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Hi, everyone,

I see another thread recently on pinch collars, but I don't want to hijack it.

Last night, I took Duke to his first obedience class. He **normally** listens very well to me when we're training at home, but I thought obedience class could be good because I wasn't sure how he'd be around other dogs.

First, I'll say that the other dogs were a huge problem, and their owners seemed to totally accept their behavior. For instance, I kept getting Duke to sit nice at my feet, and another dog kept running over (on its leash!) and jumping on him and barking in his face.

The trainer had us start class by walking clockwise around the room with our dogs and she recorded it on her iPad to show us a before/after when she tapes again at the last class. Though Duke normally heels fine for me (we worked really hard on that on walks at home), he strained and pulled a bit, especially as other dogs stopped in front of him and kept running back to him to sniff and try to instigate play, or as dogs behind him ran up to him and bumped into him from behind and beside.

Right after that, the trainer had us all sit in chairs with our dogs, and she showed us collars she recommended for everyone to buy. For most little dogs, she provided what she called slip collars (I think they're called martingales). For Duke, about 18 weeks/35+ pounds, and one other dog, she recommended what she called a prong collar. I think this is a pinch collar that chokes. She showed everyone how to do "leash corrections" the "correct way," and then put the dogs in the new collars.

She told me to correct the minute he pulled, and when I did (not hard!), he literally screamed and cried. He did it again, and she told me not to correct anymore since "he is such a big baby, he'll train himself!" He did not pull anymore that night. At the end of the night, she told me to take the collar home and bring her the money for it next week.

I readily agreed, as it really did seem to work. Now that I've had the night to reflect and to read up on prong collars on this forum, I'm worried that:

1) The collar could seriously hurt him.
2) The collar isn't humane.
3) He could learn just as well, though maybe with more time, with a normal collar that won't cause aversion to situations. (He seemed very happy, but I don't want him to associate classes, or walks, with pain.)
4) The collar is just a "quick fix," and the "lesson" won't last if we go back to a normal collar. (The trainer recommends I leave it on him all the time.)

I really thought the trainer was very nice, but now that I think about it, I wonder if she was trying to give everyone "quick fixes" so they feel she's a really good trainer/miracle worker, and if she wasn't trying to just make money.

I can't get a refund for the class, and I do think we can benefit from it, so I don't think we should avoid returning for the remainder of our classes, but I'm just feeling really confused right now.

Regarding both the collar AND the trainer, what would you all do? What do you think?

Thank you in advance from both Duke and me!
 

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Hi, everyone,

I see another thread recently on pinch collars, but I don't want to hijack it.

Last night, I took Duke to his first obedience class. He **normally** listens very well to me when we're training at home, but I thought obedience class could be good because I wasn't sure how he'd be around other dogs.

First, I'll say that the other dogs were a huge problem, and their owners seemed to totally accept their behavior. For instance, I kept getting Duke to sit nice at my feet, and another dog kept running over (on its leash!) and jumping on him and barking in his face.

The trainer had us start class by walking clockwise around the room with our dogs and she recorded it on her iPad to show us a before/after when she tapes again at the last class. Though Duke normally heels fine for me (we worked really hard on that on walks at home), he strained and pulled a bit, especially as other dogs stopped in front of him and kept running back to him to sniff and try to instigate play, or as dogs behind him ran up to him and bumped into him from behind and beside.

Right after that, the trainer had us all sit in chairs with our dogs, and she showed us collars she recommended for everyone to buy. For most little dogs, she provided what she called slip collars (I think they're called martingales). For Duke, about 18 weeks/35+ pounds, and one other dog, she recommended what she called a prong collar. I think this is a pinch collar that chokes. She showed everyone how to do "leash corrections" the "correct way," and then put the dogs in the new collars.

She told me to correct the minute he pulled, and when I did (not hard!), he literally screamed and cried. He did it again, and she told me not to correct anymore since "he is such a big baby, he'll train himself!" He did not pull anymore that night. At the end of the night, she told me to take the collar home and bring her the money for it next week.

I readily agreed, as it really did seem to work. Now that I've had the night to reflect and to read up on prong collars on this forum, I'm worried that:

1) The collar could seriously hurt him.
2) The collar isn't humane.
3) He could learn just as well, though maybe with more time, with a normal collar that won't cause aversion to situations. (He seemed very happy, but I don't want him to associate classes, or walks, with pain.)
4) The collar is just a "quick fix," and the "lesson" won't last if we go back to a normal collar. (The trainer recommends I leave it on him all the time.)


I really thought the trainer was very nice, but now that I think about it, I wonder if she was trying to give everyone "quick fixes" so they feel she's a really good trainer/miracle worker, and if she wasn't trying to just make money.

