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RECYCLED LOVE: Choose trainers carefully for pets

If you own a dog who requires some training, please do your homework before you hire a professional.

You have options available to assist you in finding a local dog trainer: you can search online, a veterinarian may be able to refer you to someone, or ask friends, family and other dog owners for a recommendation.

You will need to undertake adequate time and research to find a proper trainer. You want a qualified and skilled trainer who does not use pain when training your dog. Demand a trainer who uses positive reinforcement and gentle leadership. Your dog is a cherished pet and a loving member of your family. They need to be shelter and protected.

Please never use your hands to correct a dog’s behaviour. You should never grab them by the muzzle if they are barking or grab their collar to shout at their face. Hands should only be used for affection with your dog. Hitting them and yelling at them close to their face only teaches them that hands are bad and that it is bad when a human face gets to close. Both actions can result in dog bites especially for children.

I will not refer dog owners to trainers who use prong collars or electric shock collars. Nothing will damage your relationship with your dog more than inflicting physical and psychological pain on your pet. If you are using a shock or prong collar to train your dog, you are inflicting painful punishment with negative reinforcement. I feel it will destroy the relationship you have with your dog and create all sorts of trust issues for the dog. These collars cause physical and mental distress for any dog.

Prong collars are made of metal that is linked together with prong points inside the collar that press into your dog’s neck. You connect your leash to the collar and any amount of pulling on the leash will push the prongs into your dog’s neck.

Shock collars work with a handheld remote. When your dog is behaving in a way that you do not like, you can send a signal to the collar. It's my understanding you have options with different collars. You can send a warning signal or "buzzing" sound to the collar. If the dog’s behaviour does not stop or change, you can then send a shock signal of different strengths.

Years ago, a woman I know let me hold an electrical shock collar and she sent a signal to it. It scared me and I dropped the collar. I knew the shock was coming but I was not prepared for the pain. I cannot imagine how a defenseless dog interprets or understands the pain.

If you have a dog that needs some help moving forward through a couple of issues, please get them some help. They are not bad dogs and getting them the assistance they need makes you a committed and loving dog owner.

Please be kind to animals.

Tracey Jessiman writes a weekly column, Recycled Love. She can be reached at recycledlove@me.com.

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