Still Using Choke Chains on Your Dogs?

Then You Should Read This!

Choke chains have been scientifically proven to cause injured ocular blood vessels, tracheal and oesophageal damage, severely sprained necks, cases of fainting, asphyxiation, transient foreleg paralysis, laryngeal nerve paralysis and hind leg ataxia - keep reading and I will prove it.

What is a 'Choke Chain'?

A Choke Chain is a very crude instrument used to introduce an element of pain onto a dog every time he does something wrong.

Trainers and people who advocate this type of behavior refer to it as “giving the dog a correction”, and follow outdated and misunderstood practices.

People who know how harmful it is refer to it as abuse, and use other methods of correction / redirection instead.

Through simple observation I've come to the conclusion that most people aren't even aware of how to fit the collar properly — and because of the very nature of its mechanical workings — a wrongly fitted choke chain often locks (or "hangs"), thus causing the dogs neck to be under constant pressure, inevitably leading to injury.

If a choke chain is placed on a dog the wrong way, and then tightend, it often will not release the pressure again, even if the leash becomes slack. This means that the dogs neck and throat is under constant pressure.

It's not that most owners want to harm their dogs, it's rather that they don't know any better, or have been misled by a Cesar Millan or tons of outdated books which don't adhere to current scientific standards and findings.

That's why I created this website, not to criticize you as a dog owner, but to make you aware of the dangers a choke chain poses to your dog. And to ask you one question:

"Why do humans think it's okay to treat dogs this way?"

We don't treat our our children this way, nor do we treat other animals such as chickens this way. So why, then, is it okay to treat dogs this way? It isn't, and it takes real courage to realize you've been wrong and admit it. It wasn't easy for me either.

It is my sincere hope that you can take some time out of your busy day to finish reading. On behalf of all dogs, I thank you!

Why is it Wrong?

There are numerous reasons. Here are a few good ones. And rest assured, I will back up everything I say with credible sources later on.

1) Many scientific studies have proven a wide range of very serious injuries resulting from both direct and indirect use of Choke Chains. Some of these injuries are listed above in red.

By direct use I am talking about "jerking" or "popping" the leash to "correct" a dog. By indirect I'm talking about dogs that pull on the leash on their own, thus causing themselves damage without the owner realizing it (again: this is scientifically proven many times). Couple this with a "locked" choke chain (a choke chain that is fitted the wrong way), and your dog is in serious trouble.

If you're concerned about not being able to control your dog without a choke chain, you should consult with a positive reinforcement trainer, and substitute with a gentle leader-collar (or anti-pull harness) instead. Click here for a video demonstrating this.

2) Choke Chains are usually associated with punishment and aversive training techniques. Science has proven through extensive study, that positive reinforcement is both safer and produces faster and better results when done correctly. This is simply a matter of education.

Click this link to watch world renowned dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell, tell you more about why it is so wrong.

Once again I thank you for staying with me this far, please continue reading.

  • Proof: don't take my word for it.

    Click the arrows (or swipe on touch devices) to navigate between some of the many reasons you should leave the "Choke Chain" where it belongs; in the past!

    Each page includes a short quote, with a link to the full article or study to back up it up.

    The final page includes a video that demonstrates extreme use of choke chains.

  • In a retrospective study on spinal pain, injury or changes in dogs conducted in Sweden, Hallgreen (1992) found that 91% of dogs with cervical anomalies experienced harsh jerks on lead or had a long history of pulling on the lead. Uses of chokers was also over represented in this group. This strongly suggests that such corrections are potentially injurious.
    Karen Overall MA, VMD, PhD, DACVB Clinical Behavioural Medicine for Small Animals. — Click for source.
  • In 30 years of practice (including 22 as a veterinary advisor to a police dog section) I have seen numerous severely sprained necks, cases of fainting, transient forleg paralysis and hind leg ataxia after robust use of the choke chain.
    Robin Walker BVetMed MRCVS — Click for source.
  • Alarming facts from a recent survey [..] 63% of the dogs examined had neck and spinal injuries. [..] 78% of the dogs with aggression or over activity problems had neck and spinal injuries. [..] Of the dogs with neck injuries, 91% had experienced hard jerks on a leash or had strained against their leashes. [..] The study concludes that leash corrections, the dog forging ahead or a tethered pet hitting the end of a solid line may inflict spinal injury. [..] The study was conducted on 400 dogs.
    Scotty Valadao — Accredited Animal Behaviorist — Click for source.
  • A quick, easy elimination question for a trainer is to ask whether he or she uses choke chains. If the answer is yes, then the trainer is admitting that they are not up to date on the newer, kinder (scientifically proven) (more effective!) training methods, and you should not hire them.
    Jim O'Neill — Click for source.
  • Using positive methods are not only kinder and gentler, but are also scientifically proven the most effective means of training your dog than using correction training. [..] If you make a mistake on your timing with positive reinforcement, your dog just gets a free treat, whereas, if you make a mistake in punishment, you cannot take it back and your relationship with your dog suffers.
    "Break the chain" — Click for source.
  • Some old school, force-based trainers insist that you have to overpower the dog with force, using things like scruff shakes (where the handler grabs the sides of the dog's neck and shakes him), and alpha rolls (where the handler flips the dog onto his back and holds him there until he stops resisting) or, if necessary, by hanging the dog with a choke collar until he submits or collapses in unconsciousness. (Cesar Millan does this).
    Pat Miller — The Power of Positive Dog Training — Click for source.
  • Fifty dogs using choke chains were studied in Germany. [..] and autopsies performed when they died [..] forty eight had some form of injury to the neck, trachea, or back.
    Click for source.
  • Why is it when we use electricity on a human, it is called torture, but when we use it on a dog, it is called training?
    Police Officer Steve White — K-9 Trainer — Click for source.
  • Modern behavioral science has proven that forceful handling such as physical punishment, leash yanking, or making a dog submit by rolling it on its back is psychologically damaging for the dog and has potentially dangerous consequences for owners.
    Victoria Stilwell — Click for source.
  • If you're still defending Cesar, please click here for more information on why you shouldn't.

Ian Dunbar

— "The King of Positive"

Ian is considered by many to be the "father of positive dog training" — he has written numerous books - and any one of those is probably a good bet to start off with.

king of positive training

He's also a prominent speaker, and here are some short talks worth seeing (the first one I already referenced at the beginning of this site).

Here's an interesting article about Millan and Dunbar that you may want to read.

Also be sure to check out Dog Star Daily. Or simply do a Google search for more information.

Victoria Stilwell

— Tirelessly fighting the good fight!

This is Victoria, and this is her website.

Victoria has her own TV show, much like Cesar Millan, except she uses completely different methods and achieves amazing results. At the time of this writing there are 3 seasons available. You can get them anywhere, for example on amazon. Below are links to each season.

Season 1Season 2Season 3

She has also written good books, and has her own podcast.

Read more about Victoria on Wikipedia or on her website,