Dog Shock Collar – The Good and The Bad

The shock collar, remote training collar, or electronic dog collar is most commonly used in four areas –

  1. Keep dogs inside our property. Our dog is corrected every time he nears the fence-line. This is also known as an invisible fence or underground fence.
  2. Stop dogs from barking. The collar automatically delivers a correction whenever our dog starts to bark. If he continues to bark, the force, duration, and frequency of the shocks may be automatically increased.
  3. Train dogs and stop problem dog behaviors. Shock collars are most commonly used for off-leash training. However, some dog trainers and pet owners also use it for behavioral issues such as food aggression, and dog aggression.
  4. Teach dogs to stay away from dangerous animals and objects. A common use is in rattlesnake aversion training. A dog is shocked hard, but a very small number of times, when he nears a caged rattlesnake. This teaches him not to approach rattlesnakes in the future.

The use of shock collars on dogs is a very emotional topic. Discussions will often degrade into personal attacks, accusations of dog cruelty, and other types of name calling.

In this article, I will try to stick to the facts, and consider both the good and the bad of dog shock collars. Note however, that facts are not always convenient, and facts are not always balanced between the two sides.

Electronic Collars vs. Shock Collars

Not all electronic collars are used as shock collars. There are three main modes – 1. Beep mode, 2. Vibrate mode, and 3. Shock mode.

All electronic collars have the shock functionality, but the beep or vibrate functions are optional.

1. Beep mode

In this mode, a beep is emitted whenever the collar controller is pressed. This beep can be used as a marker, in the same way that clickers are used in clicker training.

For the beep to be an effective marker, a dog needs prior training for associating the sound with a positive or negative consequence. For example, if the beep always precedes a sought after reward, then our dog may stop and wait, because he knows that something good is coming. Similarly, a dog may freeze or submit when he hears a beep, because he knows that failure to comply, will be followed by a painful shock.

The beep can also cause a startle response, similarly to blowing a whistle. This can be used to get our dog’s attention or to interrupt his current action. However, for this to work, we must only use the interrupt signal on very rare occasions. If applied too frequently, our dog will become accustomed to it, and just ignore it.

2. Vibrate mode

In this mode, the collar vibrates, similar to how our pager or phone vibrates to get our attention. Like the beep mode, this vibration can be used as a marker or as an interrupt.

Both the beep and vibrate modes do not deliver an electric shock to the dog.

3. Shock mode.

In shock mode, the electronic collar will deliver an electric current to the dog through two contact points at the dog’s neck.

This electric current will cause pain and physical discomfort to the dog, otherwise it would not be effective in conditioning him.

The amount of pain delivered to the dog will depend on three key factors –

  • The power/voltage of the electric current,
  • The duration of the current, and
  • The frequency of the current.

The amount of pain that the dog actually feels, will also depend on the physical characteristics of the dog (e.g. size, skin, and fur), as well as the temperament of the dog. Some dogs are more sensitive to pain than others.

Sometimes, words like stimulation are used to describe shock collars. I even saw them described as gentle training collars.

Beware of these sales gimmicks. Accept an electronic collar for what it is. If you choose to use it, make an informed decision that is based on the actual pros and cons of the system, which I will discuss below. Note that the subsequent discussion is solely based on the shock functionality of remote training collars (not on the beep and vibrate modes).

Shock Collar Advantage 1

The electronic collar allows us to control the amount of pain delivered to our dog, and administer that pain from a distance.

One of the great challenges of implementing pain based aversive techniques such as leash jerks, muzzle slaps, and finger pokes, is in controlling the amount of force delivered to the dog.

  • Too much force and our dog may break down, and become extremely stressed or fearful.
  • Too little force and our dog will get habituated to the corrections, and just ignore them.

Master aversive trainers are able to deliver just the right amount of force, so that the dog will not repeat a bad behavior, but at the same time, he will also not become unbalanced and fearful.

Unlike other aversive methods, the shock collar allows us to easily adjust the amount of pain delivered to a dog, and to keep that level of pain consistent in subsequent corrections. We can also administer the pain from a distance.

However, it should also be mentioned that the amount of pain actually ‘felt’ by the dog as well as the resulting response, depends on many different factors, not just the level of shock applied.

Although these devices are presented as a highly controllable method of modifying behaviour, via the controlled administering of pain/discomfort (the collars are designed to allow operator to set the duration and intensity of shock), an individual animal’s experience when a shock is applied will be influenced by numerous factors. In addition to individual temperament, the experience will be affected by the dog’s previous experiences, frequency of application, location of shock, thickness of hair and level of moisture on skin (Lindsay, 2005). Given that many of these factors are not easily determinable by the operator, this makes the device far less precise than suggested.

Shock Collar Advantage 2

The electronic collar can automatically deliver a shock correction to the dog, even when we are not there.

Another challenge of implementing proper aversive corrections, is using the right timing. We want to correct our dog as soon as he performs an unacceptable behavior, and stop correcting him as soon as he stops that behavior.

Electronic collars can be tied to a particular trigger event, such as barking or proximity to our fence-line. In this way, a shock is automatically and consistently delivered to the dog, as soon as he starts to bark or tries to escape. In fact, the invisible fence or shock anti-bark systems are convenient, because we do not even have to be there to deliver the corrections.

Shock collars such as these may sound tempting and easy to use, but unfortunately, consistent and automatic timing does not necessarily mean correct timing.

Studies show that automatic collars are risky, because tying a shock correction to a single trigger event, such as barking or proximity, is too simplistic and will frequently result in bad timing. This can subsequently lead to aggression and other dog behavioral issues.

There are some anti-bark collars that use sound aversion to stop dog barking, for example the Ultrasonic Anti-bark Collar. However, customer reviews have been poor because the sound stimulus is often insufficient to prevent the barking behavior.

Shock Collar Advantage 3

With an electronic collar, the source of the aversive stimulus is less clear.

When we use other pain-based aversive techniques, it is usually obvious that the pain comes from us. This may teach our dogs to associate people with physical distress, which can also lead to fear. If this happens, we may lose some of our dog’s trust, and jeopardize our bond with him.

For example, when we apply a leash correction, it is apparent that the pain originates from the leash, and sometimes (if not redirected), from us. Therefore, the dog may decide to fight with the leash, or worse, with us.