I can't get a refund for the class, and I do think we can benefit from it, so I don't think we should avoid returning for the remainder of our classes, but I'm just feeling really confused right now.

Regarding both the collar AND the trainer, what would you all do? What do you think?

Thank you in advance from both Duke and me!
I totally agree with your thoughts on the bolded points. Prongs have their place, but IMO that is never on a dog who is in a new and distracting environment and doesn't know what's expected of him.

I would recommend not going back and finding a positive reinforcement based trainer.
 

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I would never use a prong collar on a puppy that young. They need to learn what you want them to do which is to walk happily by your side, not be corrected with a prong collar for doing something they do not even know is wrong. I have trained all my dogs just using a flat collar. It does not help at all that she let the dogs get so close together the first class. They should be spaced out so that until they are under control they do not interfere with the other dogs.

The only Obedience class is our area uses the same methods but I just go with my flat collar, treats and they ended up better trained than most of the other dogs. It sounds like you are on the right track with your dog and I would certainly not spoil it by using a prong collar. If they insist you use one I would ask for my money back and find another class. I know that is hard sometimes as it could be like where I live where there are no others.
 

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It's perfectly normal for young (or even older) dogs to sort of lose their minds when in a new, highly distracting area. A dog training class would be just below a dog park in terms of distractions for many dogs. I wouldn't expect a dog to walk in a proper heel while in a new training class with other dogs, people, and the smells that accumulate in a training room.

From your description of the class, it doesn't sound as though the trainer was managing the handlers and dogs very well. At our training club, dogs running up to other dogs during a class would not fly. Once can be excused; if it happens more often, the trainer will adjust things to prevent chaos (although, most of the participants are responsible enough to avoid any thing like that happening in the first place).

I'm assuming this was the first class? A beginners class? I wouldn't be comfortable using a slip or prong collar (or "corrections" in general) as a first-line training device. I wouldn't consider using positive punishment / negative reinforcement until a dog has been trained and proofed using positive reinforcement-based methods, and only if s/he needs it (not all dogs will).

If you continue in the class, you could explain that you're not comfortable with the prong collar and will use a standard flat collar. The opportunity to work with distractions is always helpful.

1) The collar could seriously hurt him.
Used properly, it probably won't cause physical injury. Improper use (of any training / management tool) has the potential to cause harm. Since your dog sounds "soft" there is the possibility of psychological harm.

2) The collar isn't humane.
That's for you to decide. As I said, I wouldn't be comfortable using P+ / R- as a first-line training tool; I personally probably wouldn't use it at all. That said, I can understand that there are situations where it can be a reasonable option.

3) He could learn just as well, though maybe with more time, with a normal collar that won't cause aversion to situations. (He seemed very happy, but I don't want him to associate classes, or walks, with pain.)
He could. Many folks here have taught their dogs loose leash walking without using aversives. Some use prongs / e-collars as management tools, but only after their dog have been taught using force-free methods.
There is the potential for the dog to associate class, walks, other dogs, or you with pain. It's the same idea as the dog associating the click with a reward. Classical conditioning can work both ways.

4) The collar is just a "quick fix," and the "lesson" won't last if we go back to a normal collar. (The trainer recommends I leave it on him all the time.)
That's another possibility.

If you're interested in finding another trainer in the future, check out the Pet Professional Guild and/or Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Success Just Clicks is in your area, too.
 

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I'll speak from the prospective of someone that does sometimes use a prong collar (after careful consideration of each dog and each situation and why I'm using it vs another tactic) Comments in bold

Hi, everyone,

I see another thread recently on pinch collars, but I don't want to hijack it.

Last night, I took Duke to his first obedience class. He **normally** listens very well to me when we're training at home, but I thought obedience class could be good because I wasn't sure how he'd be around other dogs.

First, I'll say that the other dogs were a huge problem, and their owners seemed to totally accept their behavior. For instance, I kept getting Duke to sit nice at my feet, and another dog kept running over (on its leash!) and jumping on him and barking in his face.
In a formal class, the dogs should not be interacting with each other except in planned and controlled ways- such as learning to walk past another dog nicely. The dogs should not be running and jumping and barking in each other's faces. Many dogs will act more excited and forget their manners in class, that's normal but the class should have enough space for everyone to spread out and the trainer should be encouraging the owners to work on something like "Look at me" or similar to keep their dogs' attention

The trainer had us start class by walking clockwise around the room with our dogs and she recorded it on her iPad to show us a before/after when she tapes again at the last class. Though Duke normally heels fine for me (we worked really hard on that on walks at home), he strained and pulled a bit, especially as other dogs stopped in front of him and kept running back to him to sniff and try to instigate play, or as dogs behind him ran up to him and bumped into him from behind and beside.

