I'm attached are you? I am attached but I am not hurting anyone. That's right, I'm physically attached to my dogs when I need to be; that meaning a leash law or safety reasons. My attachment of choice is a harness, the Easy Walk Harness by Premier to be specific. Today's blog is about choke collars as you may have guessed or heard already. My inspiration for the blog was a chance interaction with a woman at the park yesterday. It ended with her walking away with her hand up, palm facing me so you can guess how it went.
I took little Miss Penelope out yesterday. Earlier in the morning I had dug out a harness that I'd purchased for Jessie years ago but it had always been too big. I was pretty sure that it would fit Penny and it did, it was perfect. It was the Roadie car harness which I needed to keep her in one spot while we drove to the park. It worked perfectly and she lay quiet as a mouse on our short trip. Once there I kept the harness on to continue on our walk and it looked very comfy. We were only a few feet into our walk when a group of women came by, one had a dog.
Penny and I moved off of the path to let them pass when I noticed the poor choking dog. I quickly assessed the group and felt that maybe I shouldn't, but I had to. I called out "have you ever tried the Easy Walk harness?" The little 15 lb dog was pulling like crazy and the woman kept pulling, long and slow yanks on the collar. Every once in a while she'd give it a more serious yank. I had to say something and you never know. Sometimes people actually listen, not often but sometimes. The owners body posture told me right away what she was about to say. "I volunteer at the shelter and this is what they told me to use, I'm using this harness for training now," she said angrily. "You mean that choke collar?" I shouted back.
The response I got from her is typical, angry. Just a few weeks ago I did the same thing and got a surprisingly positive response. The couple stopped and we talked a long time about options and how they should deal with pulling. They actually thanked me as they walked away. But not yesterday, I continued to explain to the woman how the collar damages the neck as she walked away waving her hand "thank you, thank you, I'm doing what the shelter told me." I had one final thing to tell her "you might want to look it up!" and she was gone.
I am hoping that maybe, just maybe our interaction gave her a moment of thought. A dogs neck is a delicate thing, not the durable, unbreakable structure that many think. But more so than not we just don't think about it. Choke collars have been around forever and as far as I am concerned they should now be history. They should be among the other things left in the past that we look back and and say "remember when?" But sadly they are not, they are cheap and the old timers still believe in them.
Choke collars choke, hence the name. Many strong believers say that if used properly that they do no damage. I disagree. I am not a person to spout about things I've never dealt with; I've used choke collars and this is why I don't and won't use them again. I am not here to tell you not to use them or that you are a bad person if you do; I am simply explaining why I don't.
But here are a few facts on the subject.
A dog's neck was not meant to have a chain around it. Contrary to popular belief like many things that have gone on for years and years, it's not okay to yank on our dog's necks. It hurts and it can cause lasting and permanent health and pain damage that might only be seen via x-ray or mri. This like many other things that go in the "it's just what we do," department need a good clear thinking through. Sit down, pour yourself a coffee or tea and think. Do you think that putting a chain around your dogs neck and giving even the slightest of yanks is okay? I don't.