We were delighted to hear that Petco, one of the nation’s largest pet supply stores, has stopped selling impact or “e” collars for dogs and is actively working to promote positive reinforcement training without. pain.
According to its website, “Studies have shown that dogs respond effectively to positive, voluntary, reward-based training, while shock collars increase levels of fear, anxiety and stress. Positive reinforcement is supported by experts and helps build healthy, happy and secure relationships with our pets.
There are a variety of collars, leashes, and training tools to choose from. How do you know which is best? The answer depends on your dog.
As well as avoiding shock collars, here are a few more that we don’t recommend for any dog:
• Retractable leashes. A retractable leash is a long, cable-like leash that is housed in a plastic casing and extends when pulled. Dogs have to pull on the leash to get to where they want to go. The dog learns: “If I shoot, I can go where I want. Not a great lesson. There are also serious security concerns. The cable can easily get tangled when a dog meets another, and even worse, it can cause burns if it wraps around your leg.
• Claw or pinch collars. These collars can cause pain and exacerbate behavioral problems such as fear and aggression. Dogs that are already responsive on a leash can become even more responsive due to the frustration of pain and can cause serious injury to your dog. The thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck just below the larynx, near where any collar is located. A single sharp blow can damage a gland that controls many vital body functions.
Here are some better options:
• Walking leash. If your dog behaves well on a leash, this is for you. We recommend a 6ft leash as it gives the dog more room to relieve himself and makes it easier to keep a loose leash in many situations. They are often made of nylon or leather and attach to a ring in the collar.
• Harness with rear clip. This harness goes around the dog’s chest with a ring at the top of the dog’s back. They are especially useful for small dogs with delicate throats that can be easily damaged by collars. There is also the “cute factor” as they come in all kinds of designs.
• Front clip harness. This type of harness has a ring on the front and another on the back. A special leash with clips at both ends minimizes and eliminates pulling without putting pressure on the dog’s neck. When the dog pulls, the pressure of the leash is distributed all over the body and the dog is turned towards its keeper.
• Head halter. These are similar to horse halters and are recommended for dogs who require more control when being walked. They fit over the dog’s muzzle, slightly resembling a muzzle (although they do not protect against bites). The idea is that where their head goes, their body follows, so if you can move their head, you will control their body. If a dog wearing a halter walks past you, the tension on the leash turns its head and makes you watch. With his head turned, the dog must wait for you to catch up with him so that the tension is released and he can resume walking.
This should be done in moderation, as shaking a dog’s head too hard can be harmful. It can also be uncomfortable at first, so give your dog time to get used to wearing it. We recommend that you try out the front clip harness before using this tool.
Still confused? Check out the behavior and training materials available on Marin Humane’s website at marinhumane.org/oh-behave for more information.
Lisa Bloch is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Marin Humane, who contributes articles to Tails of Marin and welcomes animal related questions to people and animals in our community. Visit marinhumane.org, Twitter.com/MarinHumane or email [email protected]