Right after that, the trainer had us all sit in chairs with our dogs, and she showed us collars she recommended for everyone to buy. For most little dogs, she provided what she called slip collars (I think they're called martingales). For Duke, about 18 weeks/35+ pounds, and one other dog, she recommended what she called a prong collar. I think this is a pinch collar that chokes. She showed everyone how to do "leash corrections" the "correct way," and then put the dogs in the new collars.
My opinion is that a trainer that jumps right to saying everyone should use a prong without individually evaluating each dog, each dog's training needs, the situations the owner might have problems controlling the dog, what the owner has done thus far for training etc, is likely either looking for a short-cut to "guarantee" results by the end of a short class or doesn't have a good understanding of the wider world of training. I wouldn't be putting a prong on a 4 1/2 month old puppy anyway

She told me to correct the minute he pulled, and when I did (not hard!), he literally screamed and cried. He did it again, and she told me not to correct anymore since "he is such a big baby, he'll train himself!" He did not pull anymore that night. At the end of the night, she told me to take the collar home and bring her the money for it next week.

I readily agreed, as it really did seem to work. Now that I've had the night to reflect and to read up on prong collars on this forum, I'm worried that:

1) The collar could seriously hurt him.
Used properly, the risk of physical harm is pretty low, as low as anything that goes around a dog's neck really. But especially on a soft dog, there is the risk of emotional harm and bad associations/fallout
2) The collar isn't humane.
That's subjective overall, but in the case of a young and emotionally soft puppy, I would say the collar is inappropriate
3) He could learn just as well, though maybe with more time, with a normal collar that won't cause aversion to situations. (He seemed very happy, but I don't want him to associate classes, or walks, with pain.)
Yes, he can learn to walk well with a plain collar. Especially since you have the advantage of starting from when he's young and not huge with entrenched bad habits
4) The collar is just a "quick fix," and the "lesson" won't last if we go back to a normal collar. (The trainer recommends I leave it on him all the time.)
If she actually means ALL the time, that is very dangerous. A prong should only be used when there is a leash attached and the leash is held by a human. It should never be left on an unsupervised dog, on a dog that is playing loose and very definitely not used for tie-out. In a way it is a quick fix. That's one reason I have used them on foster dogs-- I get a strong and untrained dog and I have to get that dog some real exercise safely in an urban area so I use the quick fix for those circumstances while working on things like penalty yards for LLW and training basic commands leash-less with treats in the yard and house.

I really thought the trainer was very nice, but now that I think about it, I wonder if she was trying to give everyone "quick fixes" so they feel she's a really good trainer/miracle worker, and if she wasn't trying to just make money.

I can't get a refund for the class, and I do think we can benefit from it, so I don't think we should avoid returning for the remainder of our classes, but I'm just feeling really confused right now.
Some trainers will let you train with your own choice of equipment and treats and you can pick and choose which suggestions from the trainer that you wish to incorporate into your training while using the class as a distraction proofing location

Regarding both the collar AND the trainer, what would you all do? What do you think?

Thank you in advance from both Duke and me!
 

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Hi! I just wanted to mention, if you decide to look into something more positive-based, that we take classes at the Humane Society on the North Shore and they're all great positive classes. We're currently on a class track for CGC and TDI, but we also took their puppy and advanced puppy classes, too. They are also VERY particular about keeping dogs about three feet from each other (except in the puppy class where a lot of it is puppy play/socialization). I've seen a world of improvement in our pup and the other dogs we're in class with. We all love going to class there.
 

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Ugh ugh ugh. That's what the trainer at the clas I took Penny to made me do (PLUS "just keep "correcting" her until she stops that crying or she'll think she can manipulate you!"). I HATE collar "corrections" on a prong and do think they are cruel. I am OK with using a prong for "power steering" on a big dog who doesn't have good leash manners---there's not a big chance he's going to yank himself as hard as a "correction" more than once. But a person yanking the collar? No.

Do what you're comfortable with, but knowing what I do now, I wouldn't go back and I'd tell them why.
 

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Hi, everyone,

I see another thread recently on pinch collars, but I don't want to hijack it.

Last night, I took Duke to his first obedience class. He **normally** listens very well to me when we're training at home, but I thought obedience class could be good because I wasn't sure how he'd be around other dogs.

First, I'll say that the other dogs were a huge problem, and their owners seemed to totally accept their behavior. For instance, I kept getting Duke to sit nice at my feet, and another dog kept running over (on its leash!) and jumping on him and barking in his face.

The trainer had us start class by walking clockwise around the room with our dogs and she recorded it on her iPad to show us a before/after when she tapes again at the last class. Though Duke normally heels fine for me (we worked really hard on that on walks at home), he strained and pulled a bit, especially as other dogs stopped in front of him and kept running back to him to sniff and try to instigate play, or as dogs behind him ran up to him and bumped into him from behind and beside.

Right after that, the trainer had us all sit in chairs with our dogs, and she showed us collars she recommended for everyone to buy. For most little dogs, she provided what she called slip collars (I think they're called martingales). For Duke, about 18 weeks/35+ pounds, and one other dog, she recommended what she called a prong collar. I think this is a pinch collar that chokes. She showed everyone how to do "leash corrections" the "correct way," and then put the dogs in the new collars.

She told me to correct the minute he pulled, and when I did (not hard!), he literally screamed and cried. He did it again, and she told me not to correct anymore since "he is such a big baby, he'll train himself!" He did not pull anymore that night. At the end of the night, she told me to take the collar home and bring her the money for it next week.

I readily agreed, as it really did seem to work. Now that I've had the night to reflect and to read up on prong collars on this forum, I'm worried that:

1) The collar could seriously hurt him.
2) The collar isn't humane.
3) He could learn just as well, though maybe with more time, with a normal collar that won't cause aversion to situations. (He seemed very happy, but I don't want him to associate classes, or walks, with pain.)
4) The collar is just a "quick fix," and the "lesson" won't last if we go back to a normal collar. (The trainer recommends I leave it on him all the time.)

I really thought the trainer was very nice, but now that I think about it, I wonder if she was trying to give everyone "quick fixes" so they feel she's a really good trainer/miracle worker, and if she wasn't trying to just make money.

I can't get a refund for the class, and I do think we can benefit from it, so I don't think we should avoid returning for the remainder of our classes, but I'm just feeling really confused right now.

Regarding both the collar AND the trainer, what would you all do? What do you think?

Thank you in advance from both Duke and me!
I'm a prong collar user and I consider myself a "balanced" trainer, meaning I do use corrections with my dog. That all being said, I don't think I'd take my puppy back to this class and I'll explain why.

1. The environment. I want my dog to learn, from an early age, to ignore other dogs when we're working together. It sounds like this class is a free for all with most of the class not in control of their dogs at all. I quit a puppy class that had "puppy play time" for this reason. Training, for me, is all about my dog and I interacting. I want my dog to think I'm the most fun thing in the room, not the other dogs.

2. The "one size fits all" approach. Dogs are individuals and, in a class like this, you're just beginning to get to know your dog. There's really no way of knowing if the dog is ever going to need aversive corrections at this point and what level of corrections, if any, the dog will need. I'd walk away from any class that just handed out prong collars on the first day to every dog.

3. How the collar is being used. When I do use corrections, it's only for behaviors that have already been trained and proofed. How fair would it be to punish a person at work for not doing something properly the first time they do it? They've never been shown the right way, so how can you punish them for not magically knowing it? Even in Schutzhund, we teach new behaviors using positive reinforcement and shaping and then only bring in corrections after the dog is consistently doing the new behavior. I have seen dogs that were improperly corrected actually turn on their handlers. This usually happens after years of frustration on the dog's part and a lot of unfair corrections, so it's not something you'd see in the graduation videos of this class.

4. Is this a puppy class? We don't ever use harsh corrections on a puppy. Sam didn't get a prong collar until he was big and strong enough to pull me off my feet and even then I didn't start using it for corrections. For a puppy, I want to build trust and make them think that training is the MOST FUN GAME EVER!!! I want to build that relationship and bond and get to know the dog as an individual. Only then will I later know if I even need to use corrections and how and when to correct if necessary. IMO, puppy classes should be fun for the puppy as well as the handler and set things up for a good relationship.

You may be able to find a better puppy class or beginner's obedience class at a training center that is focused on dog sports. I know the places near us that offer agility or advanced obedience or rally classes usually have better puppy classes. I personally wouldn't bring my dog back to this trainer. It's just so much easier to train with someone who is on the same page as you to begin with rather than trying to fight against a trainer's training style.
 

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She showed everyone how to do "leash corrections" the "correct way," and then put the dogs in the new collars.
Properly administering corrections is something that takes time and experience to master. Fact is, very few people have the inherent skills necessary to pull it off, even AFTER all is said and done.

I seriously doubt that the trainer could teach an entire group of first-timers the *correct way* to do so within one class. In my opinion it's like handing firearms to a bunch of newbs, telling them "this is the chamber and this is the trigger - ready? now everybody GO SHOOT !!"
 
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