The Pet Professional Guild
The Association for Force-Free Pet Industry Professionals


Position Statement on the Use of Choke and Prong Collars

It is the position of the Pet Professional Guild that effective animal training procedures lay the foundation for an animal’s healthy socialization and training and helps prevent behavior problems. The general pet-owning public should be educated by organizations and associations to ensure pet animals live in nurturing and stable environments to better prevent behavior problems and help ensure the overall well-being of the animal. Consistent with this effort, it is the position of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) that the use of collars and leads that are intended to apply constriction, pressure, pain or force around a dog’s neck (such as choke chains and prong collars) should be avoided.

Though data demonstrating the exact damage that can be potentially caused by using choke and prong collars is incomplete, experience has shown that soft tissue injuries are common and, as is the case with any harsh training method, the damage to the animal-human relationship results. Studies and the experience of the PPG’s membership finds that training and behavior problems are consistently and effectively solved without the use of choke or prong collars with the alternative methods reinforcing the animal-human bond. Evidence indicates that rather than speeding the learning process, harsh training methods actually slow the training process, add to the animal’s stress and can result in both short-term and long-term psychological damage to animals.

Common problems which can result from the use of choke and prong collars:

  • Physical problems

While precise information on the potential damage caused by the use of choke and prong collars is still being collected, there are many cases of dogs suffering soft tissue damage, eye problems, strangulation (leading to death), tracheal/esophageal damage and neurological problems resulting from the use of choke/prong collars.

  • Training Fallout

Choke chains and prong collars are designed to administer negative reinforcement and positive punishment. Training techniques based in these two learning theory quadrants are prone to side effects. As an example, a dog wearing a choke or prong collar that fearfully barks and lunges at another dog would then be choked or pain inflicted by the prong collar. The pain and choking then adds to the negative association the dog wearing the collar has with other dogs. This is the polar opposite of what an ideal training protocol is designed to accomplish.

Even if a dog is free of reactivity issues, using a choke or prong is less than ideal. Today there are many effective alternatives available for training and management of skills where choke and prong collars have been traditionally used for teaching loose-leash-walking and formal/precision heel training

Conclusion

It is the position of the PPG that all training should be conducted in a manner that encourages animals to enjoy training and become more confident and well-adjusted pets. In addition, PPG members optimize the use of functional analysis to identify and resolve problem behaviors where choke and prong collars are typically used such as leash-pulling and lunging. All PPG members should encourage and use positive operant and respondent training methods, both personally and professionally. Further, the PPG and its members actively recommend against the use of choke and prong collars while actively promoting the use of flat buckle collars, head halters, harnesses and other types of control equipment that are safer for the animal.

Sources

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Haidet GC, Wennberg PW, Finkelstein SM, et al. Effects of aging per se on arterial stiffness: systemic and regional compliance in beagles. Am Heart J 1996 Aug;132(2 Pt 1):319-327.

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Piette S, Liebman JM, Ishikawa H, et al. Acute conformational changes in the optic nerve head with rapid intraocular pressure elevation: implications for LASIK surgery. Ophthalmic Surg Lasers Imaging 2003;34:334-341.

Hamor RE, Gerding PA, Ramsey DT, et al. Evaluation of short-term increased intraocular pressure on flash- and pattern-generated electroretinograms of dogs. Am J Vet Res 2000;61:1087-1091.

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Links

Choke, prong and shock collars can cause disease and possibly lead to cancer, read more

Family warns of dog choke chain dangers as pet killed, read more

Dog Killed by Choke Chain, read more

Choke Chain Collars FAQ, read more

Prong Collar Vs. Positive Training - Adrienne Farricelli, read more

Pet Talk: Rein in the use of choke/shock collars, read more

All About Aversives and Punishment by Casey Matthews Lomonaco, read more

When Punishment Goes Wrong by Casey Matthews-Lomonaco, read more

 

 
 
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