Canine Services International Dog Training Blog

Oh Heather, really?


A woman named Heather decided to make a ‘hit-and-run’ post on a facebook page we support before that calls for a common sense approach to legislation, access to and use of pinch/prong collars in Australia.

Heather commented:

there is nothing fantastic about this barbaric tool, honestly humans can be such morons.

The reply you see shared below was posted as my response to Heather:

Heather as with so many that make such statements, yours is patently judgemental and offers zero insight into what you feel validates such an opinion.

Let me just say this – you are cruel if you don’t consider the relative merits of all 4 quadrants of the motivational matrix. After all, +P, +R, -P & -R are all forces influencing the operant conditioning process. 

Unless you have an open mind and actually understand the strengths and weaknesses of all tools – head collar’s, clickers, check chains, flat collars, harnesses, ecollars and pinch collars (amongst others) – you can’t really claim to understand the relative merits of their use in applying the 4 quadrants mentioned above.

Ergo, myself and others remain committed to an open mind and a balanced training philosophy that focusses on positive reinforcement whilst ticking the box of responsible dog guardianship by training for action and for abstinence.

Nothing wonderful about this tool? As with so much in the world the beauty (or lack thereof) lies in how a tool is put to use – from a chef using a knife to cook a gastronomic delight, to a pen being used to sign an order of execution for a political prisoner.

Feel free to drop past the page any time but if you want to criticise then please, come with an intelligent argument based on the whole of what science and practical application show us to be true.

So let’s be even more clear here guys – those that are trying to make the best business decisions these days won’t generally speak up and address the issues being covered in this post.  This is in no small part due to the level of hatred and harassment that certain factions of the dog training and behaviour community direct at those employing their own critical thinking skills to dog training.

It is the current norm that any person daring to claim that there is any place for any level of aversive anywhere in a dogs training or behavioural modification is automatically labelled abusive and barbaric. Further to this their opinions and techniques are frequently linked – often in a deliberately  misleading way – with adherence to the long ago disproven hierarchical dominance theory.

Those that are most vehemently opposed to any particular training tool/s are generally the very people that are missing the point by the furthest margin.   A training tool like a pinch collar can be very useful in a variety of situations and has saved the life of many a dog over the years as well as playing a role in the training and management of countless dogs throughout Australia and the world. We would never claim that such a training tool is indicated for use with all dogs, and we certainly don’t support legislation that would affect access to, or ability to utilise, a pinch/prong collar.

The intent of the person employing the training tool dictates how that training tool will be employed.  Try as we may, ban as many training tools as the far left of the dog training political spectrum wants us to, we are never going to be able to stop unbalanced people treating dogs poorly, period.

Understandably one may claim that education is a problem as certain training methods and tools require more education to use to greatest effect, and of course on face value we know this to be true.  Practically speaking however the vast majority of the dog owning public are more than capable of learning to use a corrective device effectively and humanely in a very short period of time in a Least Invasive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) fashion.

If education is indeed the problem let us then look first to the education of the dog trainer delivering the training and ensure that they are sharing balanced information with those in under their charge rather than a politically biased opinion that doesn’t necessarily advantage the individual dog they have a duty to.

Both the far left of dog training (purely positive – ‘how dare you raise your voice at your dog!’) and the far right of dog training (Koehlerian trainers and hierarchical dominance theorists) are dangerously wrong, and the end results of such extreme views are always that they ‘short change’ dogs.  Until we all start to apply uncommon sense to how we train, handle and manage our dogs we will continue to waste our time and fail to realise the true potential of our dogs to enjoy performing in a fashion that will see them most broadly included in our lives.

And our closing statement to Heather?  Work with enough problem dogs over enough years and stop enough dogs from being killed or given up – all breeds, all problems, all ages and attitudes – and you will be forced to broaden your horizons.

As with so much in life the truth is somewhere in the middle – and in this case it is safe to say that the proof is to be found in the praxis (doing).


  1. Tabatha Speight - Sunshine Coast QLD
    Tabatha Speight - Sunshine Coast QLD12-21-2012

    I posted this on facebook, but thought I would share here too on the topic – The problem is… people like that person get listened to more than reason – hence why no prongs in Victoria, I suffer from debilitating back pain, and although I know that training my dog to not pull on his lead is essential – there has to be something in between, I use a necktech and Im glad I do.. cos without a prong/nechtech up until this point my stubborn 45kg Dobermann would have to stay stuck in his yard cos Id be physically unable to walk him… like alot of others I’m sure… isn’t leaving a dog confined in their yard to go crazy with boredom more “Cruel” than giving them their stimulation with the aid of a corrective tool?

    I mean look at how “miserable” my Dobermann is with his prong collar on (Under a cover so I can walk my dog in peace without being harassed by ignorant strangers. – Do I run up to you and ask how could you let your child out in public wearing “That!” ?) , I mean he just sits there and sulks about it (oh.. wait? he’s not? My bad.)

  2. Abbey

    Having had a prong collar put on my own neck and pulled, I have no idea how people could be so against them. Try it before you next post Heather. Would love to know specifically what your concerns with type of collar are.

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