Should You Train Your Dog With A Choke Chain?

Should You Train Your Dog With A Choke Chain?

11 January 2022
 Categories: , Blog

Using a choke chain on a dog used to be quite standard, and for some dog owners, it still might be. Also called choke collars or check collars, the chain tightens around the dog's neck when manipulated by the handler, or when the dog attempts to pull away while on their leash. This compresses the dog's trachea and larynx, exerting control over the dog, but potentially hurting (or at least frightening) the dog in the process. Should choke chains have any place in modern dog training?

Aversive Training Tools

Known as an aversive training tool, the potential harm that a choke chain can inflict was never in question. A 1991 episode of The Simpsons featured Bart's reluctance to use a choke chain on his dog, Santa's Little Helper. More recently (and in the real world), Berlin police have had to consider alternative handling techniques for their police dogs after the choke method was made illegal in the German capital. Whether it's a fictional animated dog or actual dogs trained for law enforcement, choke chains are increasingly being seen as an outdated tool for dog training.

The Consequences of Non-Compliance

Choke chains allow the handler to dominate the dog, and this very approach is problematic. The dog's welfare is better served by positive reinforcement, as opposed to the prospect of non-compliance resulting in physical pain. A well-trained dog doesn't automatically result from the human owner being the alpha, or pack leader. Your dog is not a wolf or other wild animal, but its social interactions differ from those of humans. Dog training should cultivate an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect between animal and human, but such an outcome is difficult with dominance-theory training.

Professional Dog Training Classes

Professional training classes will be beneficial for all dogs and their owners, ideally earlier in the dog's life. This has the added benefit of socializing your dog, too, minimizing excitable and aggressive behavior when encountering unfamiliar dogs in the future. Nobody expects you to master the art of dog training yourself, so it will be helpful to find a local training class that offers positive reinforcement-based force-free training. You will be taught to handle your dog using non-aversive restraints, such as a standard harness. There are more decisive measures for dogs who might need it, such as the no-pull harness. This is a humane alternative to choke chains. The no-pull harness attaches around your dog's muzzle. If your dog pulls on the leash, the harness gently tightens, pulling the muzzle downwards, inconveniencing your dog without harming them. This process immediately reverses when the dog stops pulling. Ask if you're unsure about the methods the class actually uses. 

So should a choke chain have any place in modern dog training? It really doesn't have to, when superior methods and tools (which are infinitely more humane) are readily available. Contact a company like Bunk & Biscuit to learn more about dog training.

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