While I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law, they had a few visitors this weekend. Have you ever heard that dogs always look for attention from the people that like them the least? Well, this happened to be the case last Friday. My sister’s dog Kai kept putting his head on these visitors lap, bringing toys, and sitting in front of them. Their other dog, Mighty, enjoyed laying and walking past them, trying to get rubs. However, they didn’t touch the dogs and my sister had to keep pushing them away.
I kept thinking,”They have a dog don’t they?” My suspicion was confirmed as we sat eating pumpkin cake with cheesecake frosting. My brother-in-law’s friend casually mentioned how great the shock collar is working on his young lab. He mentioned how his dog will stop when going to chase animals mid-run and will cower instead of taking action.
Shock collars are still marketed and sold to many people who don’t want to train their dogs or are looking for an easy way out. In many countries shock collars and invisible fences are now outlawed. Shock collars are very dangerous. Not only can they malfunction, but they electrocute your dog. Someone people believe it’s not enough to hurt the dog, that’s how it’s marketed anyway. However, if the collar didn’t hurt the dog, why would the respond?
How do dogs respond to shock collars?
Usually in one of two ways:
1. They completely shut down. To a regular owner without any knowledge about animals, they may think their dog has improved. However, their dog is most likely intimidated and scared out of their mind. Many times shock collars are advertised showing these dogs-the shut down dogs. They may look relaxed but if you read their body language you can tell they are very tense. When a dog shuts down it avoids human contact and cowers. Eventually, the dog is so scared it doesn’t seem to care about anything and shows signs of depression. Many studies have proved dogs have higher cortisol levels (stress hormone) with shock collar training.
2. Another way they may react is by becoming more fearful and aggressive over time. Think about it-if every time you saw a cupcake, you got a painful shock in your neck-what might happen if you see a cupcake again? Next time you might slowly approach the cupcake-then BOOM! SHOCKED AGAIN! The next time you may go around the cupcake, but as soon as you are passing it-SHOCK! The next time you see the cupcake you may run screaming the other way. If you are forced near a cupcake you may act aggressively-doing anything to GET AWAY FROM THE CUPCAKE-ANYTHING TO AVOID PAIN!
Now pretend that’s not a cupcake, but something that your dog enjoys-like running after squirrels or barking out the window at people. After a few shocks your dog may shut down completely, or they may run away, cower, or act aggressively. After being shocked as they bark at people, they may associate people with pain, therefore, next time they meet new people, or go near people they will try to escape, and it they can’t they may act aggressively.
There are countless scholarly articles, not just opinions out there about shock collars. I am sure depending on who ordered the study, you can find evidence supporting or against shock collars. However, think about if you would like to be treated like that. Think about why other countries have outlawed them and all the pain they can cause your dog. Think about doing the work and building a positive bond with your dog-think about positive training.