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Owner Upset That Dog Walker Won't Use Choke Chain

(29 Posts)
peoplepleaser1 Sun 24-Mar-19 09:44:31

I'm a dog walker, started only 3 months ago. I know mumsnet often views walkers with suspicion but I am responsible, professional and the wellbeing of my customer's dogs is at the centre of all I do.

I was contacted by a customer who wants a daily walk of her GSD. Had a quick chat over the phone and then visited the customer afterwards.

During the visit the customer explained they walk their dog on a choke chain. They have found this to be the best way to minimise pulling, but they did say he is still very boisterous, and pulls like a train. I'm fine with boisterous and pulling, but I had visions of the dog behaving in this way whilst using a choke chain which IMO is going to cause pain and discomfort.

I explained I cannot walk Dog on choke chain. I feel they are aversive, pain inducing and it goes against the professional code of conduct of two professional bodies that I'm a member of. I didn't go into detail as to why I can't use them as I didn't want to criticise a potential new customer, or judge them.

I suggested a few alternatives. They had tried several and they didn't like them. I also gave them details of a fab local positive method trainer.

They were very blunt and said they will find a dog walker who will use a choke chain. They seemed to think I was utterly ridiculous. They also said they think a man would be more helpful as the dog will see him as more dominant.

I don't want to turn this into a criticism of the owners. I'm just disappointed to have lost potential new business, but at the same time feel I must stick to my principals. DH is usually lovely and supportive but he feels that the professional thing to do would have been to take the job, as I'm a walker not a behaviourist. Plus now someone else will now take the job.

Two lovely other local walkers have told me they would have done the same (although both are also fully booked).

I guess I'm just ranting on a board where I hope I'll get some support!

OP’s posts: |
ScreamingValenta Sun 24-Mar-19 09:47:58

I thought choke chains were illegal. If they aren't, they should be.

peoplepleaser1 Sun 24-Mar-19 09:50:44

No they are not illegal. Many people think they are a useful training aid, they tent to call them 'check chains'.

I agree, they should be illegal.

I do rather hope that the owners struggle to find a walker who will use one. At least then they might realise I wasn't being precious.

OP’s posts: |
ScreamingValenta Sun 24-Mar-19 09:54:07

I'd hope that no professional would use such a thing. If the dog is pulling or being too boisterous, they need to train it, not resort to what is essentially corporal punishment. 'Check chain' is a fine example of a minimising euphemism.

Noonemournsthewicked Sun 24-Mar-19 09:55:18

Think you've done the right thing. As a walker you are in charge of the dogs behaviour and it's definitely best to find dog owners who use the same style of training as you will use on your walks.
Plus the 'a man would be better' comment would fuck me right off anyway.
Dodged a bullet there.

Passmethecrisps Sun 24-Mar-19 09:58:48

Sticking to your principals is the most important thing here in my opinion. I see dog walkers regularly driving branded vans and wearing branded hoodies so public image is important. If I saw one using a choke chain I wouldn’t be impressed at all.

I over heard one dog walker speaking to a dog when she didn’t know I was there. She was so sweet and lovely to this frenetic wee dog that it really made me smile.

For the record if it matters I don’t own a dog and am not in the market for dog walkers. But I do notice what goes on around me and wouldn’t think much of someone I saw using such a lead.

If you are relying on word of mouth you need the words to be good ones

Soubriquet Sun 24-Mar-19 10:06:01

I agree with you

I hate shock collars, choke chains and prong collars

All should be illegal really.

Yes, the owner will probably find someone, but I bet that someone is another who won’t give two shits over the pain it causes, just like the owners

peoplepleaser1 Sun 24-Mar-19 10:07:55

Thank you all for your support, and the wise comment that other people should judge me for using this method.

I could not have walked this dog daily on the chain without hating myself every time for it.

OP’s posts: |
AlpacaLypse Sun 24-Mar-19 10:10:36

This is so horrid OP, but do stick to your guns! I'd have done exactly the same as you. In fact, I have, but that was over electric shock collars.

As you're quickly learning, the worst and most difficult bit about running a dog walking business is the owners...

Poor GSD.

peoplepleaser1 Sun 24-Mar-19 10:22:28

@AlpacaLypse you're so right. It has been a rather steep learning curve. It's tricky though, I can appreciate that any comment on an owner's Dog 'owning skills' is taken as a criticism so I find myself walking a tightrope!

I've been gobsmacked at the number of people who shy away from rewards based methods as they don't want their dog 'spoiled'.

I've also found that for some people their choice to use a dog walker is triggered by their Dog becoming unmanageable, rather than simply because they need their dog exercising.

OP’s posts: |
Doggydoggydoggy Sun 24-Mar-19 20:14:24

Choke chains are dreadful!

I understand that will sound utterly ridiculous taking into consideration the sort of collar I use but chains are utterly dreadful.

