playing with balls or chasing things and hunting, teach him to work using his normal doggy play drive.

This type of training does take a bit longer, but the foundation is so much more stable than regular compulsion.  I never have to worry about forgetting my dog’s collar because they have been taught not to pull in order to be rewarded with the things they want and their necks are not desensitized.

Dogs that rely on compulsion have become a bit desensitized around their neck.  What would get the attention of a normal dog or puppy no longer phases a dog use to a prong collar.  This makes using a leash and normal buckle collar almost impossible.  Your relationship is based on corrections and physical control.

So teaching your dog the foundation to positive reinforcement, how to play with you and giving him reasons to listen are crucial!  Also, taking toys, treats, and games with you when you take your dog out will also be vital for a time.

Next

The next is to slowly wean yourself and your dog from his training collar.  I would rather tell you to throw the collar away and start over, and in my opinion that would be the best way.  But, I realize that most of you won’t do that since it would take too long and you don ‘t know where to start.  So, I will tell you to do the next best thing.

Like a smoker who promises to quit, make a pact with your dog and pick out a date that you will throw the collar away or at least never use it again and then start to work toward your goal.

Some of the Tricks I Have Used Over the Years?

Dogs are great about associating objects that are totally unrelated.  For some dogs if you pair the old collar with a certain bandana for a period of time the dog will start to associate the bandana with the collar, enabling you to trick your dog into thinking the collar is on later, once you have stopped using it.  You can simply apply the bandana and the dog will undoubtedly stop pulling.

Next get a leash with two clips, or using a long leash feed a round key chain or “O” ring around the handle of your leash and feed onto the ring a clip.  This double clip allows you to clip one to his buckle collar and one to his former training collar.

This will help you to teach him what his normal buckle collar feels like when there is pressure on it and how to learn to respect it.  He needs to learn what is normal and not rely on the pinch or strangulation he is use to!  This does not mean to use the buckle collar to issue “corrections” you should be motivating him not correcting him!

The key is to do your very best to not use the training collar anymore!  If you are going to get drug into traffic or your dog is going to pull you down you still have the option of using the collar you are use to, but don’t use it as a constant crutch!

You should have a tool belt full of treats, toys and fun so your dog should be motivated to pay attention to you versus his normal boredom and pulling to fulfill his own needs.  You should now be the focus of his awareness!

If you are willing to put in some time, get animated, have some fun together and make a pact with your dog I think you will be much happier with the results and the lack of stares and comments and I KNOW your dog will be happier!

There are 92 Comments

  1. Liz says:

    Wow , I’ve never seen a prong coller before, shoo that s pretty cruel. I find with my dogs using a halter controls them way better and the dogs prefer it too.

    [Reply]

    Kirk Reply:

    I recently found a dog through Freecycle. They wanted a lot of ID to prove I was not going to use him as a fighter or something. Good for them!
    Ryder came with what they called a choke collar: a cloth collar that will tighten if he pulls too much. I wasn’t sure I even wanted it, but now we use it all the time on walks. He actually likes it and sees it as a signal we are going for a walk on leash. He seldom TUGS and I occasionally stop him so I can loosen its tightness. I have recently gotten a wireless collar that gives him freedom in the yard for an 80 foot radius; we only use this when we are together, but I put him on a run when I leave him home alone.
    My point was that the cloth collar on a retractable leash has worked well, but I really need to train Ryder to “HEEL”, etc and will not do it with any painful collar.

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  2. mark says:

    The proper name for the tool you referring to is the ‘CHECK CHAIN” it is not a choke chain.

    The tool itself works very well all my dogs use it and they put their head through on their own. I have seen owners put flat collars own so tight that the whole dog turns blue. I have seen dog pull their heads out and ran right into traffic.

    Now if you do not like the use of these tools that is your own private business, however your blog should reflect a professional attitude towards these tools not your personal feelings.

    Prong collars are banned in Australia so I can’t comment on them. However there is only one problem with using a “check chain”. It is the simple fact that people do not know how.

    When it is put on the dog correctly and it is used correctly they indeed work very well and cause no harm to the dog.

    So I would suggest that the next time you focus your time on teaching people the correct use of these tools. Instead of trying to scare them.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    We are a “hands off” training system and nothing is more “hands on” than choke chains (Slip collars also called choke chains, slip chains, or choke collars are a length of chain or nylon rope with rings at either end such that the collar can be formed into a loop around the top of the dog’s neck, just behind the ears.) as defined by Wikipedia and that name was not made up by me.

    The articles are all about my knowledge, feelings, and experience and of course truths.

    “Choke chains are perhaps most responsible for unnecessary dog injuries. They include: tracheal and/or esophageal damage, sprained necks, foreleg paralysis, laryngeal nerve paralysis and hind leg ataxia.”

    Read more: Understanding Dog Training Collar Injuries – VetInfo

    So I prefer to teach people how not to need them and how not to use them than to recommend something that can cause such serious injuries.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    I also live in Australia, at my obedience school they informed us that the “choke chain” is merely the “check” chain put on backwards. We have to use one in class, but I refuse to jerk my dog the way I see others. I do use it at home, but again, I never jerk or pull my dog into being submissive to my commands. I also make sure it is never tight around his neck. I always carry my clicker and treats and use them while walking, practice and obedience class. While I’m very conscious about how I use the check chain, I enjoyed reading this article, I just thought that after all my efforts that he would ‘graduate’ from wearing one (not that he pulls now). However, I have misgivings about using it at home, and am inspired to not use it unless in class (compulsory…and no other schools in my area). Thank you for sharing your professional opinions,

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Thank you! Now you have an idea on how to keep your dog from being desensitized and in need of a training collar! :)

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Mark,

    I looked it up and did some research a check chain is just a nicer way to say choke chain, but it remains the same. Like a pinch collar being called a prong collar or Herm Sprenger.

