Are choke collars bad?

asked 2016-09-09 08:43:22 -0600

My new client has used choke collars on his older dogs (one black lab and one akita) for a long time & I've heard these collars can be dangerous. One of the dogs is fearful of other dogs and the other has a 'hot spot' on her leg. From what little I've read I've heard these can be outcomes of a choke collar. Can someone let me know what the current general consensus on these collars is?

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If you don't know how to use one properly, it can be bad. I personally prefer prong collars. Both the choke collar and prong are used to give a little 'tug' or 'poke' if the dog is not behaving, and it should literally be a one second 'tug' or 'poke', not a prolonged discomfort.

Dorothy A.'s profile image Dorothy A.  ( 2016-09-18 17:22:44 -0600 ) edit

Exactly what Dorothy said. Use it as a training tool give them a little one second tug and then correct the behavior. But for big, strong, dogs that need to be trained choke collar is the way to go.

Ryan F.'s profile image Ryan F.  ( 2016-10-04 10:50:48 -0600 ) edit

one dog walked over the other and got her foot in between the choke and the other dogs neck then they she flipped 2x and im watching the bigger dog dying because he couldn't breath. We managed to flip her back 2 x and finally we got them apart...yes a freak accident. And no choke chains are not good

Bah Z.'s profile image Bah Z.  ( 2021-01-03 16:06:17 -0600 ) edit

8 Answers

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answered 2016-09-10 13:14:25 -0600

Personally speaking, I don't like them & would never use one on my OWN dog. But these are not YOUR dogs, & since their owner has been doing it for a long time, I wouldn't try to change their routine. And hot spots can be caused by any one of several things...stress & boredom just being a couple. It's NOT necessarily his collar...the bigger threat is damage to his throat & obviously that hasn't occurred yet, so very well might not, especially since they're large, strong dogs. Many people disagree on the subject, and I don't think it's wise or politically correct to try & foist our opinion on another dog owner...short of outright abuse, I think you should "stay out of it".

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I agree. If it's working, and if the dog isn't being hurt, just go with it.

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-10-05 14:58:08 -0600 ) edit

I have no way of knowing if the dog is hurt. I'm aware of an instance where the dog actually passed out from being tugged too sharply.

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-10-05 15:03:30 -0600 ) edit

A dog passing out is a huge red flag!! Dogs should be trained to respond to a few quick jerks, and them lunging after another dog hard and long enough to faint means that the owner has no idea how to use that thing.

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-10-05 18:49:58 -0600 ) edit

Since the owner is open to anything, what do u think we should try first? A regular collar for both? Maybe an extra thick collar? thx

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-10-05 20:24:52 -0600 ) edit

Recommendation would be a gentle leader...it works on pressure points and is perfect for dogs who gags or chokes due to a training collar.

Cherrie W.'s profile image Cherrie W.  ( 2016-10-19 15:56:34 -0600 ) edit

Before I'd get an "extra thick" collar, I'd try a good Martingale style. It won't correct behavior, but at least there's a limit to how tight it will close, & there's no chance of them pulling it off over their heads.

Nancy C.'s profile image Nancy C.  ( 2016-11-03 15:09:50 -0600 ) edit
answered 2016-10-05 14:50:55 -0600

I prefer prong collars to choke collars, only because the choke collars close completely which means the dog is at risk for strangulation. That being said, they can be a wonderful training aid, and I have seen them used safely and effectively on many dogs.

If you do not have the training or experience to use one correctly, I would recommend you simply tell the owner that you are not comfortable using the device as you are not familiar with it and don't want to accidentally harm the dog.
It's unprofessional to judge or condemn another owner's training methods unless they are not effective, or abusive, and the use of the choke collar doesn't fall into either of those categories.

Your information about causing hot spots is incorrect. Hot spots are caused by a wide variety of conditions, sometimes including genetic predisposition, and is not directly related to training methods.

Safety rule: NEVER allow a dog to wear a choke collar (or any training collar) around the house. He should have a separate collar to hold tags, and the choke collar does become a safety hazard if it is never removed from the dog's neck. It's a training device, not a necklace.

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I spoke to the wife and she had been concerned about the choke collar for awhile actually. Her dog ran to try to go after another dog, she tugged on the collar and the dog passed out in one instance. Now I'm trying to help her find alternatives to the choke collar.

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-10-05 14:57:22 -0600 ) edit

And I'm aware that there likely isn't a direct correlation between choke collars and hot spots but I've read enough to suggest there could be a link

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-10-05 14:58:46 -0600 ) edit

The best alternative is a prong collar. But its a training aid. It's a tool you use to help train your dog. If you don't already have that knowledge, then nothing is going to help.

