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Collars -- oh my!!

zztopp
December 29th, 2007, 11:19 PM
I promise, this does relate to training! ;)

My family has had large breed dogs for their entire lives. We are well versed in training them and our companion dogs are held to the same expectations that the show dogs were, back when we had them.

We bought/rescued a lovely golden in late '06. She is very skittish, so I gave her almost a year to 'learn' how to live in a house (she had been in a kennel her entire life and didn't know that the dishwasher wasn't a dog-eating monster!!!) We live on a farm, so leash work was minimally done. She has free range of the farm, but knows to stay away from the road and the river bank.

I finally found a dog trainer that was close to us and a reasonable price. Her methodology was sound and I felt that her method (clicker training) would be good for Kassies confidence. I wanted to put Kassie into a group training situation, so that she could gain confidence in noisy/distracting places.

Having the show goldens way back we always used the chain slip collars (commonly called choke chains). We also used that on our last rescue, who had agression issues stemming from bad imprinting as a puppy. Out of habit (I suppose?) Kassie wore a choke chain.

When I was calling around to local trainers, many of them had a 'tantrum' when I asked what their views were of 'choke chains.' Many felt they were abusive and only should be used in certain situations ...

Um ... maybe I've been sheltered from the rest of the dog world too long (we showed the dogs back in the late '80's) but, with correct handling and training, how are choke chains so bad??

In inexperienced hands I can see a choke chain being a bad idea, since excessive and continued pulling on the neck will deaden the neck and/or cause pain ... but otherwise, I think its a great tool for refining aids and making quick corrections. Our show trainer always said ... the dog only has so many 'pops' in his neck, don't waste them by tugging. One solid 'pop' on the neck to correct and regain attention, then keep going ...

I ended up trying a flat nylon collar on Kass because I strive to be open-minded and listen to the people I am paying for advice (LOL) Kass didn't like the collar (was constantly itchy under it). Switched to the choke chain and had no problems with itchies. Trainer was visibly not happy when I used the chain collar to its fullest extent (ie, using a quick pop to correct)

For various reasons (including quality of the fit of the collar; choke chain was a tad big and local stores don't carry the inbetween sizes!) I switched to a nylon version of the choke chain and get the same results.

So, I hope this doesn't turn into a heated discussion! I ask this as a confused dog owner, that doesn't understand why people think choke chains are bad?!

zztopp

PS, are choke chains still used in the show ring? What do anti-choke-chain people use then? If not the "in" thing, what have they changed to now???
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"Say what you mean, mean what you say, do what you said you were going to do!!"
-- DJ, the best dog trainer ever

Sylvie
December 30th, 2007, 02:29 PM
I understand your confusion.

I believe, only a personal belief, that the choice of collar should be up to the owner and the trainer should make sure that the owner is using the selected collar correctly.

Having been involved in obedience for a number of years, I can see a definite slide in the training. I have a few friends who are judges and they have all told us that most of the dogs that enter into the obedience trials are not ready.

In answer to the in collar it is the promise collar. Which allows you to control the dog by the head. I don't have good or bad things to say about it as I said the choice should be what works best for the owner.

A good trainer should not rely on only a collar. It should be a tool to teach and then not needed.

Hope I haven't bored you

SARAH
December 30th, 2007, 02:37 PM
I have a choke chain on both Dani and Sheba. Not to choke the daylights out of them, but to have that little extra should I need it (rarely) and mainly to spare their fur, as the flat nylon collars do wear that Golden fur (and Dani's Duck Toller fur is the same type).

At one time, my parents' dog had a "choker" made from rolled leather, like a saussage. It did a little choking, but not as much as the chain collars, and being round was nice for his fur as well. Haven't seen those in years though ...

To make sure I can manage both dogs on a walk - with umpteen squirrels teasing them to try to tear off my arm - I use a halti on each dog. They don't really like being led by the nose, but at least they don't pull so neigher of us stress.

If I take just one of them, I'll use the choke chain, but one, max two yanks (or pops) at the onset of the walk and the dog in question stops pulling.

I agreee that the trainer should work with the owner, not impose this type or that but teach the proper use of either collar chosen.

Lissa
December 31st, 2007, 02:36 PM
Um ... maybe I've been sheltered from the rest of the dog world too long (we showed the dogs back in the late '80's) but, with correct handling and training, how are choke chains so bad??

Much research has gone into dog behaviour, psychology and learning theory since then. Corrective-based methods are no longer the be all end all of dog training.

but otherwise, I think its a great tool for refining aids and making quick corrections. Our show trainer always said ... the dog only has so many 'pops' in his neck, don't waste them by tugging. One solid 'pop' on the neck to correct and regain attention, then keep going

I don't use physical corrections. I want to engage Dodger in training, my goal is to have him wanting to work with me - not "complying" out of fear or to avoid a correction.
Aside from that I think that check chains are far too easy to misuse and cause permanent physical and psychological damage. Using them on pain insensitive/independent dogs is pointless because most are oblivious to the corrections (also causes "shutting down" on any dog IMO). I hate the idea that regardless of my skill level, should my dog go into a pulling or reactive frenzy that there is no way to stop the choking (unlike a martingale which will only tighten so much).
I also think that using corrections as a way of training a fearful or aggressive dog is innapropriate and counter-productive.