    Here is info from AU for you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-bKMsFKyik

    [Reply]

  3. Kwizd94 says:

    My dog is so used to the collar and if I try and put her regular collar on she runs in the other room. She’s a 65 pound brindle pit. I’ve tried using the normal collar with the lead and just putting the prong collar on too but she still pulls too much. If she sees a squirrel it’s all over and believe me we have 1000’s of them in our neighborhood. I would definitely prefer not to use it because I’m sure people see us walking her and just assume because she’s a pit she’s mean when she’s the biggest baby you’ve ever seen. I’m also afraid she could pull out of the regular collar is she got overly excited. Please advise. I do seem to remember to recommending them in one of you earlier publications that I subscribed too when we first rescued her.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    If you are afraid she will pull out get a martigale collar or it is sometimes called a “greyhound” collar this will keep her from pulling out.

    then start clicking and treating her when she allows you to put it on and put it on when you feed her soon she will have no problem with you putting it on!

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  4. Raquel says:

    Tq, very much for the tips..i really luv ur blog site 😉

    [Reply]

  5. Alice says:

    Great article!

    Thanks!

    I don’t train dogs, but I’ve noticed most people I’ve had conversations with about dogs pulling them truly do not know what to do to change that. That is, they don’t know the training “tricks” like going in the opposite direction the instant the dog pulls.

    That may have changed now that we have those dog training shows on tv.

    I wish you would add to your article, giving specific instructions about what to do next when you have your pulling dog on leash.

    But still it’s a great article! Thanks.

    Alice

    [Reply]

  6. Kara says:

    Great article! I will admit, I use mainly slip chains, but NEVER to yank or harshly correct my dogs; I simply use them because my local PetSmart does not sell a large enough (25″ or bigger) collar for my St Bernards. One of my stud dogs (I found a leather collar for him in a tack store) is about 20 pounds heavier than I am; when I first got him at 14 months old, there was absolutely no way my husband or I could hold him on the leash. It took a few lessons, some in a slip chain but mainly in a non-slip collar, before I could properly take him out on a leash. Now he is so sensitive that when I choose to use a leash (I mainly walk off-leash), he will feel which side of his collar the snap of the leash is attached to and always put the snap between him and me. I did not teach him this on purpose, but if I stop and move his collar so the snap is on the opposite side, he will move behind me heel at the opposite side within just a few steps. It is amazing what I have learned from your emails, videos, and training information. Keep up the good work!

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  7. vicki says:

    I recently became owner of a 1 year old American Bulldog. She had not had any training and seemed to love to pull. Walking her was aggravating and my attempts at teaching her to heel, on a leash, beside my bike when I ride was down right dangerous. I was using a choke collar on her. While searching on line for a new collar I saw one of those collars that has the soft strap that goes over the nose. I bought one and when I put it on her the very first time it was the difference between night and day. She attempted to rub it off a couple of times but that was it. Now she heels without pulling, is not as tempted to dash off after something and even heels along side my bike, although that still has a bit of danger. I never go faster than her at a slow trot. When I see people walking their dog, or at is sometimes appears, their dog walking them, I always stop them and recommend they try the lead with the soft nose strap. It made a world of difference and I don’t have to feel like I’m choking my dog to make her manageable.

    [Reply]

    Terry Reply:

    Vicki, what is the name of this lead with the soft nose strap, very interested to know. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    vicki Reply:

    The brand name of the collar is CANINE CONCEPTS. On the heavy buckle is says Yuppie Puppy. I bought it off ebay. Can’t recall exactly what the cost was, but it was surprisingly reasonable. It is very well made. There are different sizes.After using the collar for a while I figured out the easiest way to put it on. You will understand when you get the collar but… Pull the lead with the ring to attach the leash, all the way back so there is no opening for the nose. Place lead on the back and buckle the collar around the neck. Then loosen the lead far enough to make an area to easily slide over the nose, back on the nose, to below the eyes, then tighten the lead with the thingy ( I have no idea what they are called, slide tightener? ) until the nose strap is just slightly snug. At first before trying this, it seemed awkward putting it on her, but now is much easier. Hope this helps. Vicki

    [Reply]

    Margie Reply:

    We also have an American bulldog that we rescued. Very powerful girl! She could not be walked on a regular collar without us coming home with bruised hands and nerves on end! We bought the EazyWalk Halter and have not had a problem with walking her since. The halters leash clip is at the front of her chest, if she pulls just a slight tug corrects her and we walk happily on our way. I hope this helps some frustrated walkers out there! Happy Trails to all!

    [Reply]

  8. alain jappy says:

    what to do when a dog sees a cat?
    no treats,meat,ball my voice do not work.
    byyy
    alain

    [Reply]

    vicki Reply:

    What I do is always be alert to what is up ahead. My American Bulldog, who I use the “over the nose style of collar” on, responds well to the command “NO”.
    NO, keeps her from bolting and tugging, but she still tends to be highly distracted and pulls slighlty. I try to see things before she does and then get her attention so I have control over her when she sees it. I praise her every moment her attention comes back to me. I dont yell, I just keep walking forward. Then when almost past the distraction, and her attention wanes, I reward her with praise.
    She seems more and more manageable as time goes by. What does you dog do? What sort of dog is it?

    [Reply]

  9. Sue says:

    Good article. I initially used a prong collar on my Dobe when she was younger. She put me on the ground a number of times even with it. This is my first dog and she is very high energy and loses focus easily. Even to this day, we are continually working on focus and she will be 5 in March. I show her in obedience – we have our Rally Advanced Excellent title and our CD (she won’t take a dumbbell yet, but that is another issue).

    From the beginning, my goal was to get rid of that collar and I did. The group I train with uses rewards based training. Head collars do not work with Bachan – she shuts down completely. I switched to a nylon martingale collar with a short chain section in it. The chain was mainly for a little noise to get her attention. We eventually got to a flat collar for showing. I use food rewards along with a clicker for most of my training. I do formal training classes with her on an on-going basis and work on her skills every day.

    The one thing I do use with her when we are not doing strict obedience work is a Gentle Leader harness (front leash connection). This is safer for when I run with her or when she is out in public. While she does not forget her manners very often now, she will still sometimes trigger at something and the harness prevents her from pulling since the leash on the front turns her towards me.

