Wednesday, April 28, 2010

JFF Writes Reader's Digest

Cotton here with a letter to the editor of Reader's Digest. We recently read something in the magazine which has bothered us.  Today we decided we need to politely voice our concerns on the subject.  We think it's pretty self-explanatory. 

Dear Editor,

We were astounded to read Ask Laskas' response to Rescue Us about barking dogs in the April 2010 issue. She said, "Bark collar. It's safe and humane and follows the same training principle as the popular invisible fence. When the dog barks, he hears a warning beep. If he continues barking, he gets a small 'correction' in the form of an unpleasant jolt. ...I would never recommend something harmful."

Laskas is giving advice to readers, advice at least some of them will take, so we're curious -- is Laskas giving advice from personal experience? Did she use a a bark collar on her four dogs? More importantly, has she tested a bark collar on herself? Is she aware that using "positive punishment" can have negative results?

Dog Injured by Bark Collar at Dallas Kennel.

Are Shock Collars Safe for Dogs?

There can also be problems with using the citronella spray collars Laskas recommended.

As to "the popular invisible fence," yes, the invisible fence is commonly used today, but the gas chamber was the accepted method of killing shelter animals for decades and still is in many areas. "Popularity" or common usage does not make the gas chamber "humane." Nor does it automatically make bark collars and invisible fencing humane. We recently did a post on Jan's Funny Farm blog on this subject, titled "Merci on Invisible Abuse."

Forgive us if this sounds as if we're trying to berate Laskas, but she casually advised readers to use a bark collar and compared it to using an invisible fence, and in our opinion there is nothing casual about either subject. It is our hope she will do some research on this subject for the sake of both her and her readers' dogs.

The Funny Farmers -
Cotton, Merci, Cyndi, Percy, Cameron, Buddy, Rusty & Sam

Hope you all have a purring and tail wagging day. We're off now to nap. Writing a letter is hard work!


  1. When we had a barking dog and looked into those collars (some 20 years ago) there were collars that just beeped. We didn't want to shock our dog (she was very sensitive) but wanted something to give her an immediate correction. We had a beep only collar. We ended up finding that also had problems--our big dog stopped barking but the little dog would bark and jump up near the collar and then run away... sigh.

  2. We don't know much about these things but we don't like that they even give a "little" shock. Who's to say it's little? Like you stated has she ever tried it on herself? My mom has a little Yorkie who is a barker and she was looking into one of the citronella collars, as she doesn't like the idea of the shock either. Can you supply me with info on them? Thanks and we loved your article!

  3. Good for you to call her on that. Sometimes people use an easy device instead of working on the problem that the dog has. Invisible fences can be very dangerous in a lot of circumstances.

  4. Bravo!

    Me thinks the author needs to see what it feels like


  5. I believe any one that uses those should wear them themselves for awhile and get a taste of what their friend is in for....just my opinion....

  6. Yep, thanks for telling them to get it right!

  7. A great letter, I agree with you.

  8. Oh Cotton and you lovely sweeties at Jan's Funny Farm - I hope you do send this - I still cannot get my head round the concept of invisible fences and now this??

    It's an invention for lazy people unwilling or too stupid and lazy to learn about their dog's behaviour - to spend time and effort earning their dog's trust and respect. It's a quick fix solution that does nothing for their relationship with their animal but everything to damage their bond if it exists at all.

    Take care

  9. You said a mouth full, hurting an animal, no matter to what degree you do it to get them to obey is cruel and disgusting.
    Hope you do send the letter.

    Hamish & Rescue Sophie's
    Mom & Dad
    Sheila & Bob

  10. Thank you for the letter, Jan. Many magazines are publishing articles about products. It could be part of their revenue source, but I hate it when they do that without adequate research.

    I don't believe in any sort of training collars. I think dogs and even cats can be trained through positive reinforcement. Animals are innocent creatures. The reason they want to bark is because of their animal instinct. They don't deserve to be punished by any means. maybe dog owners should learn why their dogs bark so much in the first place - what trigger them to bark, then work from there.

  11. I'm glad you wrote the letter--I did use a "bark collar" once but it sprayed citronella (sp?) and there was no shock involved--The dog, named Rudi was a total nut and it did deter her barking at first, but then she got used to it and just kept barking and barking and barking...I've had her for nearly 8 years now, and she still does it--There was nothing I can do--It's who she is and I'm okay with that! :-)

  12. Pawesome letter.
    We have heard not so good things about those collars and invisible fences!
    Kisses and hugs

  13. Good to write in and make people think!

    I do believe that different training tools may be appropriate for different situations & diff dogs and it's not good to have a knee-jerk reaction to them - the "purely positive" message forced on most dog owners these days can also have some disadvantages...but at the same time, I think the problem with such devices is that they tend to encourage people to look for a "quick fix" rather than tackling the root of the problem - for example, nuisance barking is usually for a reason and it is better to tackle the source than to just punish the dog for doing something it considers natural.


  14. Well said JFF gang; very well said.
    - TBH&K

  15. Hmmm, we kind of remember a super bowl commercial with a shock collar in it. Things would have to be really out of hand for Dad to consider using one. Even then he doubts he would.

    As for our post on Buddy, after we read your comment, we decided to change the post a little. Saying a new home, made it sound much worse than it was. He has been with his breeder Mom all this time, and while she is a pawsome person, a collie deserves a small pack and human family. Buddy is searching for a family to call his own.

    I thought about it, but two is my limit. I just can't see three big dogs and a motel room, when we have to leave for a Hurricane Evacuation.

    Essex. Deacon & Dog Dad

  16. Thanks for another great post. Mommy likes how all of you are so good at keeping us aware of animals' needs and rights. Like the ASPCA ad, we don't have a voice!
    xx Lounge Kats

  17. We think any system that involves a "shock" is not a good one.

  18. Mommy just told Fenris shh be quiet and he listened but he is a mostly quiet doggie. When he does bark it is really LOUD though. But we wouldn't want Mommy to shock him to make him be quiet. And sometimes when a doggie barks there is something wrong silly beans. They should listen to their pets more. ~AFSS

  19. Maybe that person needs to wear one of those collars and see what it feels like! BRAVO for bring attention to this!

  20. Woooos! While it is wonderful to mee tall of woo, we just were sniffing around blogger.
    I love this letter and hope It gets some attention. Mom works (volunteer)in a training facility were they ONLY use positive reinforcement and wishes all trainers would do so so there would not be as many psycho dogs ( I live with a certain psychotic border collie)and kitties out there.
    Keep up the good work!
    ~husky kisses~
    -Kira The BeaWootiful

  21. hear-hear!!!
    ~Baby Audrey

  22. I wonder if the people using the shock collars ever wore one?


Thanks for coming by for a visit. We love to hear from you.