Why you should refuse an electric collar for a dog
Studies that have been conducted around the world prove that the use of an electric collar (also called electroshock collars, or ESHO) to train a dog is more harmful than good. That is why in a number of countries this “device” is prohibited by law. What's wrong with an electric collar for dogs?
In the photo: a dog in an electric collar. Photo: google
In 2017, representatives of the European College of Veterinary Clinical Ethology said that the use of an electric collar for dog training is unacceptable, and put forward a proposal to ban the sale and use of these devices in all European countries. In 2018, the Journal of Veterinary Behavior published an article by Dr. Sylvia Masson, which explains why you should stop using electric collars.
Why do people use electric collars when training dogs?
Electric collars are often used in dog training as a positive punishment for “bad” behavior. They are also often used as negative reinforcement: a dog is shocked until it fulfills a person’s command. Currently, many electric collars have time limits for exposure to current, so it is less likely that they will be used as negative reinforcement.
The article considers three types of electric collars:
- Antilay, which is activated by the sound and automatically shock the dog when it barks.
- Electrofences equipped with underground sensors.When the dog crosses the border, the collar sends an electrical discharge.
- Electric collars with remote control, allowing a person to press a button and remotely beat a dog with electric current. This is the so-called "remote control".
The article says that there is no credible evidence that the use of ESW can be justified. But there are many reasons to abandon these devices. There are much more effective teaching methods, at the same time less risky.
The following is a recommendation to prohibit the sale, use and advertising of electric collars in all European countries.
There are several reasons why people continue to use electric collars:
- "I was told that it works."
- “I need a quick result.”
- “I have tried ECHO on myself, and I believe that it is harmless” (in this case, the differences between the sensitivity to electric current of a dog and a person are not taken into account).
- “I was told that the risk is minimal compared to other learning methods.”
- “It's cheaper than contacting a trainer or dog behavior specialist.”
However, none of these reasons can withstand any criticism. Moreover, the use of an electric collar is a direct threat to the well-being of the animal, as was previously established in the study of aversive (violence-based) teaching methods.
In the photo: a dog in an electric collar. Photo:google
Why is the use of electric collars ineffective?
People who believe that using an ECHO is cheaper than a specialist’s service will then pay more to eliminate the damage that the psyche of the dog caused.The use of ECHO results in behavioral problems such as aggression, fears, or learned helplessness. Timing problems (and most owners, especially inexperienced ones, have them) exacerbate the situation and increase the risk.
Studies show that the use of electric collars when training a dog increases the level of distress and forms a fear of training in the dog. The dog has poor associations with the trainer, the training venue, as well as with people and dogs who are just nearby or passing by at the time of the electric shock.
In addition, there is not a single study proving that using ESW is more effective. On the contrary, a number of studies convincingly prove that positive reinforcement leads to better results. For example, one of the studies was devoted to the use of an electric collar when training a dog to call up (a popular request from owners). There was no benefit from ESHO, but the welfare of the animals was damaged.
So, although people give different reasons in favor of using an electric collar, there is not a single evidence confirming these myths (you cannot call them otherwise).
Unfortunately, the Internet is full of information telling about what miracles do electric shocks. And many owners simply are not aware that there are, for example, methods such as positive reinforcement.
However, the situation is changing. Electric collars are already banned in Austria, the UK, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and parts of Australia.
If you want to help your dog, train him or adjust his behavior, choose a good trainer using positive reinforcement.
What you can read about the use of electric collars when training dogs
Masson, S., de la Vega, S., Gazzano, A., Mariti, C., Pereira, G. D. G., Halsberghe, C., Leyvraz, A.M., McPeake, K. & Schoening, B. (2018). Electronic training devices: discussion on the pros and cons of their use in dogs as a basis for the position statement of the European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology (ESVCE). Journal of Veterinary Behavior.