This is less of a problem with electronic collars because the source of the pain is obscured, and there is no leash to fight with. However, because the pain comes from seemingly nowhere, our dog may mistakenly associate it with something he sees in the environment (e.g. another dog), the environment itself, or to multiple unrelated objects and events. This may cause misplaced stress, fear, and aggression, toward those objects.

Automatic shock collars also have a high risk of over-correcting a dog.

Shock Collar Disadvantage 1

Electronic collars can increase aggression in dogs.

According to Polsky’s study, dogs kept in shock containment systems (i.e. invisible fence or underground fence), can show extreme aggression towards humans, over and beyond their normal behavior.

Polsky’s results show that a big danger with electronic collars, especially automatic e-collars, is that they may cause dogs to make the wrong associations, and learn the wrong things.

Dogs may associate the pain from the shock with the environment or with objects in the environment (including humans , dogs, or cats), rather than with their escaping or barking behaviors. This may lead to anxiety or negative associations with those objects, which can ultimately result in aggression.

Some dogs that have been conditioned in this manner, may not want to set foot in the yard, for worry of pain. They may also start to attack humans and other animals, that wander too close to the fence perimeter.

Some dogs may get habituated to the shocks, and learn that if they can tolerate the pain close to the fence-line, they can escape. Once they escape, they are rewarded with no more shocks. In this way, the dog learns that escaping is a good thing, whereas staying in the backyard is not.

Shock Collar Disadvantage 2

Electronic collars can increase stress in dogs and reduce their quality of life.

Schalke et al. conducted an electronic collar training study on fourteen laboratory-bred Beagles. Shock collar training was conducted over 7 days, for 1.5 hours per day. Then the dogs were released to freely hunt for 5 days, and to hunt on leash for another 5 days. Schalke’s study showed that the dogs who

… were able to clearly associate the electric stimulus with their action, i.e. touching the prey, and consequently were able to predict and control the stressor, did not show considerable or persistent stress indicators.

~~[ Excerpt from ]

However, the two other groups of dogs that were not able to so clearly predict and control the delivery of the shocks, showed elevated stress levels, with the highest levels present in the dogs that were arbitrarily shocked.

Most importantly, the group of dogs that received a shock for not abiding by a recall (Here) command, were also significantly elevated.

Even more distressing, is that the results remained the same when the dogs were reintroduced to the testing area after four weeks. Their stress levels remained high, even though they did not receive any shocks during this reintroduction period.

The results from Schalke’s study indicate that electronic collars are extremely risky to use even for the short term. Stress levels of the dogs were high after just 7 days, and were elevated as soon as they returned to the shock treatment environment. This is consistent with Polsky’s study, which show that dogs may associate the shock and stress they receive, with the environment itself.

This study provides strong evidence that shock collars are inappropriate for most kinds of dog training, as even common recall training will result in elevated stress levels, and a lower quality of life.

Shock Collar Disadvantage 3

Electronic collars can weaken our bond with our dog.

Polsky and Schalke’s studies show that dogs often associate the pain from electronic collars with their environment, as well as with people, animals, and other objects in that environment. Even after shocks are no longer administered, the dogs still attach the environment to something stressful and negative.

Therefore, using a remote training collar on our dog may cause him to associate our home or backyard, with stress and pain. Or worse yet, it may cause him to associate the stress with other dogs, other people, or with us.

Remember that Schalke’s results show this negative attachment forming in a matter of 7 days.

Alternative to Shock Corrections

Truly, there are better ways to train and manage our dog than resorting to shock collars.

When I first got my Shiba Inu, I had a lot of problems with him. I was using aversive training at the time, and briefly considered the use of electronic collars because the other aversive-based methods were not working well.

Instead, I decided to give reward dog training a chance. After watching Cesar Millan in The Dog Whisperer, I was under the false impression that reward methods would not work on my dominant, stubborn, and aggressive Shiba Inu.

Reward training is not a miracle cure, and it will still take a lot of work, consistency, and patience, to train our dog. However, reward techniques can work on dominant, stubborn, and aggressive dogs. It has worked well for training my Shiba. In fact, he stopped showing aggression toward me and others, after I stopped using pain-based methods.

Common Justifications for Shock Collars

1. Save a dog’s life.

Proponents of electronic collars sometimes argue that they are used to save a dog’s life, by preventing him from running into traffic.

It is important to note that off-leash recall is never 100% reliable, whatever equipment or training methods we may choose to use.

This is why there are leash laws in most neighborhoods. This is also why off-leash parks require dogs to be on-leash when they are in the parking lot area, or in areas that are close to roads and traffic.

I use a no-slip collar and secure leash to walk my dogs in the neighborhood. I also regularly check the collar and leash to ensure that they in good working order. Off-leash exercise can be had in fully enclosed spaces or large parks, where we are far enough away from traffic that a failed recall, will not result in an accident. Do not play Russian Roulette with our dog’s life.

2. Do not cause much pain, just a tingle.

Some people try shock collars on themselves, and report that it only causes a tingle, so it really does not apply much pain to our dog.

However, to closely experience shock collar conditioning from my dog’s perspective, I would have to put the collar on my neck and surrender the controller to a handler. I will not know why, when, or where the shocks will be administered.

As I carry on with my day, I may feel the need for a smoke. I reach for it, and feel a tingle on my neck. It is just a tingle, so I continue.

At this point, the tingle not only persists, but increases in intensity. I am strong willed though, so I keep going. After all, that is exactly why I needed the shock collar in the first place.

The intensity keeps increasing until finally, I drop the bad object. My hand shakes. The experience was unpleasant, and now I want relief more than ever. Unfortunately, I do not even have a patch, all I have is this locked-on collar that I cannot remove. My eyes stray and my hands start to reach again …

Electronic collars are NOT harmless, nor are they just a little tingly. If they were so, they would not work. Their use is illegal for children and non-consenting adults. Here is another case in Utah.

3. Everybody else is biased and dishonest.

Another common argument, is that those who point out the risks of shock collars are biased and dishonest. Personal attacks or ad hominem arguments such as these are not only pointless, but they also discourage rational discourse and the exchange of ideas. More on bias.

In this article, I describe what attracted me to look into electronic collars as a possible training tool for my Shiba Inu, as well as some of the risks that were of concern. Based on the studies and articles that I found, I also include counter-arguments (if present) for each of those points. In general, I found very little scientific evidence to recommend its use, while at the same time, there are many studies that show the risks involved.

