Shock Collars

SHOCK_COLLAR_FeaturedShock 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:


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8 thoughts on “Shock Collars

  1. riverdivine

    People who use shock collars, prong collars, choke collars are sadistic beings, and should be kept away from all dogs. These are not 'training tools', and those who use them will say anything to others, and themselves, to justify sadistically causing pain and stress in animals. Anyone who delights (secretly or otherwise) in controlling another living being- through pain and shock- should be listed on the Registry of Animal Abusers, and should be barred from owning any pet ever.

  2. Pedro Runa

    People used because is easy! And dont need studies, or have to read hundreds of books, and articles about science and behaviour! Great article! Victoria.

  3. PremierDogs

    I am staunchly anti-shock-collar, and I see no issue working with deaf dogs with vibration collars. I have worked with two deaf dogs, and in both instances the goal was to have a trigger so the dog would look to it's owner. In other words, a way for a deaf dog to "come when called". Of course it's very important that the vibration collar is introduced in a way that the dog builds a positive association (ie: good things happen to me when I wear this collar), and then stress-free training can begin. There is also another non-shock 'mode' that collars can be used, which is an audible tone. I've talked to a couple of hunters that use the 'tone' mode (but no shock) as a recall cue for their dogs when in the field. Again, I'm talking about vibration only, or tone only... absolutely no use of shock in any form.

  4. PremierDogs

    A couple of years ago I lived in an area where there was a so-called "certified" trainer who taught basic obedience using shock-collars. One day I bumped into the fellow (figuratively speaking) and asked him if he could confirm the rumours I had heard about him training in such a manner, and he was only too happy to. In addition, he was astounded that I could find any fault in him training in that manner. I contacted the training facility where he got his "certification" (they do a lot of online advertising so I was familiar with their name) just to ask them if they condoned their graduates using shock collars for basic obedience training. They replied to me with some boiler-plate statement indicating that they would neither endorse or condemn any specific tools (blah blah blah). Pitty the poor dogs that have to endure people like this.

  5. Jacques Hallé

    Great article Victoria. I totally agree with you on the dangers of shock collars, so much so that our dog store ( refuses to sell shock collars. It would be good for business, but one has to sleep at night!

  6. K9mutt Training

    Great article.In my classes and private training that is the first thing I do is remove any choker, shock and prong. There have been times the dogs have nuzzled and basically said thank you. I was at the local fair last year, touting my classes and had my Pet Partner therapy dog with me. Several others that are part of out therapy dog org.- Angel Paws were there also. There was a company called --Sit Means Sit catty corner to us. EVERY time they would choke their dogs OUR dogs responded in a distress signal like they do if we are at a hospital and a ;person is crying. Though I have no scientific data to prove it but from our dogs reactions I feel the dogs are letting out distress signal to others that humans cannot hear but other dogs can. Even our member who had a great dane that was deaf reacted negatively. If you hapen to know of a study please let me know. Thanks again for a great article.

  7. Clive Wickham

    I knew someone who fitted their dog with one of these to keep it within his gardens perimeter. If the dog went beyond a row of yellow flags, he received a shock (that made him yelp - so they are painful!) This particular day, he saw a cat outside, instinct took over and he ran past the barrier to try and get the cat. Now, he was outside the property and, with no cat to distract him, realised that he was going to get a belt if he tried to go back in past the yellow flags. He wasn't missed and the next my "friend" knew of his dog, it had been knocked over and found him dying outside the gate. One of the neighbours had actually seen him run out after the cat but, not knowing about the electric collar, assumed that the owner was close by. Calmness and reward is the way to train a dog, not with cruelty.

  8. Melanie G.

    Looks like this is an older article, but I’m happy I found it.

    I’ve been looking for classes for my dog to help with general anxiety. I’ve been reaching out to a few trainers in my area, and one of them offered to let me come watch one of her classes. So, I went and watched.

    The entire class revolved around use of an e-collar (shock collar) to get the dogs attention for commands. Then, if the dog wasn’t listening to the commands they would turn up the collar until they listened. The whole thing made me feel really uneasy. I would imagine this makes most guests uneasy, hence why it was never mentioned on their website.

    The other thing that stood out to me is that they would keep repeating a command until the dog got it. “Sit sit sit sit sit!” Until the dog sat. Victoria mentions in her books that you’re only supposed to use a command once, and if the dog doesn’t follow properly to give the “uh-oh!” Cue to let them know they didn’t follow correctly.

    It was weird being in an environment where I was surrounded by so many people who swear by using these collars. Admittedly, it had me second guessing my intuition. Almost everything mentioned in the class was the opposite of what I have learned of dog training.

    Thank you for this article Victoria. I had made the decision not to go through with the e-collar “training” after I left, but it’s incredibly reaffirming to know that my favorite dog trainer stands behind me in this decision. Thank you for your plethora of dog training information that is always so readily available, it has been incredibly helpful in training my dog so far.

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