Service dogs and pinch collars: help or hindrance?
We really enjoy watching professional dog trainers work their dogs. I am amazed at how they can command their dog’s attention and maintain a level of control over their dog’s head through the use of a leash and collar.
As a wheelchair user, handling a dog can be challenging. From a sitting position, it can be more difficult to manage my service dog’s movements without the assistance of other techniques and devices such as a pinch collar or training collar.
Does your service dog forge or as I refer to it, have a secret desire to be a member of a sled dog team? All three of my service dogs have had a wandering head for either food particles on the floor or the need to get ahead of my wheelchair. I always feel so guilty for using a pinch collar but I have to say, it works like a charm.
When a trainer suggested a pinch collar for my first dog, Ramona, I was shocked and appalled. How could I put such an offensive looking device on my little angelic service dog? Well, my little angel was eating everything in sight and the pinch collar definitely got her attention. Ramona was more responsive to me whenever she was wearing it AND I didn’t have to pull so hard on her.
My second dog, Morgan definitely had aspirations to be a member of a champion sled dog team. He was somewhat interested in food, but he was more interested in forging ahead of me. This posed a real problem as I started developing shoulder and neck pain because of the force I had to apply to keep him from forging ahead and literally pulling me out of my wheelchair.
When I put a pinch collar on him, he too became more aware of his forging and became much better at heeling beside my wheelchair without pulling me out of my chair or causing irreparable shoulder damage.
My current service dog, Whistle, has these similar tendencies although they are not as pervasive as with Ramona and Morgan. He likes to find morsels on the floor that he can scoop up and he likes to forge every now and then. What he does like to do that Morgan and Ramona didn’t do, is he likes to sniff where other dogs have urinated. He just can’t seem to resist.
I was so thrilled because I really haven’t had to use a pinch collar on Whistle. However recently, his desire to sniff where other dogs have relieved themselves has become an increasing problem.
As a result, I finally broke down and purchased a new pinch collar for Whistle. Once again, it looked very offensive to me. I was so worried that I was hurting him, although I know it looks much worse than it actually is. And, I have to say, it has really curbed the issue of Whistle breaking from a “heel” command to sniff uncontrollably. So for now, I am back to using a pinch collar when Whistle and I are in public. I have to ask, “how do you feel about using a pinch collar on your service dog? Is it a helpful tool or a hindrance?”