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?
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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.