Shock collars are frequently used as a dog training tool. Simply put, the shock collar is placed around the dog’s neck, like an ordinary collar. It possesses an electronic portion and this will emit an electric shock if the remote control gets activated. In other words, the dog will receive an electric shock on his neck every time I click on a button. Shock collars may be known by a lot of different names, but all of them work through the same principle: the dog will stop behaving in a certain way in order to avoid the shock.
Reason for excessive barking
The most common use for shock collars is to prevent and stop excessive barking. Dogs bark for a number of reasons: they’re protecting their territory from an intruder, they’re bored, they’re excited, they’re hungry, they need to go out to pee or they may have learned that it gets them what they want, such as attention from their owners.
When we place the shock collar on the dog’s neck for the first time, and we press the button as soon as he barks, we’re ignoring all of these different possible causes. Should we really be punishing a dog for trying to tell us he needs to go to his doggy toilet? If he’s hungry and feels uncomfortable, who gave us the right to physically abuse him when he’s asking for help in the only way he knows?
A better way is to sit down with a consultant to work out what may be causing the dog to bark. This can be done via a series of trial and experiments. Once the reason has been identified, you can develop a set of activities to modify the behavior and help the dog achieve what it wants without barking.
How shock collars can hurt dogs
Animal behaviorists and positive animal trainers all around the world can effectively teach orcas, walruses, bears, gorillas and monkeys to voluntarily give urine and blood samples, just through the use of a clicker and some yummy food. If they can teach a gorilla to open his mouth and allow a vet to brush his teeth, why on Earth would anyone need a shock collar to teach the most trainable species on the planet? The use of such tools can deeply harm the human-animal bond and also ruin the owner-dog relationship. It is also cruel to punish a dog in such a way when we gave him no other alternative. We punish him for misbehaving but we have never taught him what he should be doing instead! You can easily train a dog to stop barking by using positive reinforcement techniques; these won’t harm the dog nor the relationship he has with his owner.
One down side of using shock dollars is enforcing aggressive behavior in dogs, especially when the shock dollar is used in moments when the dog is trying to be sociable. For example, the dog might see other dogs and want to get to know them. The owners, however, might fear that it is out of control and uses the shock collar. Over time, this sends a signal to the dog and approaching other dogs will cause pain and hence develop more aggressive or anti-social behavior towards other dogs.
The above is one example of how using shock collars can cure one behavior but result in other behavior problems. Other psychological problems can result from the dog’s body reacting to the constant pain trigger. It is important to understand what these other side effects might be before finalising your choice.
Besides the psychological damage these collars certainly cause, there have been many cases of dogs who needed to receive medical assistance because of them. Shock collars can be responsible for bruising the skin, as well as provoking wounds and burns, even when correctly used (according to the instructions).
There isn’t a single reason why we should be using these collars on our best friends. There are other alternatives, other methods and tools that we can use that won’t cause any discomfort, pain or fear. Let’s start using our brains instead of our muscles to train dogs. We don’t need a torture device, a piece of kibble will do just fine!