The Dangers of Choke, Pinch (prong), and Shock Collars


“For starters, most of these methods are often used improperly at the wrong times,” said celebrity dog behaviorist David Reinecker who runs a successful business offering dog training in Beverly Hills, CA. “But even if used properly, they can have negative effects on a dog’s behavior. First of all, these collars and chains induce pain, which automatically leads to aggression, which is the exact opposite of what you want from your dog. They can also scare and confuse the dog who will associate the shock or pinch with whatever they are focusing on at that exact moment.”

Misuse of these devices appears to be the most common issue experts have with this technique. Pet owners will typically pull on these chains or use these collars after the dog misbehaved. The problem is that the dog has almost always shifted his or her attention to something else and isn’t thinking about what angered the owner. The dog then associates this random painful sensation with whatever he or she is focusing on. This can be dangerous if the dog is focusing on another object, another dog, a child or the owner.

Other behavioral side effects could occur, including fear of a certain person or a certain area. Or worse, the dog could become aggressive toward people or places he or she associates with the pain.

“You have to remember that dogs are smart animals,” Reinecker said. “All it takes is one time and the dog will never forget.”

Even in experienced hands, it can take several repeated attempts before the dog associates the shock or pinch with the wrong behavior and even more before he or she learns how to avoid it by acting the correct way. Then, of course, there is the chance of accidentally pulling on the chains at the wrong times or a shock collar malfunctioning, confusing the dog even more.

As many experts say, choke chains, pinch collars and electric shock collars are often used as quick solutions by uneducated owners. David Reinecker says that about 75 percent of the dog owners he works with use or have used this method while training dogs in the past. But, he’s quick to point out that it’s not necessarily they’re fault. These methods have long been considered acceptable since some well-known animal behaviorists introduced them in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s been only recently that experts have realized the negative effects these methods have. And those negative effects go well beyond simply behavior.

According to recent medical studies, the use of these methods can cause numerous types of physical injuries to a dog, including vertebrae damage, fainting, spinal cord injuries, organ malfunctions, bruising of the trachea, larynx or esophagus and sharp headaches.

For all these reasons and more, most canine experts, including groups like the Association of Pet Behavior Counselors have spoken out against such training methods. Instead, most say the solution lies in gentle response training, like Reinecker’s method.

 “It’s instant, to the point and it doesn’t harm the animal,” he said. “It truly is the best way to get the best results from your dog without causing confusion, pain or aggression.”

Sourcing: Information was pulled from multiple sources for this story.