Just say “NO” to the Choker Chain
Positive training methods are kind and gentle, and are scientifically proven to be the most effective way to train your dog. Clicker training is the same method use by trainers at Sea World and to train dogs for the movies.
A study, Hiby.(2004) “Dog training methods; their use, effectiveness and interaction with behavior and welfare, Animal Welfare” dog owners “were asked to outline their training methods for seven common tasks, rate their dog’s obedience at each task, and indicate whether their dog had ever shown any of sixteen common problematic behaviors.” It was found that reward-based methods were more successful for training a large amount of tasks; and non punishment training was more effective than corrective training. Also, the dogs that were trained with only positive reward-based methods were reported as significantly more obedient than those trained by harsh or corrective methods. So, the positive training methods were victorious when it came to overall obedience.
According to the study, there was a direct correlation between punishment methods and problem behaviors, which included but was not limited to barking, fearfulness, aggression, separation anxiety, and inappropriate mounting.
An additional problem with using a choke chain was that the timing of the correction could be off. If trainers can mess up on timing, then most likely dog owners will too. If your timing is off with positive reinforcement training, your dog just gets a free treat. However, if you make a mistake with a correction (punishment), you don’t get a do over and your relationship with your dog suffers.
Choke chains can lead to leash aggression because when the dog is “Yanked and Cranked” in the presence of another dog or person your dog might make the association that other dogs and humans equal pain, so the best offense is a good defense and the dog may snap or worse bite.
Using a choke chain is an unpleasant lesson for the dog, and it does not teach the dog what you want them to do. Choke chains punish the undesirable behaviors, but don’t teach your dog the correct behavior. Sometimes a dog that has been corrected will just “shut down” and is afraid of making a mistake. It will in a sense break their spirit and destroy the human/canine relationship. Thus, the reason that when the choker chain comes off, the dog will no longer do what it is asked. The dog may be thinking, freedom at last.
Using positive training methods does not mean you have to be push over, which is a common misconception. Positive training should promote a strong relationship and have clear boundaries. Dogs respond to and appreciate rules and boundaries.
Positive training allows the dog to think and make a decision. If the dog makes the right decision he will get the reward and if it is the wrong decision; he will just not get anything. You ask the dog to stay and every few seconds he gets a piece of chicken, well that’s a pretty good deal. If the dog ate or does not like chicken find a different reward that makes it worth the dogs while to sit there. Think of it as if your employer asked you to sit in a chair and to stay there. As you stayed there he gave you a penny every few seconds, well you might stay for a little while, but that may not be a good enough reward. Maybe you have something better to do with your time. Well, what if your employer asked you to sit in a chair and stay there and then every few seconds gave you a ten dollar bill and told you what a good worker you were. I think that would be a better deal. Don’t you?
Try to view positive reinforcement training as a communication tool between you and your best friend (your dog), and choke chains as a device to administer punishment, which closes the door on the communication.
The animal welfare experts strongly encourage positive training methods to strengthen the dog human bond, which will decrease problematic behaviors. If the dog could talk, he would choose methods that nurture and reward good behaviors instead of “choke chains” that punish mistakes.
“Choke Chain” possible medical issues:
If spoiling your relationship with your dog and the research behind using positive training methods don’t convince you to use them, consider the following medical issues associated with the use of choke chains.
• Tracheal/esophageal damage (permanent and expensive to treat) and vertebral damage that may not be treatable.
• Broken blood vessels in the eyes
• Sprained necks
• Fainting from the loss of oxygen
• Transient foreleg paralysis
• Laryngeal nerve paralysis
• Hind leg ataxia
“Choker Chains” were designed to choke and cause pain! Hence the name.
Also, traditional (choke chain) training facilities will not let you bring a dog that is younger than 6 months because the younger the dog when the use of a choke chain is introduced, the more damage the dog might suffer over time. A dog trained with positive methods can start training right away as young puppy.
A long-term study in Germany followed 50 dogs that wore choke chains as their collars for their entire lives. The dogs were followed their entire life and an autopsy was performed with the owners’ permission after the dogs death. Forty-eight of the dogs had some form of injury to the neck, trachea, or back. Two were genetic, while forty-six of the fifty were caused by trauma due to the choke chains. These types of injuries are known to add physical stress and pain, and often shorten the lives of dogs. Not to mention the medical expenses…
Lastly, put yourself in your dog’s paws and think about wearing a choke chain on your own neck. Now hand the leash to someone that is not always paying attention, has had a bad day, had a fight with a loved one, does not speak your language, and does not understand your “normal” behaviors. Just as you move to get a drink of water, “snap” you get a correction for moving from the person’s side. Fine, you ask permission the next time, “Can I get a drink of water?” The person stares at you blankly because he does not speak your language, so you start to gesture, and he “yanks” on the leash again because he thinks you should not even move. Would you think this is the best way to train? What if we used this method for teaching children? If we would not use punishment to teach kids, train dolphins, or killer whales, WHY do we think it is acceptable to train our dogs with this method?
Just a little food for thought…
by Pamela Johnson, CPDT-KA, B.S, and M.A.