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The Shock Heard Round The World

I found an interesting article this morning in the Telegraph.co.uk about the use of dog shock collars. There has been controversy over these collars for...

Horst Hoefinger  |  May 8th 2009


I found an interesting article this morning in the Telegraph.co.uk about the use of dog shock collars. There has been controversy over these collars for a long time, advocates think it’s a great training tool while opponents feel they are cruel.

Recently a man in Oregon was arrested for using shock collars on his kids. He’s in custody charged with “criminal mistreatment” of his four children.

After seeing this Peter Wedderburn, writer of the article, wonders why is it alright to use on dogs but criminal to use on children.

My question today is: if it’s not OK to use these in children, why should it be acceptable to use them to train dogs? The video report of the case states that some dog trainers justify their use by saying that “dogs have a higher pain threshold than humans”. This is news to me – how do you think they’ve worked that out? Give a dog an electric shock, then ask the dog “how much does that hurt?” Then compare the dog’s response with a human?

Electric shock collars are used on dogs by some to apply an electric shock to the dog’s neck when a dog behaves incorrectly. The shocks, understandably, cause pain and confusion for the dog, affecting it physically and mentally. There’s no doubt that electric shock collars have a powerful effect, but there’s also no doubt that they’re cruel.

New research published by the University of Pennsylvania has shown that aggressive pets which are trained using confrontational or aversive methods (such as electric shocks) by their owners will continue to be aggressive unless training techniques are modified. The year-long study, which has been published in the February 2009 issue of Applied Animal Behaviour Science showed that using non-aversive or neutral training methods such as additional exercise or rewards elicited very few aggressive responses.

The Kennel Club has been campaigning for many years to have the sale and use of electric shock collars banned, and at last, some progress may be about to happen.

The Welsh government is making big strides in getting electric shock collars banned, including mats and leads. On their website you can review the draft regulation, you may make a submission before May 27th.

The Kennel Club is encouraging Welsh dog owners to respond, and to contact their local Assembly Member to ensure that effective legislation is drafted.

If you’ve ever watched a video of a human trying out one of these collars for fun you can see they soon realize exactly how much pain this device can cause. As Wedderburn stated, humans have the choice to remove the offending device, dogs don’t.

Let me know what you think about these collars, give me a bark.

*Arwen in her lovely spring, non-shocking, collar.