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-10-05 18:39:13 -0600 ) edit

Yeah, I'm not a trainer and I obviously can't force them to train their dogs so perhaps I'll try walking them with just the collar.

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-10-05 19:11:34 -0600 ) edit
answered 2016-09-20 19:20:10 -0600

If you use a choke collar correctly, it gives you better control over a strong dog WITHOUT injuring them. I have always had big strong breeds with very muscular necks, and choke collars worked well with them. They are easy to slip on quickly, and then just keep it loose and gently jangle it as an audible cue to stay close. If a dog with a big neck tries to back out of a regular collar, it's easy for them to do, but not with a choke collar. Also, in situations of aggression, nothing gives you better control than a choke collar brought up behind the ears........ a small person can easily control a very large and strong dog. If you are constantly pulling and putting pressure on it, you are not using it correctly, and not properly training your dog.

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How does one properly use a choke collar then? I try to tug only once but the dogs don't come

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-10-05 08:20:38 -0600 ) edit

They are old dogs, so are probably used to being allowed to take their time. I don't rush my old dog either, and tugging a collar or harness would make her lose her balance. On a younger dog, several quick jangles, not tugs,work if they were trained right.

Lynn D.'s profile image Lynn D.  ( 2016-10-05 09:41:16 -0600 ) edit

Perhaps a little more time and patience while they sniff their favorite spots is what's needed?

Lynn D.'s profile image Lynn D.  ( 2016-10-05 09:44:06 -0600 ) edit

The problem is that around their urban neighborhood there are lots of chicken bones off to the side of the sidewalk and on the grass & that's usually what they're trying to sniff out.

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-10-05 14:59:50 -0600 ) edit

And these chicken bones are often pretty hidden & I don't even see them until the dogs have snatched them up. So that makes walking them with the choke collars a lot more complicated. They're also both extremely stubborn

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-10-05 15:01:15 -0600 ) edit

Btw this is not my dog, this is my client's dog

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-10-05 15:13:48 -0600 ) edit

You use a choke collar as a correction. Start with the dog on a relaxed lead. If the dog walks too far forward or begins to put pressure, give a short jerk on the collar. Some dogs need 2-3 sharp jerks to get their attention. There should be no pulling, and no dragging.

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-10-05 18:52:36 -0600 ) edit

The jerk tells the dog to stop pulling, and to come back to a position where you want him, where he is no longer leaning against the leash.

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-10-05 18:53:22 -0600 ) edit

Big strong dogs who are used to ignoring the collar will need stronger jerks, more like starting a lawn mower. It is a nightmare to retrain dogs who have already been trained to bulldoze through a choke collar. Your hands and arms will be sore, and you'll only make it about a block in 15 min.

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-10-05 18:55:11 -0600 ) edit

Well trained dogs are awesome. I can just flick my wrist a little bit, enough to jingle the chain, and my dog slows down and comes right back. That's the goal you work toward when you start using those collars. It takes work.

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-10-05 18:58:10 -0600 ) edit

The proper way for a training collar is to be up high right behind the ears. If you ever watch a dog show, the handlers always keep the collars in this position; not down on the neck by the shoulders.

Cherrie W.'s profile image Cherrie W.  ( 2016-10-19 16:00:37 -0600 ) edit
answered 2016-10-10 09:40:29 -0600

I wouldn't say that they are bad, but they definitely shouldn't be anyone's first choice. Are they not only meant for dogs that are extremely difficult to train anyway? In my rather short life I've managed to train 2 dogs using only positive reinforcement. I'm not going to say that this has made me an expert, it definitely, has not, but I do think that every dog owner should first try to train his/her dog with positive reinforcement and, if possible, avoid things like choke collars.

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answered 2016-10-06 18:24:34 -0600

When I was growing up we used the prong collar for our first dog. I did not see a problem with it at the time however I was very young. Now that I have adopted my own dog from the SPCA they specifically told me NOT to use a prong or choke collar on my dog. She is such a puller though and the sensi-harness I was given was not helpful! I talked with the trainer at my store and was told if the choke collar was used in the right way it was fine. However after having a session with him he told me yes it does hurt them. I used it for a short time before I decided it was not right for my dog. She has short hair and sensitive skin. She got scabs around her neck and I didn't think it even helped her pulling all that much. I now use a head collar. It is called a gentle leader. I have much better control over her now, it is amazing. She took a few minutes to get used to it, but now she is fine with it. I highly recommend this training tool.

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answered 2016-09-10 14:50:48 -0600

I would not use one for my dog or any dogs I care for. If the owner insisted that the dog needed such an aid, I would politely decline to use stating I did not feel comfortable doing so (more along the lines of saying I was not a trainer and was not confident in my knowledge of it, not arguing about its use). If the pet parent and I didn't agree on terms, I'd encourage them to find a better match.

