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Discussion Starter #1
My 8 year old son decided he wanted to be in 4-H this year. We went to the first meeting tonight and every kid/dog was using a choke chain. One girl was dragging around a little Brittney Spaniel puppy and was choking it so much it threw up. The "leader" said that was fine and that the dog would learn to not fight against it.

The "leaders" were encouraging the kids to "pop" the leashes, and pretty much drag their poor dogs around choking them half to death to teach a heal...ugh!!!

I voiced my concern and pointed out that neither of my dogs use a choke chain and don't need them. IMHO, 8 year old kids don't have any business jerking their dogs around with choke chains.

Choke chains, prong collars all have their place - just as any training tool. But for kids to learn? I think NOT!

Am I wrong?
 

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Of course you're not wrong. That's ridiculous! Every puppy training class I've been to has required a flat collar and leash only. I am not completely against the use of choke chains or prongs, but they should be used only by people who know what they are doing. That does not include children.
 

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I took my first dog to 4-H classes, and, yeah, they were all about the choke chains. Maybe you could talk to the local 4-H leader and see if you can help introduce more positive methods? But if they have a national curriculum it probably won't help.
 

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Well.... I learned on a choke collar and I was younger than 8. But then again, I learned with pit bulls and Catahoulas. Not much chance of a five year old going overboard on either of those breeds. When I got my Collie at 7, I did all obedience training with him on a choke collar.

And while I have never been a 4H leader..... But I have assisted off and on as a helper for years. ( I have never wanted to responsibility of being one of the main people but I do enjoy helping the kids learn to train) We have always allowed choke chains depending on the dog and the kid.

So I had about 6 years in 4H and then helping out off and on over a period of 25 years. Never saw a dog hurt, ruined etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I did ask if choke chains were mandatory and after a lot of hmmm-hawwwing around they did admit they were not required. I also stressed that I will not allow my son to "pop" the leash and that we have been using a clicker with our dogs along with positive reinforcement such as treats/toys. I was then informed that a clicker was too complicated for a kid to use and treats are discouraged.

I also mentioned that my golden has been trained to heal with a gentle leader harness. He doesn't need it anymore but back when he had dreams of being a sled-dog, the gentle leader worked great! Two of the leaders just scoffed and rolled their eyes at me and said, "well you can't use a harness to show" Um, yeah I know that however for 4-H, which is supposed to be for KIDS, isn't it better if both the dog and the kid succeed?
 

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You can't show with a choke chain either (when we did the final showing, I had to use a show-style slip lead). So I'm not sure what their reasoning is. I don't remember if they let us use treats or not. But I'm thinking not because I don't remember how I handled the treats, and if we used them I think I would remember having a pocketful of hot dogs or something.
 

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I did ask if choke chains were mandatory and after a lot of hmmm-hawwwing around they did admit they were not required. I also stressed that I will not allow my son to "pop" the leash and that we have been using a clicker with our dogs along with positive reinforcement such as treats/toys. I was then informed that a clicker was too complicated for a kid to use and treats are discouraged.

I also mentioned that my golden has been trained to heal with a gentle leader harness. He doesn't need it anymore but back when he had dreams of being a sled-dog, the gentle leader worked great! Two of the leaders just scoffed and rolled their eyes at me and said, "well you can't use a harness to show" Um, yeah I know that however for 4-H, which is supposed to be for KIDS, isn't it better if both the dog and the kid succeed?
Is your child doing 4H Obedience or JR Handler for Conformation? Or both?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Is your child doing 4H Obedience or JR Handler for Conformation? Or both?
Right now it is Obedience. They also mentioned that they have a group for agility and that if I wouldn't use a choke chain, that agility would be the only thing he could participate in.
 

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You can't show with a choke chain either (when we did the final showing, I had to use a show-style slip lead). So I'm not sure what their reasoning is. I don't remember if they let us use treats or not. But I'm thinking not because I don't remember how I handled the treats, and if we used them I think I would remember having a pocketful of hot dogs or something.
Most of the show leads work the same way as a choke collar. There are some martindale types though. The show leads I use, you could LIGHT a dog up if you wanted to.

