While working with a Golden Retriever, Sadie, on leash reactivity (which is like saying, aggression or lunging, incessant barking at strangers and other dogs while the dog is wearing a leash), I came to find out the family utilized the dog training services from a local company which relied on pinch collars for getting the desired behaviors. Well, let me tell you, pinch collars may seem to work with immediate results, but most everyone who uses pinch collars runs the risk of creating reactivity in dogs. I can attest to this as I was instructed by a trainer (before I became a trainer who uses positive reinforcement techniques) to use one on my basket case of a Jack Russell when we first rescued him. What soon developed and I eventually corrected, was leash aggression towards strangers, other dogs, motorcycles, people on bicycles and even children. The pinch collar is designed to apply pressure to a dog’s neck when the handler gives a pop of the leash. Since we’re human, we may not give enough of a pop of the leash at the first correction in order to completely eradicate the problem behavior. When that happens, the dog develops resistance to the pinch and then the handler requires more and more pop of the leash with frequent intervals to correct the behavior. What results is the dog associates pain towards those very things you’re wishing for him to stop reacting towards and then aggression is imminent. Since I was intimidated and highly uncomfortable to use the pinch collar, my timing was off and eventually, the trainer wanted me to lift Jack up by the leash (while he’s wearing the pinch collar) with all four paws off the ground while he was barking. Let me tell you, he still didn’t stop barking. I didn’t know what she would ask me to do next, swing him around like a helicopter!
As I’ve become more familiar with Jack, I realized, he is WAY more responsive to positive reinforcement and rewards when he does a desired behavior rather than receiving a positive punishment for a undesirable one . He’s easier to train, he is able to learn new behaviors in a very short amount of time and even his reactivity to strangers, bicycles and motorcycles diminshed due to rewarding him when he focuses on me and when he’s quiet when we pass any of his triggers.
I’m very happy to have a different approach in training Jack and other dogs.