Why Not Shock Collars?

Shock collars are appealing to many people for the convenience that they provide to the average user.  You don’t have to get up out of your seat, you can correct from a long distance, and there seems to be very rapid results since there is a significant amount of pain caused by electric shock.  Don’t believe me about the pain?  Strap that bad boy onto your upper leg and give it a go.  Not willing to do that to your self?  Then why would you subject your dog to that kind of torment?

I understand that most people have never really considered the pain that is caused by this device, so I am not trying to say that you are a cruel person if you have used one in the past, but I am saying that there is a better way.

Previously, I discussed the differences between the choke collar and prong collar.  Today, let us look at the difference between the prong collar and the electric shock collar.  There are pros and cons to any training method, but if you want a dog that is stable, obedient, and bonded to you as the master, then the electric shock collar is not for you.

First, the electric shock collar almost always creates an unstable dog.  Too many times I have seen calm mannered dogs turned into jumpy and semi psychotic dogs through the use of a shock collar.  Because of the intensity of the correction on these devices, many dogs become so concerned that they are going to receive that shock at any moment, that any movement or the slightest verbal correction from their owner results in a spastic attempt to escape the impending shock.  With a prong collar, properly attached to the lead and corrections properly given, the dog is obedient yet confident at the owner’s side.  A good lead allows the dog to feel the movement of the owner and the owner to feel the movement of the dog.  This allows both parties to communicate prior to a correction having to be given.  And when the correction is given, there is no doubt in the dog’s mind where that correction came from.  It was not a mystic electrical shock wave that just rocked their world out of no where, it was a correction, given for a specific violation of a command.

Second, obedience is not hard to gain from a dog.  Practically anyone, with minimal training and a distraction free environment can gain obedience in their dog.  And while many people are happy with those results, if you are ever in a stressful situation with your dog, you will quickly realize that your obedience is lacking.  That is, unless you have built a bond with your dog and trained under stress.  If you have never tried it before, strap that electric collar on your dog, and climb up on an obstacle with your dog to add a little stress to your situation.  When you are about half way across the balance beam that is 6, 10 or 15 feet off the ground, and you are told to turn around and go back with your dog, give him a little zap.  Go ahead, it’s ok, he will not freak out and knock you off the beam.  He will remain completely calm and obedient throughout the exercise, or will he?

But you say, “I will never do agility with my dog, I don’t need them to turn calmly on high obstacles.”  The stress for the dog on an obstacle is the same as the stress that he feels when walking through a crowded airport, down a very busy street, or around many moving vehicles.  If your obedience is based on the mystical electric shock wave from Hades, and if you dog believes that he is about to be corrected, how do you think he is going to act in a crowded airport?  I once watched a gentleman with a dog at the airport become so concerned and stressed by his surroundings, that his dog began barking at airport employees and nipping at passers by.  I am sure if he had a shock collar on, that situation would have been much worse than it already was.

Finally, one of the critical aspects of training a dog is to build your bond with the dog.  Dogs are unique from among all the other creatures in their relationship to man.  If a dog has bonded to you, you can send him to his own kind, and call him back out again.  He will choose to be with his master rather than to be with his own kind.  In fact, he will defend his master against his own kind if he feels his master is in danger.  No other animal will do this.  But to truly benefit from this remarkable trait of the dog, we must first have a bond, and second we must keep it.  Just as a loving father will discipline his children when they disobey, knowing that their tendency to obey his voice will save them from a myriad of hardship in times ahead, so a dog owner who cares for his pet will gently, but firmly correct his dog when he is disobedient.  He does this both for the amiability of the home with the dog present, but also for the safety of the dog himself.  How many dogs have been run over in front of their master’s eyes?  How many have fled the house upon seeing the door opened only to disappear forever in one way or another?

I encourage all owners of dogs to establish stable, obedient and bonded dogs for the good of themselves, their dogs, and those around them.

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