After reading the results of Polsky and Schalke, it is difficult for me to come up with cases where the shock collar would be appropriate in dog training. Perhaps the only case would be in animal aversion training, such as teaching our dogs to fear and stay-away from rattlesnakes.

If you know of supporting scientific studies or substantiated data which highlight the good of shock collars, it would certainly contribute much to the discussion, so please share them with us.

However, based on current reliable data, shock collars are not something I would use on my own dogs or generally recommend to others. It is also worth noting that the ASPCA, AVSAB, RSPCA, Kennel Club, and Blue Cross, are all against the use of shock collars for companion dogs.

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  1. megan says

    I have a 5 month old small bread pup. she attacked and killed a pet chicken at a friends house. she shows no interest in the chickens until she thinks i am out of site. i hid and watched her pace the cage through a window and she would not come when called. i think if i let her associate the negativity towards the chook run she mite stay away from it. i don’t like the idea of shock collars but if she attacks another one it will be requested she gets put down. is it justified to use one?

    • shibashake says

      I am not sure that I fully understand. Are the chickens at a friend’s house or your house? Can a fence be built around the chicken area? Is she an outside dog and therefore has to be around the chickens? What is her daily routine like?

      When I am trying to change my dog’s behavior, I look at the source of the behavior and I consider *all* the training techniques available to bring about that change. The question that I ask myself is which technique is going to be most effective in the long-run and which will result in the best long-term quality of life for my dog.

      As I described in the article above, shock collars can be used for animal aversion training, e.g. training a dog to stay away from snakes, sheep, or chickens. When properly applied, studies show that for this particular type of training, the shocks do not increase stress levels in dogs. However, proper timing and use is extremely important. Therefore, if I were to do animal aversion training with my dog, I would only do so under the direction of a good professional trainer.

      There are many training and management techniques available to address chasing prey type behaviors though, so my first step would be to look at all the available techniques, and start with those I think are safe, effective, and will lead to a good long-term quality of life for my dog.

      Here are two articles dealing with prey chasing behavior-

  2. Sophie says

    Great site! Our 2 year old Shiba loves to runaway whenever she get a chance. She either slips out of her harness when we pull her leash the wrong way or slips out the door when we have guests in the house who doesn’t know any better. I know that Shibas are notorious for running away, but have you heard of any success stories of training them to stop running away or at least come back to you with a shock collar? When she slips away, its usually a 2-4 hr ordeal and one time it was at a busy strip mall and she crossed a very busy street 3 times. Please help!

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, Sephy used to escape from his normal collars because after a little bit of use, they would slip and become slightly larger, and then he would be able to get out of them. I now use the Premier no-slip collar, and properly fit it on him. He has not escaped since.
      This article has more on collar and harness escapes.

      For doors, I teach him door manners and we practice that every day before each of his walks. Escaping is a self-reinforcing behavior because every time a dog escapes, he gets rewarded with a fun outing. Therefore, the more successful escapes a dog has, the more likely he is to repeat that behavior in the future.
      More on dog escapes.
      ASPCA article on recall training.

      I am not sure how one would use a shock collar to prevent door escapes. Someone would need to be there, ready with the controller, to administer the shocks. If someone is already there, it would be much simpler and effective to make sure the dog is secure before opening the door.

      As for shock collars and recall, there is a section on it in the ASPCA article.

  3. James blond says

    Hey there,

    I appreciate that you took a lot of time and energy to write this very thorough post, but you really don’t address barking collars at all, which is frustrating. Second, as objective as you try to appear, all the “advantages” you cite, you undercut at the end by pointing out that these advantages aren’t really advantages for X reason! (And meanwhile, you leave out some of the most obvious advantages, like the fact that a dog with a shock collar on can have much more freedom to be outside without supervision, which is a boon to pet and human alike.) And while I appreciate that for aggression, it’s best to seek a professional trainer’s help, you say it so often that it starts to undermine your point — and feel like a disclaimer your lawyer told you to add so you cant get sued. I am not saying that’s why you say that, but…….Anyway, I have a dog who starts to howl the minute I am gone unless i crate her, which I hate to do, and I really just don’t know what to do. I would like objective information, which you seem to be offering, but in the last analysis, you seem to just be saying, “I think shock collars are morally wrong,” which is not the opinion you are advertising.

    • shibashake says

      1. Barking when we leave.

      Anyway, I have a dog who starts to howl the minute I am gone

      That sounds like it could be separation anxiety. This ASPCA article has more on separation anxiety.

      *If* it is separation anxiety, I would stay away from aversive punishment. While aversive techniques may suppress the bark symptoms in the short term, they do not address the source of the issue which is the anxiety that arises from being alone or from being away from their people. In addition, aversive techniques will likely introduce more stress, which may worsen the anxiety symptoms in the long run.

      I help my dog with separation anxiety by slowly desensitizing him to alone time. I start with very short periods of alone time, and slowly build up from there. There is more in the ASPCA article on desensitization exercises.

      When I was having troubles with my Shiba Inu, I wanted straight-forward solutions such as “use X technique for aggression” or “Y technique for barking”. However, I realized that dog behavior is complex. To properly change my dog’s behavior, I first need to identify its source and triggers, because those will affect what techniques I use. Otherwise, I may use the wrong method and end up with more behavioral issues down the road. This is where getting a trainer can be very helpful. It was helpful for me, and it is not just for aggression cases.

      High risk techniques such as the shock collar make it even more important to consult with a good trainer so that the equipment can be properly applied and *only* applied in the proper circumstance.

      2. Bark collars
      Bark collars are usually applied for nuisance-barking cases. I would not use them for anxiety cases. In terms of use, this study from Cornell university shows that spray collars are more effective than shock collars. Here is a summary of the Cornell study. I talk more about bark collars here.

      3. Pointing out risks in the advantages section.
      I have two other options here-
      a) I can leave out all the risk information.
      b) I can put the risk information in the disadvantages section.

      When I make decisions for my dogs, I want all of the relevant information so that I can make the best decision for my situation. I certainly want to know about all the risks so that I don’t end up using something that will have a bad result. Therefore, I decided that the risk information has to be included.

