Choose Wisely When Considering Shock, Prong or Choke Collars


Joyce Kesling, CDBC, ACCBC Professional Trainer

Dog Owner Responsibilities by William E Campbell

I think many professional dog trainers will appreciate what William Campbell said about using “shock collars” in 1999. I too have referred to these individuals as “predators” taking advantage of dog owners, who either lack understanding what their dog/s are communicating or as Campbell suggests prioritizes needs of the individual, not the pet.

The client who wants instant, off-leash control of a potentially dangerous dog doesn’t only want to have his cake and eat it, too. He is violating the laws of most communities and adding fuel to the forces who want to outlaw dog ownership in many cities. His viewpoint is not only dangerous to himself and others, (including the dog), but is awash in irresponsibility.

The ‘solution’ to this type of client’s situation lies in counseling that motivates the owner to change his attitude about his responsibilities. In other words, we need to differentiate in our minds between clients-wants and client-needs, and apply our skills to bring new insights to this kind of client.

There are those in this field who use and sell devices ranging from choke and prong collars to electrical shock-collars as a means of off-leash training or containing dogs in the yard. However, the reality of the average dog-owner’s dilemma of ‘wants versus needs’ begs for a counselor who will help that client recognize that dilemma, deal with it, and then become a responsible dog owner in a society that is becoming alarmingly more anti-dog due to irresponsible pet owners and distorted media coverage regarding dangerous breeds.

I regard people who prey on human weakness as hucksters because these devices are not 100% effective, and because they feed on human selfishness. Further, they utilize a mechanistic ‘ends-justifies-the-means’ mentality in man’s relationships with one of his oldest mammalian partners, the dog.

I have explained the essence of this viewpoint to many clients during preliminary discussions of problems, and the vast majority agree; when an owner must rely on painful, artificial control of a pet dog, something is terribly lacking. Very few really want a dog who comes when called simply because they, the owners, represent a means of escaping 250 volts of electric shock to the throat.


Dog Behavior Problems: The Counselor’s Handbook by William E. Campbell, 1999

Mind Over Miller: A tribute to a pioneer in canine behavior see following excerpt

Dr. Miller reflects on the passing of author Bill Campbell and how far the discipline of animal behavior has come over the years.
Dec 01, 2014

Bill Campbell, author of one of the first scientifically based books on canine behavior, Behavior Problems in Dogs, died in January of this year. Since I received no training in animal behavior when I was a veterinary student back in the 1950s, I found Bill’s book of great value to me in my practice. I was able to pass on what I learned from the book, and from knowing Bill personally, to my clientele.

In 1989, Bill’s next book, Owners Guide to Better Behavior in Dogs and Cats, was published. He sent me the manuscript before publication, and I loved it. He then asked me to profusely illustrate it with cartoons. I did so—with a couple of hundred cartoons—most of them inspired by his book, my personal experience, or both.

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