Every Dog Owner Should Know About This New Shock Collar Study

SHOCK_COLLAR_FeaturedA 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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56 thoughts on “Every Dog Owner Should Know About This New Shock Collar Study

  1. Aaron Van Curen

    E-collar aren't for owners that aren't trained. Kinda like how you can't just drive a semi-truck or fly a plane just because...you have to be trained. Yes e-collars are easy to get but its targeted for dog trainers that know how to effectively use them which is a small percentage

  2. Marc Stevens

    Wow. I guess the author of this article is excersizing what you call "creative license"? I would encourage readers to read this study and come to their own conclusions. Ones that are not completely biased like the above. The author of this study has come out publicly to the defense of the use of remote collars when articles like the above state the study proves things it clearly does not.

    Read the study yourself and come to your own unbiased conclusions.

  3. AP

    The problem is that most people are novices when it comes to dog training. You are probably in a much higher category. Most people have no clue how to even train a dog for basic commands. In general, shock collars are a bad idea for the general public. Instead, they should be encouraged to take basic obedience classes and stick with that.

  4. Positively


    I completely understand your frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed with your dog's behavior. But your instincts about using a shock collar are correct - while it may suppress the behavior in the moment, it does nothing to change the behavior and teach the dog an appropriate alternative, and will likely make the behavior worse in the long-term.

    Here are a few things to consider:

    1) Go to http://positively.com/trainers to find a qualified trainer near you. The dog training industry is unregulated, so anyone can call themselves a trainer or a behaviorist, but have zero qualifications or certifications. All of our Positively trainers are vetted for their experience, skill, and use of humane training methods. A qualified trainer or behaviorist would never suggest the use of a shock collar.

    2) Check out the Positively Forum for some great advice and support from pet lovers and professionals. http://positively.com/forum

    Above all else, stay away from the shock collars, as they can truly damage your dog beyond repair.

    Best of luck!

    -The Positively Team

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