This is a fairly hot topic; so, I’d like to offer a bit of perspective.
Anything we use to assist us in reaching an intended outcome is considered a “tool”. Any device, gadget, utensil, instrument, machine or apparatus that carries out a particular function (collar, leash, harness, clicker, etc). Each designed to be used in a specific way. If mis- or un-knowledgably used, could cause harm and not reap intended results. This is true for any tool, whether it be: a pencil, stapler, clicker, back pack, brush, harness, pair of scissors, fork, prong collar, rope, e-collar, can opener, bottle, cell phone… you get the picture.
Not all situations and behaviors require the assistance of tools. Not all dogs need them, nor do they all respond to them in the same manner. Just like some children are receptive to different learning styles: auditory, visual, kinesthetic; so are dogs. We’ve got to work with and treat the individual.
Let’s take prong collars, for example. Are they medieval looking? Sure; but they’re also designed to mimic a dog’s mouth since dogs use their mouths to correct one another. Are they helpful? Effective? Absolutely…if and when they’re in trained, knowledgeable hands. I continue to see massive differences when this tool is utilized~ like night and day.
Repeat after me: It’s not the tool. It’s the intention behind the tool.
It’s not the tool! It’s the intention, the energy and the human behind the tool.
I see two major problems with dog training tools: 1) they’re easily and readily accessible to every Dick, Harry & Jane (amazon.com, walmart.com, pet stores and through other forums), and 2) many of those who get the tool don’t get the appropriate training and education before they start using it. THIS herein lies the problem.
Tools are incredibly effective conduits of and supplements to communication when used as they were designed to be. Each specifically designed to meet a specific need; and they do so quite effectively.
This being said, there are a few tools I, personally, will not utilize: retractable leashes (no control of dog), choke collars (there’s a reason they’re called “choke collars”), and bark collars (barking is a dog’s voice, if a dog is barking incessantly, there’s a reason for it. Find out what the reason is~ in pain? Trying to alert us of something? Frustrated from one or more of his/her needs not being met and provided for by us?~ then work to address the issue from there. Barking will cease).
It’s not the tool. It’s the energy, the intention and the human behind the tool.
When tools are used appropriately, they lead to clarity, communication, confidence, quality of life, peace of mind, and freedom.