Today I want to talk about something important – dog training products we hate.
Why is this important?
There are a million and one training products out there for dogs and as your dog’s owner, it’s up to you to find training products that work and that facilitate your dog’s success.
While there are many dog training products out there that work, not all of them set your dog up for success or promote a healthy relationship between you and your pup. That is why it’s important to be able to identify the good from the bad and today we’re going to look at 4 of the bad.
4 Training Products We Hate and Why
1. Dog Training Products We Hate: Shock Collars and Bark Collars
You’re a person, right?
I’m assuming so since you’re reading this and I’ve never met a dog that could read.
And by virtue of being a person, you communicate with those around you by using your voice.
“Hey, watch out there’s a car coming!”, “Don’t eat that yet, it’s too hot!”, “I love you!”, “Want to go to the movies?”
Now imagine that you are a toddler learning to understand the world with a limited capacity.
As a toddler every time you tell me something I don’t like, I shock you with a stun gun.
You’re not quite sure why I shocked you, but you know that it hurt and soon enough you learn that in order for it not to hurt, you don’t speak. You don’t have the ability to understand that it’s only when you tell me something I don’t like that I shock you, so you give up speaking altogether.
Now, when you give up speaking altogether, you eliminate your main avenue of communication. So the next time that you want something or need something from me, you’re trapped. Do you risk being shocked to ask me something? Or do you stay quiet and do without?
But wait! Here’s a catch…if you don’t speak at all, you can’t tell me when there’s something wrong; when you and I are in danger. And I expect that from you because you love me, right? So when you don’t tell me that we’re in danger, something terrible might happen. So now you’re even more trapped…do you risk being shocked or stay quiet and let something terrible happen?
But wait! There’s another catch. If you let something terrible happen, then I’m going to shout at you. I’m going to tell you that you’re a worthless animal that couldn’t even take care of me, protect me…and that’s what you do when you love someone, right?
Do you see what’s happening here? By using a stun gun, I am telling you that it’s not okay to communicate with me. I am forcing you into isolation and I am forcing you to choose between the potential of corporal punishment and protecting someone you love.
I am sending you mixed messages.
Shock collars and bark collars HURT, that’s why they work for most dogs. They deter barking through the infliction of punishment.
So what can you do instead? Use distraction, TEACH your dog what is acceptable and what is not. When they bark at inappropriate times, distract them. Help your dog to understand rather than punishing and isolating them for a behavior that comes naturally.
2. Dog Training Products We Hate: Invisible Fences
So, you think an invisible fence is a great idea?
Hey, it can provide your dog with plenty of outside time while you are out of the house or busy doing other things, right? It can keep your dog contained…keep them safe…
No and no.
A dog can be contained by an invisible fence for only as long as they wish to be contained by that fence or for only as long as the battery in their fence collar will last.
Additionally, containing your dog within a fixed area may serve to keep them in, but it certainly doesn’t serve to keep other animals and people out! That means that while you are at work and you think your dog is enjoying a nice day relaxing in a yard, they could be being snatched by dog bait seekers, they could be bitten by a rabid animal, they could be attacked by a loose neighborhood dog, they could ingest something that was thrown into your yard and choke… The possibilities are horrific and, unfortunately, endless.
Lastly, using an invisible fence to contain your dog while you are away from home or otherwise busy does nothing but isolate your dog. As a member of your family, your dog wants to be with you, they seek your companionship and interaction. They are SOCIAL beings. Take away that social interaction and affection and your dog becomes lonely, despondent, unresponsive to your commands, and even resentful.
So, what can you do instead of using an invisible fence? A physical fence is a great option, but it isn’t a possibility for everyone due to HOA regulations and it should never be used to contain a dog when left alone. Lonely dogs will find a route of escape. If a physical fence isn’t possible for you, take the time to walk your dog twice a day, visit off leash dog parks or dog runs, let your dog enjoy outdoor time WITH you. If you can’t or aren’t prepared to spend this time with your dog every day, DON’T GET A DOG!
3. Dog Training Products We Hate: Prong Collars
I hear that you’re super excited to spend time with me at the park this weekend! So excited, in fact, that you grab my hand and drag me towards the park.
I don’t like being dragged, so when you drag me, I yank you back and with small pliers, I pinch your neck.
Despite the fact that I’m an awful friend who has just inflicted this punishment on you, you’re still excited to spend time with me and you pull again. Once again, I pull you back and pinch your neck.
After a few times of this back and forth, you’re starting to get the message – excitement equals pain.
Now, not only are you dejected and no longer enjoying our time together, but you are hurting and I…your best friend…am the one who has hurt you.
How’s that for friendship?
Yes, you might be stubborn, yes I might not like being dragged due to your excitement, but when did two wrongs become a right? While my inflicting pain on you may stop you from inflicting pain on me, it doesn’t make it right.
So, what can you do instead? MOTIVATE! Use treats, rewards, and praise to keep your dog by your side. Show them what you want them to do rather than what you don’t want them to do. Dog’s most efficiently learn through positive reward systems. Use them!
4. Dog Training Products We Hate: Choke Collars
Go back to the scenario above, only each time I pull you back to me instead of pinching your neck with tiny pliers, I start to strangle you. Sometimes I strangle you so hard that your tongue turns blue and you can’t quite catch your breath. Sometimes I pull you back so hard that you get bruises on your neck. Sometimes you feel like you can’t breathe at all.
It doesn’t sound like a very healthy working relationship, does it? “Do what I want or you’ll get hurt!”
Instead of using these kinds of tools, use bonding, reward, praise, intuitive teaching techniques, and build a relationship with your dog that they can understand rather than fear.
The Bottom Line
STOP using punishment to train your dog. There is ALWAYS a better way to teaching your dog what is expected of them and how they can meet that expectation.