Sunday, May 19, 2013

Service Dogs and Correction-based collars (such as prong or pinch collars or choke chains)

Well, I've tried to stay neutral on this issue (that is to stay private in my personal opinions against prongs and other tools that use punishment to train a dog to walk on a loose leash) but I found a fantastic blog post that's too good not to share.

Service dogs need to have the level of training that they are reliable on leash no matter the distraction. If the handler feels the need to wear such a corrective device, the dog needs to go back to basic training around distractions, or the dog needs to be counter conditioned or systematically desensitized not to be reactive to the trigger (stimuli). In such high level training that is needed, there are acceptable excuses.  Excuses such as: that the person doesn't have the physical ability to handle the dog, or that the dog is too large to be expected to walk on a loose leash or that the dog has a history of reactivity due to abuse, being attacked etc. Using such collars, especially on a long-term basis is an admission of faulty or inadequate training.  The dog need to be retrained before going out into public access work.

Bottom line is that we need to look at the world from the dog's perspective and have some empathy for the dog and the difficult job she must do for the human partner. That empathy must extend past when it is convenient for the handler. Training and behavior modification, not use of a punishment-based management tool, is called for.

Somehow, I get the feeling that the blog author will never again use a prong on any of her dogs or those she trains or advocates for.

Pinch Me