Shock collars, also known as electronic collars or e-collars, are commonly used in dog training today. Some shock collars are remote operated, while others (such as with underground fences) automatically generate shock when the dog reaches a certain distance away from the underground line. Shock should never be used to train a dog regardless of the way that it is delivered.
The scientific research overwhelmingly demonstrates that shock leads to or contributes to fear, pain, aggression, panic and stress when compared to positive reinforcement training.
In fact, shock collars are considered inhumane and are illegal to use in many countries and regions including Scotland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany, Quebec, Wales and parts of Australia.
Many organizations have published position statements advising against the use of electronic collars including European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology (ESVCE), American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB, Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), Pet Professionals Guild (PPG), Humane Society of the United States, and the United Kingdom Kennel Club to name a few.
As a scientific FACT
- Dogs trained with shock…
- release more cortisol (a stress hormone) than dogs trained with positive reinforcement.
- are more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors than dogs trained with positive reinforcement.
- often pair the pain of shock with the person or place where they are being trained causing them to avoid that person or the training location.
Common misconceptions and questions surrounding shock collars
In the words of Dr. Karen Overall, M.A., VMD., PhD, Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behavior, one of the most highly-educated Veterinary Behaviorists:
“Let me make my opinion perfectly clear: Shock is not training — in the vast majority of cases it meets the criteria for abuse. In my patient population, dogs who have been ‘treated’ with shock have a much higher risk of an undesirable outcome (e.g., euthanasia) than dogs not subjected to shock, and I never recommend euthanasia. In all situations where shock has been used there is some damage done, even if we cannot easily see it. No pet owner needs to use this technique to achieve their goal. Dogs who cease to exhibit a problem behavior usually also cease to exhibit normal behaviors. The only data available support the idea that shock is neither an effective nor suitable training tool.”