Every Dog Owner Should Know About This New Shock Collar Study
A new study has found that the use of shock collars (also known as electronic collars or e-collars) can cause symptoms of distress in dogs, and the effects only worsen as the level of shock is increased.
The study, entitled "The Welfare Consequences and Efficacy of Training Pet Dogs with Remote Electronic Training Collars in Comparison to Reward-Based Training" was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Plos One and was conducted by researchers at the University of Lincoln in the UK.
The study examined 63 dogs that had poor recall or other related problems. The dogs were divided into three groups--one group was trained using shock collars, while the other two groups were controlled groups that were not trained using shock collars. The shock collar group used trainers that were industry approved, to test the efficacy and welfare consequences of these collars when following training guidelines published by collar manufacturers.
The dogs in the electronic collar group were found to show behavioral changes that were "consistent with a negative response." The dogs showed signs of tension and engaged in typical stress behaviors like excessive yawning. They were also much less engaged in environmental interaction.
The lead author of the study, Jonathan Cooper, came to several conclusions that should have a profound impact on the way that pet owners and pet professionals view e-collar training.
He concluded that training with an electronic collar, even when conducted by industry professionals with full knowledge of how to use the collar according to industry guidelines, "did not result in a substantially superior response to training in comparison to similarly experienced trainers who do not use e-collars to improve recall and control chasing behaviour. Accordingly, it seems that the routine use of e-collars even in accordance with best practice, as suggested by collar manufacturers, presents a risk to the well-being of pet dogs. The scale of this risk would be expected to be increased when practice falls outside of this ideal."
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