We speak a lot about dog-friendly training methods, but everyone has a different mental definition of what exactly this phrase means. There are people that would define training with electric shock as “dog-friendly,” and others who feel as though giving a dog the “I’m-so-disappointed-in-you-stare” is unacceptable. We have discussions which are fraught with nearly religious fervor over the four quadrants of operant conditioning, whether or not aversives can or should be avoided entirely in training an animal to reliability, and throw around labels like “treat slinging weenie” and “abuser.” We get caught up in how we view each other or want to be viewed by each other and forget about any opinions our dogs may have regarding the topic at hand.
I know of trainers who publicly decry the use of shock collars but think nothing of throwing a head halter on a dog. While I’m not a fan of shock collars and do not use them on my own dogs or with my client dogs, I will say that I have seen many dogs react more violently and with more distress to a head collar than a low level electric shock.