Why Dog Owners Shouldn’t Use Shock Collars

If you can't stand the idea of using a shock collar, you're not alone. You have alternatives.

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You want your dog to learn and follow commands, and have considered a shock collar to help you in the training process. However, shock collars have drawbacks, according to the Humane Society of the U. S. and many dog trainers.

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What is a Shock Collar?

Shock collars use an electronic current that passes through metal contact points on the dog’s collar to give your pet a signal. While these signals can feel like a mixed tickling sensation, they can also cause a painful shock, notes the Humane Society.

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Why Do Some Dog Owners Use a Shock Collar?

Shock collars have a couple different functions. Remote shock collars can be used to give the dog a shock to stop it from barking. Dog handlers use the remote to give the dog a shock when it needs correcting. Electric fences also use shock collars as a way to keep dogs contained in a certain area. These devices give the dog a signal when it is getting close to the barrier and is about to be shocked, along with a shock when it reaches or crosses the barrier.

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Why You Shouldn’t You Use a Shock Collar

“The least humane and most controversial use of the shock collar is as a training device,” notes the Humane Society. “There is a greater chance for abuse (delivery of shocks as punishment) or misuse (poor timing of shocks). Your dog also may associate the painful shock with people or other experiences, leading to fearful or aggressive behavior.”

Green Acre Kennel Shop, a full-service pet care business in Maine, notes the use of shock collars may cause unintended consequences. “In our experience, shock collar systems, where a dog hears a beep followed by an electrical shock at their neck if they continue across the boundary line of your property, create a false sense of security for dog owners and often cause a dog to become fearful and anxious, especially towards other people.”

The company also notes that remote shock collars when used for training purposes can cause dogs to become aggressive. “Our own experience in dealing with dogs that have behavioral issues, as well as scientific research by experts in the field, indicates that using tools that cause pain and fear can actually elicit or increase aggression and other behavioral problems.”

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Alternatives to Shock Collars

Depending on your pet and any behaviors you want to improve on, there are alternative methods to shock collars.

Behavioral training uses positive reinforcement to reward dogs for following commands. This often includes giving the pet a small treat or reward for following commands such as sit, stay or no barking.

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If you considered electric fencing with a shock collar (i.e., an invisible fence) to train your dog to stay in a certain area, consider other fencing options or outdoor playpens. These help keep your dog contained without causing them any harm, and also keep other animals from coming into your pet’s space.

Rachel Brougham
Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.