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Would You Choke Your Best Friend?

Written by PETA | May 3, 2011

In honor of “Be Kind to Animals” Week, each day we are featuring an easy way for anyone to be kind to animals. And it wouldn’t be complete without a day devoted to “man’s best friend.” (Don’t worry, cat people—your day is coming.)

There are few things dogs love more than going for walks, but if you’re using a prong or choke collar, you are turning something fun into something that could do a lot more harm than good to your dog. In addition to being painful and cruel, such collars are extremely dangerous and can cause asphyxiation, a crushed trachea, a bruised esophagus, crushed or fractured bones, fainting, bruising and damage to the skin and tissues of the neck, including discs, and other painful injuries. Dogs who are yanked and choked can also become frustrated, fearful, and aggressive. By contrast, adjustable harnesses, including the no-pull kind, help keep dogs safe on walks without hurting them.

And let’s not forget the choke chain’s wicked stepsister: the shock collar. These cruel collars can cause physical and psychological injuries, including burns, cardiac fibrillation, anxiety, and aggression.

If you see someone using a choke or shock collar on their dog, warn them about the dangers and urge them to switch to humane control and training methods that use positive reinforcement, not pain. 

Written by Michelle Sherrow

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  • Get over yourself says:

    Choke chains and prong collars are training tools. They are not meant to be used forever but for training. My stepdad had a Brittany who was absolutely awful on a leash because he did not invest enough time in the dog as a pup. I was taking a set in his ways 4 year old and trying to train him to walk on a lead properly. Keep in mind that this little dog would crouch low to the ground and pull hard enough that he dragged my not small stepfather behind him. I am not a big person. I am 4’11 and am female. I knew that I was the only one with the dedication to train this dog properly. I went out and bought a prong collar and it worked wonders! Prong collars can indeed be horrible in the wrong hands, but if one knows how to use them, you are not hurting the dog. A quick jerk to the side, not back, is how to properly use a prong collar. If you are unbalancing the dog, you are pulling too hard. You should only be jerking hard enough for the dog to hesitate. After about 2 weeks, I had the Brittany perfectly trained to walk on the lead and then graduated him to a nice, black, nylon collar to complement his coat with custom tags. Not that he cared about any of that, of course! I have a Smooth Collie who is an absolute gentleman on the lead! I have had him from 8 weeks old and had him trained to heel from the start. However, pups go through a rebellious stage, especially intact males, so my Smoothie was temporarily on the prong collar to remind him that he does still have manners! Once through his rebellious stage, the prong collar was put back into storage and has not been needed since. I keep it on hand for future youngsters who may need a reminder that pulling is bad. For my dogs I don’t use harnesses as they allow the dog to throw their entire weight into the harness. I will never recommend a harness to anyone. I use Mendota british style slip leads. They are wonderful and the dogs LOVE them. Say “you wanna go?” and they come running out with their leads in their mouths!

  • Sacy says:

    @Dasha Even though they are big dogs you should still be able to control them with a harness or something similar to it, and if you cant control your dogs dont blame their behivor, its YOUR fault. You are the one that ownes the dog right? Then you should be able to handle it without hurting it. Also, just b/c you work at an animal shelter does not mean you know how the dogs feel to get tugged and pulled.

  • Megan says:

    im going to start carrying a harness in my purse with a note of the dangers of choke chains and i will give it to anyone i see with a choke chain 🙂 whos with me?

  • Chris says:

    My shih-tzu is not the best trained fur baby ever & was always pulling on the leash choking him self (he just can not miss going tinkle on ever bush, wild onions, etc.) so I got him one of the new mesh harness. He loves it! Plus it looks so cute on him since it is pink and he is chocolate and white. But I wonder if I should keep a collar on him so he can have his tags on at all times?

  • florafauna77 says:

    Perhaps if one was to properly train a pitbull or rot or any other bigger dog from when they’re a puppy on how to walk correctly on a leash, you wouldnt need a choke chain. Patience, not pain people. Dasha, honestly, how many people do you think “correctly” use a choke chain? It does cause pain.

  • Ashley says:

    Prong, choke, and shock collars are all bad! If you want a dog to walk well on a leash it’s called training and positive reinforcement to get the desired results. And dasha just because it is a collar used for ‘training’ doesn’t mean that’s what most people use them for. Other training techniques are much more effective than a prong collar…it’s wrong, you wouldn’t put a prong collar on your child so why is it acceptable for a dog? It’s NOT!

  • John says:

    Without a doubt, pitbulls and rotts need a choke chain when you are walking them. These dogs are easily powerful enough to rip a regular leash right out of your hands as soon as they see a poodle they want to get their powerful jaws around. A choke chain on a pit will save more disasters, then anything the chain would do to the dog itself.

  • dasha says:

    actually prong collars are used for training big dogs such as pit-bulls and rottweilers not to pull while on walks i work at an animals shelter and you have the completely wrong idea it doesn’t hurt the dog unless you pull back on it which can damage the sternum, and if that’s the case the dogs should be wearing a harness. if the dig pull its meant to give a poke and then learn from that. it doesn’t put the dog into any crippling about of pain of long term damage.