And in 4H JR handlers you can use bait (treats(
 

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I know everyone has their own personal opinions and beliefs on training methods and children... but the part of this that bothers me is that, at least from your story, it sounds that young children are simply being taught that a choke chain is THE method and popping the collar is a GOOD thing to do, despite the obviously possibility of hurting a dog or making it get sick. My issue lies with the possibility of children being taught at a young age a method that is a bit on the "extreme" side and shouldn't be how a child is first taught. Teach them other ways that are less likely to be harmful before progressing to a choke collar, if desired or necessary. Otherwise, at least some number of children will be likely to go on later in life to simply jump to such methods, that again, may not be necessary at all, or that they may jump to too harshly...because that's what they were taught to begin with and possibly no alternatives.
 

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Most of the show leads work the same way as a choke collar.
Eh, it was a slip lead, so technically it was "like" a choke chain. But it was a skinny leather thing, and there's no way I could have popped it at all.

Pretty sure I was in Obedience. I think it was open to the public, because there was an old guy with a mutt and a middle-aged lady with a hyper Golden. And a tiny little girl with a tiny Pom. . .but I think she was 4-H. I was the only one who went on to "show". So I won :p.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It's been a long time since I've been in 4-H. I just wanted this to be a positive experience for my son with hopes that he could bond even further with his dog. I've always taught my son to treat his dog with kindness and respect. But tonight after seeing a bunch of kids dragging their poor dogs around gasping and choking... it just made me ill.
 

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Well. . .I could say what I believe 4-H's purpose to be. . .but someone would get mad ;).
 

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These are the rules for FLORIDA.

RULES & REGULATIONS
1. This show is open to any Florida 4-H Dog Project Member with an up-to-date record book.
2. Each dog entered must have been worked with or trained by the handler showing it.
3. Dogs must be entered in a class comparable to their level of training regardless of the level of handler.
4. A dog may be shown by only one person for each area - Showmanship, Obedience, Agility - except in Brace and Team. A dog may be shown in one showmanship, one obedience (not counting Brace, Team & Rally Novice) and one agility class.
5. Each exhibitor may enter only one showmanship class, regardless of the number of dogs he or she is showing in other areas.
6. All dogs must have current inoculations.
7. Dogs may be pure-bred or mixed-bred. All dogs must be at least 6 months of age by May 12, 2012 except dogs entering agility classes must be one and half (1 1/2 ) years old by May 12, 2012.
8. Basic and Sub-Novice dogs must be shown on six-foot leads.
9. Dogs in obedience classes must be shown using choke, martingale, or flat buckle collars. Dogs in agility classes must either wear flat buckle, snap collars or may run without a collar. Collars may not have tags. Dog may wear no more than one collar.10. Any female dog in season or any dog that is injured will not be permitted to compete or to remain on premises.
11. If a pre-registered dog is unable to compete, a replacement may be used providing that the handler has also worked with this dog. The replacement must be entered in a class appropriate to its level of training regardless of the class the pre-registered dog was entered. Please email Monica Hendrickson at [email protected] or call [941.747.9366] ASAP if a replacement is necessary.
12. Dogs must be kept on lead, except during classes that require otherwise.
13. Exhibitors are responsible for their dog’s behavior and must be in control of their dog at all times. Any misbehaving or aggressive dog may be excluded from participation.
14. While on the show grounds, no one other than the 4-H exhibitor may handle, train, work, or groom his or her dog. Parents may hold dogs while exhibitors are changing clothes, etc. Violation of this rule will result in disqualification from all classes.
15. Obedience classes will be held according to AKC Obedience regulations as modified by 4-H.
16. Classes may be split into Junior, Intermediate and Senior divisions if entries warrant.
17. Prizes and ribbons will be awarded for each class. Additional prizes will be awarded for Best of Show ($25), highest combined scores ($25) for Junior, Intermediate and Senior Levels. Cash premiums will be awarded for 1st ($8), 2nd ($6), 3rd ($4) and 4th ($2) places in Showmanship, Rally, Agility, and Obedience (excluding Team, Brace and Graduate Novice). Additional prizes for Team, Brace and Graduate Novice may be awarded as donations/ prizes are available.
18. A 4-H Challenge Trophy will be awarded to the county which accumulates the most points. The winning county will retain this trophy for one year. At the following year’s show, it will be turned over to that year’s winner. The scoring for this trophy will be: 1st Place - 5 pts, 2nd Place - 3 pts, 3rd Place - 1 pt. Showmanship, Obedience, Agility, and Rally class will count for trophy.
19. No dogs are to be left unattended in cars without adequate shade and ventilation. Any dog found unattended without proper shade, ventilation and under stress will be removed at its owner’s expense as deemed necessary by our 4H advisors.
20. Owners are responsible for picking up after their dogs.
21. Practice will not be allowed in the show rings before, during or after the show without the consent and direction of the K-9 Kids
Manatee County 4-H leaders (we’ll be having games which could be considered practice)
22. If a protest is made, it must be accompanied by a $50 deposit, which will become property of the Manatee County 4-H if the protest is not sustained.
23. Any questions regarding the
 

