A few weeks ago, I was in TJ Maxx with the humans as they were shopping (sadly not for anything interesting like treats for me). A friend of my nanny’s happened to be there as well so the humans were chatting away when the topic turned to me (I mean, how could it not!). My mom mentioned something about working on my recall training so I can do some more off-leash work. In response, the friend suggested my mom use a shock collar on me.
A shock collar is an electronic collar that, when triggered, produces an electric pulse that zaps a dog via their collar. Marketed as a mild sensation that can be helpful in training, shock collars, and for that matter choke and pinch collars, still use pain, fear, and negative reinforcement to “train” (more like bully) a dog into submission. These pain-driven training methods tend to be an easier solution for humans who don’t want to take the time to successfully train their dogs with positive reinforcement. But, like the human saying goes, you attract better with honey than vinegar (or, as I like to say, bacon than vet visits).
September 1st marked the starting date for the Never Shock a Puppy campaign. Never Shock a Puppy hopes to promote humane alternatives to things like shock, choke, and pinch collars through education, support, and action. Right now, Never Shock a Puppy is trying to raise money to jump start the No-Choke Challenge being run by the Humane Society of Bolder Valley, Colorado. The money raised will help purchase approximately 165 dog collars (of the non-punitive kind) and harnesses to be given to Bolder Valley residents who resort to the painful kind of collars. That is 165 dogs who will no longer be hurt under the guise of learning.
Never Shock a Puppy has a very powerful message they are trying to spread. They believe that…
..training should be fun for both dogs and humans; not a power struggle
..dog training is more about building a relationship tand trust than it is about showing who is in “control.”
..dogs learn human rules through bridging the communication gap between species.
..humans cannot (and should not) punish dogs into behaving better — no matter their size, age, breed, or sex.
..in positive reinforcement training where dogs primarily get rewarded for the behaviors humans want, not punished for those they don’t.
..any time someone hurts, scares, or intimidates a dog in the name of training, it damages the relationship and makes the dog afraid to so something “wrong” rather than be excited to do something “right.” Dogs that learn to love learning are far more likely to do what is expected of them.
So what can you do to help? Well, Be the Change for Animals has come up with a really great list of the things we can do to spread the word and get involved.
- If you have a blog or website, post the Never Shock a Puppy Badge (you can see mine on the right side of my blog).
- Blog, tweet, facebook, bark about this cause, the efforts everyone is taking, and the upcoming giveaways to encourage people to visit the Never Shock a Puppy page.
- Share links to posts from our about Never Shock a Puppy.
- Comment on the Never Shock a Puppy blog and get in on the conversation.
- Donate and/or post the donation widget on your site (I am unable to do that, but if you would like to donate, please click here).
If you would like more information about the No-Choke Challenge, you can click here. Throughout the Never Shock a Puppy campaign, which runs until October 20th, I will be occasionally blogging about some of the alternative, reward and positive based training methods which can be used in place of negative reinforcement. Some, like the use of the Halti or Gentle Leader, I have been through myself. Hopefully we will start to make people think about not only the way they want their dogs to learn, but also their relationships with they dogs and how they treat them. No dog deserves to live their life in fear and pain, no matter how “mild” it may be.
Happy tail wags!
P.S. My mom told the friend that she only uses positive reinforcement training on me and offered her help and guidance if the friend needed help training her dogs.