    [Reply]

  10. Moira Giese says:

    THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE, I AM PLACING IT ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE. I AM TRAINED AS AN ADVANCED ANIMAL BEHAVIOURIST AND HAVE A TIME CONVINCING PEOPLE THAT THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. I AM REGISTERED UNDER giese@border.co.za but please change my e-mail to moira@border.co.za which is my home computor.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Thank you for sharing and reading! :)

    [Reply]

  11. Francine says:

    Hi,
    I appreciate everything you’ve said in your article. However, I walk three dogs two times a day and they are huskies…nothing has worked but the choke collars. Of course they are now desensitised to it and believe it or not, they still pull when they see cats or squirrels and sometimes other dogs. I was dragged into the woods the other day when they spotted a dear and had to brace myself on a tree. No fun! I have not tried the nose leash but it might be a good idea. All the training is made so difficult with three dogs and expensive on treats. My dogs are lovely and well behaved in the home but as soon as they spot me taking their leashes out for their walk, their behaviour changes and they start to howl and bark until we get to the door. Ive tried to stop this behaviour with treats when they are quiet but like I said, with three dogs, it’s a challenge!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Try the gentle leaders! I use to run with 5 weimaraners if you work with them separately to teach them what you want, then you can put them together and expect good manners and obedience!

    [Reply]

    vicki Reply:

    Try taking their leashes out during the day and letting them lay or hang somewhere near the door, and walking away. So that they come to know that just because you take out the leash it doesn’t mean they are headed outside. Go pick it up and put it back down during the day without taking them outside. Maybe eventually, When the leash becomes less of a cue to be excited, if they follow the command to sit, you can start calling them to the door area where the leash has been visible to them. and then while they are calm, you connect the leashes. That’s what I’d try if I were you. Dont psyche them up ahead of time by giving cue words like “walk” or “out” or “lets go”.

    [Reply]

    Ricki Reply:

    Francine, I also walk 3 Siberian Huskies daily. Pulling is part of their breeding. I use the Gentle Walker harness which does help but not prevent the pulling. I have had good experience with the Gentle Leader harness when walking one but with 3 at one time I seem to always have one that would work the harness off. I never use a flat collar because they can back out of them. I do use a slip collar when training and have Rally and Obedience titles on my dogs. They are well trained on a leash when alone, but when you put them all together there is a certain amount of competition or excitement. Sometimes you just need to hang on! I have been in the breed for over 30 years, pulling is an important aspect of the correct breeding. I often run them for a few miles with a bike or rig BEFORE the walk. Then we have a nice leisure stroll. Keep up the exercise.

    [Reply]

  12. Merle says:

    I have a tiny (15 lbs.) Mini Pincher and we’ve been to two obedience training classes but she still pulls and bites. I couldn’t put on the soft nose straps because she bites, and I’ve developed trigger finger on two of my fingers already and severe shoulder pains from her pulling when I walk her. I walk her 30-45 minutes every day before I go to work and when I get home from work. I play with her inside the house or let her play with her toys while I do my chores. I refuse to try those choke or prong collars, but I also won’t give her up just because I can’t make her heel normally or stop her biting. She is 8 months old and I’m sure having been taken away from her mother and siblings just at 2-3 weeks has a great bearing on her instinctive responses as a dog. She does obey to the sit, down, stay, and come commands when given a treat. But the biting and pulling are my main problems. We’ve gotten over her barking problems and that was one accomplishment we’ve successfully achieved. I know we can overcome two more. She is very loving and just wants to be with me when I’m home. I hope to be able to help her get rid of the biting and pulling.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would focus mostly on clicker training with her and getting her to accept touch from you. You may, someday, need to muzzle her, bathe her, or put medication in her eyes or ears…so you need to be able to touch her.

    Back up in her training and teach her to accept touch then you can use a gentle leader and you can also start to build the foundation of positive reinforcement heeling and games.

    [Reply]

  13. Pat Stevens says:

    I currently enrolled my 1-1/2 year old standard poodle at a well known training center here in Minnesota – I had to put him in beginning obedience and after this is complete, he has to attend another 10 week training in order to enter in their agility course. I really think agility would be great for him BUT he pretty much knows the sit, stay, down, walk on a leash but we had to do this in order to get to the agility part – we are half way through the first required obedience class – they put him on a choke chain! There is not one dog (~20 dogs) that doesn’t have a chock chain or prong collar on. I did agree to the choke chain (I just put it on for the hour) but if I’m approached for the prong collar I will just leave. When I first called there, I asked several times if this was a positive reinforcement course and was told yes. I don’t think I’ll be finishing this course (there are no refunds)because of the choke chain. I’m so happy to hear that this isn’t necessary because I don’t know of a place in MN that doesn’t use this method. When we first got him, we hired a lady to come to the house – that was actually scary – she wanted to use and brought an electronic collar! Thanks for letting it be known that you don’t need these items!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You can get and or build most of the equipment fairly easily. For example I use plungers as weave poles haha! AND, you can read books and find agility dvds online that will teach you!

    I wouldn’t want someone putting a collar on my dog that I was not comfortable with…I would recommend trying to find someone else or going your own way.

    [Reply]

    Cynthia Reply:

    I was taught that the dog should be on a flat collar with the shortest possible leash for agility so the leash has less oppertunity to cause injury on the corse itself. It defanatly sounds like you need to find a new class. It really sucks they won’t give you your $ back though.

    [Reply]

  14. Jude LeMoine says:

    Well said, Minette.
    If you teach a puppy to walk beside you and teach him to keep his focus on you, starting when he’s very young and practising constantly and consistently throughout adolescence, the pulling can be avoided. Positive methods don’t even take longer if you start as soon as you get your puppy home.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I agree! At my house we play keep away when they don’t pay attention I dash the other way with their toy or their treat this help build a foundation of keeping an eye on me with reward in mind!

    [Reply]

  15. Pat Eames says:

    Excellent article. I walk walk a shelter dog who is EXCELLENT on a pinch collar but TERRIBLE on the regular collar. Looking forward to try and wean him off of the pinch collar. Thanks.

