Using Shock Collars for Dog Training – Is It Ok?


There is a coach I do know who posts numerous brief movies of her personal canines and canines owned by purchasers of her board-and-train enterprise. The canines all the time look very effectively behaved and plenty of folks depart complimentary feedback on these posts.

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

Again, judging by the feedback, nobody appears to be bothered by the refined indicators of stress and anxiousness the canines in coaching show. If the canine is “behaving,” the coach by no means raises her voice, and the canine’s tail wags sooner or later, all of it seems to be good to most individuals (apparently).

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

Quick-Fix Methods Can Be Seductive,But…

In basic, I attempt to hold WDJ as free as attainable from destructive value determinations of coaching methods and kit that we don’t help. I’d slightly 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 might 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 complete expertise? A dramatic transformation doesn’t occur that rapidly 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 take care of a selected habits that the proprietor or coaching has been unable to cease in every other means, one thing that will effectively shorten the lifetime of the canine if the habits is unchecked, resembling taking off after animals (not responding to a recall cue off-leash) or failing to answer 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 canines to carry out each type of sit, down, keep, come, go to your mattress, every-day kind of behaviors – the identical behaviors we will 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 type of apparent concern that an unskilled force-based coach induces in his purchasers’ canines – the movies posted on social media don’t present canines who’re overtly cringing or flinching. They do present canines who show extra refined indicators of stress: licking their lips, ears again, tucked tails, yawning. In a number of movies, it takes a pointy eye, however you may see the response a number of canines make once they have hesitated to carry out the requested habits and are being shocked:  an extended blink or a momentary grimace earlier than they carry out the habits they’ve been requested for. You can see it, however provided that you realize what to search for.

I wager her purchasers are genuinely pleased with the outcomes – happy to find that their canines are able to being calm and compliant and have realized a number of behaviors on cue.

Dangers of utilizing shock collars

There is not any denying that within the palms 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 strain to the canine’s neck can educate a canine to carry out sure behaviors (so as to not endure 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 just some:

  • Training strategies that use ache can emotionally scar some canines. Dogs might study to carry out sure behaviors with the intention to keep away from ache, however many lose belief and curiosity in having a loving relationship with people.
  • There are sure canines who reply to ache with aggression. You can’t all the time predict which canines this shall be, however the odds are larger with canines who’re fearful and people who 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, sooner or later the coach is prone to inform the proprietor that the canine is harmful and faulty and the canine normally finally ends up lifeless – euthanized for habits that was launched in response to the coaching methodology.
  • While the coach might need good timing, remark expertise, and judgment, few homeowners do. When the canine is shipped house along with his new shock collar and the distant management is now within the palms of his much-less skilled proprietor, it’s inevitable that the collar shall be activated at inappropriate occasions: when the canine tried to do the needed habits however the proprietor didn’t acknowledge it as such, after the canine had stopped doing the undesirable habits 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 can enhance compliance from one other residing 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 slightly than a considering, feeling being of one other species.

Again, I don’t like to debate coaching strategies that we might 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 could 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 in all probability haven’t been informed up entrance that the canine’s seeming calmness and compliance comes with a distant management – one which they should study to make the most of with the intention to keep these behaviors. Were they requested if they’re keen to proceed to harm their canines into the indefinite future? Or have their canines study to affiliate them with the ache?

The purpose of the type 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 canines, not simply assert management by superior power or energy. Communication and cooperation with different beings is most soundly constructed on a basis of mutual comprehension – and this takes a bit of little bit of time! But if the method of studying about one another is rewarding and pleasing for each events (canine and human), the bond between them shall be sturdy, even when communication breaks down at occasions.

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 have 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 making an attempt 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 critical fallout from their use and misuse.

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

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





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