You may choose to remind the client that the terms of service section 2.11 states choke collars and other similar aids requires a written training plan prior to the stay covering the specific method of training has been agreed upon by Pet Owner and Pet Care Service Provider.https://www.rover.com/tos/?ref=qa-com...

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Since I've already walked the dogs with these collars a few times I just don't know what approach to take. Do you have any suggestions? Also, what collars/harnesses do you recommend?

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-09-10 19:35:06 -0600 ) edit

Generally, I don't accept bookings for big dogs. However, based on the breed, I'd think these are two very strong dogs. If in your opinion, using these collars results in a safe walk, then maybe you want to continue using them & discuss alternatives before next booking. A friendly "did you know...?

Deb A.'s profile image Deb A.  ( 2016-09-10 22:55:10 -0600 ) edit

I always recommend a harness with fixed length leash, but not any particular brand. Different breeds are susceptible to different injuries as a result of long-term use of just collars vs. harness.

Deb A.'s profile image Deb A.  ( 2016-09-10 22:58:37 -0600 ) edit

They're both pretty old; 10 and 12 I believe, so it's not like they pull hard at all. They're pretty easy to deal with and the female black lab lags behind a lot so I feel kinda bad pulling her. He keeps a pretty short leash too.

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-09-11 12:29:20 -0600 ) edit

Thank you for the suggestion. I was thinking of just bringing it up in a casual way like 'did you know?' like you said. Also, this is another question, but do you have recommendations for a small beagle? This is my other client and they haven't gotten her a harness yet

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-09-11 12:30:14 -0600 ) edit

I used to have a couple favorite brands, but due to changes in manufacturing (fit/durability), my opinions changed. Proper fit which differs for each dog is the most important consideration. Higher end pet boutique stores here will help the customer fit the dog in store, like a personal shopper VIP.

Deb A.'s profile image Deb A.  ( 2016-09-11 15:26:58 -0600 ) edit

I use an Easy-Walk harness for mine. He likes to pull, and it helps to control him without him yanking my arm off. It is also easy to put on, just a simple click.

Lainie W.'s profile image Lainie W.  ( 2016-09-15 10:19:34 -0600 ) edit

I have an intact male lab boarded with me now, and his owner walks him on a "head halter". As soon as she leaves, I take it off and never pull it out again. He walks just fine with verbal commands and leash tugs! I don't even know why she needs it!

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-10-05 14:55:11 -0600 ) edit

On that note, if an owner tells you the dog needs an aid, you will probably in fact need it yourself. Test the waters, try walking with just a collar, and don't judge until you know for sure that the dog truly does not required the training aid any more. Some dogs do need one!!

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-10-05 14:56:39 -0600 ) edit

Harnesses on big dogs are a disaster waiting to happen, and simply allow the dog to throw his full weight into the leash. Smaller dogs do not have this problem.

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-10-05 14:57:27 -0600 ) edit

But the dogs don't respond to the choking collar so how is it helping them?

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-10-05 15:11:11 -0600 ) edit

If they don't respond, then you're right: it's totally pointless. They may have never been properly trained to walk, and the owner just slapped a choke collar on them and expected the mere existence of it to fix all the problems.

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-10-05 18:42:21 -0600 ) edit
answered 2016-09-24 10:31:04 -0600

Just curious - what is the difference between a choke collar and a prong collar? I had previously thought that these were the same kind of collar.

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I don't know. I'm talking about a chain collar, so no prongs

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-09-24 10:39:13 -0600 ) edit

A choke collar can slip all the way closed, and is basically a chain that you slip through a loop, and attach a leash on one end. Pull the leash, and the collar attempts to tighten "closed". A prong collar is a metal collar that has metal nubs on the inside. It squeezes and does not choke.

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-10-05 14:53:31 -0600 ) edit

Jessica if you were me in this situation, what would you do? Just walk the dogs with the normal collar for the stay that's in just 5 days?

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-10-08 14:36:25 -0600 ) edit

Yes, I would just walk them with a regular collar during their stay. I may or may not notify the owners that the dogs did not need the collar (depends on the owner personalities, openness, etc).

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-10-14 12:36:56 -0600 ) edit
answered 2016-09-28 01:00:09 -0600

I find that choke collars can cause complications in some breeds. Some dog breed can be more at risk for essentially their throat collapsing. The best harness I've found has been the one that goes around their hind legs, it's where dogs hold all their power. You lift it when they pull... Essentially they can't thrust forward with their hind legs. It's also better for older dogs, and can be helpful in assisting them with walking or climbing into cars etc.

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Can you recommend a brand for this kind of harness (that goes around dogs' hind legs)?

Sarah B.'s profile image Sarah B.  ( 2016-10-05 08:21:03 -0600 ) edit

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