When I see a prong or choke collar on a dog, I have to take a deep breath. It’s especially hard because I think that most people who use them love their dogs and just aren’t aware of how much damage they’re potentially causing.
I don’t think it’s useful or even fair to blame people – most of them have been duped. They’ve been told that these collars don’t really hurt that much or inflict long-term damage, or that they need them for big dogs as it’s the only way to train them.
Although I shudder to think about it, my family dog, Sparky, was trained with a choke collar. It was the thing to do in the 80s.
My dad loved Sparky with all his heart and would never consciously have hurt him any more than he would consciously have hurt me. After Sparky was trained, he wore a flat collar for the rest of his life, but I can only imagine the pain he endured while he was trained, not to mention the potential damage that was caused.
The best of us have done things to harm our loved ones without meaning to. There’s no blame or shame in that – we didn’t know and now that we do, we can educate ourselves and treat our four-legged family members with the kindness and love that they give us so freely.
The question is never whether or not pain works (it does), but rather whether or not it’s necessary or humane (it isn’t). If you meet a trainer who says you need a choke or prong collar to effectively train your unruly pooch, I encourage you to run. Fast. The trainer likely means well and may have been given incorrect information themselves, but that doesn’t mean you should stop sprinting in the other direction.
For more about these collars and their effect on your furry family member, check out this article by BC veterinarian, Dr. Perter Dobias.
** If you know of anyone in Toronto who uses a choke or prong collar, I’m happy to offer a free Reiki session for their dog in exchange for it. No judgment, just love. Pass it on!