Want to turn a dog into a killing machine? Try to use a shockproof collar. This may have done the trick for Blue – a pit bull who was adopted from a self-proclaimed “rescue and rehabilitation center” in Virginia Beach, Va. – who now has the dubious distinction of being responsible for the only fatal dog attack ever investigated by Virginia Beach Animal Control.
Blue – who was sent home with a shock collar and instructions on how to use it to help him “acclimatize” – wasted no time going into attack mode: he fatally maimed 90 years of her new guardian the same day she brought him home. Blue’s new owner tried to shock him mid-attack with the collar, but to no avail. On the contrary, the painful shocks may have enraged him even more.
As this grieving family has learned, training dogs with shock collars and other negative reinforcement isn’t just cruel, it’s downright dangerous. Shock collars cause dogs to live in fear of being unexpectedly and painfully zapped at any time for crossing invisible lines, barking, jumping on sofas, or engaging in many other types of natural dog behavior. . In addition to pain, these collars can cause injuries ranging from burns to heart fibrillation as well as psychological distress, including severe anxiety that can lead to inappropriate aggression.
Dogs trained with shock collars and invisible fences can develop fear or aggression towards anyone present at the time of the shocks, such as children on bicycles, the postman, the dog next door, or even a family member. Using a shock collar on a dog like Blue, who has a history of aggression, is like making a match out of dry leaves.
A study conducted at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands comparing the use of shock collars with other negative training techniques (such as choke collars or beatings) found that shocked dogs learned to associate painful experiences with the presence of their guardians “even outside of the normal training setting. In other words, shocked dogs learned to associate their guardians with fear and pain. And they were absolutely right. Who can blame dogs if they prey on people who harm them? It’s surprising that more dogs don’t.
Shock collars are so cruel that they have been banned in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and parts of Australia. The Kennel Club, the UK equivalent of the AKC, calls for a ban on electric shock collars in the UK
It is never okay to train dogs out of fear, intimidation, or pain. Dogs are our companions, not enemy fighters. Use only positive training methods, in which dogs are rewarded for desirable behavior. Your dog will be happier and everyone will be safer.