The Dog Box

2017-09-21 06:00

HI Susan, I have always used a choke chain. Many dog trainers do so too because it copies a mother dog’s way of correcting bad behaviour in her puppies. I would be interested in hearing why you are against this.


I have dealt with this question before. This comparison of a choke chain with the “mother dog’s way of correcting bad behaviour” is either a fallacy arising out of ignorance, or a way of legitimising the use of a potentially harmful tool and methodology.

If you watch a slow-motion video of a mother dog correcting a puppy, you should be able to see the mother baring and flashing her teeth at the puppy, without actually making any contact.

A well-adapted adult dog will not hurt a puppy and will be extremely careful when using the mouth in making these corrections.

Even when dogs play or argue, they will aim for and grab onto the loose skin around the neck, not for the close skin just behind the head where a choke chain advocate positions the chain. A mother dog prefers to carry her pups about the torso, not around the neck.

Choke chains are ineffective at preventing dogs from pulling on leash. They are extremely dangerous and can seriously harm the dog.

Due to recognition of this danger, they are being banned in enlightened countries. Specifically, during choking the carotid arteries are occluded and the brain is deprived of oxygen, and the increase in ocular pressure can damage optic nerves.

Suddenly jerking on a choke chain has been shown to disperse a blow along the entire neck, which can damage a part of the brain at the back of the skull, resulting in various levels of paralysis.

Using choke chains on “difficult dogs” as an “efficient” way to correct behaviour can result in an escalation of aggression levels, because the suffocation leads to the fight or flight response which raises cortisol levels. It can also result in aggressive behaviour in previously benign dogs.

Many dogs that have been afflicted with this aversive “training” tool suffer from shortness of breath or difficulty in swallowing due to damage to the larynx and pharynx which are responsible for swallowing and vocalisation. The percentage of recorded spinal anomalies caused by choke chains on dogs is staggering.

Training methods or trainers using and recommending barbaric tools like shock collars, choke chains and prong collars should be avoided like the plague. I am against any potentially damaging or harmful treatment of animals whether physiological or psychological.

Susan Henderson© accredited animal behaviourist specialising in canines info@dogboxtraining phone 082 386 5805.


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