We’ve seen a recent surge in dogs bought to the Shelter, either for rehoming or with behavioural issues, that are wearing or show signs of having worn shock collars.
There are arguments for both sides in the use of shock collars to train dogs, although it’s worth recognising that the majority of reports and posts in favour of their use are produced or commissioned by the manufacturers of such collars. We at the Shelter have a very clear standpoint on their use…shock collars should never, ever be a part of your pets training.
The collars, which are remote controlled and give the animal a short, sharp shock direct to the neck at the command of the trainer, are banned across Europe including Wales, but remain legal in other parts of Britain. They are used to give negative reinforcement, causing pain/discomfort to dissuade a dog from continuing with an undesirable behaviour. There is no doubt that this form of training, even when done correctly, causes heightened levels of stress and fear in animals and in some cases can even lead to physical harm of your pet.
We are increasingly seeing these collars used incorrectly too, where the dog is unable to associate the sudden discomfort with the unacceptable behaviour, causing fear and confusion. Not only will this not improve your animal’s behaviour – potentially leading to more, longer, stronger shocks as you get frustrated with inefficient training – but can actually reinforce negative behaviour, cause psychological issues and in some extreme causes even lead to aggression. We are now working hard to undo the damage done to the animals that have been signed over to the Shelter, who have been living in fear of shocks and unsure why or when the next one is coming. It’s going to be a long job…
We firmly believe that positive reinforcement is the only effective, long-term training method. Not only is it better for your dog physically and mentally, but it is also far more engaging and rewarding for the you, the trainer. It builds a greater bond between you and your pet and can make future training easier as your dog enjoys learning new skills to please you rather than fears the introduction of new commands. If you need any help with your animal or advice on how to train without a shock collar you can contact our Behaviourist, Rosie Taylor-Trigg, who will be happy to help. (please note: Rosie joins the Shelter on 28th February)