Remote Collars: Horrible Choice for Daycare but Not a Horrible Tool

Let’s assume you are going to build a doghouse. You go to the home improvement store, stock up on lumber, flooring, roofing materials, and all manner of connective items (nails, screws and the like). You get all the parts sorted and aligned and now it’s time to put things together. You grab a bunch of the boards and a bunch of the nails and flip open your toolbox.

The racks inside are filled with various things – hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers. So you merrily grab a screwdriver and …

Wait. What?

Didn’t I just say you had a bunch of nails? Wouldn’t you grab a hammer? Well, yes. You would.

When it comes to working with your dog to address behavioral issues the controversies around various “tools” run rampant. Some believe one should never use a remote collar (a collar that delivers noise, vibration or even shocks). Others swear by the clicker. For some people they wouldn’t ever train a dog without a pinch or choke collar. Some folks use treats. Other people do not.

And then there’s “positive reinforcement” training. A moniker that grates on my nerves more than a little, but that’s a discussion for a different post.

This is about tools for training and using the correct tool for the context – and that context is a combination of the type of dog with which you’re working, the nature of the “problem” you’re trying to address, and the severity of the issue. You don’t, for example, use the same level of correction for a dog that’s just pulling on the leash as you would for a dog that is exhibiting overly dominant behaviors (e.g. snapping/biting).

Think of it this way: If you bump into me in a crowded bar, it would be inappropriate for me to turn around and punch you in the face. A more appropriate and proportionate response would be for me to pause, perhaps put my arm out so that you’re kept at arm’s length and then let you know in a civil tone that you’re in my space. Chances are you probably bumped into me by accident anyway, at least one would hope.

But I digress.

Recently there was a story out of Chicago in which a dog daycare was putting “shock” collars on dogs without owners’ authorization. More to the point, it was caught having put a collar on one dog – an action that the facility owner claimed was a “mistake by a new girl”. So, these collars are pretty unmistakable. Black, bulky and with a cumbersome and unmistakable black box with two metal prongs on it. That it could have been “mistaken” for a dog’s regular collar is laughable at best.

I don’t know what’s worse – that the facility used such a device without the express consent of the owner or that the facility was using such a device for ENTIRELY THE WRONG REASON.

Frankly I think that if this was “just a mistake” whomever the person was who put the collar on the dog should be fired. If this wasn’t a mistake and this facility owner is lying (which I get a strong feeling she is), then SHAME ON HER … this is someone who has no business caring for people’s pets. Either way – this is an unconscionable mistake.