Downeast Dog News

Please Be Cautious When Choosing Who Cares For Your Pets

By By Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA | Apr 01, 2016



Does your boarding, daycare, grooming, or training facility use shock collars for training or in an attempt to get a dog to stop barking? One would hope not; however, the story at this link from WNCN details how a boarding facility used a shock collar on Sophie, a dog owned by Danielle Shroyer and Jason Freeman ( It was just a year ago that I shared a similar story about a dog in Las Vegas. What is even scarier, some facilities will not tell you that they are using these tools and methods, as was the case in this incident in North Carolina and Las Vegas. The fact is, I see or hear stories like this on a regular basis, and yes, this does happen in Maine.

We do not use, recommend, or sell aversive tools at my boarding facility, and we are far from alone in our philosophy. Last summer the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) issued their 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines which states:

This Task Force opposes training methods that use aversive techniques. Aversive training has been associated with detrimental effects on the human–animal bond, problem-solving ability, and the physical and behavioral health of the patient. It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous.

Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior. “

The Pet Professional Guild (PPG), is an organization made up of dog trainers, boarding and daycare operators, groomers, veterinarians, and pet owners that are committed to pet care that is free from pain, force, and fear. The PPG not only has position statements on dominance and punishment, but they require their members to comply with their guiding principles which state:

To be in anyway affiliated with the Pet Professional Guild all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Pet Professional Guild Members Understand Force-Free to mean: No shock, No pain, No choke, No fear, No physical force, No compulsion based methods are employed to train or care for a pet.”

So what can you do to make sure this does not happen to your pet? First of all, before leaving your pet anywhere; for boarding, daycare, training, or grooming, ask these questions:

  • Do you use any tools or training techniques that are aversive like; prong/pinch or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, or squirt bottles?
  • Are you aware of and do you comply with the 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines?
  • Are all of the members of your staff members of The Pet Professional Guild and do your they comply with the PPG Guiding Principles which state that no shock, no pain, no choke, no fear, no physical force, and no compulsion based methods will be employed to train or care for a pet?”

If you are not getting the answers you want, or if there is hesitation, dithering, or uncertainty as to what you are talking about, look for another facility. These tools and methods are unnecessary and can cause serious behavioral issues with just one use. Be an advocate for your dog and make sure he is being cared for in the manner you wish.


Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at  every Saturday at 12 Noon. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at Don also writes about pets at his blog: