Dog training shock collars, also known as e-collars, electronic collars, or remote training collars, are controversial devices for correcting unwanted behavior in dogs and keeping canines within the boundaries of a property (advertised as an underground dog fence or invisible wireless dog fence).
If you were to ask any dog owner or dog trainer what their opinion on shock collars is, the chances are they would strongly defend either side of the argument.
The debate about the safety and effectiveness of electronic training devices for dogs has been a long-standing argument. Some argue that they are inhumane and harmful to canines, while some claim that e-collars are the best dog training tool, allowing pet owners to train their dogs more effectively.
In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at both sides of the debate, exploring the good and the bad of using e-collars so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not they’re right for you and your canine.
The Good - Benefits of Training Your Canine With an E-Collar
1. Quick Results
One of the biggest reasons people use e-collars is the rapid results they get. That is because electronic training devices allow dog owners or the handler to give immediate feedback, translating into fast learning for canines.
If used correctly and responsibly, the static shock the collar produce is just a slight tingle, not a painful shock. Similar to how you would feel when you touch a doorknob. Annoying but not painful. And dogs will associate that sensation with whatever undesired behavior they were exhibiting and will quickly learn which behavior you do and don’t want.
It’s basically like how some parents will nag their kids when their kids do something they don’t want, say, for instance, creating a mess and not cleaning up. Eventually, the kids learn that their parents don’t want that and stop doing it just to avoid the nagging.
2. It Provides Clearer Communication With Dogs
Dogs aren’t any different than humans when it comes to learning. They, too, make mistakes, and they need clear instructions so that they understand what you want from them or how they should or shouldn’t behave in certain situations.
But let’s be honest, not everyone has the patience to repeatedly teach their dogs the same thing over and over again in a calm manner.
People will get frustrated. First-time dog owners, especially, will easily get overwhelmed and start yelling at their dogs, or worse, use physical punishment. That inconsistency, screaming, or negative punishment can confuse canines and even cause stress and depression.
That is why some people prefer e-collars because these devices provide precise communication with dogs, allowing the owner to set clear boundaries and make the fine distinctions between behavior that are allowed and not allowed.
3. Adjustable Correction Levels
Unlike the first generation of e-collars that only had one correction level designed to punish dogs, modern electronic training collars allow you to adjust the intensity to match your canine’s temperament, made to only get a dog’s attention.
This is crucial because not every dog will react the same way to the same correction level. Some are more sensitive or have a lower pain tolerance than others. And that feature basically ensures you administer just the right shock intensity to get your pup to respond and not hurt them.
Plus, many shock collars these days come with additional features like tone and vibration, giving you the flexibility to use whatever works best for your furry friend.
4. It Gives Dogs the Freedom to Wander
There are surely those who prefer to let their pets roam freely and let their dogs be dogs.
But when you’re dealing with canines who easily get distracted, have a high prey drive, or tend to wander aimlessly searching for something new and exciting, letting them off-leash can be challenging as they will very likely run off as soon as they spot something that catches their eyes.
That is where e-collars come in handy. It essentially is like an invisible leash that allows dogs to roam around freely while still giving owners full control to make sure their pooch doesn’t wander off too far and risk getting lost or hit by vehicles.
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5. Some Devices Feature an Automatic Correction Mode
When training your fido, it’s always best to be there so you can correct them on the spot to avoid any possible confusion. But there’ll be times when you won’t be around, or you’re busy dealing with other things in the house.
In situations like these, an e-collar that comes with an automatic correction mode, for instance, bark collars and in-ground dog fences, really shines because you don’t need to be present to correct your pet. It’ll do it on its own.
Keep in mind, though, collars with automatic correction mode are made to only correct a specific behavior. Take the bark collar, for example. It’ll only correct the dog when it barks, not for anything else.
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The Bad - Reasons You May Not Want to Use a Shock Collar for Dogs
1. You May Hurt Your Dog
E-collars can be dangerous if it’s in the wrong or inexperienced hand.
