Firstly, we would like to state we do not condone the use of shock collars unless used in the correct situations by a professional. Shock collars are NOT to be used to fix a disobedient dog or as a shortcut to real obedience training.
Shock collars are not intended as a punishment, but more as a deterrent to negative or unsafe behaviour. The theory is that your dog will associate the unwanted behaviour with a slightly uncomfortable jolt and stop doing it until they no longer require the reminder.
So Shock collars, what are they all about?
Shock collars are a type of aversive training initially used in the 1960s to train hunting dogs. These days, shock collars are often used to curb a variety of stubborn and unwanted behaviours, from excessive barking to food aggression, as well as to train pups to stay safely within a property line or to stick close by while off leash.
The shock administered by an approved shock collar is safe, so while it is certainly enough to get your dog’s attention and deter certain behaviours, it won’t do any lasting physical harm.
With most shock collars, there are several levels of enforcement, so you can set the level to reprimand the unwanted behaviour accordingly. For example, many shock collars will administer a beep or vibration as a warning before an actual shock is delivered to your dog. The beep also allows you to give a verbal command (“Stop” or “Leave”) with the warning beep or vibration to further disrupt the unwanted behaviour.
Once set to “shock” mode, there are usually varying levels of intensity delivered by a two-pronged device attached to a dog collar. If you’re using a shock collar as a barking deterrent, the collar responds to the vibration of your dog’s vocal cords. If you’re using the collar to deter behavioural issues like food aggression, jumping or leash aggression, a remote control allows you to administer the shock in conjunction with the unwanted behaviour.
Keep in mind, using a shock collar doesn’t make you a bad pet parent, and it doesn’t mean you are torturing your dog, especially when used on the lower non-shock levels. It is unlikely that an electronic training collar would destroy your relationship with your dog. In fact, shared training sessions could improve the bond if the experience is overall positive.
Things you should know before buying a shock dog collar
4 Advantages of shock collars for dogs
1. Adjustable Intensity
Most modern shock collars give you the flexibility of a warning beep or vibration mode, and adjustable shock level. This can be comforting to people who are on the fence about using a shock collar.
2. Fast Results
Some pet owners report that it only took a few shocks to correct an unwanted behaviour in their dog and after that, the beep or vibration was warning enough. Shock collars can also be very effective at keeping your dog on your property, which will help keep them safe while giving them freedom. Of course, more stubborn dogs may take longer to train.
3. You Don’t Need To Be Present
When used to control chronic barking shock collars work even while you’re away from the home. This can be especially helpful if you’ve had neighbours complain about your dog’s noise. We do not recommend leaving a dog unattended with a shock collar as you’re unable to oversee the results. A dog could end up overcorrecting without you being there to observe and adjust to the situation.
A shock collar can be a cheaper alternative to a professional dog trainer. Shock collars range in price from £20 to £200+, depending on features such as remote control, adjustable warning/shock levels, a range of distances (usually 10 meters to 100 meters), and the number of collars included.
4 Disadvantages Of Shock Collars For Dogs
1. The Shock
Most of us dog owners can’t bear the thought of causing pain to our dogs. But even with the ability to control the intensity of the correction, you are still using aversive behaviour modification. Many dog trainers choose positive reinforcement (reward) as a means of behaviour modification over negative feedback such as a shock collar.
2. The Fear
Fear in dogs can be dangerous, so you never want to train a dog with fear. With shock training, some dogs may learn to fear people, objects, or situations they associate with the collar. An unstable dog is the worst situation to be in and that needs to be avoided at all costs.
Without you there to control when a shock is administered, automatic bark collars may deliver shocks unintentionally or too often. This unnecessary shock will confuse your dog by “correcting” a problem that was not even there to start with.
4. No Positive Reward
On their own, shock collars don’t reinforce good behaviour with a positive reward such as your affection, verbal approval such a “Good” or a tasty treat. So while a shock collar may effectively deter negative behaviours such as jumping on visitors or running after the postman, it doesn’t reward positive behaviour such as sitting patiently or obeying a command to “Leave”. As with any training, you should always reinforce positive behaviour with a reward of affection, playtime or a small treat. – This is the best way to train a dog in our opinion.