The use of shock collars to train dogs is met with a lot of mixed reviews, which leaves many owners wondering if they should use one with their pup’s training.
When we consider how a shock collar works, it is important to understand that we are using a form of discomfort to train our animals. There are a lot of ways to train dogs that do not cause this kind of discomfort (and sometimes pain), which can raise the question of morality in using such a method.
You should only use a shock collar as a last resort option to fix serious behavioral issues. Dog training should be approached with patience and consistency using more humane tactics, as misusing a shock collar is cruel for the animal and can cause mental & physical pain.
Dogs are incredibly intuitive and sensitive animals with an ability to feel emotion and compassion on a truly deep level, which is why they have so rightfully earned the title ‘man’s best friend’. Training our pups to behave well is a fundamental aspect of being a dog owner. At the end of the day, owning a dog is a major responsibility and how your dog behaves in public can come back to seriously bite you in the butt! However, there are a lot of different strategies that we can use to train our dogs - whether it is to improve their discipline and behavior or simply to teach them fun tricks. One of the methods that we see used at times with dog training is the implementation of a shock collar. This approach to dog training is met with a lot of scrutinies, as it can be very easily misused, which can bring a dog a lot of discomfort through physical, mental, and psychosocial pain. To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at whether or not you should train your dog with a shock collar.
After extensively researching shock collar training, I have been able to gather enough information as to whether or not this is a suitable training method for dogs. My experience has taught me that the majority of the time, shock collar training is completely unnecessary.
Shock Collar Training: Alternatives & When to Use One
These days, shock collars are something that you very rarely see used in dog training - and there is a reason for that. This approach has been weeded out over the years as dogs have become even more ingrained in our lives. The bottom line is that shock collar training is usually an unnecessary method in achieving good behavior from your dog.
The reason that shock collars are so sparingly used and are becoming less common is that we have come to understand that they can be quite cruel. The use of a shock collar involves a tactic based on discomfort to improve the behavior of your dog. Shock collars have been linked to anxiety, fear, and increased aggression in dogs. These animals do not enjoy getting shocked any more than you would, which is why you should not use this method unless you are left with absolutely no choice.
One of the biggest issues with shock collars is that they are often misused and overused by irresponsible owners. People that are overwhelmed by the amount of work that it can take to train a dog or people who are simply lazy, opt for shock collars because they think that a magic button is going to solve all of their problems. Whereas in fact, it could lead to a lot of pain in your dog's life.
Training your dog is not always going to be easy, but if you want to be a responsible owner, then you have to put in the time to get your pup’s behavior where you want it to be. If you feel like you are truly struggling with your pup’s behavior, then there are a ton of resources that you can utilize before needing to resort to a shock collar. Let’s explore your alternatives.
Dog Training Book
If you are not an experienced dog trainer, you are not the only one. It is all too common for someone to buy a dog and then realize that they were in over their head when it came to disciplining their pup.
Dogs, especially when still puppies, are incredibly fun and full of energy, which can be as rewarding to have around the house as it is challenging. These early stages are particularly important in getting your dog acquainted with training - especially once they reach the 6-month stage.
One of the best resources that you can utilize to train your pup instead of using a shock collar is to simply get a dog training book. There are so many great books out there for you to utilize to get your pup’s behavior on track and you can achieve this without needing to zap your pup with electricity.
The best way to go about this is to buy a book and read it before you get your dog. Being equipped with the knowledge to train your dog prior to getting acquainted with it can set you on the right path from the get-go. This way you know what you are in for and you have got the insight and knowledge on how to approach your training without feeling overwhelmed.
However, if you happen to have gotten your dog already - not all is lost. You can still make good use of a dog training book by either reading it from the beginning - or focusing on a section that is relatable to what you are having trouble with.
Professional Dog Training
The truth is that training a dog can be quite challenging. If you have tried to do it yourself, read a book, and are still having a hard time, there is no shame at all in seeking the help of a professional dog trainer.
You will find that, just like people, not all dogs are the same. These animals have personalities that can range on an individual, as well as based on their breed, which can make applying a general type of behavioral training for some rather difficult.
A dog trainer is going to be the ultimate solution to help you get your dog's behavior on track. These are experienced professionals who understand how to deal with dogs better than anyone, which is why they are really the way to go if you are struggling. If you are having minor behavioral issues with your dog, then a simple group class once a week should be more than enough to get your pup disciplined. This is a very straightforward and easy-going method that can be fun for you and your pup.
If you feel like your pup needs a bit more attention (especially if you have been having a hard time), then signing up for a one-on-one training session on a weekly basis is going to be the best way to seal the deal in your dog's behavior. Your trainer will take you through a detailed and thorough program that will equip you with all of the knowledge that you need - enabling you to take charge of your pup’s training.
Having a system in place with the help of a professional trainer will give you the confidence to handle each situation that arises with your dog’s behavior. Instead of feeling helpless and overwhelmed when you can’t control your dog, you will know how to deal with every situation as needed - all without the use of a shock collar.
When to Use a Shock Collar
For just about every dog out there, there are very few instances where a shock collar is going to be necessary. Dog’s are intelligent animals and can be trained properly using moral methods, which do not bring them discomfort.
With that being said, there are some exemptions in which a shock collar can be a useful resource to utilize - provided that the collar is used with the utmost care and consideration for the animal's health and safety.
Before you use a shock collar, you should have gone through the above-mentioned approaches first (dog training books and professional training). If you find that your dog’s behavior is still not in order, you should ask your trainer their opinion on the matter. Next, you should consult your veterinarian to see if using a shock collar is a good idea for your specific dog.
If you have been given a green light from all parties, then you may want to utilize a shock collar. Despite what the name implies, not all shock collars need to actually create a physical shock to your dog which is going to be painful. Sophisticated shock collars will have a variety of different settings that enable you to control how the collar will respond to your actions.
A well-designed shock collar will always have a vibration setting, which does not shock the dog at all and simply triggers them with vibration or tingling sensations. This is what you want to predominantly rely on when training your dog with a shock collar, as it will not cause them any serious discomfort or pain. This can be a particularly useful tactic if you are having trouble with bark training and have gone through other methods already. Just remember - do not misuse even this setting and only rely on it when appropriate.
If your dog is having serious behavioral issues such as aggression towards people, other dogs, or even you - a higher setting may be more necessary at times. If that is the case, make sure that you have discussed with your trainer and veterinarian how to approach finding the right setting. Predominantly, this will involve slightly boosting the shock level until you find the amount that your dog responds to. Then you can begin to dial back the shock level over time as your dog adapts to the training. Once your dog has coped with the shock training with successful results, remove the collar unless absolutely necessary.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright