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What are the pros and cons of choke chains for dogs

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Home » Blog » What are the pros and cons of choke chains for dogs

Choke chains can quickly correct pulling but risk neck injury and behavioral issues; alternatives like harnesses or positive reinforcement are safer.

Pros of Choke Chains

Choke chains are usually considered one of the most effective tools in the dog training tool box. First of all, they are highly effective in case of large and powerful breeds that may be hard to contain by means of basic training. The first advantage is a choke chain’s ability to quickly impact the dog’s understanding of the commands and correct behavior on the leash. Works usually choose a choke chain of a large size when a dog is sure to be continuously pulling on the leash. The chain tightens around the neck as the dog tries to get ahead and pulls, resulting in an immediate correction. While some other, less harsh methods require several weeks or even months of training to obtain the first results, this method will just take a few minutes.

The second benefit to retaining the use of choke chains is that it is a dog training tool and a means of communication. For instance, in the process of training, a slight pull on the leash should be indicative to the dog to stop or change their direction, which is a very comfortable tool for the trainer and allows for better control over walks and other potentially distracting situations. In urban environments, a dog’s life may well depend on how quickly they react to the trainer’s commands.

A perfect benefit of the tool is its affordability. The price of a standard mechanical chain ranges from $5 to $20 depending on its size and the quality of the materials from which it is produced. In comparison with other training means, such as shock collars which can range from 40 to over 200$, these tools are available to almost every dog owner.

Also, a great benefit is the chain’s durability. Chains are mainly produced from metal and are not easily destroyed, in comparison to fabrics of leather. They can also withstand harsher training methods including pulling.

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Cons of Choke Chains

Though choke chains have important benefits when applied in training, there is a considerable risk of trauma to the dog which can undermine the very purpose of such training. The most evident issue this tool faces is physical damage to a dog’s neck. Choke chains work because they apply force to a dog’s windpipe – every time it tries to pull – or the trainer chooses to correct the animal, a choke chain constricts the dog’s neck, potentially leading to serious injuries, such as crushed trachea, fractured vertebrae, or even a dislocated or broken neck . Those injuries are not only painful; they may also require extensive veterinary evaluation and treatment, which may reach a few hundred dollars if surgery or permanent medication is involved. Apart from that, choke chains can lead to behavioral issues – as the dog is consistently in pain from a tight collar, it may associate training, or walks, with that pain and develop a substantially more aggressive or anxious character, tangibly impairing its training. This can be extremely damaging when applied in a formal training context – a few bad experiences can cancel months of careful teaching and train a dog to be aggressive, or uncooperative permanently.

It is also important to note that the use of choke chains is a skilled process. They need to be used with precision and caution – failing to do so can result in the dog not being trained, or being physically harmed, or both. Most dog owners, especially those that took the step towards owning a pet for the first time, will require additional classes from professional trainers – at their expense – to even understand the correct use of a choke chain. Lastly, the mechanism of a choke chain is not precise – it does not distinguish with the dog pulling on the lead intentionally or being pulled from the outside. Thus, training a dog with a choke chain can be somewhat inconsistent in when it is correcting the wrong behavior. Moreover, the discomfort choke chains induce may be seen as unethical – recent studies suggest they are entirely unnecessary for effective dog training and can actually be damaging to the emotional bond between a pet and its owner and, as such, are outdated and inhumane.

Alternatives to Consider

The considerations surrounding alternatives to a choke chain shift focus to methods and tools that are safe and comfortable for the dog and easy to learn. A popular choice would be using a harness, most likely a front-clip harness, which redirects the dog’s motion towards the owner without pulling on the neck. These are particularly useful for strong dogs, as they put a stop on pulling by guiding the dog to the side or opposite direction of movement when they try to go forward . It becomes physically uncomfortable to move when the dog tries to move forward and, thus, discouraging them from pulling without hurting or injuring them. Another potential option would be head collars, which are recommended for dogs that need a lot of correcting as they walk. While a choke chain controls the dog’s neck to move, a head collar is designed to control the dog’s head, guiding the direction the dog’s eyes can see .

This is ideal in an urban environment where a dog needs to look in front. It can be likened to the use of halters by riding horses as they help in controlling the horse with a lesser force. Furthermore, it provides a significant amount of control with less physical pressure. The most notable shift from the conventional choke chains involves the use of positive reinforcement training, where the dog is punished for being bad . Positive reinforcements focus on rewarding a dog for good behavior, such as giving them treats, playing with them, or praising them, which makes them behave better to earn the reward and, thus, create a better relationship with the dog. It is also efficient, with most dog trainers from neighborhoods noticing a positive change in their dog’s behavior. However, the cost may vary, mostly the costs of the treats and materials for training, which are not too costly compared to the costs of medical care for injuries due to other training tools.

For dog owners who want a compromise between a training tool and a collar, an alternative choke chain would be the use of a martingale collar. They are a lot safer and only tighten up to a set length, stopping at the maximum constriction, unlike a choke chain, which will indefinitely close. These collars provide the tightness necessary for control during training, while the danger of choking is reduced.

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