If You Have To Hide What You’re Doing…

If You Have To Hide What You’re Doing…

maybe you should rethink that choice.

There is a trainer in my area who is notorious for showing off his dogs–he often has very large packs with him at various events.  All of the dogs wear bandanas, not because the bandanas are cute or celebratory of the event but because they are hiding the fact that nearly all of the dogs are wearing prong collars or choke chains (even the teeny tiny dogs).  I even heard of a story recently of a lady trying to take the TDI test with her dog on a prong collar that was being hidden by a bandana.

There is an ever-increasing barrage of products used to hide or obscure the use of aversive collars.  There are cloth covers that velcro or are have elastic bands to fit over your prong collar to make it look like a normal collar.  There is a prong-like collar that has a black nylon webbing exterior to make it appear as  flat collar.  I even saw a new custom product that has a prong collar sewn into brightly colored/cute webbing/ribbon exteriors and even added a fabric martingale feature to really obscure the tell tale hardware of a prong collar.  I saw a picture recently of a group of dogs all wearing thick leather collars, on two of the dogs you could clearly see the corner of the box on a shock collar–they were using the big thick leather collar to hide the shock collar below.

I’m sure there are many reasons people may feel the need to hide theses collars– to avoid people giving them that judgmental look, the collar is against the rules in a particular venue or environment, they are embarrassed by the collar, or they don’t want their dog looking more ‘aggressive.’ Although there are reasons, they are not excuses.

If you are so embarrassed by the tools you are using to train your dog that you try to hide them,  perhaps you should use different tools.  If you hide the tools you use because you are so concerned about how other people perceive you, perhaps you should use different tools.  If you feel guilty about using the tools you are using so you hide them, perhaps you should use different tools.  If you want the appearance of having a well trained dog without the use of special tools and that’s why you hid them, perhaps you should use different tools.

I do not use these tools, I do not suggest these tools, and I do not like the use of these tools, however, I like them even less when the user is trying to pull a fast one and hide the collar.

I couldn’t imagine trying to hide how I train my dog or being ashamed of how I train my dogs or being embarrassed about how I train my dogs or trying to sneak my training tools into a place.

Out on a walk with Rio and former foster dog, Linus, who was fearful, I sport a treat pouch filled with yummies!

Out on a walk with Rio and former foster dog, Linus, who was fearful, I sport a treat pouch filled with yummies!

I almost always have a clicker or two in my pockets just in case.  If I’m out with my pups they are proudly sporting a martingale collar or body harness.  If I’m out in busy places or with lots of dogs around, I always have a treat pouch with kibble or treats for working the dogs or as emergency fair for potential off-leash dogs.  If I’m just out in a typical environment, I may have a few pieces of kibble in a pocket just in case of needing to counter condition a scary happening, or deal with an off-leash dog, or another dog reacting towards Shayne in close proximity, but I rarely need to bust out the few pieces of kibble.

I am proud of the way I train my dogs and am always open.  Yes, I carry a treat pouch with me while out and about with the dogs or have some treats in a pocket.  Yes, if we are working in a busy urban environment I will reward them for sticking with me.  Yes, my dogs openly wear harnesses (front hook or rear hook). I don’t hide my treat pouch, I don’t hide my clicker, I don’t try to obscure my dogs’ collar/harnesses, and I certainly don’t hide the tools I use to bypass rules.

If you feel like you have to hide what you are doing, perhaps it’s not the right thing to do–if you don’t know what else you could be doing, it’s okay!  Reach out and ask someone who does things differently, ask for what other options exist.  No one is all knowing, it’s okay to ask for ideas, suggestions, or guidance.

1 Comment
  1. This. So true! I’ve gotten “looks” when carrying all my treats, toys, and clicking away. One person even said “You know that doesn’t work, right?” Said while her dog was jumping and lunging on the end of their choke chain, Holly, my reactive girl just watched and then looked for her cookie. My response to that was, “Sure works better than whatever you’ve done to your dog, he’s a hot mess.”

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