    [Reply]

  16. witz says:

    Although I totally agree that a prong is a training tool that is based on compulsion and can certainly be associated with what is described as owner/trainer “laziness”. The prong can be a usefull tool if applied correctly and used wisely. As much as the Positive Training world would like everyone to only train with positive methods, not everyone has the time, knowledge and money to accomplish the ideal end result.
    NOT ALL DOGS and the application of some compulsion is not always the horror that it is made out to be. If a dog has been trained thru positive/clicker/marker reward approach and absolutely knows what is expected of them and does not follow a request, a correction, whether it be negative reinforcement or application of compulsion, some dogs respond very well and the behavior goes away. As long as the change of behavior is recognized in a positive way following the correction, I am very comfortable with using those tools. I have to also mention that I am and have been involved with very high drive working lines. I also have rescued a number of dogs that do not fall into that catagory. I have found that the average pet responds very well to just positive training methods.

    [Reply]

  17. Nancy says:

    Thank you for the article, I can admit, I have used a prong collar in the past. It didnt work!! You have to be willing to use it and I could not snap it,two reasons, no heart for it and no strength. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and so no strength. Thank goodness I found the Gentle Leader, M R.A. will not keep me from owning what I love and that is big dogs! I have a GSD/Siberian Husky mix he just turned a year has been through class including advanced obedience and has his CGC! I love him and am very proud. I was wondering however, I am scared to walk him outdoors without his Leader, he is still impulsive and “LOVES” squirrels and I fear him getting away from me. Do you see a problem using the Leader always? He is fine indoors training, I take him to pet store often, your advice is most welcome

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You can also use the double leash as I explain in my article about head halters. I like having my dogs on a buckle collar and nothing else.

    However, I understand there are extenuating circumstances and I prefer the gentle leader to a lifetime of choke or prong collars! Use what you need and if that is the leader then I say good for you!

    [Reply]

    Daphne Reply:

    In response to everyone saying a pronged collar or choke chain is the only way to control their bull dog, I disagree. I personally do not have to use a choke chain or a prong collar on any of my dogs. I personally do not think any form of punishment is the way to train your dog. I may add, I have always preferred large dog breeds, and my favorite breed to raise is the bull dog. Just to all you large dog owners who have pulling dogs, this is a sign that your dog needs to exercise. Large dog breeds have an extreme amount of energy and actually need alot of exercise to maintain their health and attitude. May I suggest investing in a pair of rollar skates or a skate board. You may laugh, but if your dog is trained with basic commands such as heal, sit, stop, then your dog will respond. Dog training takes an extreme amount of patience and repetition. They are like little kids. They thrive on attention, love and stability, rules and bounderies. If your dogs are pulling you, your walking too slow for them, try picking up the pace a little or investing in a a slightly longer lead, also holding the dogs head up will aide in keeping them from getting side tracked when walking. Finally, in my opinion, if your dog is trained, a cat collar would work around the dogs neck to control it. Correcting a bad behavior with violence or punishment does not teach a dog how to do something right, this inflicts fear and intimidation within the dog. When treated correctly, loved, positively enforced, then your dog will respond in a different manner.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Agreed and good for you!

    [Reply]

  18. Beth Moore says:

    I totally agree with your comments. I have a beautiful German Shepherd almost three years old who came to me as a rescue dog. When I first got her I worked with her with, yes I am ashamed to say, a choke collar because that is the way I was taught to train my previous three Shepherds. I am glad to be able to say she was always very responsive and no unnecessary force on the choke collar was needed. I enrolled her in a nine week obedience class and the instructress insisted on a prong collar. I cringed at the thought but I complied but only for the weekly hour of training. I saw such a submissive dog when in the prong collar; she wasn’t my dog at all. At home I continued to work with her. I would throw frisbees and/or balls for her, which she dearly loved, until much of the much of the exuberance was worn off, then went into training off leash and with enticements and we progressed wonderfully. Today she wears no collar at all. I have total voice control ~ her “Comes” are unfailingly excellent. I might add I live rurally, and if I were going into an unfamiliar urban setting I would leash her for her own safety ….. with a gentle leader.

    [Reply]

  19. Hansi says:

    I walked our pooch on a busy boardwalk with lots of other dogs, kids, bikes and people. We met a young man and his very large German shepheard
    off leash, on heel and looking very alert. My pooch wanted to meet the dog
    and socialize as he usually does, the young man just looked at me, smiled and only clicked his tongue, his dog looked up at him and totally ignored my dog.
    How I envy his control, but you could see this dog was happy to follow his
    master and it shows that no matter what breed, it is the contact between dog and owner that is most important, not the hardware between them. I am sure there was lots of consistent and hard work before both got to this point.

    [Reply]

  20. I agree that gentle leaders are an excellent training tool, but at times have seen 4 or 9 year old dogs wearing them as well. One myth I would like to expose is that a gentle leader “cannot” cause pain or damage to your dogs neck. In fact, if you have a highly reactive dog you are working with, they will often hit the end of the leash and either flip themselves or become air born as the “gentle leader” turns them around. I stopped using one with my girl dog because I was concerned she would damage her vertebrae. Using a flat collar didn’t always work either because once I turned her away from the source of aggression or trigger, she can sometimes slip the collar. Also, using a flat collar and restraining your dog, activates a resistance reflex and the dog pulls harder, sometimes it escalates the aggression. People say “work your dog under threshold”, but for some dogs who go into the red zone without warning, that is easier said than done. I conditioned my dog to the prong collar, using a choke to teach her to turn off pressure. The key to using choke or prong collars properly is to show the dog, without distractions that it controls the pressure of the collar. I am not lazy and rehabilitation of reactive dogs takes time and effort. I have weaned my dog off the prong collar using a flat to transition, but still use it when I take her out with my other prey driven dog. The two of them together can easily take me off my feet on a slippery trail. I work on prey drive and aggression separately, but like to take my dogs out together for a walk in the woods. They are both rescued end of the line type dogs that I have poured hours of love and affection into, but they are not 100% reliable yet. I am not ashamed to have them on a prong collar with a safety, if that means they can’t rehearse pulling me off my feet. In closing, that doesn’t make me a compulsion based trainer. I use treats and clickers and positive reinforcement as a rule. I use prong collars and choke collars to train when necessary. I use what is most effective for the dog and transition as soon as they are ready to move to the next level of the learning curve. Many people abuse prong and choke collars, but when used correctly, they can also be a useful tool.