      I could have moved that information into the disadvantages section, but that would be awkward because I would have to repeat everything from the advantages section. Since it relates most to the points made in the advantages section, I decided to put it there. In this way, the risk information is available where it is most relevant. Viewers may choose to read it or not.

      4. Unsupervised dogs
      Shock collars allow automatic shocks to be delivered to the dog. As a result, sometimes, they are used to apply unsupervised corrections. However, studies show that there are problems and serious risks with this, as I have listed in the article above.

      5. Bottom Line
      In this article, I talk about my own research into shock collars and why I decided *not* to use them on my dogs. I decided not to use them because based on results from scientific studies and other sources that I trust, the risks of shock collars far outweigh their rewards.

      As I said in the article, the one possible exception is in the case of animal aversion training, such as snake aversion training, because the risks of being bitten by a rattlesnake can be very serious and the side-effects of using a shock collar, in those cases, are not as great. This is because of the limited number of shocks, and because studies show that in the animal aversion case, no extra stress is introduced by the collars (when properly used).

      If there are studies that show different risk/reward results for shock collars, then I will re-evaluate. However, there is nothing convincing at this point.

      In the last analysis, I am saying that I don’t use shock collars because the risks far outweigh the rewards. In this article, I write about how I reached this decision. That is all.

  4. Mary says

    This was very helpful, my boyfriend and I just adopted a husky/malamute mix 3 days ago. We considered taking him to trainer that utilizes e-collars. We are both extremely stressed at the moment are playing with the idea of taking him to a no kill rescue instead of back to the shelter because we don’t want him to be euthanized. He has attacked our shiba inu several times and has displayed agression towards us as well. We are willing to work on this issue with him, but the anxiety that he has the potential of killing our shiba inu is a risk we aren’t willing to take. I was wondering if you had any guidance to offer as a shiba inu and husky owner. If you have any insight or advice we would gladly listen.

    • shibashake says

      There are many causes for aggressive behavior in dogs.

      When does he show aggressive behavior? What is his body posture like when that happens, e.g. is his tail up or down, is he crouching down or more leaning forward? What was the surrounding context when the attacks occurred? Were there food, toys, or other resources around? What were the dogs doing before? What were the people doing? What is the context when he shows aggression towards people? How old is the Husky/Mal? How old is your Shiba? What is your Shiba’s temperament like? How serious were the attacks?

      When I am trying to change my dog’s behavior, I first try to understand where the behavior is coming from, and what is triggering the behavior. Once I understand what is triggering the behavior, then it becomes a lot more predictable, and I can start to take proper steps to help my dog overcome the issue.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, so each dog and each situation is different. When there are multiple dogs involved, there is greater complexity. This is why it is usually best to get help from a good professional trainer, especially in cases of aggression, where it is important that we keep things safe and start retraining in the right way.

      The dog training field is not well regulated though, so it can be a challenge to find a good trainer. The articles below from the ASPCA and APDT have good information on what to look out for while searching for a trainer.
      More on how I went about finding a trainer for my Shiba Inu.

      When I introduce a new dog, I supervise closely. I use leashes, gates, and other safety equipment, as necessary, to keep everyone safe. When I cannot supervise, I keep my dogs safely separated. I do not leave them alone together for any length of time (not even one minute), until I am extremely sure that they can be safe together.

      More on how I introduce a new dog. However, this is in a case where there is no pre-existing aggressive behavior.
      How I change my dog’s bad behavior.

      Based on what you describe, I would get help from a good professional trainer; one who understands the science behind dog behavior (e.g. operant conditioning principles and more.), who has experience with aggressive dogs, and is properly certified. I would also be careful of trainers who overly stress the role of dog dominance.

  5. Zuul says

    I have a 3 year old lab who is still very much a puppy. He is very large. When he stands on his hind legs he’s just about muzzle to muzzle with me (I’m 5’1″). He weighs about 75-80 lbs (to my 110), and is unquestionably stronger than me. He’s a sweet boy, not at all aggressive (with the exception of a bit of food aggression with my boxer- we do feed them separately) but I was not adept at training him. I can’t even begin to leash train him- he drags me down the street. The biggest problem is jumping on people (especially me and my kids). He knocks me down frequently, like a kangaroo! He responds to “sit” so long as I point my finger at him- but if I don’t immediately pet him he jumps up to bite my hand- not aggressively, but because he thinks I have a treat. That was how I taught him to sit. The jumping is so much of a problem that sadly I can’t let him inside- I know this does not help the problem, but I have 4 kids so I’m between that rock/hard place. He’s unintentionally hurt people and broken things too many times, and he relentlessly chases the canine-hating cat and goes for her litter box and food- always an instant disaster. We have a very small house.

    These are problems I ridiculously didn’t anticipate. We dont have the same problems with our 8 year old boxer. She never jumps and usually leaves the cat well alone having learned her lesson long ago- I foolishly projected her mellow personality onto a male lab puppy. I tried playing with him in the back yard hoping to earn respect, but he takes me about as seriously as the cat. I have been considering a shock collar to reduce jumping, food aggression, and feline over-loving. After reading this I’m convinced otherwise, however, I’m just gonna come out and admit that I am NO GOOD at training dogs! It is the resort of someone hopelessly incapable of training an animal who has such personality, playfulness, and size. I guess I’m just not the alpha. I think he learned his better traits by default: for example, he quit eating the Sheetrock and door (though he still loves socks from the dryer). He would be an amazing, loyal dog if he would just stop jumping and leave the cat alone. My Mom is afraid he will hurt the kids, and we are trying to sell the house, so she is pressuring me to re-home him since I obviously can’t get things under control, but I love that dog like my children and can not part with him. I’m at a loss, very frustrated.

    • shibashake says

      I also had a very difficult time with my Shiba Inu at the start, and felt that he was impossible to train. I think the two key issues were that (1) I did not have good energy. Often, I would be stressed out, frustrated, or even afraid of Sephy. He would pick up on my energy, get stressed out himself, and act even more crazy. (2) I did not have enough information on dog behavior, how dogs learn, and how I go about teaching my very stubborn dog in an effective way.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, therefore, when in doubt, I get help from a good professional trainer. During my Shiba’s difficult period, it was helpful to have a trainer guide me on timing, reading his body language, and more. Timing, consistency, and repetition were all very important when training him.
      More on how dogs learn.

