Hearts at Home Pet Sitting, Inc. is a fear-free pet care company. Our clients hire us to care for their pets in the most gentle, compassionate, and caring way possible. For this reason, we do not use aversive or punishment-based methods or equipment. In this week’s blog, we want to share the five dog products we avoid and why you should too.
Prong collars are often used improperly, even by dog trainers, and can cause physical pain and damage to dogs’ necks. While dog trainers of yore may have convinced dog owners that dogs’ necks can handle harsh corrections, pinching, and prongs digging into their skin, research tells us otherwise. In addition, these aversive collars don’t correct pulling behaviors on walks, they simply create a battle between handler and canine that results in a dog’s distrust toward his caregiver.
Similar to prong collars, choke collars are outdated, potentially dangerous, and entirely unnecessary. These collars are oftentimes misused, leading to a marked restriction in the airway of the dogs wearing them. Because of the way these collars work, they have been known to cause injuries to the trachea, esophagus, and blood vessels in the eyes. According to The Humane Society of the United States, they have also been linked to neck sprains, nerve damage, fainting, transient paralysis, and death.
Shock collars are banned in many countries. In the US, it’s common to see aversive trainers promise uninformed dog owners that a shock collar will correct indoor and outdoor behaviors, improve recall, and yield a well-behaved dog. Unfortunately, research has proven otherwise. Instead, it’s shown that shock collars sever the trust the dog has toward his owner, family, and humans in general. Because they don’t understand why and when the next correction is coming, dogs that are trained using shock collars can become anxious, defensive, and may eventually develop reactive or aggressive behaviors.
Retractable leashes are great in theory but can be dangerous to both handlers and their dogs. Most professional dog walkers refuse to use retractable leashes because they pose a risk of injury to the handler including pulled muscles and burns from the leash or rope if they become tangled in it. They also limit their control over the pet when it wanders too far away. Plus, the winding mechanism on retractable leashes has been known to break and the lead to snap off entirely. Dogs don’t need retractable leashes to enjoy their walks, all they need is a 6-foot leash and an engaged companion.
The invisible or electric fence is also great in theory but highly unreliable and potentially dangerous in practice. With an invisible fence, a dog is shocked for passing the parameter set by an underground wire that is installed around a designated area. The wire emits a signal that is picked up by a collar worn by the dog. Unfortunately, dogs that have a high prey drive will quickly forget about the electric fence and bust through the perimeter, only to be stuck outside the perimeter if they return, for fear of receiving another shock. And, the fence doesn’t prevent other animals from entering the perimeter and resulting in a very scary and potentially fatal situation for the household dog that cannot escape the threat without receiving a shock.