Barry O’Dea, owner of On Command Professional Dog Training in Reno and a trainer for 30 years, recommends what he calls training collars, otherwise known as choke collars, to train a dog.
“If you call it a choke chain no one wants to use it," O’Dea said. "But you’re not choking the dog, it’s an attention getter. It’s like a child saying, ‘Mom, mom, mom’ trying to get their mother’s attention.”
On the flip side, Mary Johnson, owner of Doggone It in Reno and a trainer for 28 years, uses reward-based training and feels she achieves better results.
“If you give the dog a paycheck and the paycheck is a toy,” Johnson said, “then he will work with you.”
While she does use collars to train dogs, she prefers a nylon flat collar with a chain to keep the collar from rising up to choke the dog.
“The less pressure that you put on the dog the better,” Johnson said.
The type of collar she recommends depends on the type of dog.
“I wouldn’t put a choke chain on a Chihuahua,” she said, “or a flat collar on a Rottweiler. Trainers need to be more breed specific, it will benefit the dogs.”
The collar is the most used device in basic obedience training — such as teaching a dog to sit, stay or come — but in the case of a biting dog owners might assume that a muzzle is the tool of choice for training. However, O’Dea does not consider the muzzle an effective tool for training dogs not to bite. He considers muzzles a temporary solution to the problem, not a solution.
“If a dog bites,” O’Dea said, “the first thing I would do is bite work.”
The important thing, he explained, is to teach the dog when to bite.
“An aggressive dog has to be taught not to be aggressive,” O’Dea said. “It’s up to the dog how far he wants to push it, you have to set up alpha status.”
O’Dea does use muzzles when training K-9 units. He uses them to train the dogs to take down people using their body rather than their mouths.
“Muzzles are not a training technique,” Johnson said. “They are used for biters to restrain them from biting when the need shots or to get their nails cut.
“You don’t teach dogs commands in a muzzle,” she said.
On Command Professional Dog Training is located at 1160 Huffaker Lane, in Reno. Doggone It is located at 4690 Longley Lane in Reno.