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Any time there is a statement that a piece of equipment like a pinch collar NEVER has a place, or an ecollar NEVER has a place, then the person or organisation making such a statement is saying they would rather kill a dog than consider the application of a device. Such a position is small minded and ethically indefensible.
There is either a place for these training tools, or there is not. If there is – and the balance of credible, available science tells us there most certainly is – then the credibility and motivations of those that claim otherwise must be questioned.
Sound training practices significantly reduce the amount of positive punishment required in modern, progressive dog training and behaviour modification. These same training practices encourage an optimistic outlook in the dog, as well as empowering the dog by teaching him how to competently predict and confidently control any stimulation provided in the course of patiently reaching the desired training outcomes.
Those that speak out about a given piece of equipment being cruel are showcasing their own complete ignorance – after all, the object is inanimate. Statements to this effect often cite a scientific basis, however it is always the case that consultation of all the science and evidence available negates the authenticity of the claims made.
The problem is abusive people, not individual devices. Typical of modern society, we blame something other than the person on the end of the leash for creating outcomes that are less than desirable.
The 2 main claims made by Purely Positive/Force Free training ideologues relating to the application of positive punishment, and the devices mentioned above, are long term psychological damage and the production of aggressive responses.
Though you will meet those that claim otherwise, there is currently no credible peer reviewed evidence available that the application of positive punishment, by whatever means, in and of itself has a causal relationship with aggression. A number of other key factors need to converge for such aggressive contingencies to manifest.
A closer examination of the way that the studies are put together, along with methods used to gather evidence, always seems to result in a loss of credibility and a justified reason to question the validity of the findings in a broader sense.
The same can be said of the long term psychological damage that is claimed to be done to a dog during their application.
Do these devices have aversive potential? YES.
This said, many training devices have a fairly high level of aversive potential yet still enjoy great popularity.
The humble head collar has more aversive potential than either of them given it has the potential to cripple a dog with just one misapplication, one simple yet energetic movement. After all, the majority of these devices are designed to pivot the dog’s skull at the connection to the spinal column. Ask any canine musculo-skeletal therapist and head collars are at the top of their ‘use with the utmost caution’ list.
So we either take responsibility for how we train our trainers, how we apply these tools, and how we steward our dogs through life…or we blame inanimate objects and assign emotion and evocative terms to them in an attempt to deflect our personal responsibility.
Anything less than leaving all possible options on the table means that dogs, can, will and do die for lack of appropriate access to behavioural modification strategies and techniques that may be perfectly suited to them as individuals, or their perhaps even last resort.