Do shock collars hurt dogs? Get the answer

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Many dog owners have a bad attitude toward shock collars because they don’t want to hurt their dogs. But do shock collars really hurt dogs? My answer is yes. Although the dog may not be physically harmed, there are many disadvantages of this method.

Of course, it’s everyone’s personal decision whether to use or not to use a shock collar. I could go on about how good and harmless they are to sell you a couple, but I will try to write the truth. Next, I will tell you why I think shock collars are a bad option for dog training, and what more humane alternatives are available.

4 negative consequences of using shock collars

The producers of these devices write that their collars are a quick and easy way to wean your dog from unwanted behavior, such as excessive barking or aggression. You just need to push a button, the dog feels a shock and stops behaving that way.

Ideally, shock training collars should not be so powerful that they would physically injure the animal. But whatever the electric shock is, it will be at least unpleasant for your dog.

So you should be aware of a few significant disadvantages of shock collars. Because of these disadvantages, I and most trainers do not recommend using them for dog training:

1. A shock collar can cause physical harm to your dog

Dogs often get used to the shock, and higher and higher powers are required. This is how dog owners get to the point where they start shocking the dog more and more. Strong electric shocks can cause cardiac fibrillation and even skin burns.

If you are not a qualified trainer, you may set the settings wrong and injure the dog because of it. Despite the seeming safety of shock collars, there have been reported cases of injury to dogs due to accidentally turning the remote on or selecting a level that is too intense and not suitable for a particular dog.

wounds on the dog's neck from a shock collar
There are many similar photos on the Internet, which show the consequences of using shock collars.

2. Such training is notoriously counterproductive

You may be able to get your dog to do what you want or not do something. But it’s all through fear and pain. Such training is notoriously counterproductive. The dog will definitely not like the training, and the attitude to its owner will also become worse.

It is not certain that the dog will understand why it feels the pain. Animals sometimes associate the shock with things that are nearby. As a result, they do not change their bad behavior, but become afraid of other animals, people or the street in general.

3. The dog may develop new behavioral problems

The constant punishment in the form of electric shocks may develop behavioral problems with dogs, including panic, aggression, peeing inside and chewing furniture. Then, dog owners realize that they have harmed their pet and turn to specialists to correct the problem, which takes a lot of time and money.

4. The dog is stressed, which is bad for its health

Stress releases cortisol in the dog’s body, just as it does in humans. Constant stress is bad for health – it contributes to cardiovascular disease, depression and cancer.

For these reasons, shock collars have been banned in a number of countries.

To create a positive reputation for their product, manufacturers try to hide shock collars under names like e-collars, static collars, remote training collars and positive reinforcement collars. But we are not stupid. We know the truth.

Studies on the effects of shock collars on dogs

The topic of the harms of electric shock collars is constantly being debated: some argue that shock collars are cruel, others argue that this is not true. These are just words, but real scientific research helps to know the facts.

  • This research, which lasted 7 months, involved 14 dogs. As a result, it was determined that electroshock does cause stress with the dogs. However, when the device was used correctly, the dogs’ cortisol levels did not change if compared to normal training.
  • Another study evaluated the results of training 32 dogs with shock collars. Notably, these were the working and police dogs that are well-trained and hardy. However, 25 of the dogs in this group showed all the signs of stress and fear – they gave tongue flicks, gave high-pitched yelps, crouched, moved away, squealed.
  • Next study found “behavioral evidence that the use of electronic collars negatively affected the well-being of some dogs during training. This effect was observed even when trained by professional trainers using relatively harmless training programs recommended by e-collar advocates”.

You can also look at the other studies on this topic to see if the negative opinion about E-Collars is for a reason:

Dog training methods: Their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare.

The use of electronic collars for training domestic dogs.

Sad review from an owner who used a shock collar

I Know some guy who had a shock collar for his dog in order to correct its “over vocalizations”. The dog was initially happy, loving, and joyful. However, once he had used the gadget, he became scared, timid and anxious.

Sure, the dog slowed the barking however, but at what cost did it? I shared the viewpoints of experts on using a shock collar and he decided to take the collar off his dog.

However, it wasn’t until the physical and psychological harm was caused. This dog who was once a joyful to be around is now overweight, shy and does not want to play. It seems to act as if it’s going to be punched whenever someone comes close.

Testing shock collar on human

I found a video in which a guy from The Good Life team decided to test the shock collar on himself. Judging by his reaction and the marks that the electric shock left on his leg, it really hurts. And the pain is strong enough even at low levels of exposure.

You can also read an interview in which the guys who protested the shock collar describe how they felt. At the end, they conclude that they would never use such devices on their dog.

But there are also other videos in which people have not reacted so painfully to shock collars as this one:

I’m not ruling out the possibility that such videos are biased. So if you want to know YOUR truth, test the collar on yourself before putting it on your dog.

FAQ

Do vets recommend shock collars?

It’s safe to say that no veterinarian will advise you to use this. Also Many animal organisations, including the RSPCA, the Dog’s Trust, The Kennel Club and the British Veterinary Association have all criticised the use of electric collars.

What does a shock collar feel like?

In the lower settings, it starts as an unpleasant tingle before ramping up into something that causes a muscle spasm in the highest setting.

Can shock collars kill a dog?

No such cases have been reported at this time.

How do I safely use a shock collar?

If you decide to use a shock collar for dog training, start at the lowest levels. Include warning tones (vibration or beep) to alert your dog that he will feel the shock next. Do not use the e-collar for extended periods of time.

Shock collar alternatives

Your relationship with your dog should be based on love. My personal experience is that encouragement works much better than punishment.

You can let your dog UNDERSTAND that for good behavior it will be praised and given treats, and for bad behavior it will not receive such bonuses. Sure, it’s harder and will take longer, but it’s worth it. 

Various humane training aids can be used as well. Crates, clickers, whistles, bells work well. And I use these things for my dog. Alternatively, devices that do not use electric shocks can be used for dog training, such as:

  • Non-shock electronic collars (with vibration, spray or audible signal);
  • Ultrasonic anti-barking devices. These can be used for your dog as well as for your neighbor’s dogs that bark a lot.

These are more humane ways. Still, an electronic collar should not be the only way to train a dog.

Summary

Dogs are not slaves to be controlled by pain and fear. They are our friends that we must treat with care. If you agree with this, then share this post on social media so that everyone knows the truth about shock collars and comes to the right conclusions!

I also found a site where you can sign a global petition for shock collars to be banned worldwide. On their website you can find a lot of information on this topic, and read articles with real cases from life, which describe how dogs suffered from shock collars.

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