What About Prong And Chain Collars? – Phoenix Scottsdale AZ Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist
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Some things in dog training don’t make sense to a novice. There are a lot of things like that in life.
And here is the real life irony of all of this: I was being interviewed by a potential customer the other day about training their two little one-year-old bratty, out of control, aggressive, dominant, barking, peeing miniature dogs. First, they told me how they spank their dogs for a variety of things, and then they were concerned that I might use a prong collar when training dogs! Here they are, novices who know nothing about dog training, HITTING THEIR DOGS, and they are wondering if Sam The Dog Trainer, a professional, is going to be the one hurting their dogs! What if I went around and said I had a new method of training dogs that involved slapping little fuzzy dogs around, do you think anyone would hire me? Yet, they are doing this very thing, and not thinking anything about it, yet they are worried I’m going to hurt their dogs using a correction collar. Whose advice should I follow, the novices who slap their dogs around, or the master trainers that I learned my craft from?
It Is Like Childbirth
What if I told you that it is sometimes safer to take a knife and cut open a woman’s stomach than for her to have a child naturally? But, that is what a cesarean section is all about, right? For a guy, that kind of thing seems completely outrageous. We think to ourselves: “Man, I wouldn’t cut myself open for any reason, and I sure don’t want someone cutting my wife open. Can’t she just have the baby like my grandmother did 100 years ago?” But the truth is that for some women, a vaginal delivery could put the mother’s or baby’s life at risk, and the surgery is the safest option. So, being a novice makes you cringe at the thought of a woman being surgically opened up to deliver a baby. But, to a doctor, it makes them cringe if they know a baby is dying during delivery, and is clearly in distress, and some novice is telling them that they should make the mother have the baby naturally anyway.
Who Is The Master And Who Is The Student?
I have always loved martial arts movies. It is also one reason why I have always like Star Wars. Yoda was the Master and Luke was the student. Then there was that old TV series, Kung Fu, with David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine. Sigh. I miss those shows. Remember all the flashbacks, when Caine would question his masters and he found that what he thought to be true wasn’t?
Caine asked, “Master, do we seek victory in contention?” His Master Kwan responded, “Seek rather not to contend.” Then Caine questioned the logic of his Master, “But shall we not then be defeated?” But his Master knew better and said, “We know that where there is no contention, there is neither defeat nor victory. The supple willow does not contend against the storm, yet it survives.”
I love that stuff.
You have to make a decision. If you believe I know what I’m doing, then you are going to have to trust me that I won’t harm your dog, and I’m going to use safe and humane methods to train your dog. You have already received a few references from me, or you have been referred to me by someone you trust who can vouch for the fact that I trained their dogs safely and humanely. You are the novice, not me. I am the one with years and years of experience training all types of dogs, even little cute, fuzzy, cuddly dogs like yours. You are the one hiring me because you don’t know what to do to train your dog properly, not the other way around.
Let’s Set The Record Straight
There are a number of popular myths, from people who don’t know the first thing concerning training a dog, about metal collars, such as prong and chain collars. Let’s just get into a bit of that right now.
1. Prong and/or Chain Collars make dogs aggressive. Wrong. False. Doesn’t happen. I have trained innumerable dogs, from sensitive little dogs to big and tough dogs with metal collars. My job is oftentimes to make dogs NOT be aggressive, to not bite, and to be safe to own. I have never made a dog more aggressive using a metal collar. Never. It is all in how you use the tool. Now, anything can be abused by some nutcase. You can drink too much water and kill yourself. You can stay in the sun too long, overheat and die. You can have too many children at once and die on the operating table. You can become a religious nut and take something good and make it into something bad. And you can use any collar and use it to abuse a dog. Now, I have a couple of articles here at this web page telling you how much I abhor people who abuse dogs. I have worked with abused dogs, and volunteered many, many hours rescuing dogs. So, I can speak with some authority on what it means to abuse a dog. A properly fitted and managed metal collar is not abusive to a dog. On the other hand, you can inflict pain with a metal collar, and cause a dog to have to defend itself. In the same way, you can use your hands to help guide a dog into a Sit position. You can also use your hands to slap a dog around and cause it to bite you. The problem isn’t with using your hands when training a dog. It is in abusing a dog, and inflicting pain, regardless of the method. The infliction of pain can cause a dog to bite. I frequently caution new students to be gentler with their dogs, focusing on proper technique.
