Choke collars are considered inhumane by the vast majority of dog trainers and behaviorists, but a front-clip harness and some ongoing training can help make your talk a joy to take for a walk. Here’s more…
In the dog training community, as well as the dog-loving community at large, there is some debate about the use of ‘choke’ collars in the training of dogs. Such collars come in a variety of designs, but the basic principle is that when walking on a leash, the dog’s collar will close around his neck when he pulls too hard, thus ‘choking’ him in the process. The intent, of course, is not to be cruel to the dog’ but rather, to force him to behave while walking on his leash. Other variations of the collars add prongs to the collar, whereby’ not only is the dog’s breath cut short when he pulls too hard, but he will also feel at least a moderately uncomfortable ‘stabbing’ feeling.
If that sounds like something that you want to do to your dog, it may be that you should reconsider having a canine companion. It should be pointed out, however, that most dog owners that utilize choke collars do so not to be cruel―very few dog owners wish to harm their dogs in any manner―but to exert control over their dog where they are otherwise unable to do so. Many owners resort to this only when they have exhausted all other options that they know of. In some instances, owners may feel that their options are a choke collar or simply never walking the dog on a leash―all in all, not very good options.
Choke collars are very frequently seen on larger dogs, and especially willful dogs, and in many instances where the human involved in the human-canine relationship is diminutive and the canine companion quite strong. Even in such situations, however, there are other options that are much better for both the dog and the owner.
To be perfectly clear, it is the measured, educated opinion of most top dog trainers that choke collars are inhumane. To overcome the need for their use, however, dog owners will have to invest a lot of time and energy with their dog to teach him how to properly walk on a leash. This is referred to as ‘loose leash’ walking, and it can be combined with a front-clip harness―a leash that takes pressure of your dog’s neck and transfers it to his body―to achieve the desired result.
As with most dog training exercises, loose leash walking can be taught through the use of ‘treating’ your dog when he has performed as you would like. This can be in the form of actual treats that you feed him as he learns, or even abundant praise. A simple ‘good boy’ will go a long way in achieving this. To start with loose leash walking, get a six-foot leash and a front-clip harness. Such harnesses wrap around the dog’s body in such a manner that the leash is clipped to a circlet near the dog’s chest.
In many instances, the front-clip harness is enough to force your dog to behave on the leash without doing him any harm. With a standard collar wrapped around his neck, a dog can easily put all of his strength into pulling, while the front-clip harness tends to move the dog sideways as he pulls, thus thwarting his efforts to pull you towards some desired object by actually turning him away from that object.
Even so, those dog lovers who want to properly train their dogs can use further training to make taking a walk more enjoyable. At first, constantly treat and praise your dog as you’re walking, stopping often so that he will tend to stay right at your side. A dog that is taught to walk properly on a leash will always walk at or near your side, rather than in front of you, and this treating is designed to keep him near you as you walk so that he learns this behavior. It may take a lot of time walking, treating, and praising to accomplish this, but eventually, this repeated process will tend to connect proper walking with ‘good things’ in your dog’s mind. The end result is a humane approach to keeping your dog under control on his leash, as well as a closer human-canine bond.