      In terms of jumping, I have two Huskies, and they both love people and always want to lick faces. Some things I have learned while observing them-
      1. My dog jumps because she is often rewarded for jumping. People make noise, get excited, scratch her, give her affection, or sometimes even food when she jumps, which encourages her to jump more.
      2. My dog is especially tempted to jump when she is over-excited, or when meeting people who are over-excited.
      3. My dog is a lot more calm after she has had their daily walk and exercise.

      To train my dog not to jump on me, I have to make sure that I *do not* reward her jumping behavior. Instead, I get her to do an alternative behavior and reward that instead. Consistency is very important while training my dog, so I make sure *never* to reward undesirable behavior.

      To train my dog not to jump on other people, I have to make sure that she *does not* get rewarded by the other person. This is a lot more difficult because a person’s instinct is to interact back when a dog jumps. When people visit, I supervise and put a lead on my dog. In this way, I have good control over her, can direct her on what to do, and can prevent her from jumping on people. I also exercise her well beforehand, so that I set her up for success.

      More on why dogs jump and how I train my dog not to jump on people.
      More on how I deal with my dog’s bad behavior.

      When I play with my dog, I set up clear play rules so that playing is safe, and so that my dog learns good play behaviors and self control. I also throw in many obedience breaks, so that I manage his excitement level.

      For walking a large dog that pulls, some people use a head-halti. The head-halti controls the head of dog, and allows us to prevent pulling with very little force. However, as with any piece of equipment, it has its own pros and cons, it needs to be properly fastened, and properly used. Incorrect use can cause harm to the dog.

      Given that there are young children around, I would get help from a good professional trainer. This will help to keep things safe, and also start things off in a good way.

      Big hugs to your furry boy and girl.

    • Anonymous says

      If you are not confident training the dog you need to find a qualified trainer that can help you in person and they will be able to advise you on whether the use of a ecollar is a good idea or not. That being said I have had similar as well as other problems with my shepherd and worked with a professional trainer that was able to train me on how to properly use an ecollar to train my pup and manage some of his bad behaviors. If you are willing to learn how to use the collar correctly and not COMPLETELY rely on the collar itself to fix the problem ecollars can be a valuable TOOL in training and managing behavior. When the right collar is used (I have one with a shock and vibrate function and have been using it for about 6 months and have used the shock a SMALL handful of times) they are not cruel like most people think I hardly ever have to use mine at all any more I do put it on just in case but with the right training after the dog understands what is expected and what is acceptable they no longer need the shock or even vibration as a reminder, especially a dog like a lab they are so loyal and want to please their people soooo badly that it should not take much time with consistent proper training to fix your dog’s issues!!!
      Good luck!!!

  6. Andrea says

    So, we adopted a 1 year old chocolate lab mix (we think part hound)…she was very good at first and now when we go for walks its horrible, she barks and goes crazy when other dogs come up our way. When we first got her we would bring her to the dog park and one night when my husband and son went to the dog park, she was running with the other dogs and ran into a tree and kinda wrapped herself around it…I am kinda thinking her behavior with other dogs is due to that bad experience. Anyway, the barking even inside and in our fenced in backyard are ridiculous and starting to affect our son (who is 1 and cries really bad when she barks, gets really upset), so now we are looking into a shock collar to stop the barking at every single thing she sees. On another side note, I work and deal with a toddler and totally don’t have time to train and catch the behavior consistently. Any help/advice would be great.

  7. Steve says

    Very good article but it didn’t address bark collars specifically. I have tried one on our small dog and its the only thing that stops her from barking at everything she sees out the front window of the house. I tried it on myself and it nails you. I suggest you try any thing you are going to put on your pet on yourself and then decide. I don’t mean wear the dumb thing just hold it up to your vocal cords and bark or hit the button. Mine is similar to getting hit by an electric fence, and thats the low setting without it ramping up. I don’t like it but it works and keeps me from feeling I’m going to get abusive with the little yapper. She still voices her displeasure but now it is with growls and whines which we both seem able to live with. As to it hurting our relationship she still seems to think the sun rises and sets on me and just speaking to her and showing her the collar after she has had it off for a few days works. In a few weeks when she gets back to barking we put it on again for a few days and reinforce the training. Seems to work.

  8. says

    Hi there, I just really wanted to say thanks for your post. I find it very difficult to discuss these things in most dog training communities because, as you rightly suggest, they tend to make emotions run high, and I often find it’s impossible to have a balanced argument, or discuss with people in ways that are based on actual research rather than horror stories, hearsay, and myths. I’ve been using the vibrate and beep functions on our shock collar, and I decided to use it as a means of creating a situation in which I can use reward-based / positive reinforcement training. There was absolutely nothing that would snap our dog out of certain reactions (like chasing, barking and nipping at cyclists; or nipping people who approach me or hug me), and as soon as I found a means of snapping her out of that reaction a couple of times and she had realised that an alternative reaction was possible, we could start actually rewarding her (which wasn’t possible earlier because, as you mention, she had gone over her threshold). Anyway, this post has really helped me gain perspective on the shock setting. THANK YOU!

  9. Michelle says

    I recently rescued a 1.5-2 yr old 80lb American Bulldog. He is the PERFECT house dog. Sweet, behaves, no bad behaviors, however, when we go out on a walk he’s a complete @(*&$*^%! He doesn’t respond to treats because he doesn’t care about them and I can’t seem to make any sort of connection with him outside. I’ve tried the halti, the chain, the prong collar… nothing seems to work and it seems impossible to “snap” him out of whatever the object of his attention is on. Yesterday we were walking ON LEASH and a golden retriever OFF LEASH came charging us, Charlie grabbed hold of the golden’s face and wouldn’t let go despite my efforts. I feel like if I could make the same connection we have INSIDE then OUTSIDE would be so much more manageable. I’ve heavily considered the shock collar but really cannot afford for it to backfire and have him be aggressive or worse, even more disconnected.

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu, Sephy, was also reactive to other dogs when he was young. He had a pretty low reactivity threshold, so he would quickly get over-excited, go rear-brained (lose control), and at that point, he is no longer capable of learning, listening, or anything else. Once he goes reactive, the best that I can do is remove him from the trigger stimulus as quickly and effectively as possible.

      Therefore, the key with Sephy is to keep him below his reactivity threshold and to help raise that threshold through desensitization exercises.

