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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So, this is a really long background for a short story and also a rant about a bad trainer. A few months back, I took my dad's French Bulldog, Blu, because he was always alone in a playpen and I had him more often than my dad did because he was always traveling. My Puggle, Olive, became really close to him and they got along great, so it seemed unfair for him to spend 4 weeks at my apartment with his best friend only to go back to my dad's place for 3 weeks and spend literally the entire day locked up in a play pen, on no schedule, with very little one-on-one interaction. He let me keep the dog under the condition that Blu continue to see the vet that my dad selected and that I work with a trainer that he picked. This is the trainer: Home.

So, anyone in OC, I don't recommend this guy. He showed up 45 minutes late, with two Huskies in his back seat. I live in a historic district in an apartment and street parking was terrible. He kept saying how he assumed I lived in a house because people never have dogs in an apartment. We ended up having to do the training session on a different block with shade and street parking. I tried to keep an open mind even though right off the bat, I didn't like his attitude or his style.

We started the training session for the Frenchie first while my Puggle, Olive, had to wait in the car. Even though there was shade, I felt like it was too hot for her to be in the car and I was really upset. He told me I was being too sensitive. He proceeded to put a prong collar on my 5 month old puppy who was so terrified of the rough handling and too-tight prong collar that he refused to walk. I kept saying that he walked loose leash perfectly and never pulled, so it was pointless to use the prong collar, but he said I was being too sensitive and that it was important. I was pretty angry at this point. I told him that I didn't think a brachy dog should use a prong collar, but he said that it just looks bad but its necessary. He said that it's not dangerous at all.

We put Blu in the car (it was around 82 degrees and even in the shade I felt like it was too hot for a brachy dog) and took Olive out of the car. She's afraid of most men and she's very shy. He tells me he needs to muzzle her. I tell him that he will not put a muzzle on her because she's afraid of men, but she would never bite a person, she's never even growled at someone. She's the sweetest, most people-pleasing dog I've ever met. He grabbed my dog, slammed her onto the sidewalk, and shoved the muzzle on her face. She was so afraid that she stayed curled up on the sidewalk with her tail between her legs, pressing her face into the ground and exposing her neck in total surrender. She refused to get up from the ground. He eventually took the muzzle off and she got up, but she was still afraid.

I didn't want him to use the prong collar on Olive because she does have a pulling problem, she has fear issues, and I was afraid of trachea collapse. He basically bullied me into it, saying that I was being too sensitive and emotional and I needed to control myself. (I'm a really unassertive person and a huge pushover when someone is insulting me.) He put the prong collar on her and jerked it really hard to get her to stand up. She started coughing really hard and gagging until she almost threw up. Every time he jerked the leash she kept coughing and gagging. I told him to stop because she was clearly distressed and that those sounds were not normal to me and I was concerned. He kept saying that there was no way that the prong collar caused her cough, and that it was the only way to stop her from pulling on the leash.

Eventually she did stop pulling, if only to keep from choking. It's been about a month and a half since this incident, and I just switched her to a front lead harness because she started having problems with her step-in. Every time she would pull, she would cough. Not as bad as before, she would let out one big cough every time she pulled hard. It got progressively worse since the prong collar. I called her vet and told her the story, so now Olive has a vet appointment for chest x-rays.

My question to you guys is: is it possible for a dog to get trachea collapse from one hard jerk with a prong collar like that? He kept saying that she must have had a problem before, and thats why she was coughing with the prong collar. She had coughed before from pulling on her old harness that was more on her throat, but only twice. She's never had kennel cough, respiratory problems, or anything like that. I've been looking online and haven't found anything I find satisfying. Does anyone know anyone who has had a similar experience with prong collars?
 

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The prong does not tighten up like a choke chain will, but if one of the prongs hit in the right spot I'd be willing to bet that it damage the trachea if the dogs throat is sensitive enough.

Even if I would use one on a dog I'd never use one on my Zody, my Dach x Chi. He has a very sensitive throat and he has choked himself on a flat collar when he slightly pulled on it, and after that he coughed for days if he got too excited. Nowadays he can still choke himself on nearly every no choke harness that I've found, There's only one that will not choke him at all but it caused him back problems. The newest one I've found only chokes if he pulls hard.

I really hope that man did not do any lasting damage to Olive
 

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I am horrified by what you went thru with that so called trainer! I do hope you are no longer using him! There is absolutely no reason for such force to be used on a dog that is already scared! I hope he has not damaged your puppies, both physically and psychologically! Do let us know how it goes at the Vet.........and if your Dad "insists" you use his trainer I would video the session so he can see this guys 'methods' for dog training!
Most small dogs are at a risk for neck damage from force.
 

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Oh, I'm so sorry that happened to you. I don't have experience with prong collars, but yes, one jerk in the wrong spot can do damage. You have little dogs too, so I would think their body is more delicate than a bigger dog. Hope your dog naturally recovers soon.

Yes, the trainer sounds like an idiot. Firstly, I've seen LOTS of dogs that live in apartments, so his statement just shows his head is somewhere up in the clouds. As for the rest, I probably don't need to comment much besides shaking my head.