    [Reply]

    Sandrinha Reply:

    Totally agree with you and just to add, each dog is different!
    Most of a friend’s clients are owners who have gone through RSPCA positive reinforcement training. Dogs have with little recall, lots of pulling and some of them even snapping. Positive reinforcement seems great to teach dogs what to do, but how do you teach them what NOT to? You need correction or a way to say no. I am amazed to see many cases where owners have never said no to the dogs and simply ignore them and let them do what they want, or worse, give them treats if they for example bark at you (?). I think it is time to get back to basics, praise and touch your dog every time he does something you want, correct when he does something you don’t want. A good trainer uses the best tool and method based on the dog and not all dogs respond to treats the same way.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    “corrections” come in many forms but as the “thinking” animal in the equation we shouldn’t need to use our physicality and force to change behavior!

    What would you do if you were training a Tiger or a Whale?

    [Reply]

    Sandrinha Reply:

    I thought we were discussing dog training in this forum. I wouldn’t know about tigers and whales, but I would say whatever works with the animal. If positive only training works with yours, excellent, if not –and this might be a minority probably–, then you have to apply a combination of methods.

    Minette Reply:

    The basis is the same no matter what you are training, if a tiger or a whale doesn’t need physical force neither does a dog!

  21. Laurie says:

    I absolutely love the haltie. My dog still tries to rub it off. Probably because it doesn’t fit right. I’ve been through a few of them, but they don’t fit right. If it fits his muzzle then it’s too large around his head. I’ve read that from the side view it should look like a V not an L. If it fits his head then it’s too small for his muzzle. I’m going shopping again tonight to find a new one. My safety depends on it. Our roads and sidewalks are so icy that if he pulls then I fall, and the last thing anyone needs is an injury that could prevent a person from taking their dog for walks while they heal. I’m really tempted to try making my own haltie. Wish me luck finding one that fits and is comfortable.

    [Reply]

    sandi Reply:

    Laurie, A I have a 14 month german shepherd I adopted at 6 months old with very little training. I had the same problem with Head halters not fitting right, I made 1 myself and it works Beautifully now that it fits right she doesn’t mind wearing it. She now walks at my side nicely, We are beginning to use Regular collar with out her pulling.

    [Reply]

    Laurie Reply:

    Would you mind sharing how you made your haltie, and what materials you used. I did buy a new one, but it still is a little too large around the back of his head and muzzle, yet the next size down is too small. Maybe I can take it to a sewing shop and have them make the adjustments where I want them. Even with it being a little too big he certaintly seems to appreciate it more than the last one. My biggest issue with the last one was it had metal rings at each side of his jaw, which I just knew was bothering his jaw bone.

    [Reply]

  22. As a Victoria Stilwell Positively trainer, I frequently use a double ended leash with my clients. I find I often have small, female clients who have been trying to control large, working-breed dogs by using “training” collars of one sort or another. Due the size of the dogs, they are often truly afraid to go completely without their former crutch….er, collar! I put a flat collar on the dog, and using the double-clip leash, attach to both the flat and correction collars. I demonstrate how to retrain the dog check in and enjoy being with them, while explaining that the attachment to the correction collar is there as an “emergency brake.” They are not to use it any more than they would the Emergency brake in their car while driving. Just knowing that it is there is often all they need to boost their confidence, and allow them to have a positive walking experience with their dogs for the first time!

    [Reply]

  23. Nita says:

    I have a 7 year old Yorkie aprox. 7 pounds, who was doing well following commands using a halter, until I moved into an apartment complxs. There are several dogs who are often out with their owners, some on leash, some off. She has the beginning of a collasped trachea, so any tugging makes her cough an choke.She wants to run to them, and refuses to obey me. Some of the dogs are a little to “friendly” for her, overwhelming her. I don’t know what to do as all the harness’s have the same effect. I already gave up using a collar. Does anyone have a safe way to walk her? I haven’t tried the haltie, and am wondering if that would be safer to use? Thanks for any help.I live on a busy street, and concerned she will get out and I won’t be able to make her stop.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Try the gentle leader!

    [Reply]

    Nita Reply:

    I looked at the gentle leader, but it seemed to come up high enough it would also cause her to cough,choke. I am taking her to a dog store soon and try on different kinds. Thanks for your comment.

    [Reply]

    Liz Reply:

    Most people seem to forget that there is a gentle leader headcollar and a gentle leader harness. The harness is not what they have been recommending here. You want the Head Collar. Also even though front clip are the best harnesses, that particular one would loosen up on my dogs so it didn’t stay fitting correctly for very long.

    Minette Reply:

    the leader is like a halter for a horse no neck or trachea is involved, the pulling is on the nose or behind the head.

  24. Alice G says:

    Nita, I have 2 Chihuahuas’ with trachea problems and I use these:
    http://www.gollygear.com/mesh.htm
    I tried other mesh harnesses and they did not fit my dogs properly. One is 4 1/2 pounds, one is 7 pounds. These were adjustable enough they fit and the dogs like them.
    Hope this helps. Alice G

    [Reply]

    Nita Reply:

    I actually just gave away one of the mesh harness, as it came almost up to the neck, causing the same problem. Thank you for the suggestion.

    [Reply]

  25. E hEARD says:

    I never seen a prone collar , I only use a chain choke collar when walking my Bull Mastiff , She is too strong for me to control when walking , when she see a squirrel .I am only 5ft female person.

    [Reply]

    Katherine Reply:

    Try a gentle leader! There is this little lady (I’m not joking, she’s like 3 -3 1/2 feet tall) and she has 2 English Mastiffs. SHe uses the gentle leader and they never pull on her. It works amazing!

