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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

People come in on a regular basis asking for pinch collars to help train their dog. We don’t carry them. Why? Well, I’m going to let Amber Walker, owner of Animal Intuitions, a wonderful dog training company, explain.

Hi everyone. Amber from AI here. You will never see us use or recommend prong, pinch, or chain collars and we want you to understand why.


First off, prong collars work. We are not denying that fact. Function is not the matter of why we don’t like them. There are three main components as to why we won’t use them. They are your dog’s anatomy, their use as a training tool, and finally the inconsistency with their use.

Dog’s Anatomy

Your dog’s neck is actually a very delicate and includes the cervical vertebrae, trachea, jugular vein, tonsils, epiglottis, larynx, esophagus, nerves and veins.

Repeated stress (mild to severe) to this area will not only cause pain and problems to the immediate areas being touched but also can lead to neck, back and even eye problems and injuries. Optical nerves in the neck can cause blindness.

Our dogs appear to not be especially sensitive so we are more likely to use greater and greater force. By the time evidence of permanent damage is identified, it is too late.

A Training Tool

It’s especially important to Animal Intuitions, that your dog learns how to walk because we are teaching them to make that decision through positive reinforcement i.e. pain free. No human or animal can learn when he or she is in pain.

Our goal is teaching the dog to control himself and the owner won’t need to physically control the dog.

As with any tool, there is a right and wrong way to use them. More often than not, these collars are used incorrectly. And even if they are used ‘correctly,’ you still won’t see us using them.

To use positive punishment (adding something [pinch collar] to decrease a behavior [leash pulling]) it must be administered at the correct time. Timing is important in clicker training too. Wrong timing in clicker training means your dog gets a free treat. Wrong timing in a pinch collar ‘pop’ means a lot of confusion for your dog, including possible association with what the dog sees (dog, child, car, bike, etc) at the time of a leash pop leading to fear and aggression, “That thing made me hurt and now I will be [insert dog emotion].” It must also be done with enough force to stop the behavior. Ouch.

The Inconsistency

The use of the prong and/or pinch collar is not consistent. It varies from person to person and from situation to situation. Take the following for example:

1) The dog pulls and the owner follows (or is dragged) and dog is positively reinforced for what it wants to do/where it wants to go because the dog still gets to move forward.
2) Sometimes pulling is corrected with a jerk other times it is not.
3) Collars are fitted incorrectly so the dog never gets relief even on a slack leash.

In the end, your dog has been habituated to the constant pressure and it no longer means anything.

It’s possible that the dog may develop a punishment callus. This causes the owner to escalate the level of correction while the dog is reinforced by pulling to get to whatever he wants and it outweighs the punishment of the pain.

So, what do we recommend? We do want you to use a tool that will be helpful to you and your dog. There are certainly a variety of options that work for some and not for others. We highly recommend the Sporn Harness.  You can get that at Two Bostons in Naperville.

Positive Reinforcement is very important to Animal Intuitions training team and we want our clients to understand why we are so passionate about it. AI has trained over 100 zoo and pet animal species with the same training techniques, methods, and science… every time. And we can’t wait to show you our successful methods with all your dogs and dogs to come. We would love to help you and your dog have wonderful walks together. Feel free to contact us at 630-53-PUPPY or via email at amber@aitrainers.com.

Hi again. I wanted to talk to you today about walking well with your pet. I’ve already spoken to you about the importance of the ID tag, but there is a lot more to walking your dog than you think.

Walking. It sounds so simple. And most of us do it on a daily basis.

But, we know that when it comes to walking your dog, a large number of you have, shall we say “challenges”.

Sometimes they pull, and sniff, and chase squirrels.

You like to walk straight.

Right.

Like any good relationship, walking your dog involves a bit of preparation, a bit of of compromise, and a bit of perseverance.

Here’s how you start:

1. Start out by finding the right collar and leash for our pooch.

You want a collar that is an appropriate width for size of your dog. You also want a leash that is easy for you to hold on to and handle. Retractable leashes are viewed by many as giving more control; however, they often do the opposite. If your leash isn’t locked, your dog may startle you by taking off after one of those squirrels I mentioned before. You should invest in a sturdy standard leash. You will have better control.

If your dog is a large dog, or one that pulls, you may wish to consider a harness.

I use the Sporn Harness for Diesel (that’s the harness, but not my dog) which has allowed for his walks to be led by my 8-year-old son who weighs approximately 40 pounds less than Diesel. If you have a puller, you really want to check this out. Saved my walks.

2.The next thing you are going to want to do is prepare your dog for the weather.

There is snow on the ground right now. Where there is snow, there is usually salt. You really have to protect your dog’s paws from the salt. There are a number of really easy ways to do that. Boots are a great option. Musher’s Secret or Muttluks Pawstick work really well too. Both of these products are a balm that you put on your dog’s paw pads prior to going outside. Cocotherapy is another great option as you can use that on paw pads too.

You also want to make certain you dog is protected from the wind and cold with a warm coat…especially if you have a toy breed or one without a thick coat.

Yes, it’s true that dogs and wolves have lived for a very long time without wearing coats; however, the breeds of today do not necessarily have the same type of fur coats their ancestors possessed. It’s safe to say that if you are anticipating spending time outdoors with your pet, you should consider investing in a warm winter coat.

