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Hey, Stop Choking That Dog!

Written by Michelle Kretzer | August 25, 2012

If we saw someone choking, shocking, or dragging a dog, we would intervene, right? But chances are, we have—and we didn’t.

It can be intimidating to tell another dog guardian that he or she is being cruel, but people who rely on choke, prong, or shock collars to control their dogs need to know about the harm that they’re inflicting. Dogs who are made to wear these collars experience a fear of pain that often results in psychological stress, anxiety, and displaced aggression. And the potential physical injuries are just as serious.

Choke and prong collars can cause dogs to suffer from spinal cord injuries, including intervertebral disc protrusion or paralysis as well as nerve damage, a crushed trachea or larynx, and bruising and damage to the esophagus and the skin and tissue in the neck.

Depending on the size of the dog, how hard the dog pulls, and how forcefully the person holding the leash yanks, prong collars can cause serious injuries.

Shock collars can cause burns, cardiac fibrillation, and changes in heart and respiratory rates, as well as behavior problems.

“Gentle Leader” or “Halti” head halters aren’t ideal, either, because they wrap around the dog’s muzzle, which most dogs find uncomfortable—it reminds them of the feeling that they get when another dog bites down on their muzzle in a warning gesture. And when the dog tries to pull, the halter pulls the dog’s head downward and to the side, which could potentially cause a neck injury if the dog is pulling hard or moving quickly. A better “no-pull” alternative is the Sense-ation harness, which has a ring located at the dog’s chest, not the neck, for attaching the leash, allowing you to redirect your dog back toward you when he or she pulls or lunges without causing pain.

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We each have a responsibility to explain as diplomatically as possible to dog owners that positive, reward-based training methods are kinder and more effective than painful choke or shock collars and that having dogs wear harnesses while out walking is much easier on their necks than using any kind of collar.

Dogs are safest and most comfortable wearing a nylon harness when outside.

We can use ourselves and our dogs as examples. I show people my dog’s harness and I explain to them that I trained my dog by giving her praise and treats when she walked calmly on the leash and withheld them when she did the opposite, and she soon figured out that good behavior has its rewards. I also planted my feet and refused to move forward as long as she was pulling, and that sent a very clear message that she understood in record time. Now when I walk her, she does really well, and I’m so proud of her.

No dog deserves to be choked, shocked, and dragged. Let’s make sure dogs are treated better than that.

Commenting is closed.
  • Jane says:

    OK, I’m a little late in reading these threads, but here is my experience. I adopted a German shepherd a f months ago who is now 8, and had been brought up in her earlier life as a guard dog. It was clear from day one that she was never socialized with other dogs and didn’t know that outside could be fun, not just somewhere to do her business. I tried EVERYTHING to try to walk with her, but we would always have to turn back a few house down because she became rambunctious and pulled. I could hardly keep hold of the 80 lb dog who is so protective of me that any deemed threat would have me using all of my force to hold on, and I was scared I wouldn’t be able to take her on walks (luckily there’s a big fenced in yard). After trying treats for good behaviour, a halti, a front attach harness, and then a choke, a friend of mine suggested the pinch collar. I thought I would give it a try as nothing else worked, and it worked like a charm. All it takes is a gentle tug to set her back on track when she sees another dog or squirrel while we’re out. The discomfort of a slight pinch of the skin far outweighs not being able to walk my dog. As soon as she figures it’s walk time, her excitement is like that of a little pup, and when she sees the pinch collar come out she politely sits, waiting for it. She doesn’t need much correcting anymore, but I’m glad to have it there as an easy way to control my dog. She met a friendly Rottweiler who wanted to play with her and approached her excitedly, for example, but she perceived it as a threat and a quick correction prevented what could have been a horrible fight. Now she walks happily on her leash- not one point have I seen her express any pain, and we’re both better for it as we can enjoy long walks together now.

  • Audrey says:

    I would like to improve this leash to be comfortable for them and. owners need respect their pets and make sure they are good and happy and not neglect them make sure collar fits and in nice way. Learn to love them animals. so do it in proper way and care and keep them healthy.

  • rhobere says:

    two great danes here. they both weigh more than me. Not once have I had to use anything, but a regular collar or harness to keep them under control. Firm leadership is far more powerful than any choke chain or shock collar. I leash trained them when they were puppies and now I can walk without a leash at all and they don’t act up or get more than 5 feet ahead of me. This has been the case with every dog my family has ever had.