    [Reply]

  26. SFS says:

    I found this post very helpful. I have struggled with the concept of prong colllars and electronic collars. My dog was trained by the Monks of New Skete using an electronic collar. Stupid me did not do adequate due diligence prior to the training program. They swear by the efficacy of the electronic collar, I was dubious although my dog certainly performed well during the exit demonstration. However, I did not have the heart to continue using it – despite all the assurances that it was just a tap not a shock. Then went to another training / obedience program (I have a terrier terror!) and felt like a pariah because I did not want to use a prong collar. I finally relented – the transformation was amazing (no pulling) but again, I did not have the heart/will to continue using it. I struggle with being very busy and lacking in persistence/consistency but don’t want short cuts to which I am philosophically opposed.
    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. They confirm what I have intuitively felt and I need to work harder and more consistently.

    [Reply]

  27. Sara Bilsten says:

    I have a new Rottie. He’s 2 years, and was raised in a backyard. He had no leash training until I adopted him. We use the Gentle Leader with great success when walking, but I am constantly correcting him to maintain a heel position. Constantly. What training techniques can be used to teach him to stay slightly behind me?

    [Reply]

  28. Joanne says:

    I’m sorry to say I use the prong collar on my small GSD. She is very reactive to bicyclists and runners. Actually, it doesn’t work. I tried the Gentle Leader and it didn’t work with her either. At first it did, but she is so intense (stares) and turning her head didn’t work after a while. Other than counter-conditioning, I do not know what to do. I even tried an aerosol can that blasts air. It startled her at first, and than it didn’t work either. Other than a blindfold.

    I have only had her for two years and she is a 12 year old dog. (Don’t know her history.) She is a sweet girl, other than this issue. Isn’t fun to walk her. ( Do you know how many bicyclists and runners out there? )

    [Reply]

    Katherine Reply:

    Is the dog food motivated? How is she with her basic obedience? She should definitely know “watch me” and “leave it.” Try taking her to low activity places since she has issues with that type of stimulus. She is older and has habits that are ridiculously hard to break. I’d recommend teaching her to focus on you when the distractions are further away, then bring her closer and closer as she successfully can handle it. Keep and eye out and anticipate the distractions coming. Always reward good reactions. I have a dog that was attacked by a couple of other dogs and for a while he was SUPER reactive when other dogs got close, so what we did was I taught him “touch.” And anytime he started staring at another dog I would walk backwards a few feet, get him to watch me, then we’d play the touch game until the other dog passed. I distracted him in a good way so he would succeed. It took a lot of time and effort but he’s 100% again. But don’t be afraid to walk her away from the distraction. If she wont be willing to look at you and break her stare, then she shouldn’t be allowed close. Take a special, SPECIAL treat when you go out with her. Something she adores. Toys work too if she has a beloved toy. Just don’t give up on her. Changing a dogs behaviour takes a lot of time and energy, but its worth it.

    [Reply]

  29. Joanne says:

    We have a young Border Collie. She is well-behaved generally, but would pull so hard when on the leash that she pulled me over. A friend suggested the “easy leader” collar, and eureka, she walks nicely (and happily, her tail wagging high)now. It is great!

    [Reply]

  30. Kimi says:

    Thank you for the really informative article. We purchased a 2 1/2 month old male bullmastiff who is now one year and two months. Needless to say he is now a large dog weighing over 100 pounds. We have used several collars but never the prong collar. He pulls for the most part but prone to dash suddenly practically jerking our shoulder from the socket! We are looking into a trainer (had previous training and he is good with commands when he wants to be…smiles) and they have suggested using the electic collar and or prong collar. Both we were hestiant to use on our puppy. After reading your article we are wondering what is the best course of action for us to take. Also, we have over used the treats and know now we need to reconsider when to use treats and under what conditions. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!!!!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You need to teach him to give you focus and eye contact this will keep him from spotting something and dashing away!

    I would also try to teach him some drive training and get him motivated for toys, this can be so much fun for dogs they stare at their owner in apprehension of the toy being dropped or flung and truly enjoy training.
    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/building-dogs-drive/
    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/training-dog-drive/

    [Reply]

  31. Jenn says:

    I currently have a 4 1/2 month old german shepherd, he sits, stays, comes, drops, fetches and stays voluntarily with our invisable fence line (we will get that fence up one day). He walks very well on a plain ole leather buckle collar. He is never alone, comes to school drop offs to be socialized with all the kids, pee’s & poop’s on command, he heels round sits and waits for his food command, he is learning to think independantly and to ignore cats by training with our cat in the yard by listening to commands while the cat entices him to play. He is also well on the way to off leash training as well, about the only behaviour he needs to settle with is wanting to play with other dogs when he spots them but he is also improving leaps & bounds in this area as well. He is voice trained with signals as well, my last german shepherd was trained the same, he was an absolute pleasure, he never attacked other dogs and was all man, little dogs could eat him and he would never retaliate and if he had to defend himself from attacking large dogs he would stop on command, he sadly died at age 12 from prostate cancer. I have found the only tact in having a great dog is constant kind repetition, play & lots of loving attention, take them swimming, take them to work, take them shopping, set those boundaries and enforce them gently only then will you have a fantastic all round family member….I love my german shepherds

    [Reply]

  32. Claire says:

    I have 6 month old puppy. Whenever she’s on her leash she pulls ahead. I’m worried about her choking herself. Do you know of any ways to help her.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You have to TEACH her where to be while you walk. You can’t simply go out for a walk, you must teach her to stay in heel position. Use treats praise and toys and look up more articles on our blog in the search box!

