What about “Pet Correctors”?

They are harmless – aren’t they? After all, some only emit a little sound – not heard by human ears and the others spray a little spray of pressured air…what is the harm in that?
Over the years I had several clients tell me that their friend or neighbor had recommended that they would use a pet corrector that emits sound for their barking dog or other behaviors and asked my opinion.
So here is my opinion attached to a story:
I had bought one of those devices several years ago for the purpose of seeing if I could use it as a possible tool against loose running dogs. I was aware that it does not phase all dogs but I was willing to experiment since I hated the idea of carrying a stick or the like.
But I knew that my Mutley was pretty noise sensitive, so I had purposed to first desensitize him to the sound:
I did a “test push” of the button and Mutley stood up and looked concerned. I did another one – cookies ready to deliver…He was out the dog door and spend the next hour in the back acre afraid to come in the house. No cookie could persuade him otherwise. So needless to say, that plan failed and the corrector was put in the “Useless box”.
About a year or so later I got a phone call from the local daycare where Mutley was spending a usual day. They were pretty upset: Mutley was having some kind of nervous breakdown and could I please get him. I immediately went to pick him up and since I knew they always recorded the daycare area I asked to see the tapes.
Here he was snoozing on the floor at noon time with most of the other dog, when all of a sudden he became very agitated. My other dog Rusty followed him around as if to say: “Hey man, relax!” Which Mutley did. A few minutes later he is up again, even more agitated, then settles down again. Then a third time! This time the tries to jump the fence and gets stuck! Some staff members come running and pry him free and put him into one of the offices with the office staff. A few minutes later, he comes bolting out of the office runs to the front, jumps over the counter and gets caught in the last minute in mid-air. I swear otherwise he would have run right through the glass window.
I was totally befuddled. I told the staffer at the time that the only time I had seen this kind of reaction was with a Pet Corrector and I knew they did not use any noise devices, which they re-affirmed.
But before even got home I got a call from the day care: They had found the culprit: A subcontractor who was on the premises and had her dog in daycare had been using a pet corrector each time she heard her own dog barking! …and my dog almost flew through the window!
I do not in any way blame the day care. This was not their doing and only thanks to their quick thinking were they able to identify the problem before I even got back to my house. The next day, Mutley very reluctantly, entered daycare for 5 minutes of “ French Fry treatment” where he was showered with love and French Fries and then we went home. The next real day at daycare – more French Fries.
Thanks to the quick intervention there were not residual after effects…He was only sad that the days of French Fries did not last forever.
So this is the take home lesson that I give my clients: Before you use a product like this, realize that first of all it can cause extreme fear in your own dog or cat AND that you better be sure that when you push that button you do not punish every Mutley within earshot of your instrument.
I do want in closing also address the pressurized air canisters: Yes, I have used a scat cat before for my cats…I got this thing about cats walking on my clean dishes drying on the counter….litterbox feet..yuck, but again with Mutley around these things had to be very carefully managed since even the psst sound would send him flying out the door and if I would have used it on him directly for behavior modification it would have for all practical purposes in his case been downright psychological abuse.
So there you have it – does it work? Yes, it can at times, but beware of the side effects!

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