I ended up trying a flat nylon collar on Kass because I strive to be open-minded and listen to the people I am paying for advice (LOL) Kass didn't like the collar (was constantly itchy under it). Switched to the choke chain and had no problems with itchies.
For various reasons (including quality of the fit of the collar; choke chain was a tad big and local stores don't carry the inbetween sizes!) I switched to a nylon version of the choke chain and get the same results.

I find this confusing (maybe I missed something?)... First the nylon collar causes itching but a nylon choke doesn't? How long did you work with the nylon collar? Did you try other types of collars (different sizes, materials)?? Surely using a nylon version of a choke isn't as effective since the noise of the metal is suppose to be enough of a deterrent eventually (instead of full out "pops" all the time)????

Trainer was visibly not happy when I used the chain collar to its fullest extent (ie, using a quick pop to correct)

Using a corrective device and pairing it with clicker training is couterproductive. On one hand you are using the clicker to (hopefully) teach your dog to think and interact with you and his environment (problem solving). And the next minute you are physically correcting your dog - which is forcing him to stop interacting/learning/problem solving/offering new behaviours out of fear of being corrected. You are sending very conflicting messages to your dog (even though I don't support coersive methods, you would do much better to choose it and stick with it than try and blend it with positive reinforcement. Training is about consistency and what you are doing now is diluting the effects of both methods). Hence why many positive reinforcement trainer's completely ban the use of such tools in their facilities... Not necessarily because they don't like them or don't know how to use them but because it works against the semantics of clicker training.

Good Luck with Kassie's training!

SnowDancer
December 31st, 2007, 03:02 PM
My Eskie wears a harness, but most often I walk him using a Martingale - I do not have the skill to properly use a choke - some people do, I am not one of them. His Martingale controls him somewhat without any undo stress on his neck - it is well padded.

zztopp
January 3rd, 2008, 09:12 AM
Thanks everyone for your advice.

Lissa, I see we have two very different views on corrective training! ;) No matter, I wasn't very clear about the collars -- sorry! The 1" flat nylon collar made Kass itch, we used it for almost two months and she thoroughly hated it. We found a rolled, nylon slip collar that is working really, really well. (I think the rolled nylon slip collar is working so well, because I don't really need to use it! Kass reacts to my body language 90% of the time rather then requiring an actual correction) And I know its the flat nylon collar that is causing the itchies, because she goes for her "spa day" (aka the groomers) every month and gets a full bath -- so no fleas/etc making her itch :)

Although ... I'm not sure why your saying that both corrective based training and operant conditioning (ie clicker training) cannot be used together. We 'mesh' parts of the two training methods with the horses, so I don't see why it would be any different with dogs? I tend to use specific parts of each training method, which I have found to work together in past training experiences.

My trainer has several of the "pullers" using what she calls a martingale. SnowDancer, are you referring to a nylon collar with a piece of chain that can tighten on the one side? (Okay bad description, but you get the idea I hope!!) That has me a bit confused, because I always think of a horse martingale ... which is completely different!!!!

SARAH ... my groomer got me in trouble for keeping the flat nylon collar on Kass, since it started messing with the hair on her 'ruff' -- hehe!

Oh well. I think I've found something that keeps the dog is happy .. and thats the most important thing for me! :)

Thanks,

-- zztopp
_______________

"Say what you mean, mean what you say, do what you said you were going to do!!"
-- DJ, the best dog trainer ever

clm
January 3rd, 2008, 10:20 AM
[QUOTE=zztopp;524404]
SARAH ... my groomer got me in trouble for keeping the flat nylon collar on Kass, since it started messing with the hair on her 'ruff' -- hehe!

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We never have left collars on any of our dogs for the same reason. Messes with their fur. We use rolled leather collars for when we do take them out for their walks, not the choke type, just a regular collar. It's a pain to have to put them on each time, all that fur doesn't make putting on any type of collar fun, but keeping the collars off them most of the time makes for a much nicer rough and no broken fur. Because of all that fur, I can't imagine a chain type choke collar working terribly well on my breed anyway, it would onlly get caught up in the fur, but I've considered the rolled nylon show type chokes for training. Idea not being to put fear into the dogs, the pop is to get the dogs attention which is the sense I'm getting from you that you use them for.

Cindy

zztopp
January 3rd, 2008, 10:48 PM
Idea not being to put fear into the dogs, the pop is to get the dogs attention which is the sense I'm getting from you that you use them for.

Yes! Thank you! That is the wording I've been looking for, to describe how I use the slip collars. (I recently got a concussion, so putting words together is not my strong point!!)

The chain slip collars actually work quite well, through a goldens ruff. Obviously, it has to be in the correct position (sort of behind their ears and close up to their throat -- not loosely sliding down their neck) and it just gives enough to get their attention through that lovely, thick coat ;)

We always keep collars on the dogs, especially around the larger livestock (cows, horses) incase we need to quickly get them out of the way!

-- zztopp
_______________

"Say what you mean, mean what you say, do what you said you were going to do!"
-- DJ, the best dog trainer ever