Take Control of Your Walks

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Hand holds up the Pet Corrector horizontally while yellow lab puppy stares into the camera in the background.

I ordered a case of Pet Correctors.

There…I said it…let the freak out commence.

Perhaps you don’t know what “Pet Correctors” are…

We’ll get to that in a minute.

But for many that do, I can feel you shaking your head at me from behind your computer screen.

Now before you freak out, hear me out on this one…

Pet Correctors are tiny, overpriced canisters of compressed air. Literally, that’s what you are paying for. They are the same thing that you can buy at office supply stores for a fraction of the price. You know what I’m talking about. Those cans of air used for dusting your keyboards.

Anyhow, the burst of air scares dogs. The theory (which I find highly suspect) is that it mimics the hiss of a snake and therefore sends dogs into avoidance. (But if this were true, why would snake avoidance training be so popular…and why would dogs die of snake bites regularly? But I digress).

In some instances, this burst of air can stop unwanted behavior, by sending the dog that’s on the receiving end of it running for the hills.

So did I buy them to correct my dogs?

No.

Absolutely not.

I bought them for desensitization. To expose my dogs to them and make sure none were fazed.

But as I set out on my mission, I learned some interesting facts about the tool that I wanted to share…

Here’s the story with Pet Correctors.

People use Pet Correctors because “It’s just air” so it couldn’t be that harmful.

But the truth is, for the dogs that are actually fazed by this product, the hiss of the air scares the living… you know what out of them. The product is marketed as an “interrupter” which is just a fancy word for saying it scares dogs out of whatever they are doing. 

So it might be “just air” to you…but your dog doesn’t see it that way.

Listen, if you are going to use corrections to stop unwanted behavior in your dog, you can’t choose to correct based on what “seems” fair to you.

You have to gauge your dog’s response.

And if you correct your dog and they are shrinking away in fear…

Cowering or running away…

You’ve taken it WAY too far.

I don’t care if it IS just a puff of air.

The other thing to take into consideration is that using this “puff” of air in this manner…to scare your dog out of doing something…can make them flighty around other things in their environment. We call this “superstitious associations” which basically means the dog associates the scary puff with the wrong thing – not with the bad behavior you were intent on fixing. So is the potential fallout worth the temporary fix?

But I’m not sharing this with you to argue why you shouldn’t correct your dog with the Pet Corrector.

I’m sharing it with you so you know my direct experience with it.

Because, the thing is, many people rely on this overpriced canister of air to keep them safe on walks or at the Dog Park. They carry it along not to correct their own dog, but to ward off stray dogs that may cross their path or to break up dog fights that might erupt at the park. 

Here’s why I think that’s a terrible idea.

Let me first start by telling you my direct experience…

Before desensitizing my dogs to the Pet Corrector, I had to see how they initially reacted.

You might think it mean of me, but I had to know. And don’t worry, I didn’t spray it right in their faces. I took good distance, gauged their responses and turned the entire thing into a big game that they all now love.

But here was the not so scientific study.

Edge: The big behemoth Malinois wanted to play with the thing. I could see him saying “Do it again mom, that was fun.”

Tuteur: This 90lb Malinois with more drive than sense is typically a chicken with weird stuff (don’t tell him I told you). But this big chicken was surprisingly unfazed. It was like I never even sprayed it. That was definitely a shock to me and earned him a hearty “Good Boy” and some extra treats.

Cyrrah: My retired Malinois. Also unfazed. Probably thinking something along the lines of “Oh no, what does she have up her sleeve this time. She’s probably going to make me hold that can in my mouth to pose for a picture.”

Cuvee: The dog afraid of thunderstorms. Also not remotely fazed.

Now here’s where it gets interesting.

Monkey (the border collie): Ran and cowered. We did some quick work and the fear is now gone but that’s a correction I would NEVER give. It might be just air but sending my dog running and hiding is something I would never do, and something I would never repeat for the purpose of correction.

Shank (and this matters): Shank lit up like the fourth of July and tried to rip the canister from my hand. Fight or flight, he chose fight. And while he’d never bite me as we have an outstanding relationship, this could be dangerous for an unwitting dog owner.