They have been implicated again and again in causing long term neck/oesophageal, eye and spine damage due to the unlimited tightening ability and high pressure exerted in one spot.

So yes I think you were right.

twoheaped Sun 24-Mar-19 20:35:31

I am a kennel owner, we had a large dog (think trophy dog) in with a prong collar.
He really didn't need it, so we used a spare collar we keep in.
We didn't tell the owner we used a different collar but did tell him we didn't think he needed it.

peoplepleaser1 Sun 24-Mar-19 20:35:41

@Doggydoggydoggy thanks that's helpful. Shame that I've lost a customer but I'm not budging on this one and I'm glad so many people agree with me- I feel a lot better about it now.

OP’s posts: |
Scattyhattie Tue 26-Mar-19 07:07:44

Old school methods still seem very common with GSD owners sadly I.e tough breed needs to know whose boss, dominating crap, but they're also sensitive dogs. The choke chain hasn't even resolved the pulling, although slip leads are more acceptable but work in a similiar way, you can get ones that restrict over tightening but don't seem as common. I've had slip lead suggested for my puller but he'll pull into the pressure & strangle himself.

I think you'd have ended up clashing with this owner and any issue would get blamed on your handling ability, as already suggested that a man would be better. Its better to be picky with clients than fill spaces with those that could be quick to damage your reputation or be difficult to manage.

Hyacintharehighersincelasttime Tue 26-Mar-19 07:12:21

I look after a dog occasionally that has a choke chain, it just stops her pullling, my dog has a collar, which she pulls against. same difference surely?

MaidenMotherCrone Tue 26-Mar-19 07:27:26

I agree with your husband. You are not offering the services of a behaviourist just a dog walking service. Having a difference of opinion on collars is fine but you are running a business and concerning yourself with things that a) are non of your business and b) ultimately negatively affecting your actual business.

Hyacintharehighersincelasttime Tue 26-Mar-19 07:32:14

The dog I walk, with the choke chain, rarely pulls, it hangs loose around her
and yep, your dh is right, not for you to judge. you run a business

anniehm Tue 26-Mar-19 07:35:50

Didn't think you could even buy them now, a halti collar or harness works better and is safer

anniehm Tue 26-Mar-19 07:37:36

Though I chose my dog walker (only occasional I might add) based on the fact she doesn't bother with a lead, mine hates leads but is fully trained!

Veterinari Tue 26-Mar-19 07:40:57

Just because you’re running a business it doesn’t Mean you should throw your personal and professional ethics out of the window for the sake of money. You made the right decision. The owners should trust your ability to select the correct tools for your job, not dictate those tools to you.

If they’re talking about dominance and using choke chains then they clearly know zero about dog behaviour and the poor dog is likely to end up with more issues anyway. Best avoided.

Hyacintharehighersincelasttime Tue 26-Mar-19 07:42:06

well, they preferred a male walker,
so both happy.

MrsMozartMkII Tue 26-Mar-19 07:47:05

I thought the idea of the half-check collars is that they're set not so tight that they close up on the neck, and that it's the sound and action of the chain that has the desired effect of catching the dog's attention when it's locked onto something. As a PP said, a normal collar will put pressure on one spot on a pulling dog. Caveat: obviously training needed to prevent pulling, etc.

BiteyShark Tue 26-Mar-19 08:08:48

Depending on where you are dog walkers/daycare etc is in great demand where I live and in that situation I think you can be choosy about who you take on as a client. If you are clashing now then better to walk away.

Doggydoggydoggy Tue 26-Mar-19 08:30:19

I thought the idea of the half-check collars is that they're set not so tight that they close up on the neck, and that it's the sound and action of the chain that has the desired effect of catching the dog's attention

Not quite.
Half checks are used more for dogs like greyhounds to stop accidental collar slipping rather than training, though they can like any other collar be used to give a correction.

The idea behind a chain is the tightening sensation is sufficiently unpleasant to stop the dog pulling, in time, the dog hears the sound of the chain and anticipates it tightening so the sound then works as a reminder.

The problem is like with flat collars, on a chain of half check a huge amount of pressure is exerted against the windpipe when jerked or pulled against which is dangerous and unlike a flat collar/half check the chain has unlimited tightening ability.

The natural instinct of a dog ‘caught against something’ aswell is to pull free so some dogs will actually pull even more instinctively to try and relieve the pressure or if you have a dog that is too excited they don’t really feel it and can just pull through the pain.

I don’t think any reputable trainer would ever recommend a chain.

It’s either a harness or halti or flat/half check (for dogs that don’t pull) for positive trainers or a flat/half check (for dogs that don’t pull) or a prong (even pressure) or e collar for balanced trainers.

Hyacintharehighersincelasttime Tue 26-Mar-19 08:40:37

it difficult to lay down the law though when you are employed as the dog walker

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