More About Choke Collars


I found your email address at the bottom of your article titled, "Aggression in Small Dogs." I own a male four year old maltese poodle named Beau.

Recently, he has been less and less dog friendly. He has always liked other dogs of all sizes. He lives with a hundred pound collie and is very good friends with a hundred pound German Shepard and lab mix. He attended obedience classes and various dog parks and interacted fine with other dogs.

I would call him a quasi alpha male. He jealously guards food and on occasions bosses around his larger living companion. But he still rolls over and allows Spartan to sniff him and is not dominate towards me or aggressive towards any other people.

As I mentioned above, recently he has been growling at or snapping at other dogs that we pass by in the street (regardless of size). Before Beau, I had a Dalmatian who was a complete alpha dog and very dog aggressive and would snarl and snap at other dogs immediately.

Beau takes a different approach. He acts very excited to see the other dog and even lays down (like he always has) but after exchanging kisses and sniffs Beau snarls at the dog (usually when the dog goes to sniff his butt or get behind him).

There are a few reasons why I think his behavior has changed. He was attacked twice by large aggressive dogs (once when I was walking him and another time at a dog park). Luckily each of the times I was there to push the other dog off him before he was injured.

The other reason is that he is very attached to my girlfriend and doesn't like when the other dog gets between him and her.

Any suggestions to on how to stop his aggressive behavior?


Dear Dan,

Thanks for your question.

I spoke to Karen Huey, who is an experienced dog behaviorist.

Despite Beau’s apparent friendliness, his aggression has definitely been affected by his negative experiences. As I’m sure you already know, Beau is no longer a great candidate for a dog park. But I think we can help him on his walks.

First of all you need a filled nylon walking choke collar. They are usually sold as "mountain chokes".

See the photo above for what one of these looks like.

How to Use a Choke Collar -- The Right Way

A filled choke collar flattens with pressure and does not cut into your dog’s neck like a regular nylon or metal choke collar. It is therefore much kinder, and that’s the whole idea; to get your dog’s attention without hurting him. 

I have gotten these in the past at a great discount from I'm sure there are many places that supply them.

1. Put the choke together like in the above picture.

2. Slide the collar over your dog’s head and pull it up with the metal loops at the top of his neck and the collar snug under his chin.

3. Have the collar make a “P” so when your dog walks on your left, the choke releases immediately when the pressure is off.

4. Use a 4 to 5 foot leash, no longer. This is not the time for a long leash or a retractable.

5. Walk briskly and confidently.

6. Do not have Beau greet other dogs at all at this time.

7. When Beau sees another dog and strains to go there, pull his front about 4 inches off the ground, using the collar, and keep walking. Do not say anything. Make no eye contact. Use the big muscle groups of your arm for this, not your wrist.

You can look towards Beau but not AT him. Keep his front feet off the ground until he relaxes. Then put his front down and continue walking.

8. If you are walking towards another dog, turn and walk at right angles to the other dog. Pick up Beau’s front feet as above. Keep walking until Beau relaxes.

9. Eventually Beau will get more used to listening to you and remaining with you during his walks. Perhaps he will eventually be able to accept another strange dog again. No matter what else occurs, you will both have a lot less stress.

You did mention as well that Beau is jealous of other dogs around your girlfriend. If Beau gets aggressive towards the other dogs in your house when your girlfriend is around, she should silently leave the area. No yelling at the other dogs or Beau. Yelling tends to feed aggression.

Beau needs to learn that when he doesn't play nice, your girlfriend leaves. He should get the idea quickly.

I hope this helps. Please let me know how it goes.

Best, Sandy

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