Thursday, November 6, 2008

Training Tools - Choke Chain

So, how many people out there have been told that their dog should be trained on a choke chain? I was told I should use one for my reactive dog.

I know they work and I know that some people swear by them. Personally, I don't like using them. We are required to use them at the Pound for all the dogs that come in (with no history on the dog, it is difficult to work with anything else), but on my own dogs, I don't. (Once I've worked with a Pound dog for about a week, I will usually switch to a martingale collar, but that is another post!)

I like using positive methods - such as rewards - for proper heels and not pulling on leash. I know a lot of people find that the quick-tug works for their dogs. Although it can work for some dogs, it doesn't for others. Each dog is different and training should be different for each accordingly.

Personally, I have found that the quick-tug doesn't work well for many dogs and have had much more success with more dogs by using positive rewards (toys/treats/etc).

Do you use a choke chain? Have you used one in the past? Would you consider using one if you ended up with a large dog (possibly close to the same weight as you?) that was reactive on leash or would you use something else??


GoLightly said...

I wish Cesar, the dog-whisperer's collar, designed by his wife, were commercially available. They look like they'd work well. I may get my local harness maker to make one.
I will never use a choke again. My crappy "well-respected" trainer, the sadist, put one on my shy, scared softie, and after one session, I refused to use it. I had used one on my old dog, when I knew no better. Never, ever again. My asshat neighbour used to TIE HER DOG UP, with a choke. That got her another call from the SPCA, thanks to me.
I personally train towards collar-less. They love the feeling, and they know it's an honour, when I take their collars off.

Oh, and please, continue to ignore me. Makes me feel really good about commenting here.
Yes, THAT was sarcasm, sorry.
Goes with the red-head territory.

Michele at Daily Dog Lick said...

We tried a choke chain on our 72-pound German Shepherd mix who was quite a puller when we got him. I think the sound and the pressure helped (we never pulled hard, just light, quick communication tugs). I found it difficult to get the chain to loosen properly between tugs though, so it didn't last. And yes, we did get informed on how to properly use it, I just found it too cumbersome.

BTW golightly - you can order the Cesar collar you mention at his website.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

golightly - I haven't been ignoring you. Just busy with symposium junk at work for the last week. Had a hard time simply posting let alone replying :) That's all over as of today though so all should be back to normal.

I have never seen a choke work well for a shy dog. They do so much better with rewards than corrections ...

I looked at the Illusion collar, but having never used it, can't say much.

PS - One of my sisters is a natural Red AND a Leo to boot! I've gotten used to it over the years.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Michele - I have found that too; If they pull, then they tend to pull constantly. This obviously doesn't offer much opportunity to loosen and therefore decreases the effectiveness of the collar.

I find the best way for these guys is to find a way to make you important enough to stick close to.

With our herding dog, any physical correction will result in her pulling or pushing your limits more than she was before. We found the best way was to keep her interested and reward - otherwise she just got bored and it became a fun game.

GoLightly said...

I've looked on Cesar's site, I would just hate to order it, and find it doesn't fit. I am up in Canada. Heck, my local pet supply quit stocking floating frisbees, not enough demand, so I HAD to order from the States., and they were way cheaper than here, FFS. I do try to keep my money in my country.
My dogs aren't Large, or Medium or small. They are right in the middle of the middle.
I have a hard time finding regular collars that fit properly.
As I said, I am more a fan of collar-less training, the ultimate goal:)
My dogs are sort of a rare breed:)
Australian Kelpies.
My sister has tried to help a neighbour with an overly exuberant Golden, and they use a pinch, and the dog doesn't feel that either.
Training with positive reinforcement for the right behaviour is really the way to go.

Sorry about the rant, god I am such a beeyotch. I can't believe I typed that. I HATE PMS....

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

A friend of mine introduced me to Australian Kelpies ... great dogs. High drive, but after getting to know a few I would consider bringing one home.

I know what you mean about ordering things online from US. I just ordered a leash from a US company (it arrived two days ago). Here's how it went:
$29 - leash
$20 - shipping and handling
+ exchange rate at the time
= $70 and change.

My husband choked when he saw that I had spent over $70 on a leash ... of course, the fact that I had spent the last 3 months searching for a good, leather leash that won't break didn't factor in ... I had already bought a leather leash and it had broken.

Dog_geek said...

I haven't used a choke chain on any of my dogs for about 15 years. I don't even own one. At best, I think they are a fairly ineffective way to teach a dog not to pull. At worst, they are nothing but near-constant, sometimes severe punishment that some dogs learn to tolerate in order to get where they want to go.

