Controversial Control…The Pinch Collar

As I stated in one of my recent posts, if you put a group of trainers in a room nobody will agree completely, and one of the biggest arguments I have seen is whether the pinch collar is humane. 

 If you’ve read my blog, you know positive reinforcement is what I believe in when it comes to dog training (and raising my kids).  Positive is just better.  Along with my own personal experience, my opinion/point of view of the pinch collar also comes from various sources, including Dr. Dodman, the leading veterinarian at Tufts University which has a world-renowned animal behavior  program.  My belief stems from what I have learned from someone with years and years of experience and expertise and  mashing it together with some real life situations.  The bottom line is that I (and let me strain the use of I) do not believe in pinch collars and never will. 

 That being said, just like with an electric collar or even halters for that matter, I do believe that a PROPERLY EDUCATED trainer/owner who is comfortable with its use can have significant results. HOWEVER, that’s exactly where the problem lies.  People simply do not educate themselves resulting in INhumane results.

 I have witnessed mature arguments about this subject which allowed me to look from both sides of the glass, but I have also seen ridiculous rants from both ends, which I can never understand.  Ranting will never help anyone see your side it only makes you look defensive, hence more guilty.  So for my own fun, I thought I would give my opinion which again, is based on what I’ve learned and experienced. 

 Working in the legal field for over 10 years has taught me that no matter how strong you think your argument is, if you don’t have the facts to back it up, don’t waste your breath.  To that end, I figured facts are exactly where I’ll start, and then round it out with my opinion.

 #1)  It’s not natural, scientifically. — If you study canine behavior and rearing you would learn that to get her pups attention or to make them stop a behavior, a mother will pick up her child by the back of the neck, directly behind their ears.  And, to warn them she will mouth around their snout putting pressure on the bridge of their nose.  These are a puppies pressure points, these are any dogs’ pressure point, that’s how their made, this is fact, not opinion.  To try to control them from around their neck/throat is just not natural.

 #2) It can become ineffective-The use of a pinch collar over and over again, can toughen the skin around the neck (whether it is used properly or improperly). 

I was thinking of a way to compare the use of a pinch collar to people (instead of canine) real life and in doing so I came up with shoes.  Working in an office, getting new shoes was always the worst.  It took days and depending on the shoe, sometimes weeks to break them in.  My heels would have blisters and I would avoid walking more than I had to just to stop from hurting.  When I took them off at night the pressure was gone and I could finally relax.  After a few weeks, yes the material stretched, but my feet also got used to them, the blisters healed and callused and the shoes no longer bothered me.  Just like my tight, hurtful shoes, the initial pain of a pinch collar not only gets a dogs attention, they cannot relax because all they are trying to do is avoid pain.  However, after time, their necks are no longer sensitive and have callused, hence no more reaction to the pinch, no more avoidance, and possibly no more control.

 #3)  There are alternatives – this statement in itself is a fact but the following is my opinion, but let me reiterate, there are alternatives.  

Revert your attention from dogs for a second and think about horses.  In every instance you’ve seen someone riding a horse, racing a horse or even grooming a horse (which by the way an average horse weighs 900-1000 lbs.) do you see them with choking collars or pinching collars.  No.  There is a reason.  They are controlled from their head and it works just as well with dogs using their natural pressure points (See #1).  The use ( if used properly) of a head collar like a Halti or a Gentle Lead, can actually produce more control than pain inducing collars.  They are more of a guide instead of a consequence.  The dog is more relaxed not trying to avoid the pain or afraid of either your reaction or of you.  Additionally, when you pull back on a pinch, a choke or even a buckle their attention is still focused on whatever has them up in arms, by guiding, a Halti distracts them and they turn their attention elsewhere. 

 #4-the end) Basically the rest is strictly my opinion with some facts mixed in…

1) if you have a fearful dog already it can be very counterproductive.  If your interaction with them is with the use of something that causes them pain, their association with you becomes negative; 2) In my experience a Gentle Lead works great and I feel secure and in control without the need to hurt; Oh, and for those who say it doesn’t hurt them, define the word PINCH for me; and 3) “Pinch”… it’s not something I’d do to my kids and it’s not something I would do to my dogs.

To end, no matter which type of control/training/lead you decide to use, the most important thing I can repeat time and time again is, if you still feel more secure using a pinch collar (which I have heard as very strong reasoning), please, please, please, I cannot stress enough about this or any other collar, GET educated regarding its use, the more knowledge you have the better position you are in to state an opinion, and to make decisions in order to better your relationship with your dog. 

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