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Could you take your son to normal conformation handling classes, with adults? It's not too hard to learn, and most adult handlers probably wouldn't mind a kid in class if the kid was serious about it. Either that or a non-4H obedience class or beginner agility class... it seems like it would be easier to get him into a positive class than have him be the only kid using positive techniques in a 4H class.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Could you take your son to normal conformation handling classes, with adults? It's not too hard to learn, and most adult handlers probably wouldn't mind a kid in class if the kid was serious about it. Either that or a non-4H obedience class or beginner agility class... it seems like it would be easier to get him into a positive class than have him be the only kid using positive techniques in a 4H class.
Actually, I was just thinking the same thing on the way home... the only classes that I know of are 120 miles from here(one way,) but it might be worth it for my son and the dogs!

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Instead of starting a new thread... this is another thought that I've been wondering about in reference to kids 4-H.

We have 2 dogs. Tee, is my sons dog for the most part but he is also my working partner. He is very work motivated and watches a cow very well. He's never been food motivated as he just "lives" to be told he is a "good boy." The problem with using him in 4-H is that he really doesn't care for people that well. He has a job and would just rather do his job and be left alone. The only person that can cuddle him is my son. They are good buddies and when my son was critically ill, the dog kind of took over watching him and would always come get me when a fever spiked, etc. So in reality, my son has become part of Tee's job, which he takes very seriously. He puts up with a lot of crap from him that he would never put up with anyone else....
Dug, is my golden. He is about 8 months old, 60 lbs, and all puppy! Super happy and loves to fetch. He walks great on a leash for me but will drag my son around once in a while. He's still young and has a lot to learn.

IMO, neither of these dogs is a good 4-H candidate. Tee, because he doesn't care for people and Dug, because he is still a baby. I wouldn't put my son on a colt and expect him to compete and gain confidence, so giving him a puppy just doesn't seem like a good idea either. I don't want to set either my son or the dogs up for failure. I want my son to be able to have fun and gain confidence.

So... I'm considering fostering an older dog and see how it works. The one I'm currently looking at is a senior Jack Russell. She is spade, has all of her shots and has been thru the 4-H thing with a couple of other kids. The only problem that I know of is that she was surrendered to a shelter a couple months ago due to the kids getting bored with a dog - at least that is my assumption. They did bring in paperwork with her that shows her training and participating in 4-H. However, while in the shelter she was adopted. The people that adopted her picked her up and just kind of tossed her in the backseat of their car with another dog and as you can guess... the dog fight began. Stupid on their part, but now she's been labled dog aggressive. She is in rescue now and gets along fine with the other dogs. No food/toy aggression that they've seen. I'm willing to give her a try which is why I told them I'd foster her and see how she does.

Any thoughts? suggestions?
 
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