Not sure where you live or whether trainers are hard to find, but always good to check out reviews from a trainer's past clients to find a positive-based trainer. I actually found our trainer through a FB page for dogs of my breed, and a lot of people recommended my current trainer...was lucky I found her.
 

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Oh, I'm so sorry that happened to you. I don't have experience with prong collars, but yes, one jerk in the wrong spot can do damage. You have little dogs too, so I would think their body is more delicate than a bigger dog. Hope your dog naturally recovers soon.

Yes, the trainer sounds like an idiot. Firstly, I've seen LOTS of dogs that live in apartments, so his statement just shows his head is somewhere up in the clouds. As for the rest, I probably don't need to comment much besides shaking my head.

Not sure where you live or whether trainers are hard to find, but always good to check out reviews from a trainer's past clients to find a positive-based trainer. I actually found our trainer through a FB page for dogs of my breed, and a lot of people recommended my current trainer...was lucky I found her.
I poked around on the page that Jksob linked to but didn't see any mention of how the dogs were trained, just a few words here and there the raise some red flags. SoCal Dog Training - Training Philosoph He's rated 5 stars on Yelp and google reviews, and has won awards in Cal for being the best dog trainer. It's stuff like this that has me telling people to run if the trainer starts saying stuff like the dog must be put in it's place, you have to be Alpha, and / or wants to use things like training collars.
 

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I poked around on the page that Jksob linked to but didn't see any mention of how the dogs were trained, just a few words here and there the raise some red flags. SoCal Dog Training - Training Philosoph He's rated 5 stars on Yelp and google reviews, and has won awards in Cal for being the best dog trainer. It's stuff like this that has me telling people to run if the trainer starts saying stuff like the dog must be put in it's place, you have to be Alpha, and / or wants to use things like training collars.
Yep, it appears he is a dominance trainer. Just by the looks of him he creeps me out.
 

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I poked around on the page that Jksob linked to but didn't see any mention of how the dogs were trained, just a few words here and there the raise some red flags. SoCal Dog Training - Training Philosoph He's rated 5 stars on Yelp and google reviews, and has won awards in Cal for being the best dog trainer. It's stuff like this that has me telling people to run if the trainer starts saying stuff like the dog must be put in it's place, you have to be Alpha, and / or wants to use things like training collars.
'Russian Dog Wizard'...even that name just cracks me up. Thought it was strange he got 5 star reviews, so I just checked out his Yelp page. Almost all his reviews are long and detailed, and include lots of pictures! That is strange. It's almost like this review writing was 'coordinated'.

He's got some 'interesting' lines under his philosophy page, such as "if you have no authority, you cannot expect your dog to listen unless you have AMERICAN CHEESE or RUSSIAN KIELBASA in your hands" Oh my goodness.

Anyways, I'm so sorry OP, hope your dog heals quick.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Sorry I was MIA for a little bit, Blu was neutered on Friday so I've been preoccupied.

I'm really glad I'm not the only one who thinks this guy is a jerk and that everything that happened was really unnecessary. To be completely honest, I'm a pretty lax dog parent and I mainly just want them to be well behaved enough so that my life is easy (e.g. no begging for food, getting in and out of the car easily, not jumping all over me when I come home, etc.). I told my dad that as much as I appreciated him offering to pay for my dogs' training, I didn't see myself being willing to reinforce those methods in my own home, so it would be a waste of time.

Olive is doing fine so far, she is breathing normally and is her usual energetic self with no problems. It just concerned me that she would cough when she pulled with her harness. The step-in collar hits pretty low on her chest, so I don't see any reason why she should be coughing. That being said, she is pretty strong. I switched to a front lead harness yesterday and she completely stopped pulling, so I don't think I'll have to worry about that anymore. She will be seeing the vet at 11am today so, we will see how it goes. Hopefully the x-rays look good, will keep you all posted.
 

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If you need training tutorials, look for Kikopup, ZakGeorge and other reward-based trainers on Youtube. I know that they have posted videos at least for loose leash walking. I think this forum also has some sort of tutorial/often asked basic manner training advice threads pinned somewhere.

Big boo for the trainer. His method is unethical and working with people he should listen to his customers.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
So far Olive isn't pulling on the front lead, so I'm hoping it stays that way. She's gotten a lot better since I got her, but when she sees another dog she gets really excited and it's hard to calm her down.

Her chest x-rays came back pretty good. No trachea collapse or damage to the wind pipe but the vet did note that she her trachea narrows around her chest area, which is normal for Pugs and some Puggles. Her heart and lungs look good, but she definitely recommended that I avoid using a flat collar, prong collar, or choke collar because it could irritate her throat pretty bad. I think this is all the proof I need that there is no one-size-fits-all training method to prevent pulling.

The vet said that if Olive starts having problems with the front lead (e.g. Pulling and/or coughing) that I should try out one of those head harnesses like the Gentle Leader. I've never used one or known anyone who has used one, can anyone tell me about these harnesses?
 