  • Mara says:

    Okay, in all fairness, and common curtesy, I am just displaying my opinion. Please no hate, but you are welcome to respond in a polite manner. So I disagree with all of this. Does this make me an animal abuser? No. I have two dogs, a mix of Border Collies and German Shepherds, and they are currently 8 years old. I walk them frequently, and I use choke chains on them because sometimes they do get a little excited on the walk, and I do tug on them (gently but firmly) and they react. They have not been injured by the chains, the chains were even Vet recommended. I prefer a dog to be on these chains, so the owner has better control, than an excited unfamiliar dog breaks from the owner’s clutches and rushes at me and my dogs on a walk. (It has happened, and because my dogs are a mix of border collies, they get nervous, and when an incident like that occurs; it doesn’t end up to well). And when the dogs hear me play with the chains by the door, they get excited and happy, knowing they are going for a walk, so it’s not like they are afraid of them to a point of psychological torment. So I am sticking with these choke chains. They have not failed me yet. I really do hope people aren’t this ignorant to this kind of information. But of course, if used wrong, and by uninformed people, maybe they can hurt the dog. Maybe. But I highly doubt it as these kinds of tools and equipment are sold world wide and are at a high demand.

  • Sharon Wilson says:

    I don’t know how dog lovers can use shock collars on their animals. How would the owner like to have one on them!!!! Reverse the roles and see how they enjoy it.

  • cj says:

    So many misinformed people.. I think there are different dog training tools out there for all sorts of different behavioral issues with dogs.. tools like the e collar are to he used by someone who knows how to use them. Leash corrections are fine, treat rewards are fine. But I can tell you you cannot love your dog out of havi.g behavoiral issues. In fact when we spoil our dogs and give nothing but affection with no boundries or disapline,, well that’s when pur dogs develope bad behaviors.. I rehab, rescue, foster, and train dogs. But I give all my dogs the ultimate respect and that is to treat them like dogs, that’s what they are, know one should take that from them.. if they do, its for there own needs and not the dogs.. dogs are my best companions and that’s because of there true nature, being a dog..

  • Jan says:

    I see police dogs with choke chains on when they aren’t working! I don’t understand this. This dog is your partner…why would you do this to him/her?

  • Anna Muscio says:

    I don’t have big dogs I have a shih tzu and yorkie, but my shih tzu, Andy pulls…and abelieve it or not a small dog can be very strong. When he pulls all I do is bring him closer to me and keep his lease short where he can not go anywhere except by my side. When he relaxes and I know he isn’t pulling I give him alittle slack and we continue our walk. You can control any animal you are walking as long as you use kindness with firmness not abuse.

  • PETA says:

    Hi, Jim, The “Gentle Leader” isn’t ideal because they wrap around the dog’s muzzle, which most dogs find uncomfortable—it reminds them of the feeling that they get when another dog bites down on their muzzle in a warning gesture. And when the dog tries to pull, the halter pulls the dog’s head downward and to the side, which could potentially cause a neck injury if the dog is pulling hard or moving quickly.

  • Lisa says:

    If i saw someone walking thier dog and it was choking and distressed of course i would do something about it did excatley that a couple weeks ago a young lad with a powerful big status dog with a choke chain the dog could hardly breath i was with my daughter in town at the time other shoppers noticed aswell but did nothing, there was a football match going on that day so police about spoke to them about my concerns 3 policemen went over to him, dog owners who have powerful animals use these stupid big collars to make them look good with no thought to the animal

  • Brittany says:

    These types of things are only supposed to be used by people who use them correctly. They are meant to teach a dog to walk correctly on a leash, and only supposed to be in use for training.

  • Big Jim says:

    What do you think of the gentle leader product?

  • Britta says:

    It is nice to see that Gentle Leaders and prong collars are being recognized for the pain, suffering and discomfort they cause dogs. I have always felt intuitively that these types of collars and halters are uncomfortable, but I am glad others, like you, are recognizing that people should keep their dog’s feelings in mind when choosing equipment.

  • paula says:

    those collars need to be banned. how on earth can a dog parent think this is a good idea.

  • caron kruger says:

    humans are so inhuman,it gaults me that in these “modern” times we are so and still so backward when it comes to animals all G-d’s is so apauling

  • Adair Leonard says:

    It really upsets me to see a dog wearing a prong collar or choke collar. Why would anyone who really loves their dog do this to their dog!