    [Reply]

  33. Yvonne Eland says:

    I for one am a firm believer in positive reinforcement. I am a dog trainer and train therapy dogs. My Std Poodle was trained from a very young puppy without any leash or collar he loves his ball so ths was a big help as he would get the ball as a reward for staying close at heel, today he is a therapy dog and well known in our town. I do get some dogs that are pullers but I put the blame on he owners as they allow the dogs to do it during the week and expect the perfect dog at training and it just does not work this way.I condemn prong collars.
    Regards Yvonne

    [Reply]

  34. Ziggy says:

    We have a 3 year old Lab at home she is the sweetest dog you could have.Walking her is a problem since she likes to pull and jump on people to lick there hands, she is Too friendly.When using the “Gentle Leader” we can walk with her very easy. The “Halty” does Not work since you can not adjust the Nose Strap.
    I like to wean her Off the leader but she has a SMALL HEAD and can slip out of her regular flat collar very easy.
    I can not find a Leash with 2 clips , one to attach to her regular collar and one to the Gentle Leader.
    I like to train her to walk with us using the regular collar only.
    Please help

    [Reply]

    Katherine Reply:

    I used a gentle leader on all my dogs and it takes some weaning, but it works. Get a martingale collar for walking and she can’t slip out. Make sure it doesn’t actually squeeze smaller than where her body is- you don’t need to choke her with nylon, but make it just tight enough that it’ll fit on her so she can’t slip out. One thing too you can do with a regular collar is you can use your body to block her. Obviously kicking her or anything like that isn’t appropriate, but you can always scoop her back with your leg. And it takes some practice to know how to do it so it works and doesn’t make you just feel stupid. I did it with my dogs with teaching them heel. I swear there was one day I was walking my pup and I was a star on an exercise video with how much I cut her off and scooped her back with my leg. I didn’t hurt her or even touch her with my leg for that matter, but she learned to pay closer attention to me. And it’s not like I use it all the time either, it’s just a helpful tool.

    [Reply]

  35. Katherine says:

    I am a PR trainer and hate the chain and prong collars. I have had some students use the chain collar only to keep ID tags on, because the dog or another dog keeps chewing on the regular collar, but they use a regular nylon collar for walks and being out in public. ANYWAYS I highly believe that people who use the chain and prong collars are uneducated and/or lazy people. Training dogs in general isn’t something that can be done in 2 minutes. Yes, you can teach them how to do something, but you can’t just stop after that and expect the dog to perform 100% thereafter. People are lazy and impatient and aren’t willing to put for the time and effort in to training their dogs appropriately. I can’t tell you how many times in my classes I have a student complain “this isn’t working” and I work with their dog and it’s like magic. It takes patience and consistency, but it works. I had a 1 year old goldendoodle heel with me for about 100 yards back to her owner perfectly. It took 15 minutes, but once she understood I had all day and I can stand there all day she was willing. I have 3 dogs and it’s definitely HARD but patience and consistency is sooooo mportant. Of course the dog is going to do what they want because they can get away with it. If people would not give in to their dogs they’d learn more impulse control and would learn to be patient themselves. Like I say waaaay too much: It’s like the crying kid in the grocery store- you don’t give them what they want no matter how loud or long they cry. You wait until the respond in an acceptable manner. I mean, who doesn’t want to go out and walk their dog and let them enjoy nature? But the dogs need to be polite to have that priviledge. If they can’t be respectful with freedom, don’t trust them until they’ve earned it. Positive does not mean permissive. =)

    [Reply]

  36. Kelli says:

    I HATE choke chain or check chain collars. My step-daughter had a American pit bull and the dog hung herself. The collar got hung on something and no one was aroung to help the dog. I also had a problem with the choke collar. I have a rescue dog and she was at her grandparents and laid on the deck, when she went to get up the loop on the collar had gone between the cracks on the deck and turned. So every time she tried to pull away it was choking her, Thank goodness that Papaw saw her, he had to get bolt cutters to cut the thing off of her. ot to mention that my kids were freaking out seeing their dog like that.

    [Reply]

    Cate Reply:

    -.- That’s why they’re called training collars, not wear-all-the-time collars. It wasn’t the collar that killed the dog, it was the owner’s stupidity. As usual.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    “training collars” kill dogs all too often, it dogs were kids theyd b recalled and illegal

    [Reply]

  37. Laurie says:

    Me again. For another idea to get your dog to walk nicely beside you or at least not pull try the techniques alot of trainers are using. While you walk but before your dog reaches the end of the leash stop, just at the point where you think he will pull. Don’t move until your dog either comes back or makes eye contact with you so you can give him a command. This does take consistency and time. My dog loves everything and wants to smell, see, touch everthing, so he constantly gets distracted. You may only get a few steps before you are stopping, and you will stop alot. Don’t say anything to your dog, just quietly stand there and wait, could be a long wait, but over time your dog will know “Oops I went too far and will stop too” Dogs love to walk forward and when you stop your dog will learn that he will get nowhere until he stops moving ahead of you. Try looking it up online and watching some of the videos, they certainly will explain it better than I can. Now when my dog gets distracted and I stop he automatically comes back to my side.And I’m stopping less and less all the time.

    [Reply]

  38. Mardi says:

    I have a jackwiphuahua that weighs 15 pounds, and I have neck herniation. My arms and shoulders cannot withstand the pulling long. The pinch collar is my only way. She is so good on it, I rarely ever have to put pressure. I would love to use other methods but like instant satisfaction in walking with her. She is happy all the time. Thanks.

    [Reply]

  39. Ada Serrano says:

    First time I read about these collars. It’s really cruelty. Many people are lazy people they think they animals only need food, never play with them and show and spend time with them. They born to be free as people.

    [Reply]

  40. Mike says:

    A lot of the opinions here (while I respect them) scream “I am uneducated”. It seems unfair to state that anyone who uses training tools is lazy. I teach obedience and spend an hour a day walking my dogs, and fourteen hours a week training them. I have a great understanding of learning theory, and can read body language very well. My dogs heel naked, and are not stressed at all during training sessions. My issue with training tools is they too often fall into uneducated hands. I would love to see a +R “only” dog perform under intense distractions the way I have seen those trained properly with training tools work. Obedience competition dogs are all trained with compulsion. Positive reinforcement plays a huge role in any training, yet the reason my dogs love there training collars is because I take time to do proper positive imprinting with them. As oppose to your average owner just slapping it on their dogs, and use it as a crutch, they are to be used with proper training, and a combination of all quadrants of operant conditioning. That being said, 95% of people using training tools are clueless, and as such I will agree that is a bad thing. Saying they are abusive is the equivalent of saying a hammer is abusive because it can be used to beat someone. In reality, the tool is misused, yet not abusive itself. The abuse stems from the one yielding it. Those of you who say you do not use aversive techniques probably have no clue what they are. Ever clip a dog to a leash? That’s negative punishment (an aversive).

