This is the secret that almost all owners of small dogs share but refuse to discuss in mixed society: We use impact collars. We use them often. We use them to keep our yappy dogs from barking incessantly.
As a small dog owner for almost 10 years, I’m familiar with the argument: what would you like if you got an electric shock every time you do something that’s natural to you? The answer is: I probably wouldn’t like it at all. But I might stop repeating this same behavior after receiving a few low voltage zaps.
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Purchasing shockproof collars for our two barky chihuahuas was not a decision my husband and I made lightly. On the one hand, there is the stigma. Many pet owners regard electric collars as tools of animal abuse and aren’t afraid to tell you the same when they see your dog wearing one (silently) when they come to your house. There is also the price. Our shock collars were expensive because they were advertised as “safe” – intended to provide an effective corrective shock with the lowest voltage needed (with an automatic shut-off feature to protect particularly loud dogs from excessive shock).
We only considered impact collars after trying everything: clicker training, dog whisper, sprays, crate training, treats. Nothing worked. Our dogs kept verbally assaulting any new guest we brought into the house and absolutely lost them every time the UPS man rang the doorbell (which happened almost every day since we got addicted to Amazon Prime) – until we started using shock collars.
The advantages of shock-resistant collars
For most of us frustrated dog owners, shock collars are a last resort. We don’t buy shockproof necklaces for fun – we buy them when we run out of steam. Elaine Pendell, M.Ed., CPT, of Carolina Dog Training, says that since behavioral issues are the main reason pets are placed in shelters, shock collars (or remote collars) have a purpose when used appropriately. “The truth is, these training tools are built with micro amperage and don’t have the ability to shock like an electrical outlet. On the contrary, the remote training collar is an effective and safe communication tool that teaches a dog to develop self-control and a strong sense of teamwork ”, she wrote on her site.
Proponents argue that shock collars are just another training tool – one that can easily be used for abuse when placed in the wrong hands, like a choke stick or chain. But even though shock collars have been vilified due to irresponsible use, they do have some advantages when used correctly and appropriately.
Ann King, certified trainer at Local bark, says that while distance collars have their advantages and disadvantages, some of the advantages include the ability to communicate with a dog at a distance, associated with a positive association; the ability to offer subtle feedback without using voice commands that might excite or irritate a dog; and training with different levels of stimulation through more sophisticated and modern shock collar technology.
King explains, “The dog training industry is divided like no other when it comes to the tools of the trade. Impact collars are definitely at the top of the list of controversial tools. Most reasonable trainers – I realize that ‘reasonable’ is a relative term – recognize that tools are just tools: it all depends on how you use them. A regular 6 foot leash in the wrong hands can be used to seriously abuse a dog. Many trainers who vigorously denounce the use of electronic necklaces have never actually tested them on themselves. I can say from first hand experience that “shock” is nothing like electrocution. All you feel is a muscle contraction, similar to that produced by the electrical stimulation treatments (TENS) used to treat muscle and joint pain.
“Necklaces don’t cause any pain,” King says. she recommends Electronic collar technologies as a safe remote control collar choice.
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The disadvantages of shock collars
It doesn’t take much digging to find an animal care expert who doesn’t agree with using impact collars. Now we clearly understand the “stubborn” debate. Many trainers consider shock collars, even used as a last resort, to be completely unnecessary. Even King concedes that there are downsides to the shock collar, such as using a shock collar as a punishment tool that reinforces negative feedback without properly learning how to train a dog.
Dana Fedman, CPDT-KA, of Des Moines’ Pupstart family dog training explains, “I have been training other people’s companion dogs and problem solving for over 15 years. I train dogs of all breeds, ages and personalities. Long ago, when we were still pulling, pushing and “pushing” dogs with leashes attached to metal chain and spiked collars, I knew there had to be a better way. These days there are a plethora of better ways. None of these means require a “nic”, “static tingle”, “zap” or “just a pat on the shoulder” with an electronic collar.
“Are they cruel? They can easily be used that way, too easily in my opinion. Are they necessary? Absolutely not. Are they desirable? In my opinion, no. Fedman adds, “They can cause additional problems. They often worsen the very problems people use them for, even following the manufacturer’s instructions.
As hot as the subject of the shock collar can be, it is the kind of decision every dog owner must make for themselves. If you’re like me, you’ve done your research, tried other training methods, and feel comfortable using a shock collar in a safe and responsible manner before you even think about ordering one. one on Amazon.
Remember, a shock collar is a dog training tool like any other that can be used cruelly when placed in the wrong hands. But not all pet owners who use a shock collar are abusers. As King points out, it is this narrow point of view that continues to pit one dog owner against another. She says, “The stigma of the tool prevents even uneducated owners from investigating it. The “shame” of parts of our industry discourages many people from evaluating the tool objectively.