If I had a large, reactive dog that I was worried could pull me over, I weould go for a gentle leader rather than a choke chain, although the GL is also just a tool to manage the dog while training appropriate leash walking behavior. I've never had to use a GL with any of my dogs, either, but have recommended them for a few clients who were not physically capable of restraining their dog and who were in danger of getting pulled over.

My last three dogs have never worn anything but a flat buckle collar, and all three quickly learned with positive reinforcement methods to walk nicely on leash. All just my opinion, of course! Mileage may vary!

GoLightly said...

"Collars are like chinese finger puzzles to dogs"
I can't remember who said that, but it's true.
A choke is just a torturing form of the puzzle.

GoLightly said...

My breeder describes Kelpies as "border collies with an off switch". I never thought I'd own a pure-bred, but when my old dog Rusty (a rescue) passed away, I couldn't find any dogs I wanted at the shelters. Pit-bulls, and more pit-bulls. Nothing against them, just not my kind of dog. I always thought my Rusty was an AK mix, and when I met my dogs grandmother, she was a blue coloured spittin' image of Rusty. SOLD!!
But of course, I still donate my $$ to shelters, goodness knows they need it.
They have very high drive, but they do enjoy time on the couch, too:) Really trainable, for just about anything, but because they are so smart, they need really good training early. Kinda like all dogs do, but in their case, it can be hard to fix early mistakes.
If you don't keep them busy enough, as with all dogs, you are in trouble. My puppy Blaze loves to swim, and play FrisBee. My older dog contents herself with Frisbee, and stalking snakes, moles, and squirrels. Older dog Flip couldn't swim if her life depended on it!
pp.s. I am in the process of quitting smoking, it makes me rant a bit too, keeps my fingers busy, I guess:)

Michele at Daily Dog Lick said...

DDF - re: your comment 11/6 2:42 -

I think you are right on with this comment. This dog has a congenital nerve disorder and had some health problems early on, including a period in puppyhood where he could barely walk. This, combined with (I suspect) early abuse before we got him has made him somewhat indifferent to humans, including us. Thus, praising and scolding have no effect on him and he is unconcerned with losing us. He is extremely food motivated though, and that has been the breakthrough in his training. Using treats has made him motivated to follow our instructions, stay nearby and focus on us. It also has helped us to make the behavior we want much clearer to him. As you say in your comment, it keeps him interested and makes a game with high rewards for him.

Barb said...

I would imagine that the reason the shelter requires the use of a choke is that it won't pull off over the dog's head - of course a properly fitted martingale won't either, but you don't have to worry so much about "properly fitting" a choke to get that safety effect.
But I personally HATE to use a choke on anything other than an already-pretty-well-trained dog. You can get tracheal damage so easily if a dog pulls hard against a choke, which most of them do.
I'd rather use almost anything else on an untrained or reactive dog, or one that is an unknown quantity.
Oh, and if anyone is looking for GOOD leather leashes... have you checked out J&J?
I am NOT affiliated with them in any way... but I love their leads. They aren't cheap but not overpriced either, and last forever. I've got at least one lead from them that is almost 20 years old. I like the double braided leads best, in the shorter lengths. Super strong and beautiful and flexible.

Megan said...

I show in AKC conformation.

I start puppies on a buckle collar, in the fenced-in backyard, for leash-breaking and starting to teach the "stand". When they start showing at 6 months, they're on a soft cloth choke (so that if, God forbid, they spook and pull back, the collar won't slip off). Around one year to 18 months, they'll be ready for a chain collar, because by then they shouldn't really need correction, and I want to be able to give them very precise, softhanded cues (to turn, shift your weight, etc.). By the time they're mature adults, they should be shown almost entirely on a loose lead, which means that they never feel (or need) collar cues anyway.

Chain collars are like any piece of equipment: you can use them well, or you can use them badly. Likewise, some dogs will work well with them and some won't. It's no more a cure-all than a headcollar or the Cesar Milan collar, but it has a time and place.

That said, nothing ticks me off more than seeing strung-up, strangled, jerked-around dogs in piano-wire-gauge chain collars being run around the ring. blech!

Karen ~ Cider Antiques said...

Hi, thank you for visiting my blog.

My dog is 8 years old now and has finally calmed down, LOL. She is a Collie, Husky, German Shep mix so she has an energetic make-up. The Gentle Leader worked well for her but she was able to wiggle out of it once in a while (even when I thought it was quite tight - the two finger gap test). I just use a regular collar now.

When I was a volunteer dog walker at the Oakville H.S., we had a different use for the choke collar. We would use them as a back-up only. A large/loose choke collar would be put on first, then the GL. The leash would hook into both the GL and the ring on the choke collar. Using a loose choke collar was a great back-up to the GL. If the GL ever slipped off you did not lose the dog too! This was especially useful when collars were rotated and used on more than one dog (i.e. not a perfect fit every time).

~ Karen