Saturday, July 1, 2017

Prong Collars, Choke Collars, Shock Collars

By:  Drayton Michaels, CTC

News Flash!

For those people that think prong collars, choke collars or shock collars do not cause pain and then maintain behavior by the threats or prediction of fear, you are either delusional or greatly misinformed or just don't care if you're aware.

Even if you have a dog that you or someone else say a "trainer", deemed the dog as "fine", they are still dealing with the stress (fear) of potential pain if they're wearing the prong, choke or shock collar. This is how these devices work, pain, then the fear of more pain shuts the dog down. This is how they "work".

If you've been told differently you're source was either lying or they themselves are misinformed. Behavior can be decreased and mostly extinguished with pain. It's called positive punishment. Behavior can be increased or maintained with the threat of punishment. This is negative reinforcement.

Some dogs figure it out right away one maybe two really hard chokes or "pops" on the choke chain or a few shocks and some dogs figure it out and they stop doing whatever it is that they were doing right before the shock or the choke was applied, other dogs however do not figure it out so fast. The question is what's the dog going to associate the fear and pain with?

Will the dog associate The aversive to the behavior, the handler, the yard, the other dog, a child? Dogs generalize fear very easily.

Those dogs that don't stop doing what it was given the fear and pain for are typically labeled "dominant" or "stubborn", those labels are not remotely true, or accurate. These labels also cause an adversarial relationship between the dog and the humans. Dogs do not have the cognitive abilities to formulate moral imperatives.

The dogs that do not stop behavior after one or two chokes or shocks maybe they have a higher threshold for pain or maybe they're more motivated by whatever stimulus has been occurring to keep performing/rehearsing the behavior, and of course many dogs, one or two shocks or chokes and the dog is extremely stressed and fearful. These dogs that become more stressful, fearful and aggressive, these dogs are potentially going to be liabilities and living with lots of stress or perhaps bite someone.
If the dog was already dealing with stress and fear why would anyone put more fear and stress into the equation? If the dog is simply happy, excited, frustrated or young and needing guidance, why cause the dog fear and pain?

The "trainers" who use fear and pain are hoping that the dogs will shut down and when they don't they blame the dog for being stubborn or dominant and continue to inflict fear and pain on the dog in hopes that they will shut down and "learn" THEY are the dominant one, not the dog.

The Problem here is there is always an environmental, biological and historical cause for behavior. That "history" is related to reinforcement or lack of reinforcement.

If the dog does not shut down and start to comply with whatever criteria the person who's using shock and choke has determined, then what happens when the dog sensitizes or develops an overly generalized sense of fear? Typically they continue to blame that dog, "this dog is XYZ", and then these pain trainers give up. This is also another aspect these pain trainers don't tell people, if their approach of fear and pain fails, they bail as they've only got three moves, choke, shock and repeat fear and pain to some degree.

If these so-called trainers had knowledge of counter-conditioning and desensitization and understood applied behavior analysis they would know that you don't need to use fear and pain for any training or behavior modification especially when the dog has fear, stress or aggression in it's behavioral pathology. The good news is while these "trainers" are alive they can still learn, hopefully they will, because even one dog that is suffering from a schedule of fear and pain is one too many.

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