Owners who don’t know what they’re doing or don’t have the knowledge of how to operate shock collars properly may end up hurting their dogs. So it’s crucial to make sure you educate yourself first before training your canine with an e-collar.
And the sad truth is some people will let their emotions get the best of them and use e-collars as a way to vent out their anger or frustration on poor pooches who are still on a steep learning curve. That is a recipe for disaster, and you should never, ever do that.
2. It May Change Your Dog's Behavior For the Worst
Many people resort to e-collars as a quick fix after failing to train their dogs.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but people don’t realize that using shock collars may create more problems if they don’t have the proper knowledge of how e-collars work and can cause long-term damage to their canine friends, leading to bigger problems down the line. And that’s also true for those who misuse these devices or use them as a form of punishment.
Not only that, but using shock collars the wrong way may also ruin your dog’s trust in you, and they may even hate your guts or will always be on their toes and easily get stressed or anxious. These psychological scars will take months, if not years, of love, reassurance, and patience to erase.
3. Your Pup May Associate the Shock With Other Things
If the use of static shock is inconsistent or poorly timed, your dog may start to associate that sensation with something else. Even if you time it correctly, there’s still a risk of your pup associating the shock with things apart from the undesirable behavior you are trying to correct.
Let me give you an example. Say you’re trying to train your dog not to jump on people visiting your home. So the next time a friend comes over, and your canine starts jumping up to greet your friend, you give your pup a little static shock to remind them that they should not do that. And every time someone comes over, you do the same.
Over time, your canine may associate that stimulus with your guest or people in general instead of realizing that it was because they jumped up on someone. And what was once an excitedly wagging tail might turn into a tucked tail out of fear or anxiety towards visitors.
4. Your Canine May Respond With Aggression
If you haven’t had any training on how to use e-collars or if the shock intensity is too high, there’s a chance that your pooch will respond with aggression.
An incorrectly used e-collar can create lots of stress and anxiety in your four-legged friend and make them feel fearful and insecure. This, in turn, can cause them to lash out as a form of defense mechanism.
And yes, it’s imperative to make sure your dog is comfortable wearing shock collars and that they do not feel threatened. You have to introduce your dog to the e-collars positively. It should be a positive experience, with lots of praise and rewards.
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5. E-Collars Can Malfunction
E-collars are not 100% foolproof. Like any other electronic device, there’s always a chance they can malfunction. So don’t leave the e-collar on your dog without supervision. And it’s also a good idea to buy high-quality shock collars from reputable brands that use only the best components in their devices.
The Bottom Line
We all love our dogs and want to keep them safe from harm. But e-collars are not for everyone. You have to know the risks associated with these devices, be very careful in using them, and make sure you understand how they work.
You may also have already noticed that I’ve repeated multiple times it’s vital to be educated on how to use e-collars properly. And I can’t stress this enough. In fact, if you look at most cons that I pointed out in this article, many of them boil down to not knowing or not having adequate knowledge on how to operate these devices.
And look, this may sound like I’m against the claim of shock collar being “painful,” “harmful,” or “cruel” to dogs, but I’m not.
I’m neither anti-e-collar nor am I a fan of them. I’m writing this in a fair manner because there is a lot of information that says e-collars are inherently evil, and one can easily get clouded.
Those who say a shock collar is bad are like saying cars are bad because they cause accidents. But was it really the case, though? Or was it the fact that people drive dangerously or break road rules and cause accidents?
You get my point.
In fact, if remote dog training collars were so bad as some people claim them to be, why are they still being sold? Why have they been around for over half a century now?
Of course, it’s still up to you to decide whether or not you want to use one.
I will say, though, that if you can’t stand the idea of using shock collars on your pooch, then don’t go down this route at all. There are many alternatives for training or modifying your dog’s undesirable behavior, such as dog training whistles and ultrasonic bark controllers.
I hope this article has shed some light and answered some questions about this controversial dog training tool you might have. And if you found this helpful, please share it with others who may also be interested.