2. Treats And Clickers Are Sufficient To Train A Dog, You Don’t Need A Correction Collar. Wrong. False. I love it when you hear this garbage coming from someone who has never trained a number of dogs to a high level of obedience. Funny, the ones who say this never have any credentials and never have a dog by their side to prove that they can do what they are claiming. You can only take the training so far when you use ‘purely positive‘ dog training methods (such as clicker training). Top professionals, and those that compete at the highest levels, use corrections in their training. Further, the only way to get a dog to very high levels of obedience without corrections is to get a dog that has very high levels of prey and food drive, and a natural desire to work for the handler. Very few dogs meet that kind of criteria. That isn’t what most dog breeds are like. Read the breed descriptions of Chow Chows for example. They are said to have an ‘independent spirit’ and are ‘aloof’. A Chow will not readily obey its master, and you are going to have quite a bit of resistance from the dog in the training process. Yes, they are intelligent, but intelligence doesn’t equal obedience. And aloof breeds like Chows aren’t going to want to be friendly with all strangers, regardless if the strangers have good intentions and feed the dog treats. You have to show them leadership and work through their resistance to complying with your commands, and then you’ll see they can obey advanced commands. Otherwise, forget it. They aren’t going to obey for treats alone. So, we either let these types of breeds go extinct because we decide we can’t train them, or we train them properly and obtain obedience.
3. Prong And Chain Collars Hurt. Wrong. False. If you are purposely using such a collar to inflict pain, then you are using them wrong! Now, that doesn’t mean that they can’t cause a dog pain, if the dog, for example, lunges on the leash, or if you accidentally pull the leash too sharply. But, the idea is to not reach a threshold of pain when using the collar in the training, and to know what the heck you are doing. Further, causing pain would be counterproductive. A dog can’t think clearly when in pain, just like we can’t think clearly when we are in pain. On the other hand, we can think clearly when we are in some psychological discomfort, and we can learn how to avoid that discomfort in the future, and we can use that pressure to spur us on to higher heights. Tell me, do you think that a professional basketball player, shooting the ball at the last second of the game, is just being motivated by the positives of the game? Or is there something more? Doesn’t the pressure of the situation, properly channeled, cause that player to pull out an almost superhuman effort to win? And isn’t the same true when you have to pay bills when you are fighting with creditors, or when running a business, or performing music in front of a large crowd? Not all pressure is a bad thing, so long as you are taught how to use it. And there IS a way to use psychological pressure in dog training to get a good result; something the dog can handle and can use. Do you not think, for example, there is a lot of pressure sometimes on a working dog (search and rescue, police, guide dog, guard dog, etc.)? Of course there is, and a good trainer knows how to teach their students how to deal with pressure so they can succeed in the real world. A professional dog trainer can show you the proper technique in using a correction collar and verbal corrections. A novice, do-gooder can’t show you anything, except a lot of theory without any proof. In fact, a plain buckle collar is more punishing to your dog’s neck than a metal collar. And those head halter types of collars are dangerous to larger dogs that would suddenly lunge, because you can injure their necks. It seems counter intuitive, until it is demonstrated to you by someone who knows the proper techniques.
Ask For Proof Next Time. If it was so easy to get a dog to high levels of obedience without corrections, we’d see more breeds and more dogs at the top levels of obedience, in public, and in professional capacities, but we don’t. Sorry. It is a lie that any dog can be trained to do anything. Why, not all people can do anything and everything well. Try going to an obedience trial some time and talk to the people who are in the top levels. Try to see them train dogs and find out how they do what they do. You’ll see I am right. And in the real world, you can’t use wishful thinking to save your dog’s life in an emergency. Either your dog obeys, regardless of what is going on, or s/he doesn’t.
The Test. Try this sometime. Let this person giving you advice get their dog, and set up a situation where their dog goes into a full blast run after something (a car, rabbit, deer, tennis ball, or on an attack run at an intruder on their property) and when their dog is at full speed and at least 20 yards from them, have them command their dog to Down or to Come.
A properly trained, advanced dog will obey. They didn’t get that way without using corrections, usually using either a prong or chain collar, as part of their training. And if you look at the pictures of my dog, Dillon, on this web page, you’ll see a happy dog doing some pretty tough obedience. I didn’t spoil his spirit using corrections teaching him to obey. I have saved the lives of some of my dogs, and a number of my customer’s dogs, because they obeyed in life threatening situations.
A lot of this garbage is promoted by people who mean well, but really don’t know what they are saying. They will advocate a variety of devices to train a dog, yet, when push comes to shove, you’ll find that they WILL use corrections on a dog when they have to, they just won’t tell you they do that in their sales literature or books. Or they won’t ever let their dogs loose in a distracting environment. They use scary words like “violence free” training, and so on in their sales pitch, insinuating that other trainers use violence in their training. And why is that? Because it sells. Not because it is true. And I know personally, as a fact, that a number of these so-called “violence free” trainers use pretty rough methods on the dogs, they just are doing it in ways that don’t involve the use of collars… they have other ways of inflicting stress on the dogs, ways that I don’t use or advocate. I have never been violent with ANY customer’s dog. Never. Plenty of dogs, however, have been violent with me when we first started training. These dogs were dangerous for a variety of reasons, oftentimes because of owner mistakes. I didn’t use more violence to solve the violence. And plenty of little fuzzy dogs have been in my care, and not one has been treated violently by me.
If you want phony, feel good training, then this isn’t the place for you, and I’m not the trainer to hire. I don’t abuse dogs. And I don’t abuse owners by taking their money and promising things I can’t deliver, either.
Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.
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