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All choked up over this question:

June 20, 2008

I was having a discussion on the use of choke chains with dogs – and the question came up about using them on stronger dogs, especially Pit Bull Terriers. Let me say this first: 1) I love Pit Bulls. 2) I am NOT breed biased. Doggy DNA is doggy DNA – they all have the propensity to act like dogs whether they be a teacup chihuahua or an American pit bull terrier. The difference is obvious when it comes to the injury itself, and in that: size does matter… This is what I told my friend who asked the innocent question of using them on APBTs (she lives in a big big city with APBTs everywhere…and she doesn’t own a dog herself…it’s okay, she’s still really cool)… Anyway, this was my answer for her:

Are you kidding? Please allow me to pass on some info: “all” animals learn the same way- So, if you have a 6′ 8″ athletic boxer, or a 3′ tall little girl, a lion, a tiger, a bear, a fish, a hamster, cat, or Pit Bull Terrier – all will learn the same way – The way that humans use choke chains for training places them (the collars) under the “Learning by Consequence” path – Based on the consequences of the animals own behavior you can either give them something they want, or take it away – or you can give them something they don’t want, or remove it, or prevent it from happening. (BF Skinner come to mind here?) Anyway, the more *humane* techniques are: give something they want, or take it away – like sports (three strikes, penalty box, and that whole deal)… Dog sits = he gets a treat and gets to say *hi* to person – Dog jumps up = dog doesn’t get treat and doesn’t get to say hello to person. 
 
Choke chains, prong collars, squirt bottles, jerking the collar (collar corrections), electronic shock collars, citronella collars – all of these *positive punishment* techniques are threats, considered abusive, and only motivate the dog out of pain and fear! Plus, they only focus in on what you DON’T WANT, not what you do want… If you were involved with someone that walked around with a belt in their hand, ready to hit you with it if you did something THEY didn’t like, and only paid attention when you were doing something *wrong* (only in their eyes mind you – could be a normal behavior of yours…) how long would you stay with this person? 
 
As I mentioned above choke chains (and the like) are used for the purpose of “Consequence Learning.” However, both types of learning are taking place at the same time (the “emotional” learning by association path), and thus creates a main reason for dog aggression to start – but that’s a different email (post)…I’ll let you digest this one first. 
 
This is just some of the info I talk about in my classes and workshops here in Ventura… you to can learn more about this path of learning, and well as the other – stronger path… You and your dog will love it!

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