Veterinarians take a stand against punitive dog training collars and methods.
They also warn against choke chains and prong collars; and they discuss when and how to start training your puppy. This is a great, extremely basic introduction to scientific dog training.
I use a martingale for my puppy because huskies are known to back out of collars. It’s safer on their neck and a whole lot better than regular collars.
I didn’t see any mention of martingales in this article; they were only talking about shock, prong, and choke collars. When martingales are used correctly,* they can prevent escape without being especially harmful to the dog. Personally, I prefer front-clip harnesses whenever possible for escape-artist dogs, because they prevent the dogs from being injured when they pull.**
The point of the article was to focus on the dangers of using pain as a training tool, and how it can be very damaging to our dogs. If you don’t allow the martingale to cause discomfort to your puppy, I don’t see much problem with it, even if it’s not really an ideal tool.
*Under correct usage, the martingale should only tighten to as tight, or slightly tighter than, a regular flat collar. They should never cause choking or more discomfort than a flat collar. Martingales are not really necessary for most breeds, but they can be useful for broad-necked dogs like sighthounds.
**I’m assuming that if your dog is slipping his collar, it’s because he’s pulling. In that case, martingales are no safer than flat collars, and they can cause tracheal and nerve damage.
I’m pretty sure they mean their dog is backing out of it’s collar, not that it’s pulling so hard it’s escaping.
Any training tool can be dangerous and used to inflict pain or injury. If that’s the case, then the tool is obviously being used incorrectly. Whether it’s an e-collar, a prong collar, or a martingale… I wouldn’t use an e-collar with my dogs, but I know people who work their dogs. A working dog is a lot different than an average dog and their owner learning new tricks. It’s really a matter of perspective.
I used to be against prong collars, choke chains (I’m still against choke chains, honestly, they are the dumbest tool ever invented), and e-collars but in the last several years I have come to learn more about these training tools and I find that it’s the people who use them wrong. I use a prong collar on my smaller dog and people think I’m cruel because of it. For my large dog I use a Gentle Leader head collar. Those tools are what work best with those particular dogs. It varies.
The average person doesn’t need these tools. Unfortunately, they are usually the ones getting these tools and using them to inflict harm on their pets because they are frustrated with the training process. It’s a shame because I have a feeling that these tools will one day be illegal in some areas because of the idiots using them when they have no right to.
That article is likely referring to dogs who have been abused by these tools due to the ignorance of their owners. The article doesn’t highlight the proper use of these tools, which is not intended to inflict pain on the animals. Even the e-collar is used to get the dog’s the attention (especially when working at long distances ie. herding, hunting, etc.), not to hurt the dog. You don’t zap him with a huge electrical charge. Half the time you only need to use the tones or vibrations that come before the shock, according to some of the trainers I’ve met who use these tools for their working dogs.
Again, WORKING DOGS are different than the average household pet. Look at herding, for example. I just went with my friend who actively volunteers in German Shepherd rescue to watch her and a few of our friends from the dog park go herding. She herds goats with her German Shepherd, while everyone else herds sheep (two more German Shepherds, a Collie, and a Border Collie).
One of the German Shepherds sometimes requires an e-collar if she is too focused on the sheep and not paying attention to her handler. Herding is a game of “bringing in the dinner,” and if the dog isn’t working with the handler then they aren’t going to be able to bring in dinner. So it’s vital to get that dog to watch you AND the sheep, which can be very challenging for both the handler and the dog.
Some dogs just get so excited and focused on those sheep, or whatever livestock they’re herding, that they don’t want to listen to their owners. A small shock is used to get the dog’s attention, not to hurt the dog for not listening. Of course, it’s not exactly comfortable, I agree. But people need to stop and think about it for a moment. People get these collars and without the proper knowledge, they use them for dogs for barking and other behavior problems, and that’s not what they should be used for. 99% of the time, the dog just needs to be exercised and taught the correct behavior.
But no. People use these tools as a quick fix to inflict harm and instill fear in their dogs. I would never go to a trainer who expects me to use such a tool on my dogs. And half the time I wouldn’t trust a trainer who insists on using a prong collar on the first day of training. Prong collars should be used at the appropriate time, for the appropriate situation. Not for the average dog going through training, which is why these tools are becoming such a problem to the dog community. Improper use is just too common…
I expect a good trainer to have knowledge of every training tool available, and to know when and how to use them. They should always start off with tools like the no-pull front clip harness or the head collar. If they want their clients to use martingales, they need to show their clients how to use the martingale properly. I see too many people use martingales incorrectly, causing their dogs to choke and strain themselves because they aren’t being taught how to walk the right way on a leash.
If every dog owner would just train their dogs, the world would be a better place. All of these behavior problems we hear about could have been avoided if people would be proactive with their animals. You can’t blame the tools anymore than you can blame the dogs. It’s always the handlers fault, in my opinion.
Anyway… What I’m trying to say is that 99% of these terrible stories we hear about dog abuse and even death by use of these tools is due to owner ignorance. If the owner is that stupid and knows nothing about the tool, they damn sure shouldn’t even possess such tools.
A local woman here killed her small breed dog after trying to use a shock collar to prevent it from barking. Are you kidding me? I want to strangle these idiots. I can understand using an e-collar on a working dog in the field (herding, hunting, etc.) but I would never put one on a toy breed or a dog who’s life purpose is to be your household best friend. Average dogs shouldn’t need to ever wear an e-collar, and even working dogs shouldn’t need them often.
And unfortunately, I don’t trust most veterinarians unless they have proof of education where dog behavior is involved. A lot of veterinarians and vet techs don’t even have extensive training experience with dogs (and I can’t stress enough that pets are different than working animals). Unless they have proof of education, the only advice they should be giving to pet owners is health advice. All they see are these idiots bringing in dogs who have been mentally or physically scarred by the improper use of these training tools (which seems to be increasing). Veterinarians need to strongly encourage pet owners to seek positive reinforcement training courses. Training is for the lifetime of the dog. It’s not supposed to end after a 6 week course.
I’ll learn more about working dogs and the use of e-collars when I take Sammy herding in a couple of weeks. I’ll share whatever I learn from Terri, since she has more experience and I’ll never need to use an e-collar with my own dogs. She works in animal rehabilitation/physical therapy, and is also training to get her working Border Collies in the top 150 so they can compete in the National herding finals.