Part 2 - Common collars and how the dog reacts to them

Teil 2 - Übliche Halsbänder und wie der Hund darauf reagiert
The classic way to lead a dog on a leash is by the neck. This means that the dog is either wearing a collar, a pull-on collar or a prong collar. These cause pressure or pain when the leash is pulled (depends on the intensity).

Why is collar walking recommended?

When training with a collar, it is assumed that the dog will refrain from pulling due to the unpleasant feeling on the neck when pulled.

The dog's brain should learn that the unpleasant and threatening feeling on his neck disappears if he doesn't use the length of the leash to its fullest. It is assumed that the dog then learns the following stimulus-response chain:

If I move further away from my handler than the radius of my leash, then I experience a threat, so I avoid pushing the radius and prefer to heel.

Owners often follow this advice, even though they intuitively go against it. But for them the logic is initially obvious:

We humans also avoid what causes pain in us.

At the same time, many people don't want to cause pain.

Many customers are therefore often very desperate. You know that your dog is becoming more and more aggressive and agitated with the collar. 

A classic phrase in dog training that is purely intended to confuse is: "Let the leash go loose when the dog pulls on the leash . " What this means is that the pressure on the dog increases the counter pressure from the dog and there is actually nothing else possible but to give in to it. But then again, doesn't it make any sense at all to try to use pressure to teach the dog not to put pressure on the leash? Owners are often more confused and exhausted AFTER dog training than before. The dog too.

For female owners and male dogs, there is also the gender aspect: the male dog sees the woman as territorial and wants to “protect” her from other males who could be a threat to his status with her.

That's why it's women in particular who can't get their dogs under control. If an owner tries to use the alpha male principle with a male or female dog, this often leads to a loss of trust because the dog perceives this as violence. Only males among themselves know this principle and use it to increase their status and power.

How does the collar affect the dog?

We avoid what causes pain in us. The dog also avoids pain and reacts logically: he wants to get rid of the cause of the pain/threat.

The dog on the collar tries to avoid pressure on the neck by acting in a biologically logical manner: it tries to wriggle out, rears up, barks and/or bites. This is a biologically logical reaction. This is how you would initially react if someone put pressure on your neck area.

If you don't reach your goal by running forward (because all living things run forward when they perceive a threat), then you would try to wriggle out backwards. They would try to get out of the sling and not try to walk with the sling so that it pressed on their neck. You would want to leave the source of the threat and not take a leisurely stroll with a loaded gun to your head.

People therefore despair of dogs who won't let this happen to them. The older the dog and the later it gets used to the collar, the worse and stronger the backlash usually is. Many owners try to alleviate the problem by placing the collar loosely around their neck. That is, it is hoped that while the leash is loose, the dog will not notice the collar as much. This can really be the case, as the pressure is less strong when the leash is loose. The problem arises when there is tension on the leash : the dog can now free itself much more easily.

The reason for leading with a collar is that the dog could learn that it would be an advantage for him to walk at the same height, avoid wanting to hit other dogs, "exchange" each other or want to mark and sniff.
However, since these behaviors are biologically inherent in the dog and are part of the development of a self-confident and adult identity, it is almost impossible to have a dog that is healthy and at the same time calm on the collar. These factors contradict each other.

Why don't all dogs pull on their collars or be aggressive?

If a dog has given up escaping behavior while on a collar, it has done so because it is exhibiting "avoidance behavior."
Avoidance behavior occurs when a living being's organism decides that one behavior is more threatening than another. This would be the case with us humans, for example, if we learned that saying something we think is met with a threat of death (violence, beating, sleep deprivation, love deprivation, abandonment, food deprivation).

This means that the organism of a living being weighs things up against each other and looks for compensatory mechanisms. In male animals this is often violence towards others and in female mammals it is withdrawal. This can also be different depending on other conditions. E.g. if the retreat always has to take place to a place where the female is threatened. Likewise, males may choose withdrawal behavior as compensation if active behavior is met with even greater violence.

Some dogs bite the leash or refuse the collar. For others, it becomes so extreme that they refuse to go for a walk altogether. What many have in common: They develop strong aggression, freak out on a leash and/or snap at other dogs because they incorrectly assume that they are the reason why their neck is tightening .

The response is often a recommendation to buy a pull-on collar. The pull collar punishes the behavior resulting from the collar by completely pulling the neck together from all sides. The hope is that this will break the dog's resistance. If that doesn't work, spiked collars or electric shockers are used. So it depends on how strong the threat is perceived by the dog, whether it gives up and is on a leash or remains resistant. Dogs who run a lot freely react more tolerantly to the collar than those who cannot compensate for this. Dogs that are strongly bred for territorial control experience a "loss of face" when they cannot check "intruders" and therefore tend to react particularly aggressively to the pull on the neck.

Male dogs usually react more extreme than females. This is because in nature the male dog would have to remain capable of acting because he competes with other male dogs, namely for status with the females. Male dogs from female owners therefore react more aggressively than from male owners. Male owners, on the other hand, usually experience less resistance to jerking the dog's neck and can therefore control it better. In training, the leash tug is a very important element in maintaining the threat. If you jerk too little, the resistance will not be broken.

The threat perceived by the dog must be very great in order to break resistance. This doesn't work for all dogs. Many are defensive for a long time and also develop severe physical symptoms. In addition to the health factors, the aspect of social competence is also relevant: Many collared dogs can no longer act socially competently due to the constant experience of “other dog = neck is pulled”. For him everything becomes a threat and therefore everyone else who meets him is also threatened. Conflicts often arise when owners of socially incompetent dogs encounter owners of socially competent dogs.

Why does STURMFREI® solve problems with dogs on a leash?

With front guidance, all of these effects are avoided. The dog is turned sideways and without any element of threat. It does not remain focused on the other person as in a collar, but it receives strong pressure on the soft parts of the neck and associates this threat with others. As with a child who is very upset, we steer the dog out of the situation non-violently, de-escalate the situation and enable him to focus on something new (e.g. sitting down and being rewarded for it). Stimulus-reaction mechanisms that increase aggression are interrupted using STURMFREI® and are not fired up.