Shock Collar Training

In my latest article I weigh in on one of the most heated debates in dog training.

Since every tool for training can be used for good or bad (depending on the person using it) the question should not be “Should Electric Collars Be Banned?” instead we should seek to punish those that abuse animals in any capacity.

There is much discussion on the issue of aversive training tools; at the top of that discussion is often the use of electric or “shock” collars.  These collars, as described by their detractors, are a tool of evil and torture and are allegedly used only to inflict pain and suffering on an unknowing dog.  These people cite abuse cases and cruelty cases to legitimize their claims.

As a behaviorist / trainer working with almost every breed and temperament of dog in both my private practice as well my work with shelters nationwide, I’d like to weigh in on the debate.

The use or “abuse” of shock collars is not any more prevalent today than it was years ago, what has changed is the quality of these collars and recently the use of positive training influences used in tandem with these collars.  I will not call them shock collars because they are simply “electric collars.”  Electricity can be used to light up a dark room and make it bright and it can be used to kill a man in an electric chair, it can by used to power a life-saving defibrillator or torture a person to death.  How one uses the tool makes the difference, not the tool itself.

These collars only SHOCK when a person, who is unskilled (or cruel), abuses the device.  The evolution of e-collars has drastically changed; the new devices are so precise in their delivery of a correction or stimuli that they have become one of the best training tools for the right trainer and the right situation.  The collar correctly placed is set up under the chin of the dog and behind his ears (with the box under the chin) where a mild static shock produces and instantaneous reaction from the dog.  Some will also place the box on the back of a dog’s neck for various reasons.

Contrary to popular belief the neck is not the most sensitive part of the dog; it is a strong resilient point on the dog that fairly and quickly derives a response from the direction of the handler.

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