By: Patti Strand  Date: 01/8/2012 Category: | Canine Issues |

NAIA’s equipment panel addressed two major points: A well-behaved dog has a better chance of remaining in his home (or getting a new home if necessary), and owners and trainers need access to a variety of tools for teaching good manners. Any tool can be misused, panel members said, and few tools should be discarded because of the potential for misuse.

The panel included Steve Lindsay, moderator; Portland dog trainer Ann Morris; trainer/author Brian Kilcommons; breeder Pat Hastings; Innotek representative Curt McLay; Arizona dog trainer Ann Austin; and Dr. R.K. Anderson, inventor of the Gentle Leader® head collar.

The tools described included buckle, prong, and slip collars; string cheese and clickers; head collars; and electronic collars; panel members made the point that the choice of the tool should fit both dog and owner and that whatever the tool, the goal is to teach the dog appropriate behavior through positive and negative reinforcement, not punishment.

Kilcommons led the discussion with a review of the proper use of slip collars and prong collars, two training aids that have been much maligned of late, and a look at the evolution of dog training equipment and methods.

“We should be able to look back and see how far we’ve grown,” he said, adding that the challenges of dog training require a full toolbox. Properly used, these collars are part of that toolbox.

McLay then presented the case for electronic collars, Anderson described the use of his head collar, and Morris talked a bit about string cheese and clickers. Other panelists weighed in to answer questions from the audience.


Electronic Collars

Contrary to popular opinion, McLay said that electronic collars don’t burn because the amps in the batteries are too low in relation to the volts. Whether used as part of an underground fence system, as a no-bark collar, or for training, they use “electronic stimulation,” not “electric shock” as a correction. The newest training collars have several levels of stimulation; McLay said that trainers should start with the lowest level and work up if necessary. Several people in the audience tried the collar on themselves and reported that they felt discomfort but not burning or pain.

Head Collars

The head collar is a relatively new development in dog training. Based on the premise that the dog’s body must follow his head, it physically redirects the dog’s attention to the handler.

“Halters and head collars for dogs, such as Gentle Leader® head collar, are similar to halters for horses,” Anderson said. “They have been used for thousands of years because they are very effective in guiding and managing behavior. Halters and head collars for dogs were developed to use the natural behaviors of dogs to have dogs sit and stay and walk at your side. They use natural instincts to prevent many unwanted behaviors of dogs such as pulling on leash to pull handlers down the street, prevent jumping on people, prevent or stop barking and often calm anxious dogs. They provide easy, gentle and effective control for women, children, and the elderly, as well as men, to manage the behavior of small active dogs or large controlling dogs to achieve behavior desired by the handler. Although sold for less than 20 years, thousands of people have found them to be an effective way to manage behavior of their companion dog.”

Morris rounded out the discussion by saying that she uses clickers and string cheese as positive motivation in her personal training and in her training business.

The upshot of the session was praise for the broad spectrum of training tools available so that owners and instructors can fit the collar to the dog.

About The Author

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Patti Strand - NAIA President

Patti is a recognized expert and consultant on contemporary animal issues, most notably responsible dog ownership and the animal rights movement. She often appears on radio and television and her articles on canine issues, animal welfare, public policy and animal rights have appeared in major US news publications and in trade, professional and scientific journals. Patti and her…

All Authors Of This Article: | Patti Strand |
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