Using Shock Collars for Dog Training – Is It Ok?


There is a coach I do know who posts lots of brief movies of her personal canine and canine owned by shoppers of her board-and-train enterprise. The canine at all times look very properly behaved and many individuals go away complimentary feedback on these posts.

I’ve by no means seen a remark mentioning the shock collars that each one of many canine wears. (Or the shock collar mixed with a choke chain or pinch collar. Always the shock collar, and sometimes the second pain-inducing collar, too.)

Again, judging by the feedback, nobody appears to be bothered by the delicate indicators of stress and nervousness the canine in coaching show. If the canine is “behaving,” the coach by no means raises her voice, and the canine’s tail wags in some unspecified time in the future, all of it seems good to most individuals (apparently).

Now, it could possibly be that some individuals DO remark or ask questions in regards to the collars and the coach deletes them. I might put cash on a unique risk, although; I’m fairly certain that this coach so completely believes in and depends upon the collars that if somebody DID remark, she would strongly defend their use.

Quick-fix strategies will be seductive, however…

In basic, I attempt to preserve WDJ as free as attainable from unfavourable value determinations of coaching methods and kit that we don’t assist. I’d moderately that we discuss in regards to the many causes we advocate for the methods and kit that we love. But I fear generally that many individuals can’t inform the distinction between what we’d name dog-friendly coaching and coaching that’s targeted on fast, telegenic outcomes.

I do know that quick-fix strategies are seductive: “I sent her an unmanageable dog who barked at the door, jumped on everyone, and couldn’t be walked on leash, and two weeks later, now look at him! He’s calm and I can walk him without being dragged down the street!”

But my query is, at what price? What was that canine’s whole expertise? A dramatic transformation doesn’t occur that shortly with out a specific amount of ache and discomfort and lack of preliminary comprehension.

Note that I’m not speaking about the usage of a shock collar to cope with a particular conduct that the proprietor or coaching has been unable to cease in every other method, one thing that will properly shorten the lifetime of the canine if the conduct is unchecked, resembling taking off after animals (not responding to a recall cue off-leash) or failing to reply to a “leave it” cue in rattlesnake nation. That’s a separate debate we may have. But what I’m speaking about right here is the usage of a shock collar to show canine to carry out each type of sit, down, keep, come, go to your mattress, every-day sort of behaviors – the identical behaviors we are able to educate 8-week-old puppies to do on cue with a handful of cookies.

Now, I’ve so as to add that this coach is expert and skilled. I don’t see the form of apparent concern that an unskilled force-based coach induces in his shoppers’ canine – the movies posted on social media don’t present canine who’re overtly cringing or flinching. They do present canine who show extra delicate indicators of stress: licking their lips, ears again, tucked tails, yawning. In a couple of movies, it takes a pointy eye, however you may see the response a couple of canine make after they have hesitated to carry out the requested conduct and are being shocked:  a protracted blink or a momentary grimace earlier than they carry out the conduct they’ve been requested for. You can see it, however provided that you understand what to search for.

I wager her shoppers are genuinely pleased with the outcomes – happy to find that their canine are able to being calm and compliant and have discovered a couple of behaviors on cue.

Dangers of utilizing shock collars

There isn’t any denying that within the arms of an skilled coach – an even-tempered particular person with superior expertise at observing physique language and good timing – collars that shock or apply painful stress to the canine’s neck can educate a canine to carry out sure behaviors (so as to not undergo a painful consequence) in pretty brief order, and with out the looks of violence. But this type of coaching is anathema to me, and to most “positive only” trainers, for a lot of causes. Here are only a few:

  • Training strategies that use ache can emotionally scar some canine. Dogs might study to carry out sure behaviors with a purpose to keep away from ache, however many lose belief and curiosity in having a loving relationship with people.
  • There are sure canine who reply to ache with aggression. You can’t at all times predict which canine this shall be, however the odds are larger with canine who’re fearful and those that possess greater than the typical quantity of self-preservation instincts. I might argue that from their standpoint this constitutes easy self-defense. But the pain-based coach will reply to the canine’s aggression with better and better ache, as a result of if the canine’s aggression efficiently (from the canine’s view) ends the coaching session, the coach will fail, so the coach will really feel compelled to extend the ache till the canine “submits.” Unfortunately, if the canine’s aggression escalates sufficient, in some unspecified time in the future the coach is more likely to inform the proprietor that the canine is harmful and faulty and the canine normally finally ends up useless – euthanized for conduct that was launched in response to the coaching methodology.
  • While the coach may need good timing, commentary expertise, and judgment, few homeowners do. When the canine is distributed dwelling together with his new shock collar and the distant management is now within the arms of his much-less skilled proprietor, it’s inevitable that the collar shall be activated at inappropriate instances: when the canine tried to do the needed conduct however the proprietor didn’t acknowledge it as such, after the canine had stopped doing the undesirable conduct however the proprietor’s timing was delayed, when the proprietor is indignant on the canine for perceived misbehavior, and so forth. As the “corrections” make much less and fewer sense to the canine, and he fails to obviously see what behaviors work to cease the ache and which don’t, his “training” will deteriorate – and so will the connection between the canine and his proprietor.

In my view, the introduction of a button that’s pressed to trigger discomfort that may enhance compliance from one other dwelling being – simply this, alone – would point out to me that the button-presser ought to spend his or her time with a stuffed or digital toy canine moderately than a pondering, feeling being of one other species.

Again, I don’t like to debate coaching strategies that we’d by no means promote, however I’m unsure that novice canine individuals are ever informed in regards to the potential for hurt that quick-fix instruments like shock collars may cause. And when a canine proprietor with an unruly canine sees the “before and after” movies, many fortunately signal on, with out being knowledgeable in regards to the potential for fallout. They most likely haven’t been informed up entrance that the canine’s seeming calmness and compliance comes with a distant management – one which they must study to make the most of with a purpose to keep these behaviors. Were they requested if they’re prepared to proceed to harm their canine into the indefinite future? Or have their canine study to affiliate them with the ache?

The purpose of the form of canine coaching we describe in WDJ – dog-friendly coaching, positive-reinforcement-based coaching, fear-free coaching, name it no matter you need – is to domesticate communication with and cooperation from our canine, not simply assert management via superior energy or energy. Communication and cooperation with different beings is most soundly constructed on a basis of mutual comprehension – and this takes just a little little bit of time! But if the method of studying about one another is rewarding and pleasant for each events (canine and human), the bond between them shall be robust, even when communication breaks down at instances.

Let’s speak about it

*Please word that this place on the WDJ web site – the weblog spot – is the place my private ideas are posted. The phrase “blog” is brief for “web log”; it got here into being to explain the type of websites that had been dedicated to journaling and different private posts. This isn’t an “article” in regards to the evils of shock collars; it’s the place I’m attempting to work out my private discomfort with each the usage of the instruments and most of the people’s seeming incapability to detect or perceive the potential for fairly severe fallout from their use and misuse.

Trainers: Do you’ve private expertise with utilizing shock collars for coaching garden-variety behaviors? (Let’s confine the dialogue to this.) Do you’ve expertise working with canine who had been shocked by totally different trainers or homeowners earlier than you had been consulted? If so, what are you able to inform us about these experiences?

Owners: Have you paid somebody to coach your canine with certainly one of these gadgets? Were you informed up-front {that a} shock collar could be used in your canine? What has your expertise been? Has your canine appeared totally different in any method?





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