Bulldog Health

Bulldog Health Article 21: Shock Collars: Are They Safe or Cruel?

“Buffy, no!” – ZAP! That’s basically how a shock collar works. But is it a useful training aid, or is it simply cruel? Let’s take a look at why people use training collars, and how effective they are.

What Are Shock Collars For?

Most of the time, manufacturers will not use the term “shock collar,” since it has come to have a negative connotation. Instead, they refer to them as “distance training collars.” Whatever you want to call them, they’re used to get the dog’s attention when he is not on a leash, and also to control unwanted barking.

The training collar allows the trainer to use a handheld transmitter to deliver an electric pulse to the dog’s collar. Theoretically, this takes the dog’s attention away from whatever he is doing, and causes him to focus again on his trainer.

Do Shock Collars Work?

If by that, you mean, “Does the dog get a shock?” then yes, they work. If you mean “Are shock collars a good training aid?”, then you’ll find arguments both for and against their use.

Critics of shock collars say that they are inhumane. There is no way of knowing how painful the shock is to the dog, and if the shock causes the dog to become disoriented, he’s not going to be focusing on the trainer. They also maintain that if you are using the shock in conjunction with the instruction to “Come,” then what your dog learns is that when he’s called, he’s going to be hurt. This, they say, is counter-productive. Finally, if you have an aggressive dog, shocking him could result in you being attacked.

On the other side of the argument, many dog lovers say that shock collars are useful as a last resort. For instance, a well-timed shock can stop a dog from chasing other animals or children – behaviors that could lead to the dog having to be euthanized. It can also save a dog’s life if he is about to run into traffic.

Shock collars can also work to end excessive barking. When the dog barks, the sound triggers a shock. The difference here is that because the shock is triggered by the dog’s action, the dog does not connect the shock with the owner. It’s worth pointing out, though, that for issues with barking, there are alternatives. One type delivers a noise that humans are not able to hear but that dogs dislike. Another delivers a spray of citronella when the dog barks. Citronella is generally harmless but could cause skin irritation in some dogs, or discomfort if ingested.

A Better Alternative

It is always better to train your dog properly than to rely on any device to force good behavior. This is particularly true if you’re not home all the time. For instance, if you’re at work, and relying on a collar to keep your dog from barking, there’s always a possibility that he won’t stop barking, and will simply be exposed to discomfort for hours on end.

If you’re new to training, though, be sure to get it right – not all the information you find online is useful or safe. If you’re concerned that you might not get it right, a good place to start is with an article by my fellow blogger, Ash.

The Final Word

There are good arguments both for and against shock collars. They are, however, no substitutes for good training, and should be used only as a last resort.

Author Bio:- Franklin Medina is a dog owner and advocate. He has never used a shock collar on any of his dogs and hopes that he will never need to, but acknowledges that they may be useful in extreme situations and in the hands of an experienced trainer. You can read more from Franklin at SimplyForDogs.com

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