Shock collars, yes or no?

                                                   Their lives are in our hands, to protect. 

A shock collar study showed up on my Facebook feed; so I thought I'd share it for those who might be interested in reading it as well.  The test was small and has left many people needing more definitive results.  Shock collars are used for many different things; outdoor perimeter, barking, general training and high level intense training. 

Shock collar test - Is it okay to use a Shock Collar?

In my opinion do we really need tests to know whether or not a shock collar should be used on a dog?   There are those of us who would never resort to strapping an electric shock collar on a dog and those who think nothing of it.  So perhaps a test is needed to scientifically prove that we should not zap our dogs is required. 

Shock collars are commonly used on hunting and police dogs.  The shock comes from a manual switch that is used by the handler.  These dogs are often in a state of high arousal or drive which is why the handler feels the need for a shock collar.  Push a dog to the point of no return and then zap them to bring them down again.  But not everyone uses shock collars for these dogs; there are many amazing dogs who have been trained without them.  In my opinion these dogs who are trained without a shock collar are much more reliable; due to the fact that they listen rather than wait to be shocked.

When we moved to Connecticut we soon discovered that the use of shock collars was the way that people kept their dogs on their property.  Almost no one had an actual physical fence; they relied on the electronic fences.  I was shocked to see how it had become the thing to do and that so many people just complied.  The invisible wire that is underground is where the shock is triggered.  The owner does not need to be present for the shock to happen.   

There were a few people who obviously were not okay with having their dog zapped or relying on a shock to keep their dog safe.  Those people had erected a fence around a backyard which kept their dog inside, lucky dog. The whole 'no fence' thing had me so puzzled.  There was a huge tick problem in CT; so keeping the deer out of your yard would be a good thing.  We had no fence around the rental house that we rented but we did put up a small fenced area so that the dogs could go out without being on leash.  The deer were free to come and go anywhere else on the yard and bring ticks with them.  It made no sense at all.  Sure deer can jump fences but they will walk around one before jumping one. 

The question remains; should a shock collar ever be used?  Perhaps if a dog is to be euthanized; then and only it may be the only way to save a dog.  But quality of life is so very important in dogs; being shocked constantly is in no way, quality of life, it is simply life at that point.  So it would really depend on the severity of the behavior issue and what the collar would be used for.   If the issue is that the dog is dangerous to others, so much so that a shock collar is needed; then we rely on the human to be there 100% of the time to save others from the said dog.  That is another debate altogether. 

The Shocking truth - from APBC

Hollys Den - Why you should just say no to shock collars.

As far as I am concerned, the use of a shock collar in training is a big NO.  There is no need for tests for me to know what is right and wrong as far as inflicting shocks to our canine companions. 


  1. I used a shock collar for a very short period of time with my first standard and toy poodle. We did not have a fence at the time. The toy would walk right through the inviable fence and the spoo would run right after her. Personally I hated it. My husband thought it was a good idea at the time. 2 weeks later we got a real fence. Never use a shock collar, train your dogs properly and there will not be an issue. Just saying!

  2. Hi there
    I am a Swedish clinical animal behaviourist specialised in dogs trained at Southampton University in the UK now practising in Spain.
    I am a fence sitter when it comes to the shock collars or e collars (depending on your stance) I have a colleague in England who seem to be using this form of training apparently very successfully.
    From the training videos I have search for and watched in for example YouTube, the correct use of this type of collar does not actually harm the dog in any way. The idea would seem to be that the stimulus (the optimum level which has to be sought with expert care) interrupts the dog's behaviour and trains him to seek the handler out.
    During training the dog is NOT highly stimulated i.e. you are not meant to interrupt a dog which is in the so called "red zone" level of excitation, quite the opposite. Like in all training methods you attempt to train the dog with "no distraction" (as far as this is ever possible).
    The collar can also be removed once the dog's behaviour has been modified and an alternative response learned.
    It is not, it would appear, a question of "zapping" the dog.
    I am very interested in finding out conclusive evidence as to the effect of the use of the collar in behaviour modification therapy since there are very many problematic behaviours which, whilst not causing the dog to be euthanised, makes it confined to a leash or separated from its "companion" (especially interbitch aggression) and makes life very difficult for both the dogs and the owners.
    I feel that too many people, professionals included, go in with a preconcieved idea about these things and look forward to a more open debate about this subject
    Thank you for bringing it up
    Best wishes
    Maria Vierk Dip`. CABC
    Clinical Animal Behaviourist
    Specialised in dogs

    1. Maria - from Karen Overall, Karen L. Overall, M.A., V.M.D., Ph.D., a very well respected veterinarian behaviorist in the U.S.:


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