      Some things that I did with Sephy-
      1. I start small and set him up for success.
      In the beginning, we practiced leash training in the house and backyard where is it quiet, with few distractions. Once we are very comfortable with that, I very slowly increase the environmental challenge. First, we go to quiet areas in the neighborhood and then very slowly build up from there.

      2. Neutral experiences.
      I use distance and barriers to weaken the “other dog” stimulus and keep my dog below his reactivity threshold.

      3. Shorter but more frequent walks.
      In this way, neither of us gets frustrated, and we have lots of successful walks. The more successes we had, the more Sephy’s behavior improved.

      4. Calm and decisive.
      Sephy is very sensitive to the energy of the people around him. If I am frustrated, stressed, angry, or nervous, he will pick up on that, get stressed himself, and become even more reactive. He behaves best when I am calm and decisive, so I try to have in my head a plan A, plan B, and plan C.

      5. Dog behavior is very context dependent.
      Therefore, each dog and each situation is different. During Sephy’s difficult period we got help from several professional trainers. None of them fully solved Sephy’s issues, but each of them helped me to better read and understand Sephy. We also did a lot of desensitization exercises at our local SPCA, under the direction of one of their trainers.

      More on what I did with Sephy.

  10. tom says

    oh and another comment. i personally check to see how strong the shock is before giving it to my dog. people freak when they hear your SHOCKING your dog..U SHALL BURN.. naw its like a buzz or a thump feeling, im okay with it being done to me so i see no problem using it as a teaching tool. like i said. i no longer need to buzz my dog. but if i ever do need to im glad i have the option

  11. tom says

    i recently bought a shock collar for my dogs, i have a rescue lag cross with who knows. and a pure breed syb husky. the lab is 3 years old and the husky is almost a year. the collar i bought is a remote control one for walks and large property, being i live on acreage. my husky was freaked out by it at first but he was able to quickly ignore the pain almost on max. so i quickly decided hes not to be off leash, we will try again once he is older. now to the reason why i bought it. my lab took off the other day we thought she was just messing around on our property, when she did not show up the next morning we freaked out, turns out someone picked her up happy ending though as they told us she was at the end of our driveway and didnt know she lived their. she is an extremly energetic dog with a huge heart and huge anxiety issues she just needs to please. so we put it on her and let her in our yard, and i have got to say, it worked perfectly, it has a beeper on it and i now have her trained to come to me or the house when she hears it, if she doesnt she gets a light shock followed by the beep again..if she still doesnt she gets a harder bump till she does. as of now. i no longer need to shock her, so it makes our animal tracking trips soo easy now i dont have to yell my dogs name every 5 seconds, i just press the lil green button and there she is. as for wireless fences.. they are all rubbish. i had a wimerainer growing up that would jump over the fence and take the highest volt to the face to go play with kids. stick with wood or chain for containment.

  12. Anonymous says

    I used to be very anti e-collar. I’m still very much dislike electric fences, because I think it’s very easy for the dog to make the wrong association. I know so many dogs that will only leave the yard to go greet a dog/person/kid. It’s so easy for them to think that those things caused the shock, and that can cause way worse behavior problems than just trying to manage the dog in your yard.
    My dog is a husky mix (her mother was a husky, she’s a rescue) and she’s almost 5. Due to really unexpected things, about half a year ago I had to move in with my uncle, who has no fence, and essentially lives at a highway exit. She has been on tie-outs before and physically broke her collar to chase animals.
    She actually has a great recall, and is very good off leash (With years of training that, it doesn’t come naturally for huskies…). I would take her to parks at night frequently (after other people were gone) and let her run in the woods or take off leash walks in other appropriate places. But those places weren’t near big, busy roads. I looked up one of the gentlest, but generally effective e-collars I could find. I tried it on my self, and used it far more times on myself and on willing friends to make sure it really wasn’t that bad. It was unpleasant, but not painful.
    I’m already good with timing in training though, and if i wasn’t, or I used the collar too much, I feel like the results would have caused behavior issues in my dog. After using the collar though, I realized something really odd – my dog HATES the warning vibration on the collar. But if you shock her, she could care less (Even if she’s not chasing something, say she’s out of the yard smelling something). She just wags her tail and smiles as if nothing is happening. But the vibration in the same situation? She turns her butt right around and comes back. She’ll quit chasing a squirrel or rabbit as well. I know plenty of dogs wouldn’t care, but I’ve actually used just the vibration on quite a few dogs now, and they hate it, and I know it’s not hurting them or causing too much fear or stress because I make sure they know it’s because they didn’t do what they were told. I’ve used the word “wrong” with clicker training for years, just as a “No, try again, not what I asked.” For chasing behaviors, I’ll vibrate immediately, because I don’t have time, but if she would just left the yard, I would call her, say wrong, and then after saying wrong I would vibrate her. And she has always realized to stop what she’s doing and come right back.
    It also has been a life saver for my grandma’s border collie mix, because he’s incredibly fence reactive and loves to chase semi-trucks. You heard me, semis. He had a whole host of issues with fear and reactivity, and we spent 4 straight months on positive reinforcement training for his host of people issues. It’s important to know that you can’t ever, EVER use an e-collar on a dog that’s reacting to fear. Now that he likes people and isn’t afraid of anything that moves, and he’s been taught decent impulse control and how to stop himself mid-chase when chasing a ball or bird, we added the vibration (Only, he doesn’t get shocked.) in to help stop his semi and bike chasing habit. There’s a fence, but the cars drive into the fence to park, so the gate is open for small periods. After 2 vibrations, I saw him go to chase a semi, actually stop himself mid-chase, and turn back around to come to us for praise and a treat.

    These collars are horribly mis-used, and for 95% of cases they probably shouldn’t be used at all, but if it stops a dog from getting hit by a semi truck, I’ll do it. Period. I really liked your blog post though, I actually think it represented the facts pretty well, and the anti-bias was a good things, because anyone should be hesitant to use a shock collar.

  13. Duke says

    I am considering buying a shock collar for several reasons but before I invest 100+ dollars into it, I need some questions answered. First, is it overall safe for the dog? In further detail, how great of a risk that the shock collar will break and possible overshock the dog? Second, how effective is it? Will it fix only a few problems or many? Third, how much time and effort will be needed to make it work? I’m not saying I’m too lazy to train my dog right but if it takes months and months for a bad behavior to end than I would find a more efficient way to stop it.

