Thursday, October 25, 2007

Should I use a shock collar?

More and more articles bring up the idea that we shouldn’t waste our time trying to train our dogs and use shock collars instead. Why should we spend time on them? Wouldn’t it be great to have a well behaved dog, not to knock-up the trash cans or run after the mail man? It takes just a “zip” and the dog will know he has made a mistake and he will go to his corner, right?

Well, let’s talk this out… if you don’t mind your dog to get zapped until his brain won’t know what he is allowed to do, feel free to use the shock collar. He can do tricks easier and learn them faster, but this way he will turn into your robot. Do this! Zap!!! Don’t do that! Zap!!! Is that what you had in mind when you were thinking about getting a dog?

The first thing you should consider when thinking about using a shock collar is that your dog, no matter how many cats he has chased after, is still a living being with a sensitive side. This method, even though it is recommended by some trainers, can make a gap between you and your companion. He won’t feel the same love and affection that you give when training him in the old-fashion way!

Before taking this decision, just read some articles about how shock training can be replaced with normal exercises. The first benefit is that from the start you and your dog will create a bond. Another one is that he can receive your love when he does something right… and even a treat! If he does not listen to you at first and he keeps ripping the newspaper, the smoothest way to let him know he has done a bad thing is to ignore him – you and the rest of the family. Dogs need the attention and when it is taken away from him, he will get hurt and try not to do what upset you.

Even the name gives me a bad feeling and so I would rather spend some days training my dog, then to shock him and get it over with in 2 days! I love my dog and wouldn’t let him suffer for my lack of time… would you? Shock collar is not the way to go!

1 comment:

DiscipleofDog said...

After reading your article I must, with all due respect, comment upon some of the statements that you use as they appear to me to be incorrect.
You make a reference to love, love is a human emotional state and has no relivance to dogs. Dogs do not love. Dogs do appear to show this but I believe such affectionate behaviour is mistaken for love when it is really pack behaviour e.g licking (submission), belly tickles (submission).
By using an electronic remote collar you are not causing a gap between you and your dog. This is because the shock of the remote collar is never associated with the human, it is paired with the external stimulus causing avoidance behaviour through negative reinforcement. This is operant conditioning - the same method as applied with treat based positive reinforcement. The method of training is using the same concept as many other methods of training.
I suppose your asking 'well if this is true surely there is no need to use a shock collar if other methods theoretically work as well'. In most training this is true, there is no need to use a shock collar for basic obedience and other base behaviours that can be taught with clicker training etc.
This is all well and good so long as you have a dog's focus. In exterior circumstances (e.g park/ street) the dog is highly distracted by other stimulus. A dog may be very responsive in the home or the training halls but is much less so in the exterior enviroment. There are new smells, other animals to initate prey drives,other dogs to initate play drive/ territory drives etc. All of these stimuli are far more interesting than a trainer's treats or praises, especially when the dog is initated in a high drive. By using a collar to emit a shock, the dog's focus is distrubed thus leading to the decline in the dog's drive allowing for its focus to return. Then positive reinforcement can be implemented to reinforce the behaviour. I always do this when training with the e-collar using a mix of negative and positve reinforcement to get the best result. An e-collar is for use in high drive state dangerous situations when the dog entirely unreceptive to commands and needs to be brought back into a lower drive state.
It is suggested in one of your statements that you emit a shock every time you wish to teach the dog a command. If you do this you will cause extreme stress to the dog and eventualy learned helplessness. The way you use the remote collar is to give three commands using the collar's beep noise- for example 'leave'
Command 1: say leave (no shock/ no beep)- if dog listens praise
Command 2: say leave (no shock/ with beep)- if dog listens praise
Command 3: Say leave (with shock)- when dog listens praise.
Soon the dog will learn that the beep before hand means a shock will follow if you do not avoid stimulus/ focus on me etc, you will not need to use the shock. I have emitted the shock only 3 times, all other times I have used the beep which is very effective.
Basically Shock collars are fantastic training tools for exterior enviroment training in a holistic training regime. They are not for inital training, I would recommend clicker training and positive reinforcement for basic obedience. Ensure before using the collar that your dog knows basic obedience commands, then when you say come here on the park the dog does recognise the command. When he does not follow through, then the e-collar can be used to bring the dog's mind back from distraction.
Other articles on the subject suggest that the shock collar causes pain. This is not the case. Before I placed the collar upon my dog I placed it upon myself first. The effect is like knocking your funny bone or the tingling feeling u get when u slip on the , its unpleasant but it's certainly not painful. I bought the device to help enrich my dog's life, not to cause cruelty.On the collar's remote controller you can change the strength of the emittion, always set it just below what the dog needs to produce avoidance behaviour.
My experience of shock collars has been so positive I cannot understand why people oppose them. They do not cause pain and allow the dog to have a much richer quality of life. I can take my dog absolutely anywhere now without worries of her getting into trouble, she can explore a greater territory and have more excerise than ever before.
For those people who do strongly oppose the shock collar please consider this cameo:
'A young woman owns a happy healthy bouncing Boxer. This Boxer however has a tendency to rush over to other people and dogs when let off leash. The owner has taken her dog to training, using positive reinforcement, he is wonderful at home and at the training halls but once on the park he looses himself in the excitement. Other owners on the park have said for her to get her dog away from theirs as they percieve the behaviour of a big dog threatening, the woman is considering geting rid of the dog since she finds going to the park stressful and cannot cope with the comments for other people'
Without using a shock collar the woman could
A) keep the dog on the lead - the dog will not be able to run up to anyone else, it won't be able to run at all - leading to less excerise/ chance of developing destructive behaviours due to need to outlet energy
B)Get rid of the dog - sent to shelter/ problem not fixed but passed on
C) continue with current training methods - they may work after a few years
D)Continue letting behaviour occur/ possible complaint may lead to a dangerous dog order
I would also like to ask the Anti- e-collar group whether they consider the choke chain cruel. To me it is this device that they should ban. A choke collar solely works by causing harm to the dog through asphixation and is highly ineffective in controlling a dog. It is my opionion that these should be banned instead of E-collars that do so much good for no pain.
As a last word I would recommend practising pack leadership, its the dog's native language and so by using it aids in any training you wish to accomplish. Thanks for reading xx