“It just seems so cruel”: Dog owners talk about the city’s new ban on choke collars

In January, city council voted to ban Toronto dog owners from using choke collars (except Martingale choke collars, which are considered more humane). The new rule came into force on March 1, and not everyone is happy about it. While incorrect use of a choke collar can injure a dog’s neck, many owners rely on them to train and control larger, stronger breeds. We interrupted some people’s walks with their furry friends in different locations around downtown to find out how they feel about the change.

Jonathan Campbell

41, arts professional from the Annex, with Hobie, 6, a Samoyed

“When I was growing up, a long time ago, we used choke collars. It was a different time, I guess. To be honest, I didn’t realize people were still using them. I never thought it was so cruel if they were used properly.”

Mitchell Toker

58, lawyer from Casa Loma, with Abby, 5, an Australian Labradoodle

“I’ve never used a choke collar. I support the ban. It sounds like they aren’t very nice for the dog.”

Leslie Greenbaum

Stay-at-home mom from Casa Loma, with Rosie, 3, a sheepdog-poodle mix

“Is this a choke collar? Then yes, I do use them. I think it’s not very smart to ban them, because some dogs need it and some owners need it. I’m under 100 pounds and she’s really strong.”

Sari Park

27, student from the Annex, with Lirra, 2, a black Malinois

“I think it depends on the dog and how people are using the collars. If people are using it as a form of punishment or correction, then I don’t think that’s a good way to train dogs. If you’re constantly correcting, then you get robot dogs who never want to try anything because they’re afraid of being punished. I imagine that there might be some scenario where a responsible owner might want to use a choke collar because it’s the only thing that works.”

Jennifer Kubara and Chris Andersen

26, medical radiation technologist from Yonge and Dundas; 28, medical radiation technologist from Yonge and Dundas; with Wally, 2, a husky-German-shepherd mix

Jennifer: “We’ve never used one. It just seems so cruel. With proper training you don’t need one. I think the ban is great for Toronto. It’s going to make people become better owners, more responsible for their dogs.”

Alex Jowett

45, artist and designer from Queen West, with Napoleon, 8, a spitz


“Honestly, I don’t see why people feel the need to ban choke collars. A lot of people need it. Some dogs actually need it.”

Suzanna Costa

47, interior designer from Beaconsfield Village, with Louie, 8, a French bulldog

“I agree with the ban. The idea of a choke collar doesn’t make sense to me. I think there are more gentle ways to train your dog and to keep them in control.”

Katherine Rinaldi, 31

Dog walker from Trinity Bellwoods, with Sam, 7, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel

“For me, positive reinforcement is a better method for training, but I do understand that for some dog owners a choke collar is a last resort. I’ve never used one, but I’m not sure if they should be banned or if there should just be limitations on their use. If they’re used properly, they don’t harm the dogs.”

Bobbie Hannah

30, entrepreneur from Kensington Market, with Beej, 12, a Maltese

“I think a choke collar is something that could be easily abused. If that’s the only way to handle your dog, then you need to maybe spend more time and learn more about how to properly control it and exercise it.”

Caitlin Raftis

32, student and book store worker from Casa Loma

“When I first got her, I did get a choke collar to help me figure out the training. I used it a couple of times and I really didn’t like it as an option, so I threw it away. I think it’s great that the city has banned them. I don’t think you need that sort of pain response to communicate with a dog and get them to work with you.”


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