3. Next, you’ll want to consider a portable water bottle.

Hydration is key…people normally equate the need during the warmer months; however, it is just as important in winter to stay hydrated.

4. Finally, the last thing you need to consider is poop bags.

Because, let’s face it, it’s just the right thing to do. Nothing puts a damper on a day like an unexpected pile of… well, you know.

I’m going to be showing you some really great options for all of the items I’ve mentioned over the next couple of posts. Feel free to stop by either of our stores and have a team member help you out if you need the information sooner.

Now you are ready to open the door and head out on your first of many walks.

 

 

I hope you came by Yappy Hour last night and enjoyed yourself!

Here is Tip Number 8:

Put your best paw forward and ALWAYS look stylish!
 
It’s super fun and keeping up with “today” helps keep a gal young.
 
Right now I am sporting the fun and funky Red Dot collar, leash and harness from Paw Paw and loving it! Don’t I look fabulous?
 
I love how my whole ensemble matches. It makes me feel so pretty and I can’t wait to go on my walks because the material is just so comfortable. (There is not one bit of skin irritation or, ahem, unsightly chaffing.)
 
I know my Mom and Dad have a terrific variety of very beautiful (or manly if that is your thing) leashes, collars and harnesses. Stop on in the store to check them out. Or, if you can’t do that, you can click here and see how cool they are. (My Dad will ship them to you anywhere if you want one!)
 
Thanks for stopping by today. I am getting so excited about my party. I know my Mom has some wonderful treats (for people and pets) in store, as well as some fun games and prizes. I hope you can make it! I’ll be back tomorrow with tip number 7.
 
Until then,
 
~Daisy

Woman walking two dogs on a coupler

It’s Springtime! I think it’s safe to say that we are all overly grateful for the cold and blistery weather to be gone. This includes our pets, too. They get cabin fever and pent-up energy just like us. They also tend to put on a few pounds over the long winter months which happens quite easily when we can’t get outside on a regular basis.

So, now that the fresh and warmer weather is here, let’s talk about a few pointers to get Fido out of the house and make us all a bit healthier and more relaxed. We all know that a tired dog is a happy dog.

Most complaints about walking dogs revolves around them pulling their humans during the walk. If the question, “Who’s walking who?” is shouted out by your neighbors, please read on!

 

First and foremost, walking your dog on a harness is healthier and safer for any breed, but especially the short-faced breeds like the Boston Terrier, Pug, Boxer, or Bulldog. These types of breeds tend to have necks that are more susceptible to damage when they pull on their collars. Placing them in a well-fitted harness will be much better for them and will give you more control as well.  The best part?  Harnesses now come in a ton of super-cute patterns!

For those dogs who really pull (or maybe you want a very well-mannered walker) we suggest the SPORN harness. We have found this to be the best no-pull system and is more comfortable for the dogs compared to the Gentle Leader and more effective than the Easy Walk harness. The SPORN fits just like a regular harness but pulls up on the dogs’ armpits, which is a pressure point, when the dog pulls. It does not hurt the dog at all, but it makes it uncomfortable as they continue to pull. The great thing is that you don’t have to correct your dog. He will correct himself as he pulls and receives input from the SPORN harness .

This leads right into the type of leash to use. I strongly encourage the use of a standard leash instead of a retractable leash for two reasons.

  1. Retractables can be very dangerous. They can snap back at you or your dog and can leave burn marks easily. This is especially important if children are walking the dog or if you are walking by a number of other animals (including other dogs, squirrels or rabbits).
  2. If used to walking on a retractable leash, no dog will know his boundaries unless he pulls to find out where the leash ends. Sometimes it could be 2 feet, other times it’s a full 10. This actually encourages them to pull to test the limits of the day. It’s similar to kids asking Mom for a cookie.

 

Kid:“Can I?

Mom: “No.”

Kid: “Please?”

Mom: “No.”

Kid: “Just one?”

Mom: “Oh, alright…”

And the dog pulls again to finally find more length given. You get my point.

If you happen to walk more than one dog at a time, you may want to consider using a coupler. This allows you to hold only one leash handle, but walk two dogs close together, two dogs far apart, or two dogs of different sizes. Our customers who have used the coupler have raved about the quality of their walks after test driving it.

Another item that many customers have found useful is a leash that actually wraps around your waist, like the Roamer or Flat Out leash by Ruff Wear. This helps keep your hands free as well as assists with control when walking a puller. This is especially true for women, as their centers of gravity are located at their waist, compared to men’s which is higher.

 

One more item to take care of before going out for a stroll: Poop Bags. My advice is to beware of the little holes in the bottom of plastic grocery bags. Nothing says ruining a walk like a leaky pick-up bag! There are the regular plastic cylinder shaped bag holders that hold a roll of plastic bags. If you want a more fashionable way to carry the necessities, there are also bag carriers that look just like cute cell phone holders. Both attach to the top of the leash so they are out of the way but are always there when you need them.

The most important thing is to have fun. Walks need to be enjoyable for both you and your pup to want to continue and to make it a part of your healthy lifestyle.

See you again soon!