People have been training dogs for thousands of years. While it is true that our tools and methods for training have changed since then, we are still far from perfecting the practice. Shock collars are simply the latest tools in refining dog training. However, there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding the use of shock collars. Let’s take a look at how they work as well as the benefits and adverse effects of using them.
How Do Dog Shock Collars Work?
Essentially, shock collars are used in what is known as “aversive training.” Rather than use the collar as a form of punishment, they are used to deter unsafe and negative behaviors.
The theory behind this form of training is this: when a dog experiences something unpleasant (in this case, a shock) while performing a negative behavior, he will associate the shock with the behavior and eventually stop the behavior altogether to avoid receiving any more shocks.
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Most shock collars have different levels of intensity and may even include a very mild mode that simply beeps or vibrates. This is an excellent feature since it allows users to adjust the setting to suit their dog.
It may also make it possible to use the same collar on multiple dogs in the same household even though each dog may require a different setting in order to curb his or her particular bad habits.
Pros and Cons of Shock Collars for Dogs
Like many aspects of dog ownership, there are both pros and cons of using shock collars. Here we will cover many of the biggest arguments in favor of and against the use of using this type of training tool.
Cost of Dog Shock Collars
Compared to the cost of hiring a professional dog trainer or installing a fence, shock collars are very affordable. Depending on the features of the selected model, prices typically range from $25 to $200.
Many people who object to the use of shock collars argue that the cost of your dog’s emotional well-being isn’t worth using such an instrument. Adverse effects have been documented in dogs trained with shock collars.
Some begin to fear places, situations, objects, and people they have associated with the collar. Use of invisible fences may even cause a dog to completely avoid going in the yard.
Usage of Dog Shock Collars
Unlike most forms of dog training, you do not actually need to be present to use a shock collar. For example, some dogs have a habit of barking constantly, which results in noise complaints from neighbors. Shock collars are one of the very few methods that allow owners to curb this unwanted behavior even when they are not home.
The primary downside of using a remote behavior modification tool like a shock collar is that you cannot control when the shocks are administered. Although you trust the device to function as intended, this is not always the case. Subsequently, dogs may be subjected to shocks when they shouldn’t be.
This can result in something called “over-correction” and may cause your dog to stop behaviors that you don’t want stopped– like going outside to use the restroom.
Effect of Dog Shock Collars
Since the majority of shock collars on the market today allow you to adjust the intensity, you can make sure that your dog isn’t uncomfortable when the shocks are administered. Plus, for people who are still unsure about using aversive shock therapy on their dogs, the mild warning modes that use beeps and vibration are a hugely positive feature.
Even though you may be able to adjust the settings on a shock collar, many pet owners just can’t imagine ever hurting their dog, even if the pain is slight. Especially for people who are opposed to aversive behavior modification, no level of shocking is acceptable.
Shock Collar Results
It’s hard to deny that shock collars often yield results faster than other methods. In fact, some pet owners report seeing positive results after just a handful of uses. Of course, as with any dog training, the speed of the behavior modification will depend on the dog in question’s level of stubbornness.
Unfortunately, there is currently no way for shock collars to reinforce positive behavior. Many opponents of aversive behavior modification methods cite this as the primary reason that shock collars should not be used.
While a majority of dog trainers use positive reinforcement for behavior modification, it is possible to use a combination of the two methods when training your dog.