Not too long ago an email came to me asking what I thought of a trainer who wanted to use a pinch collar on a small Pomeranian dog. As this is a very heated topic, I’ll make my opinion public. Because of my background I can speak on this topic with more thorough knowledge than a trainer who will just jump to conclusions. Many trainers will be against the use of any training devise that they are not familiar with or more so those devices they don’t understand. Two of the most common of these devices are pinch collars and remote / electric collars.
Truth be told, these tools – when properly used, are the most humane training tools for the dog. Now, that being said, when they are improperly used they can be devices of torture. But this torture is equally as bothersome to me and the dogs as trainers who can’t get a dog to comply and will nag the dog to death trying to get the dog’s compliance. When considering training tools, my primary concern is ALWAYS the dog, not necessarily the person / owner. I want the dog trained in the fairest method possible. Many will cite situations where dogs have been abused with electric collars, choke chains and pinch collars. However dogs are most often abused when they are neglected no matter what collar they are wearing. They are also at the greatest risk when people choose not to train them or when trainers give up because their style of training doesn’t work. I’ve seen hundreds of dogs in shelters waiting to be killed because they have NO training or they are aggressive and no one ever had the heart to teach them that this behavior will get them killed.
That all being said, I will now address my point on using a pinch collar on a Pomeranian, or any dog for that matter. Pinch collars are designed to give a correction to a dog without using too much pressure. That is to say, using slight pressure elicits a response from the dog wearing this collar. When dogs wear a flat collar they generally require more of a correction because they will not feel the correction and will choose to pull against it. The most important thing when using a pinch collar on a dog is to teach them “a way out.” Simply stated, I pull on the leash attached to the collar and when the dog complies I give him a reward. SIMPLE, you pay attention, the pressure goes away -and you get a reward. If I pull slightly left and the dog moves left, he gets a reward. SIMPLE! Teach the dog what you want and then introduce the distraction. Don’t just put a collar on a dog (and collar) and start yanking a dog around. It is wrong! Teach, then test.
Prong collars should NOT be used to yank a dog around, instead they should be used to give a slighter, more responsive correction / guidance. Whether that dog is an 8 lb. dog or a 150 lb. dog. It doesn’t matter what breed or size a dog is. People who use pinch collars to walk a dog on the end of a tight line are torturing their dog. People who yank their dogs around by a pinch collar are abusing their dogs. Using the collar as the tool it was intended to be simply gives you a more direct way to elicit a response from your dog without yanking him around.
Many people use pinch collars to control dog-aggression. This might be one of the most common mistakes. The dogs I’ve dealt with that are handled for dog-aggression by means of a pinch collar are often more aggressive. I will delve into that in the future on another post. What I would like to focus on here is the proper tool for the proper dog.
When dealing with a trainer, I suggest you take a very active role in training your dog. Sending a dog away can often mean a recipe for disaster. If you want a trained dog, hire a qualified trainer that will teach you and your dog every step of the way. ALWAYS watch the way the trainer handles your dog, if he even needs to handle him. YOU should be doing most of the handling of your dog -not the trainer! If a trainer is abusive to your dog, stop and leave. Don’t let someone hurt your dog or do something to him that you don’t approve of. You should be involved and be told what the plan is ahead of time. I hear many stories of people hiring trainers that are too rough with their dogs and my question is always the same, “Why would you allow this?”
Always think of your dog and give him the respect and protection that he deserves. And ALWAYS give your dog the training and tools he needs to stay alive!
In closing, remember, it’s not the tool that is dangerous, it is the person wielding it. If someone can help your dog with your approval, I say go for it. But be aware of any trainer that yanks your dog around while you watch. Training a dog should be a fun experience for both you and your dog.