Why E-collars are a Very Bad Idea for Dog Parks and Dog Daycares

If you are at the dog park and you see a dog wearing an e-collar, keep your dog away from that dog.

To be clear, e-collars are a bad idea in general, but especially for situations where there are groups of dogs. When the dog wearing the e-collar feels the zap, the dog is very likely to redirect its frustration/fear/panic/pain/rage towards the nearest dog (or person).

If your doggie daycare uses e-collars, find another doggie daycare, even if the daycare assures you that they will honour your request not to put one on your dog. Not many doggie daycares will be open and honest about their use of e-collars, so check the fine print of anything you sign and ask several staff members to be sure.

It has been established in the scientific community and the professional dog training industry that e-collars are not recommended because of the negative repercussions even if they are used “properly.” Many reputable professional organizations have Position Statements against the use of e-collars, such as the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.

But, despite the science and the opinions of these professional organizations, there are still trainers who insist they know how to use them without any of these proven negative outcomes. They insist they are right and the science and highly educated professionals are wrong. Why?

Part of the problem is that an e-collar can sometimes provide a quick fix by temporarily suppressing the unwanted behaviours. Suppressing the behaviours is not fixing the problem. It can make things worse including training a dog to aggress without warning. However, from the person’s perspective, the instant result causes the person to be more likely to use the collar again in the future. This can be a big problem because it teaches the person to use the collar sooner rather than putting in the effort to try to actually train the dog to do a different behaviour, or trying to find out the underlying reason for the unwanted behaviour in the first place. Basically, an e-collar makes the trainer a lazy trainer. Yep. I said it.

There is so much more that I could write to explain why e-collars are a bad idea. But why take my word for it. Take the word of the professionals, including the professional organizations linked above.

The Humane Society of the United States states: “The least humane and most controversial use of the shock collar is as a training device. The trainer can administer a shock to a dog at a distance through a remote control. There is a greater chance for abuse (delivery of shocks as punishment) or misuse (poor timing of shocks). Your dog also may associate the painful shock with people or other experiences, leading to fearful or aggressive behavior.

I will never use the Shock Collar Again!

NOTE: it DOES NOT MATTER if the zap does not feel painful to you. What matters is how the dog feels about it. If the zap causes the dog to stop doing a behaviour, then the zap is causing discomfort. Putting the e-collar on your arm or neck or any body part to test it to see if the zap hurts is not a reliable test. The recipient decides what is discomfort. Just like the recipient decides what is pleasant.

 

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