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Dog Product Sellouts?

A dilemma, have I. One of my favorite dog product companies (Premier Pet Products) recently became a subsidiary of a company (Radio Systems Corporation) that makes shock collars (PetSafe, Innotek, etc) and other products that astound me (not in a good way), like the wireless crate. [Perhaps you remember my earlier rant on that atrocious idea.]

Well, I ask you … What’s a girl like me to do when the company that makes products I love cozies up to one that makes punishment-based products I loathe?

I adore Gentle Leader, Busy Buddy Waggle, Tug-a-Jug, and even Manners Minder. (I don’t have one, but I know some of you do, and I know what a help it can be in certain dog-training situations.)

Yet, I surely oppose dog shock/startle collars — be they the sound triggered, remote controlled, or containment driven.

My gut reaction screams BOYCOTT.

And, yet, we’re told there’s the potential for newer, awesome, reward-based products to come from the partnership. That’s cool, right?

Except, I really don’t want my money going to a company that makes what I can only assume is oodles of money from punishment-based dog training tools. I cannot imagine them ever giving that up … no matter how successful or profitable any current or future reward-based dog products are.

If we believe that Premier’s current product line embodies a certain philosophy, and if we believe the same is true for RSC, then where is the common ground?

Those who argue against a boycott point out that it’s a chance to show just how successful the products we love can be. “Don’t leave them. Love them more,” they cry.

That thought has merit, for sure.

Here is where I get hung up: Let’s say the positive products do well. Let’s say more of them come to market. Let’s say the company makes good money.

Even if we find ourselves in a better dog world because of all that, I see a business decision and a business decision alone … not some philosophical change of heart.

If RSC really cared about the things we care about, then they’d already be serving our needs.

I know that Premier has taken some flack for this agreement. I’d be curious to know if RSC loyalists have also balked. Are they wading through accusations of turning into a bunch of “purely positive” wimps?

Truly, I wonder if the level of uproar reflects which side is “selling out,” at least in the court of public opinion.

This situation reminds me of my confusion, frustration, and suspicion of this planned dog training summit.

I have a hard time seeing either of these confabs as anything but capitulation by the side I previous respected and trusted.

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Read More

Letter from Premier President

More information on how and why the decision came about

FAQ about the decision and its impact

Discussion on Facebook

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

KB - May 6, 2010

Candy – I don’t like the halti at all. None of my dogs has EVER gotten used to it. If they’re the belligerent type, they fight it forever. If they’re the timid type, they hang their head low while wearing it. I have seen dogs who appear to be fine with it but, among my 6 labs that I’ve had over my lifetime, only one was ever comfortable with it.

KB - May 6, 2010

I’ve used a lot of Premier products, including a few higher tech ones, like a citronella collar (which is punishment based but less upsetting than a shock collar). Their high tech stuff is badly made and breaks really fast. So, I see why they made this agreement… if they could make those products better, I’d still be buying the high tech stuff from them. Their new partner will help with this problem.

I see the moral dilemma but I also see that the Premier products will benefit.

Rod@GoPetFriendly - May 5, 2010

There is no doubt that we vote with our dollars. We might be amazed who’s in bed with whom if we analyzed the corporate hierarchies of all the goods we purchased.

Boycotts can be effective in certain situations – a single store in one town … or something SO aggregious that it garners national attention. I don’t think the Premier merger carries that kind of outrage. At the end of the day, you have to decide what works for you.

BTW – Someone wrote a blog post in the last week, citing the work of a top dog behaviorist, about the benefits seen when using an electronic collar.

Roxanne Hawn - May 5, 2010

Deborah, I have NOT heard anything past that initial announcement. I would stay tuned to Steve Dale for news. He sits on the American Humane board and blogs/writes about all manner of pet topics.

Debbie Jacobs - May 5, 2010

Do you have any information on who besides Mr. Millan will be at the symposium?

Candy Blakeslee - May 5, 2010

Petra…you almost made my heart stop saying that the Halti manufacturers also sold citronella spray collars. The manufacturer is A Company of Animals http://www.CompanyOfAnimals.us The do sell compress air that make a hiss sound and a noise interrupter…but no citronella spray collars. Whew! One of their distributors is Coastal Pet Product…and they sell EVERYTHING (including shock collars). A Company of Animals is owned by Dr. Roger Mugford.

As some of you may know, I was an early whistle blower about the Premier/RSC merger. I came down on the side of “we will no longer sell Premier products in our store”. However, I think the discussion is the most important part. People just need to know about the merger so that they can make an informed decision…which ever way you decide.

I would be interested in what people think about the Halti. I personally think it is a kinder, gentler head collar. However, I would love feedback before we decide to add it to our store.

Roxanne Hawn - May 5, 2010

Thanks, Petra, for those ideas. Do you (or anyone) know of alternatives to the head collar? Our behaviorist specifically wants me to use the Gentle Leader for Lilly (with her specific fears and such). Is there anything other than the GL and Halti out there?

Petra - May 5, 2010

I, too, have decided to completely boycott Premier, as well as the company that makes Halti headcollars, because they too sell aversive things, such as citronella spray “anti-bark” products.

It’s not that I think boycotting is effective. After all, I am only one person with one small wallet. But, I do have clients, and when recommending products don’t feel comfortable sending them and their money to a company that has sold out to shock collars. Not to mention…there are easily found alternatives!

Here is my alternative…Wiggles, Wags & Whiskers. http://www.wiggleswagswhiskers.com/ They make no-pull, front clip harnesses called the Freedom Harness, and they also sell slip-on and buckle martingale collars. They also make everything in the US!!! Their products are fabulous, and they also look great, which is a bonus.

I have a complete set of their harnesses and slip-on martingales for showing my clients, and I heartily recommend them and their products. Their customer service is also top-notch.

Additionally, the Sense-ation harness and the company that makes them are also not promoters of shock collars or other aversive products, if you prefer those.

Sam - May 5, 2010

Either you’re crabby and cynical, or I’m a clueless idealist. 😛

It’s unlikely that they’ll get rid of the line of aversive collars altogether, so I guess it’s a personal decision: is simply investing in positive training methods enough for a company, or should a company you support ONLY sell positive equipment? It’s an interesting question for any one to ponder, I think.

Roxanne Hawn - May 5, 2010

I think you’re right, Sam, about boycotts not really working (in the vast majority of scenarios). For me, it’s more about putting my money where my heart is … even if no one else gives a rat’s behind.

I actually haven’t decided one way or the other, but my initial thought was boycott. I’m still trying to work all this out in my head.

It’s interesting how we can read the same materials and get different ideas. I see only wishful thinking, where you see a distinct path. I hope you are right, and I’m just a crabby, cynical girl.

Sam - May 5, 2010

Skimming those links, I see over and over again that they want to gradually phase out harsh aversives like shock collars in favor of positive solutions. A marketing scheme? Maybe. But, I, personally, will give them the benefit of the doubt for now, and will continue to buy Premier products. I don’t think a boycott will work in this scenario, because I simply don’t think enough people are going to find a huge problem with this. Just my 2c 🙂

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