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So far Olive isn't pulling on the front lead, so I'm hoping it stays that way. She's gotten a lot better since I got her, but when she sees another dog she gets really excited and it's hard to calm her down.

Her chest x-rays came back pretty good. No trachea collapse or damage to the wind pipe but the vet did note that she her trachea narrows around her chest area, which is normal for Pugs and some Puggles. Her heart and lungs look good, but she definitely recommended that I avoid using a flat collar, prong collar, or choke collar because it could irritate her throat pretty bad. I think this is all the proof I need that there is no one-size-fits-all training method to prevent pulling.

The vet said that if Olive starts having problems with the front lead (e.g. Pulling and/or coughing) that I should try out one of those head harnesses like the Gentle Leader. I've never used one or known anyone who has used one, can anyone tell me about these harnesses?

I'm glad that the x-rays came back good! My boy is a Chi x Dach, and his throat is very sensitive, I tried numerous no choke harnesses and almost every one of them that I tried would cause him to choke, or simply did not fit him correctly. What's known as a shoulder collar did fit him and never choked him, the one I ended up using was the ChokeFree VelPro Mesh, the problem I had with it was that he could slip it very easily if I was not careful, and in the end it started causing him back problems because if he pulled the edge, closest to his tail, pushed into his spine and was causing a pinched nerve. I now use this harness https://www.etsy.com/listing/198899591/small-dog-tiny-trotter-fleece-lined-dog?ref=shop_home_active_39 so far he doesn't mind wearing it, the store owner customizes so it fits great, and unless he pulls really hard it does not choke him. I no longer recommend the ChokeFree harness if the dog really pulls or is a harness slipper, but do recommend the Tiny Trotter.

The Gentle Leaders do work but most dogs do not like wearing them so you will likely have to work to get her comfortable wearing it and it being used to guide her. It is not recommended for dogs that bolt after things since the dog could potentially hurt it's neck when it hits the end of the leash.
 
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I'm glad that the x-rays came back good! My boy is a Chi x Dach, and his throat is very sensitive, I tried numerous no choke harnesses and almost every one of them that I tried would cause him to choke, or simply did not fit him correctly. What's known as a shoulder collar did fit him and never choked him, the one I ended up using was the ChokeFree VelPro Mesh, the problem I had with it was that he could slip it very easily if I was not careful, and in the end it started causing him back problems because if he pulled the edge, closest to his tail, pushed into his spine and was causing a pinched nerve. I now use this harness https://www.etsy.com/listing/198899591/small-dog-tiny-trotter-fleece-lined-dog?ref=shop_home_active_39 so far he doesn't mind wearing it, the store owner customizes so it fits great, and unless he pulls really hard it does not choke him. I no longer recommend the ChokeFree harness if the dog really pulls or is a harness slipper, but do recommend the Tiny Trotter.

The Gentle Leaders do work but most dogs do not like wearing them so you will likely have to work to get her comfortable wearing it and it being used to guide her. It is not recommended for dogs that bolt after things since the dog could potentially hurt it's neck when it hits the end of the leash.
Thanks for the info! I'll definitely check this out if I need a new harness. It's so hard to find a good harness for Olive, you'd think that they would have better options at pet stores for dogs with different shapes. Even the front lead was really hard to adjust because of her chest size and it kept sliding down the front of her shoulders at first.

Also great point you make about the Gentle Leader. Olive's problem isn't really pulling on the whole walk, but when she sees another dog or she finds a scent she's really interested in. I don't think that a Gentle Leader would be a good option for her. She gets super excited and just yanks the leash--she would probably forget she was wearing the harness and hurt her neck.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
SuzanLynn, I'm in North Orange County. Do you by chance know of any trainers who could help get me into agility or scent work?
 

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Sorry that happened to you.

This “trainer” is old school and gives some very good balanced trainers a bad name.

Personally my belief is reward based positive training through classical and operant conditioning. And in very very bad situations some reminders of who is in charge. Never a physical correction that goes farther than a slight pull of a FLAT leash.and 99% of the time I can get by without even that.

It just doesn’t take that much force to calm a dog, even my working line dogs that start out jumping over my head at the sight of a tug toy or ball only take some slight show of dominance such as controlling the ball and hovering over them for a minute or two and they get it. No slamming dogs around no violence whatsoever. Dogs WANT to please us so why mess that up!

After the reminder we’re right back to treats and learning or tugs/ball/reward.

A prong collar is not meant to be used with sudden jerks.....this guy is for lack of a better term an idiot. A prong collar is only meant to pinch the skin of the dog when they pull it’s kind of like having the keys to your own jail cell.

A choke chain will definately damage a dogs trachea and well of course of the prong collar is positioned just right and jerked...it could cause damage.

As I read on through I see your dogs x rays came back good so I’m glad for that. Stay away from that trainer!
 

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I have never used a prong collar but know they are banned in certain areas because of the damage it can cause. I do think that given that there are prongs and one wrong tug could certainly cause damage. I hate saying this but a study has shown a GSD suffered severe brain injury from a prong collar, so I would say when in doubt, try all alternatives before a prong collar. Hope your dog feels better soon.
 
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