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4 Reasons Not to Use a Shock Collar

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Shock Collars Are Not Very Effective

Shock collars, or electronic collars, have been a heated topic in dog training due to their presumed inefficiency and adverse effects on the animals’ psychological and physical integrity. There is one critical reason why people should not use these tools, which is the debatable effectiveness in long-term behavior modification.

Ineffectiveness in Behavior Modification

While shock collars are likely to make dogs behave due to fear and pain induced by the shock, their long-term effectiveness is minimal. According to a survey by the Journal of Veterinary Behavior in 2013, over 68% of the dog owners noticed a positive effect of shock collars within the short term. However, a mere 14% of these owners witnessed long-lasting implications as a result. This evidence makes it clear that shock collars cannot help a dog develop permanently improved behavior.

Increased Aggression

One of the biggest risks and reasons for not using the tools are the increased aggression in the dog. As suggested by a study at the University of Lincoln, distress was observed in all dogs treated with shock collars, as opposed to only 25% in the positive reinforcement group. The same was true for aggression toward other animals and people, with dogs in the reinforcement group displaying 0% and 50% versus 75% and 25%, respectively. The researchers concluded that shock training provoked long-term behavioral issues and increased aggression in dogs.

Damages to the Dog-Owner Relationship

After using the tool, the relationship between the dog and its purpose is likely to deteriorate. Dogs that are trained with pain and fear may begin to associate the owner with these experiences, thus developing an abusive relationship rather than one that relies on trust and mutual understanding. The latter is cultivated by positive reinforcement and is vital for the emotional health and happiness of the dog.

Can Harm Your Dog

While shock collars have been marketed as tools to train your dog out of unwanted behavior, there are dangers of them doing harm to your pet. Learning about these risks can save a pet owner’s dog from physical and psychological harm and encourage them to raise their furry friends with more humane and effective practices.

Physical Injuries

Shock collars can harm your dog physically by causing burns, noticeable soreness, or irritation. These injuries are a result of the shock collar sending an electric shock through metal prongs that sit on the dog’s skin. Severe and untreated damage may result in painful tissue damage and infection. For example, research from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University reported the cases of dogs getting neck burns and sores from the use of a shock collar .

Psychological Stress

Psychologically, your dog will find the effects of a shock collar distressing. The sudden and often unpredictable pain that comes with a shock can lead a dog to experience fear and phobias in a variety of situations. A study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science found that compared to dogs that had been trained using positive reinforcement, dogs trained with shock collars showed more signs of stress . Consequently, these dogs were more likely to yelp frequently, shake, and try to avoid the source of the shock, which is behavior that appeared much less commonly in dogs trained without shock collars

Development of Fearful Behavior

A dog that has been exposed to a shock collar is likely to develop fearful and overly cautious behavior. They may become fearful of a situation or location that once made them feel comfortable, however. Importantly, individual words from animal behaviorists demonstrate that the dog associates its shocks with the circumstances in which they were administered. They do not associate the treatment with specific humans. This means that the dogs fail to learn as their punishment has no connection to their behaviors that are being punished.

Experts Do Not Recommend Using

The use of shock collars is heavily condemned by a vast majority of animal welfare organizations, veterinarians, dog trainers, and other professionals for a number of reasons. Their professional stance mainly rests on the nature of the products in general and of more humane alternatives

Professional stance on using shock collars

Numerous animal welfare and veterinary organizations like the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior , for example, have published position statements dissuading or prohibiting their usage. These institutions argue that penalizing the animal’s behavior by shocking it leads to a number of negative consequences. Among others, such tools too often backfire and make the bad behavior that they aim to prevent increase in frequency or intensity. Moreover, positively reinforcing dogs is both safer and scientifically proven to achieve better results .

Research supporting positive training

A plethora of studies have shown that positive training methods have a range of advantages over aversive devices. For instance, a study published in “Applied Animal Behaviour Science” shows that dogs trained using just a reward system instead of punishment demonstrated considerably higher task engagement and lower levels of stress, fear, or anxiety-related behaviors. Such findings are crucial to developing the professional, expert opinion on the use of shock collars and similar products.

Testimonials from trained professionals

The overwhelming majority of professional dog trainers who used to employ the aversive and somewhat cruel methods, such as using shock collars have stated that they have experienced much better results through using positive training methods instead. The switch, according to a famous trainer resulted in dogs’ learnings at a much quicker pace and were consistently more obedient without the typical backlash found in aversive tools use.

Better Way

One of the greatest benefits of the rejection of shock collars in favor of humane and effective methods is the fact that they can also improve the relationship between dogs and their owners. Specifically, there are several alternatives that are more effective as well, which positive reinforcement is among the most clear-cut example.

Positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement relies on rewarding a dog’s behavior, which motivates the animal to repeat it. In turn, this approach helps to build trust and communication with unsafe, as well as do not require punishments to suppress behaviour. In fact, the study by the University of Bristol, as cited in Temperament search document on positive reinforcement , found that dogs that were given treats and praises learned commands 15% faster than animals that were trained to comply with handlers’ demands by using aversive methods. Similar research spearheaded by Chiandetti and Avella in Italy found that tracking skills trained with rewards were faster than others as well.

Clicker training

Clicker training is another type of positive reinforcement that relies on an audio cue and a treat . Specifically, when a dog performs a desired behaviour, it hears a click, which is followed by the reward. The benefit of this technique is that it provides a very specific type of feedback and requires quick responses from trainers. An experiment described in the B.F. Skinner Foundation’s article on the use of clicker training found that dogs were better at learning the commands that they were trained to do using this method. Not only can clicker training lead to more effective results in a shorter period of time, but it also allows animals to be motivated and engaged.

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