Most dog parents will be happy to tell you how much their dog is like family, how much they love them, that their dog is their best friend in the world, and how much they care for them. Most dog parents will parade pictures of their dog like it's their first born child. Most of them will feed their pup better food than they feed themselves and spend half of their pay checks buying them toys and treats. Some of these same dog parents will be in need of training and will hire a trainer and have that trainer tell them that they are going to recommend they use a shock collar to train their pup. Yes, they will recommend to electrocute your dog. Plenty of trainers who are uncertified, uneducated, and/or not aware of science-based, modern, up-to-date methods will actually have you pay them good money to tell you this. The question to ask yourself is, "should we really be shocking members of our own family?"
Keep in mind that these trainers will not say the word electrocute, some will even avoid the phrase "shock collar" because they know how it sounds; it sounds horrible. And it is. They will call it a "remote collar", or something of that nature, to soften the blow. They will explain it's "just a tiny vibration", a "subtle message", a "small correction." They will tell you it doesn't hurt the dog, that it's very effective, and that it is safe. The sad part is, they actually believe that.
The truth is that it does shock the dog, it does hurt, it does damage the dog both mentally and physically, and it is flat out inhumane. Unfortunately, many pet parents know this in their gut but feel they should take the advice of the "expert" in their living room and they get duped into putting these damaging devices on their dog.
Science has been able to prove a tremendous amount about dog behavior and dog training in the last several decades and although the debate carries on, the ruling is in. Devices like shock collars, choke chains, and prong collars have proven to increase aggression, cause physical and mental damage, bring about new behavioral issues that were not present beforehand, are ineffective in the sense of truly teaching your dog what you want, and will flat out damage the bond you have with your dog.
Here are a few points to consider to put it into perspective:
* In the case of dog aggressive dogs, the dog in question is already fearful and scared around other dogs. Let's say you're fearful and scared around spiders. I put you in a room with a shock collar around your neck and put a large spider on the table in front of you. As soon as you begin to "react" in a negative way around the spider, I click my almighty button and you receive a shock to your throat. Your urge to react poorly to the spider may overcome the first or second shock, but soon you will go into survival mode and stop moving or reacting. Problem solved, right? No. You may have stopped reacting, but does this actually change your feeling about spiders? Next time you see one and you have that shock collar on your neck, you are now not only going to be scared and fearful of the spider, but now you are scared and fearful of feeling a shock on your neck if you even move incorrectly. Now multiply the number of times this happens, and over time you may build up so much frustration and anger that the next time you see a spider (which you now relate to the shock in your neck), you may want to go kill it. This is what happens to dogs. It doesn't truly change a thing about of the dog's underlying reason for the behavior, but rather, suppresses it and now you may have a ticking time bomb waiting to go off from all the stress, fear, and pain.
* Now let's say you have a big dog who loves people so much that he leaps and jumps on them every time someone walks in the front door. You are so sick of it that you decide to put a shock collar on the dog to "teach" him to not do that. Next time someone walks in the door, the dog (not knowing what is about to happen) jumps up happily to greet the new person coming in and he gets shocked on his neck. He yelps from the startle and pain. Not understanding what is going on, he jumps up again, and again he gets shocked. After a couple of tries, he goes and lies down on his bed and decides to not interact with anyone for a bit. Repeat this scenario over the next couple of weeks and what have you taught your dog? To fear new people coming into the house, because in his mind, new people coming in brings him pain and irritation. This is an example of sad cases I've seen many times with "trainers" using corrections and punishment in their training, when a perfectly good and friendly dog now becomes human reactive or human aggressive.
The only things you need to help train your dog are a basic understanding of how dogs think, patience, and your sophisticated human brain.
Please see below for some great resources regarding the negative effects the use of shock collars have on our canine companions.
The Pet Professional Guild is a professional membership organization representing pet industry professionals who are committed to force-free training and pet care philosophies, practices, and methods. Many respected certified dog trainers, veterinarians, and even groomers, etc. are members of this organization.
Please see the article below in regards to health concerns, and emotional and physical damage these devices cause:
This is an article from Companion Animal Psychology. This goes over detailed information regarding the studies they have recently done on the negative effects of using shock collars in training or otherwise on our dogs. The article pulls from many credible, scientifically backed studies and conducted research.
The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) is a respected organization within the dog training community and a professional organization of dog trainers who are committed to becoming better trainers through education backed by science. Please see the following article with references on their position statement of the use of dominance or force (which would include shock collars, prong collars, etc.) in dog training:
Positively.com is a website providing lots of dog training knowledge and was founded by one of the most respected dog trainers in the professional community.
Please see this article regarding choke and prong collars and why they are unsafe, the injuries they can cause, and why they should be avoided in all cases.
There are many articles going over how some countries have banned or restricted the use of shock collars, here are a just a couple that are specific to Canada (since it is one of the ones closest to us).
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