Are Electric Shock Collars Useful, Harmful, or Unnecessary for Dog Training?

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Whether we subscribe to it or not, I’m sure we all have some sort of reaction to electric / shock collars. Many of us see them as a distant cousin of electroconvulsive therapy, while others of us see them as a saving grace for dog training, especially with redzone dogs or for instilling good manners. without a leash.

So, are electric / shock collars useful, harmful, or unnecessary for dog training?

When are electric shock collars used

Electric collars can be used in almost any situation, but the most common reasons trainers and homeowners use these collars are:

  • Unwanted barking
  • Off-leash training
  • Correct aggression (associated with people, dogs or food)


These collars are also used to prepare dogs for worst case scenarios, such as avoiding certain animals (such as snakes). An example would be to “shock” the dog when it approaches a caged snake, so that it learns that snakes, in general, should be avoided.

First, let’s tease the shock

For starters, not all electric collars are shock collars. In fact, there are three general types of electric necklaces:

  1. Beep – The beep can be used in the same way as a clicker (like a marker). It can also be used to get the dog’s attention or correct a certain behavior (much like a “hey, stop!). But do not overdo it, otherwise the dog will get used to it.
  2. Vibrate Mode – Similar to the beep, but the collar vibrates.
  3. Shock Mode – Here a real electric shock is sent through the collar to the dog’s skin. You can usually manipulate the shock level, duration, and frequency.

It is up to you to decide which mode you prefer to choose when training your dog. Obviously, the shock mode method is the most controversial, but, if used sparingly, it can correct a dog (or stop him in his tracks) if he describes particularly dangerous behavior. If you just want your dog to drop a stick, Shock Mode might not be the most beneficial.

Many people find it helpful to associate beeping with positive behavior (an alternative to clicker training), vibration with correcting unwanted behavior, and worst-case shock on rare occasions.

Next, let’s talk about the pros

So, there’s a good chance you already have your thoughts on these necklaces, but let’s go over the pros and cons. First, the pros.

He should know what’s wrong, with or without you. To begin with, one of the goals of most trainers is for a dog to understand that behavior is bad, not because “I said it” but because it is bad behavior.

If a dog has only made a choice based on “I’m here and I said it,” then there’s always a chance the dog will act when we’re not there. Electric collars allow us to correct behavior from a distance so that the dog does not associate YOU as a corrector.

For example, let’s say you’re in your yard and your dog starts digging a hole. Your first instinct might be to call out his name and say NO. Of course, this is a bad road to take, as you never want to associate their name with anything negative (this will hurt your chances of having a dog that will gladly come when called). So you remember you have her electric collar. Hooray! You beep it, or vibrate it, or, if you have to, use shock mode. This takes your dog out of his digging mode and hopefully takes his attention away from you. (Now would be a good time to call him).

Tip: If you plan to use any mode as a corrector, never use it as a reward marker. For example, if you train your dog to sit up and use the beep mode before giving him a treat, don’t use the beep mode to try and stop him from digging, he will only think he’s doing something. good.

There are also anti-bark collars (and invisible fences) that react to your dog’s actions, even if you are out of sight. If your dog barks, he will have a sensation (or maybe even a spray in his nose). The same is true if it gets too close to your fence.

You have more control over the stimulus. Interestingly, people who oppose electric collars agree with slapping the muzzle, choking chains, or jerking on a leash. All of these techniques (including electrical collars) are forms of correction tools. The main difference is that with electric collars you have a lot more control over the stimulus. With a choke chain, your dog could continue to do damage without your knowledge. Using a leash jerk (snapping the leash to correct behavior) can cause significant damage to a dog’s neck, especially if you have a small breed dog. Hitting your dog’s muzzle (as in “You peed the house, bad dog!”) Can cause significant physical and mental trauma to a dog. It could also damage your bond with your dog, as obviously you are the cause of the pain.

With the electric collars, you can control the level of the stimulus and the duration of the stimulus.

It’s not me, it’s you. Finally, as we mentioned briefly above, you don’t want to damage the bond you have with your dog by causing them discomfort. Hitting your dog’s muzzle is a great way to do it! Electric necklaces are like the scapegoat, the middleman, the wall you hide behind. If you do it right, your dog will never realize that you have control over the stimulus. It keeps you in his good graces.

now the drawbacks

Now that we’ve gone over some positive features of an electric collar, let’s discuss some negative points.

Build an aggressive dog. Studies show that dogs that are confined in an electronic environment (such as inside an electric fence or under the control of an electric collar, exhibit more aggression towards humans. It is important that anyone using an electric collar does not abuse it, and you must make sure that the dog does not establish an association between the stimulus and you, the human.

Get used to it. Some dogs get used to the beeping, vibration, or even shock. This could lead to some pretty dangerous results. For example, let’s say the dog tolerates the shock of the collar long enough to move away from how far your remote can reach the collar. Essentially, the dog has just learned that if he tolerates the discomfort long enough, he will be free. Your collar has just become irrelevant.

To e, or not to e …

The electric collar will always be controversial, even if you, the dog owner, never use shock mode. But it’s important that you put the peanut gallery aside and take your needs and concerns into consideration. First of all, are you comfortable with the idea of ​​an electric collar? Second, are you ready to use it wisely so as not to cause physical or mental trauma? Third, do you know how to make sure your dog does not associate with you with the stimulus?

Before making your final decision, seek the advice of your veterinarian. While you might assume that vets will automatically discredit these collars, the reality is that vets know that every dog ​​and every dog ​​owner is unique. We all have different needs.

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