Ok. Now let’s get back to why I don’t think you should use this tool to ward off stray dogs on your walk…

Let’s say you’re walking your dog and a stray dog approaches. Here are a few scenarios that could result from you spraying the Pet Corrector…

  1. Your dog gets scared – If your dog is afraid of the loud burst of air, and many dogs are, you could create a serious negative association with other dogs. Even if the can wasn’t aimed at your dog, it’s still scary. And if your dog associates that spray with other dogs approaching, you may instill a fear or reaction towards other dogs that was never there before.
  2. The other dog wants to play – Look at the reactions from my dogs. The pet corrector only fazed two of them. So it’s quite possible the other dog will see the can as a fun toy, or something to investigate, and spraying it will encourage them to come closer. This can be especially detrimental if your dog is afraid of the spray, but the other dog remains inquisitive.
  3. The other dog aggresses – This is where things get scary. Had anyone but me sprayed the Pet Corrector at my dog Shank, he would have bitten them. I have no doubt in my mind. And he’s not the only dog in this world that would react that way. The truth is, in using this tool you run the risk of making approaching dogs MORE aggressive. Whether it’s a stray dog that’s approaching or a group of dogs in a scuffle at the park. And that’s something I wouldn’t be willing to risk.
  4. The best case scenario – Your dog is unfazed, and the approaching dog is scared. But honestly, what’s the likelihood of everything going to plan? Of your dog not having any sort of negative association, while the other dog heads for the hills? Good luck. That’s not an outcome I would bet on.Hand holds up Pet Corrector can with yellow lab puppy in the background.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There are no quick fixes in dog training. Spraying air at dogs and hoping it will scare them out of whatever they are doing is no replacement for rolling up your sleeves and putting in the work to train them.

If your dog barks, teach them not to…

If your dog jumps, teach them to sit…

If your dog chews on things he or she shouldn’t, show them the right things to chew on and give them a little more exercise and attention…

If your dog is unruly in the kennel or crate, teach them to be calm…

And if you don’t know how, there are amazing resources available at your fingertips. Loads of information online, and thousands of professional dog trainers who WANT to help you.

I promise. We all want you to be successful.

And if you are using the Pet Corrector to protect yourself on walks (or at the dog park), I’d strongly recommend you reconsider and find another option. Simply put, the odds are against you. And that’s a risk I wouldn’t be willing to take.


Meagan Karnes
Meagan Karnes

Meagan has been training dogs professionally since 2002, most recently working with private security, military and law enforcement to provide K9s for high level applications. She owns both The Collared Scholar, an online dog training academy, and 690 Security Services, a company that trains and deploys Executive Security and Protection K9s to private customers. She recently partnered with both Average Frog and SM Leaders, who repurpose the proven performance principles of the Navy SEALs for individuals and organizations.

    18 replies to "Unfavorable Odds: My Review of the Pet Corrector"

    • Hope

      Great points. We’ve been told to use pet correcting tools. My dogs don’t like these. I always forget to take them along too! But I had reverse engineered the concept and how this can backfire. Thanks!

    • Rhea Machado

      Love this write up. I have one to break up cat fights because I have 4 and cats are buttholes. 😉 My hound could give two craps about me spraying this. Sometimes I wonder if she even hears it over her own snoring. My Malinois x GSD on the other hand believes it is a threat of the highest caliber and responds accordingly. Guess thats the no drive vs hidh drive!

    • Deb

      I know you don’t like them, but we use the pet corrector successfully with our resource guarding dog. It has given us the control we need from her attacking our other dogs. We have worked with a professional dog behaviorist, we have done many things in training which has made her better, but there is always that one time that we aren’t expecting when our other dog will walk by and the resource guarding dog will attack. The pet corrector does scare her out of the behavior, and I am okay with that. She needs to understand that is not acceptable behavior. It’s better for her to be scared then for my other dog to be attacked and bitten. Like any training tool it needs to be used responsibly.

      • Carrie

        This product works very well for my three dogs as well. There is so much backlash about it that I’m glad to hear it’s helping someone else too.

    • Carol S.

      My four Papillons thought I’d sprung a leak and were quite amused!

    • Jane

      Glad to have your thoughts on this. I have broken up more dog fights than I care to think about thanks to my time working at an overcrowded doggie daycare and have always hated the stuff. Some of my co-workers used it despite my protests and in the instances where it was effective at breaking up fights it left the dogs so stressed they would just fight again 20 or 30 minutes later. Anyway, I’m curious what you *would* advise.

