Shock or electric collars are devices placed around a dog's neck which connect to a handheld transmitter which remotely delivers varying levels of electric shocks to the dog's neck. Having already been deemed illegal as abusive tools by many countries such as Finland, parts of Canada and parts of the United Kingdom, shock collars theoretically are designed to provide an aversive stimulus to a dog as a punishment or 'correction' from its trainer or owner.
Using shock in dog training teaches a dog to avoid a certain stimulus and to stop any behavior that ‘caused’ the shock, but just because the behavior has stopped in that moment does not necessarily mean the behavior has improved or will improve long-term. The shock suppresses the behavior in that moment but does not address the behavior’s root cause.
Even though supporters of electronic training might praise the effectiveness of the method, dogs trained using these tools only comply or cooperate with the training out of a fear of what will happen if they do not comply – the dog is not truly being obedient.
- Shock collars may cease a behavior in the moment, but the severe stress and anxiety they cause can lead to more aggression in the future and can create entirely new behavioral problems.
- Several countries have already instated bans on shock collars, and it is only a matter of time before other countries will follow.
Rather than resort to using equipment that causes your dog fear and pain, why not try humane, force-free alternatives that are more effective long-term and that will help change the way your dog thinks and learns?
Why Should You Say NO to Shock Collars?
- Shock controls a dog without allowing that dog to make choices and solve problems, which often results in 'learned helplessness' – the dog effectively learns to give up.
- Shock forces a dog to ‘behave’ with little concern for the root cause of the negative behavior.
- E-collar training essentially cripples an animal’s true learning ability.
- Shocking a dog can actually exacerbate aggressive behavior in the future.
There are still people who vehemently defend electronic training, saying that used correctly shock collars do not cause pain, but rather just a minor irritation that the dog learns to avoid if it behaves in a desirable manner. Even if that were the case (and it's not), why resort to shock when you can get much better results with methods that motivate a dog to behave well without force and without any possibility of physical or emotional damage?
It is impossible to defend a method that has the potential to cause real harm. Even trainers that claim to be able to use the collar 'effectively' are still inflicting some level of pain or irritation on the dog.
Yet again, the simple question at play regarding the use of shock collars is this: do you want your dog to follow you because she wants to or because she is scared of what will happen if she doesn't?
Shock collars are yet another example of man’s desire for a quick fix, but positive training offers a wealth of great methods, that can dramatically change even the most severe behavioral problems in dogs.
Scientific Studies About the Effects of Shock Collars:
- Considerations for shock and ‘training’ collars: Concerns from and for the working dog community (Overall) Journal of Veterinary Behavior (2007) 2, 103-107
- Training Dogs With the Help of the Shock Collar: short and long term behavioural effects(Schilder, van der Borg) Applied Animal Behaviour Science 85 (2004) 319–334
- Can aggression in dogs be elicited through the use of electronic pet containment systems? (Polsky) Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 2000 Vol. 3 No. 4 pp. 345-357
- The Use of Shock Collars and Their Impact on the Welfare of Dogs (Blackwell, Casey) Department of Clinical Veterinary Science University of Bristol 2006
- If Your Dog Could Talk: Reward v. Punishment Dog Training
- Electronic Collars vs. Traditional Leashes for Exercising Dogs on Town Streets
- The Problem with Punishment
- Victoria Blasts Shock Collars in the Chicago Tribune
- Snake Avoidance: Making Wise Choices
Dogs share a common ancestor – the wolf – but how did wolves turn into dogs and what can we learn from wolves that might help...
Aggression is a serious behavior issue that is all too common in our domestic dogs. Aggression expert Michael Shikashio joins...
Why do dogs become anxious when home alone and how can this be prevented? Dog trainer Lisa Waggoner joins Victoria and Holly for...
Articles from Victoria Stilwell
- 2021 Dog Behavior Conference Announced
- Why I’m Not a Purely Positive Dog Trainer
- Becoming a Dog Trainer
- Social Bullying
- Does Your Dog Respect You?