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Although I too agree with some of the things that you have said and agree that not everyone that uses them uses them in an abusive manner.

    It is also uneducated to say that obedience competition dogs are all trained with compulsion. That is simply not the case.

    Nor is a leash a negative punishment on all dogs, some dogs simply could care less.

    A training collar sitting on the counter or at the store is not abusive (like the hammer), but a hammer being used on a dog or a human to get them to do something (like is the intent of a training collar) probably would be; this is a silly analogy.

    I too know the difference in positive reinforcement, positive punishment, negative reinforcement and negative punishment but most people do not care to learn the intricacies.

    Google Karen Pryor she is the Queen of not using compulsion and focusing on the power of operant conditioning and the power of positive reinforcement. She does not encourage wild and unruly behavior, she just knows how to sculpt it without the training collars and other tools.

    [Reply]

  41. Max says:

    We have a cockapoo, he loves to chase the ball, but very aggresively, but he has been diagnosed with “pinched nerve” in his back, the vet said NO MORE BALL, but he is heart broken and looks earnestly for the ball all day long when he needs to rest. How can we gently take the ball playing away from him ? without breaking his sprit ?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You will have to find something else that he likes, riding in the car, going for a walk or something to break up his schedule and do something other than a game that will hurt him!

    [Reply]

  42. Crystal says:

    I love your training techniques! You and I are on the same page. I got one for you though. I recently got into a new relationship and my boyfriends dog is a great dog but he has been trained with a shock collar all of his life. He responds really well to it. Its in no way a scary thing for him. He actually likes it. Looks forward to getting to put it on because he knows it means outside or hunting or going to ride in the truck. However…….! I dont like the fact that I know have a “remote controlled dog!” I want to wean him off. He relies on it too much. Butch wont even acknowledge you if its not on. He puts his nose to the ground and he is off. Nothing seems to stop him. Treats are not important. getting to play with a toy doesnt mean anything. Please help me figure out the best way to get rid of the shock collar.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    In order to work with him you have to find his motivator!! Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/finding-dogs-motivator/

    at some point all dogs are motivated by food!

    Find what he wants and make him work for it!

    [Reply]

  43. kaptenron says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now and enjoy it immensely. I’ve gotten so much valuable information from them. I inherited an animal aggressive German Shepherd and have been trying to find ways of dealing with this and eventually integrating him into my pack of three Border Collies. It is a labor intensive endeavor.

    I hope you don’t take offense at my being a “Grammar Nazi”, but the term “use to” is properly “used to” to indicate actions or items which have become commonplace. The things we’ve become used to.

    [Reply]

  44. Ylinn says:

    I noticed that the prong collars on the above pictures are very wrongly fitted. They are way too low on those dogs’ necks.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    The point was how not to use them 😉

    [Reply]

  45. Carole Cole says:

    I had a lab mix many years ago who came from the local pound where they gave us a choke collar as we left. If my dog had not been already well trained I could have been unknowingly guilty of doing the wrong thing. However, she was already trained – we got lucky with that one. She never pulled on the leash, loved to walk along beside me (we had special places where she could be off leash and play in the woods along the trail). Her collar was very loose and we thought it was just a handy place to hang her license and hook up a leash. It was often off at home and so easy to put back on to get out of the house. After she died, I acquired a Border Collie who would pull relentlessly and I had learned about the choke chain being wrong, so I started with a Gentle Leader, because this dog was a puller. She pulled with the Gentle Leader. It did nothing for her and I gave it away. I had to give the dog up when I fell ill and had no one to care for her, but I was seriously concerned that she would damage herself if someone couldn’t break that tendency to pull. I put this in the notes for the next owner and the Humane Society found her a home in 6 days. Now that I’m well I’ve cut back to a 15lb, long legged Chi mix and I feel confident that I can train him with just a cute little harness and a 6ft leash. All I need is more patience and time….which is harder than it sounds…

    [Reply]

  46. Diane says:

    I have read quite a few of your articles and loved each and every one of them! I have a strong, large, Airedale Terrier and used a prong collar for walks. I felt I had no choice, as I broke my back a few years ago and simply cannot afford to hit the ground when her terrier prey drive ramps up. Head halters do not work with her, she shuts down completely. Front clip harnesses result in her grabbing the leash to play (Oh this is in my way? No problem GRR lol) I’ve used the martingale collar to some success, but not the choke chain – as I learned the hard way it does NOTHING but hurt and pinch her. At this point, we use a regular buckle collar and work in the yard. When she is tired, we walk and there is far less pulling. It’s a work in progress, takes a lot of patience and daily training (plus lots of treats lol) but it’s worth it! For those with dogs who don’t seem to take to clicker training – I can suggest a sharp whistle (think dog whistle on you can hear it). This works for me for recall. It’s sharp and can get their attention at a distance. You have a fan now – and I’ll be reading all your articles!

    [Reply]

  47. Danielle says:

    Would it be possible for you to post a blog on how to wean your dog off of training collars in other situations, besides just when walking? For example, the necessity of leash pressure to sit or lie down. Especially with a dog who is not food or toy motivated, therefore luring doesn’t work.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    All dogs are food motivated. Actually any living thing that requires food is food motivated. Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/treats-working-dog-whale-tv/

    [Reply]

  48. Patman says:

    Indeed choke chains, check chains or whatever you want to call them will cause harm to your dog. Ive had my APBT since 6 week . She is now 7months and I don’t hook the leash where it will choke he . After her hurting her throat where she stopped and coughed every few steps I started hooking it in both loops.
    That being said I’m training her on hand movements and one word commands.

    [Reply]

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