  14. Curt says

    I came across this webpage after looking into shock collars and trying to decide on the best ways to train my dogs. I have 3 Shiba Inu’s that are all family. The mother and oldest of my dogs is 7 and her two daughters are 3 years old. The mother and one of her daughters cannot be together anymore because they fight. Even when they see each other they get angry and growl. I am a graduate student and also have a small 2 1/2 year old daughter so I don’t have the time I would like to work with the dogs. I don’t want to sound like I am looking for an easy training method because I understand that no matter what I do it is going to be difficult, but I am wondering what type of training regime I need to start with my dogs to get them to get along again? I have considered shock/vibration collars to vibrate them when they growl but I don’t know if they will work? I’m not sure that giving the dogs snacks for positive behavior alone will work. I have tried giving them snacks when they are calm around each other, but soon after the snacks are gone the growling returns. It is a very strange situation because all the dogs used to get along, but now it seems like they want to fight to the death. There have been a few serious fights where one or both dogs have been injured. Any advice or tips will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • shibashake says

      Given that the fighting is serious and there is a young child in the house, it is probably best to consult with a good professional trainer. When I was having difficulties with Sephy, I looked for trainers with a lot of experience, and who are familiar with training Shibas.

      With my own dogs, I help them get along by creating certainty and structure. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and supervise them so that I can teach them those rules.

      I also did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba, to teach him to be more calm around other dogs. I do training in a structured and controlled environment, so that Sephy stays in control and is not exposed to more than he can handle. I carefully manage him, so that he does not go into reactive mode throughout the *entire rehabilitation period* (not just during training). The more calm experiences he has, the more his behavior improves. Similarly, reactive encounters will worsen his behavior and significantly set back training.

      In general, I want to maximize successes and minimize negative encounters. Therefore, I make sure to start small, go slowly, and redirect his energy into positive activities. I would stay away from pain based punishment, as it would only introduce more stress into an already high stress and volatile situation.

      Note though, that dog behavior is very context dependent, and retraining will depend on the temperament of the dogs, the surrounding context, and the key triggers of the behavior (source of the conflict). As a result, each situation is different, which is why in cases of aggression it is usually best to have a good trainer visit with the dogs and see the behavior firsthand.

    • Curt says

      Thanks for the response. I will have to try to find a trainer that can offer some assistance and try to create some positive spaces where all the dogs can co-exist and learn to re-enjoy each others company.

      Thank you,

  15. Jann says

    I prefer positive reinforcement training and have used it on all my dogs over the years very successfully. However, I now have an 18 month old male Doberman (pushing 100 lbs) who totally over powers me when walking. I just returned from a walk where he DRAGGED me down the sidewalk to say hello to another dog. Had that other dog been across the street, I would have been dragged into traffic. I am a strong woman, but I am completely powerless when he wants to drag me! We are on our THIRD trainer (this one came very highly recommended) and although he walks perfectly when she’s around and when I am ‘training’ him with treats etc., it’s a whole different story when we’re out in the real world. I feel that both he and I are at serious risk because he is so strong and stubborn.

    So, against my previous opinions about using e-collars, I am seriously considering buying one. After trying to teach him to walk since he was a puppy with the help of not one but three trainers, I shouldn’t still be getting dragged. I’ve used several different training collars and ‘no pull’ harnesses and a Gentle Leader and NOTHING has worked. I don’t know what else to do. Walking him is a nightmare and I’m afraid he’s going to get onto the road. At what point is it okay to use an e-collar? I know people who have had great success with them and their dogs aren’t stressed out at all. I can’t keep getting dragged. Any thoughts???

    • Anonymous says

      I completely understand your frustration. My 2 year 75 lb old cheesie recently dragged me across a lawn & over a retaining wall chasing a family with dogs. He broke my right ankle. My husband & I are in a disagreement over e-collar training. I am at wits end, he is agood boy most of the time but his juvenile delinquent behavior is getting worse. I will keep you posted. Frustrated in Denville, nj

    • shibashake says

      Pulling can be a self reinforcing behavior. If a dog pulls and then gets to go where he wants, then that rewards his behavior, and he will continue to keep pulling.

      With my dog, I always start small and build up very slowly. I start leash training in a very low stimulus area, for example my backyard. I repeat doing this until we are walking well together, and my dog is comfortable with the collar and leash. We also practice doing commands and such so that she gets used to listening to me during walks.

      Once we are very very comfortable doing this, then I *very slowly* increase the environmental challenge. I start by doing shorter but more frequent walks. In the beginning, I only go to very quiet areas with few people and few dogs. We drive her to quiet trails and pick our walking times as necessary.

      In this way, I maximize successful walks and minimize pulling. This helps to create a routine and my dog slowly learns to control her excitement around exciting stimulus. I also did a lot of desensitization exercises with my Shiba Inu, which helped in terms of his reactivity towards other dogs.

      However, it is always very important to *not* let my dog pull successfully or it will keep reinforcing the behavior. Both my Sibes are medium sized, so I can stop them from pulling when needed. Some people use a head-halti to stop large dogs from pulling. As with anything else though, it has its own strengths and weaknesses.

      Have you talked to your trainer about how to deal with excitable stimuli? Perhaps you can do training with her in more real-world environments? What does she suggest for situations when your dog just pulls and you are unable to stop him?

      The key with my dogs is management of their environment. I want to set them up for success, so that they learn to control their level of excitement and can learn positive behavior. A mistake that I made early on with my Shiba Inu, was in exposing him to more than he can handle, he goes rear-brained, he keeps practicing reactive behavior, and his behavior worsened.

      More on how I deal with reactive behavior and the ‘Squirrel Instinct’.

  16. Jimmy says

    I am on the fence with shock collars i see the pros and cons. I have a 2 year old Old English Bull Dogge. Recently he has become more aggressive toward my girl froend which he has lived with for a while and has known her for over a year. I dont know how to stop his bad behavior problems with growling and not listening when he becomes over excited. He is becoming worse daily. This dog means the world to me and is my best friend. He use to listen so well. I cant afford a trainer i started looking into shock collars for corrective purposes. Please help me

    • shibashake says

      What is your dog’s routine like? Does he interact with your gf on a daily basis? What are his daily interactions with your gf like? Are you always there? Is your gf afraid of your dog? Does your dog show aggressive behavior with your gf all of the time? Only when you are there? When there is food around?, i.e. what things trigger the behavior?