    • Jens

      Interesting, I use a mini-bicycle pump with replaceable CO2 canisters, not for corrections, not to scare off any stray dogs, but to break my 3 years old, male Rottweilers focus when he, on the very odd occasion, has gone into full prey drive at home. One quick squirt up in the air behind him brings him back to earth. Is he scared of it? Nope, not at all, but the sound breaks through for a split second when nothing else will, which is all I need to regain his focus. I could use an ecollar for this, but these incidents are so few and far between that he would have to wear it 24/7, which I’m not willing to do. My 8 year old female Rottweiler couldn’t care less about the hissing noise by the way. 🙂

    • Andrea

      I agree that spraying air around strange dogs is probably not wise (based on the points you mention). But it has stopped, immediately, potential scraps between dogs (known to me) on several occasions.
      It buys time to manage and redirect- totally grateful for this product despite it’s ridiculous price tag.

    • Linda Groff

      I am guessing you did not try it around the young Lab Never?

    • Debbie

      I disagree. We have used this product on all of our dogs.
      When we started we gave a firm verbal command such is “No Bark” at the same time.
      Of course the dogs don’t like the hiss… so they stop barking.
      After using half of the can of Pet Corrector we only needed to show them the can and give the command. Then… we eventually only gave the verbal command.
      We have a house and pet sitting business, and always tell our clients about this product. Many are using it and love it!!

      • S.

        Agreed. These and pheromone sprays are not “scary” any more than Cessre Milan’s “Shiss” voice distraction noise. The pheromone sprays are calming to a anxious, reactive dog. My Papillion mix dog refocuses on me immediately after hearing the sound and looks for guidance which never occurred prior to the “ stop that” Sentry pheromone spray! I’ve used less than 1/2 of a 1oz can with a dog that is now focused and able to “ look at me” to stop leash aggression toward other dogs.

    • Jeff Erhard

      Dont care what this authors opinion is we love our 2 morkies, and this has been a great tool to control barking. There has been zero side effects except a lot less barking. We are a much happier household.

    • Paula Kemp

      Thanks Meghan.. I have a 5 month old Labradoodle I’m having “manners” issues with and it was suggested to me yesterday that I use this.. he’s young and spooky anyway and thanks to your article I will not be buying this. Thanks again.. really.
      Paula

    • Cindy

      How irritating people try to shame you for using this great product. No amount of training helped but this little blast of air did. Do you all know how many dogs are our down because of behavior issues? Come on people, quit your high horse preaching. I am so glad I found it. I am NOT abusing my dogs. My neighbors and visitors are amazed and happy. They like my dogs now. And remember you don’t use it forever, just until they learn what you want them to.

      • Meagan Karnes

        I’m sorry you felt as if this article was “shaming”. It certainly wasn’t the goal and I’m sorry if you read more into it than was intended. It is simply an account of my personal experience, and why I think this is an unsafe product when used to break up dog fights or ward of stray dogs. It’s also a caution to owners who use it to scare their dogs out of bad behavior, as it can very easily cause unintended fallout. I’m glad you had good experiences with this product. It is not however one I’d recommend to my clients, nor is it one I’d use on my own dogs.

    • Cheryl

      That is a Papillon for you. I can see them being amused by this tool. Papillons are too smart for their own good sometimes. Gotta l to be the breed!

    • Judy Wilkins

      I’m all kinds of confused regarding the spray now. Mine has the pheromone in it and I was in love with it because it stops my 11 month old pit from rough play with my 3 year old cat. Obviously, he is a beast at 70 pounds and my cat is tiny compared to him. It does spook him in a sense but he doesn’t seem to be terrified or even scared of it. He simply stops doing what he shouldn’t be doing. The last thing I want is for my baby boy to be “scared” but he is so stubborn and I am not a trainer so I don’t know what else to do. I’ve tried distracting him with all sorts of things, holding him back, talking to him, and the list goes on. I need some serious help with my lil booger before I lose my mind. Anyone care to share some pointers on how to make him stop whining?! He does it more than not and it drives me bonkers! Normally when he’s waiting for his daddy to come home or hears someone pull up. Help! Ignoring, yelling, etc., doesn’t help.

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