GEAR

what exactly is a training collar?

what exactly is a training collar?
Lately I have been researching and studying  advertising and marketing strategies, and I have found that there is a fine line, sometimes even an enormous gap between creative and totally misleading.

When I go into stores these days, I go about my business and do my shopping, but I now look at labels with different eyes, eyes that actually need glasses but that’s a different story for a later time. I look at the label lay out, what catches my eye first, colors, and what the label is trying to sell me, verses what the product actually is.

Let’s take a pet store aisle, just for giggles, and look at the sign that says ‘Training Collars’. I’ve never really understood this strategy to be honest with you, but let’s just go with it. Every time I see that sign and look at the collars I secretly wonder if they are sprinkled with pixie dust, or have a bit of magic behind them. A collar that can train your dog? All by itself? It’s better than a crystal ball for god’s sake!

The next time you go into a pet store with your dog, walk over to the sign that says ‘Training Collars’, take off your dog’s gear and put on one of the Training Collars; pinch, choke, webbing, shock, they’re all lumped together so apparently they’re all capable of ‘Training’. Now, put your hands in your pockets, stand back and watch the magic unfold before your eyes! Ta Da…

No pixie dust magic I am going to guess, but I don’t want to spoil your fun, just go and try it anyway.

That’s because a collar does not train your dog, you train your dog. You are in control of what you put around your dogs muzzle, neck and/or chest. You are in control of it, it does not work without you on the other end of the leash or control box. This sign would allow you to believe that the collar is in control of your dog, which takes all responsibility and accountability away from the handler. This is where we humans get into a bit of trouble.

Most of the collars, not all, in this aisle are not designed to spray rainbows by any measure, and they are not designed to actually train anything, or even assist with training. They are designed to cause pain, fear and/or discomfort so you can teach your dog avoidance. That goes against building life skills and a relationship.

Guess what happens when the ‘Training Collar’ comes off? Generally you have a dog that has learned nothing other than what to avoid. Many times these dogs have no reliable behaviors when all of the gear comes off. When gear is the focus, relationship gets lost, and without a strong relationship there can be no good teaching.

The problem I have with this type of marketing is that it takes responsibility away from the handler, it is misleading by a long shot and it desensitizes consumers as to what they are actually purchasing, and for what reasons.

If a sign were to say ‘Pain, Fear and Discomfort Collars’, would you buy one? Would you feel that you were doing something that would be beneficial for your relationship with your dog. Would you put in your next Christmas letter that baby Fido got his first ‘Pain, Fear and Discomfort Collar’ and we are so excited about it? Why not, there are boat loads of people who say they just bought a new ‘Training Collar’ for their dog. The terminology and marketing have desensitized and allowed us to feel good about using them.

What about a sign that says ‘Training Takes a Life Time Collars’, would you feel discouraged and overwhelmed? Collars and harnesses that are made for comfort and to assist with training goals are also made for handlers that understand training doesn’t happen overnight, in a weekend, a year or even five years. It is a life time commitment. This can seem overwhelming and daunting to some.

When you buy something for yourself based on advertising that is appealing to you, you are making a choice that will affect only you. You can live with those choices, good , bad or indifferent. When you buy something for your dog, you need to choose wisely and look past advertising and marketing. Really look at the product and do research. After you have done that, you need to have personal accountability for how you use it, and know why. You are doing the training with your dog, not the gear.

If someone ever comes out with a Pixie Dust Collar … let me know!

Nancy
this was a post from my original blog, that I accidentally crashed with one click on my keyboard,  in 1/2012. Happy to have found it …

7 comments

  1. A good post, Nancy. I think the only dogowners in Norway that still use something like “training collars” are some of the hunting-dog owners, especially bird hunting dogs. These people still do what most of my dog-friends (and our national dopg organization) call old fashiond methods. Luckily we noe have young hunting dog trainers and especially female ones, who read books, are open for new methods and have reason and empathy. And their dogs are doing good in competitions without hurting or frightening their dos first during training. So times are a changing. Most training collars are now forbidden, so is barking collars..

    1. See Bente, again you are so lucky. The world should take notes from Norway! We have every type of tool available to harm dogs, and it is all legal and totally available, not even an age limit or skill level limit.

  2. I hate those things! I am with you on Pixie Dust. Not one person has come up to me and JT and not asked “Do you train dogs?” Sad isn’t it that they find no joy with their pets but they will play for more than 30 min. with mine and totally forget where they are and what they were supposed to be doing I on the other hand never rush them off lol only time I get a break 🙂

  3. How is Franny doing? I thought I responded to your post, but perhaps you didn’t receive it. I’m thinking of you–and cherishing each day I have w/KC.

  4. I never understood the whole “walk your dog off something around their neck” concept anyways. A neck is such a sensitive place to put anything that might tighten. Imagine if we put collars on other domestic animals to control them…horses, llamas, cats, sheep, goats. We’re smart enough to use head (or for a cat, body) halters on those animals, even in place of training. We don’t try to choke or shock them into ‘submission’ like people are told to do with dogs.

    My dogs wear a collar as only a place to put their ID tags. The only time I attach a leash to their necks is at agility trials, and then it’s just a martingale collar so that in an weird emergency they can’t pull their collar/leash off and be suddenly ID’less in a foreign place.

    I’m all for the Pixie Dust concept though!

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