      I help my dogs to be calm and comfortable around people by doing desensitization exercises, and helping them to associate people with rewards and positive experiences. The more successful and calm experiences my dog has, the more confidence he builds, and the more he learns how to act around people. Similarly, the more negative and bad experiences my dog has, the more he views people as a threat, and the worse his behavior gets.
      More on how I do desensitization exercises with my dog.
      More on how I change my dog’s bad behavior.
      More on how dogs learn.

      However, it is important to note that dog behavior is very context dependent. Each dog is different and each situation is different. While general dog training principles may apply, I always make sure to-
      1. Properly identify the source of my dog’s behavior, and
      2. Properly adapt techniques to suit my dog and my situation.

      For example, based on what your describe, it is unclear whether the behavior stems from guarding, fear, excitement, or something else.

      This is why it is often best to get help from a good professional trainer, especially in cases of aggression, where the consequences of mistakes can be quite serious.

  17. brown says

    I enjoy seeing my dog run free and know that if I call her to me , she will come back to me 70% of the time.I can do this because I used a e collar to train her. She’s happy, im happy and we are best of friends. I used positive and negative reinforcement. I give treats for following orders and a low level shock when not following orders. Its not rocket science, its just common since. Treat them like your kid and they’ll fall inline. I highly dislike people who talk down to people that uses e collar for training, people that hurt their dogs with
    High voltage e collar usage. And people and would yank there dog by the neck and look up in my face and tell me im ducking my dog up.

    • Maria says

      I have used a shock collar on my Weimaraner-German Shepherd mix but I’ve only actually “shocked” her no more than 6 times. She instantly understood she was doing something wrong and was kept in check. I go camping and hiking with her therefore I had to teach her to stay close to me when we are in high stimuli areas and to not go further than I allow her to. The shock collar was great for achieving this. After having used the primary electric function I switched to using the beep mode and that is all I need now. As I was training her with the collar I also used A LOT of positive reinforcement training. Every time she looked back at me, when she would walk beside me of her own choosing and when she came so sit down next to me when resting she would get a treat. Any positive behavior was rewarded immediately. I can now walk her without a leash and not have to worry about her going towards other dogs and causing a fight. I sometimes have trouble with wild animals but I believe that is a natural instinct I will not be able to erase because of the mix of breeds she is. I can also control her with just my voice in most cases and she has become excellent at recall. I am very pleased with the results.

  18. KPR says

    I would love to find some non-biased information out there but that is proving difficult. Why can I tell by the third line in the article whether or not the author is for or against these collars?? Sure, there is always some type of pros and cons listed in an effort to look impartial, but it’s typically blatantly obvious where the author stands on the issue. Sorry, but biased research along with biased references that are cited, immediately cause me to want to reject their claims. In one online search I found over a dozen articles supporting properly used shock collars as a viable training tool based on personal experience, but most of those were guilty of the same type of bias personally suporting the collars. Can we PLEASE see the results of a neutral study that does not have an agenda or personal feeling about this???

    • shibashake says

      The purpose of scientific method and inquiry is to reduce bias and produce data that is as objective as possible.

      Studies are often conducted to prove or disprove a hypothesis. For example, drug companies conduct studies to determine the safety of their products, and whether there are any side effects. They are required to do this by the FDA. If a study shows that a drug has serious side effects, then further studies will likely be required. If multiple studies show serious risk, then the drug will likely not be approved, because there is substantial evidence indicating that it is not safe. The data from a study helps us to prove or disprove a hypothesis, and is not an indication of bias.

      A scientific study must be properly documented so that it can be reproduced by others. In this way, anyone can verify the results by re-running the study. Detailed documentation also means the process can be carefully scrutinized by others. Please refer to a dictionary definition of scientific method for a more detailed explanation. In the article above, I provide links to the published studies, which are also peer reviewed.

      I may not always like the conclusions of a scientific study, but that does not make it biased or unsound.

      Shock collar companies are very motivated to highlight the positives of their product. Therefore, if we look at white papers from shock collar companies, we can see the studies used to support shock collars. Based on what I have seen, the argument is two-fold –

      1. Shock collars can help prevent euthanasia, in certain *very extreme* and specialized cases. Therefore, they argue that the product should not be fully banned. Tortora’s study is used to support this claim. I talk more about Tortora’s study here.

      2. In certain very limited circumstances, in particular, where the dog can “clearly associate the electric stimulus with their action”, there is no increase in stress levels. This was shown in Schalke and Christiansen’s studies and is discussed in the article above.

      If there are other peer-reviewed, published studies, which support shock collars in new ways, please share them with us.

      I simply have not found much scientific evidence to support the use of shock collars. Based on the studies that I have read, I choose not to use them on my dogs. The details are in the article above. That is all.

    • KPA says

      This is your site and therefore you have the right to express your opinion on it. My intention is not to question your stance. My goal is simply to learn as much as I can so that I form my own opinion. But to do that I need to find neutral sources which has proven to be difficult. Your references that you cited are a start and would like to find more objective studies. And no I don’t have any studies to cite which is why I found your site in the first place, to research.

      I understand scientific method just fine. I do not have a hypothesis to prove or disprove. I am not starting on either side of the fence and have no opinion about shock collars yet. I do have a question though. Are they effective yet safe? I would like to find studies that answer this without being told if the people sharing their findings likes them or not. We can debate the definition of safe, but your article focuses on stress levels of dogs going up and the lack of evidence supporting their use.

      If the dog’s stress levels only go up during bad behavioral correction, that is not a deterrent, especially since I am the only one who’s stress levels are currently being affected :) I value my dog’s relationship very much though, and I would not use a shock collar if there was sound evidence of lasting damage to dogs that were shown to be directly caused by these collars, whether the damage be emotional or physical. To address your article directly, I mean beyond the “maybe’s” or “might’s”.

      Regarding the manufacturers, of course the companies who make these products are going to support them. This is the equal and opposite end of the bias spectrum which I am not even taking into account.

      My time for research is limited to the internet and people in the veteranary field whom I have asked. Asking people in the industry has gotten me nothing except emotional opinions on both sides. That is why I turn to these forums for guidance. I would like to see more studies like the ones you mentioned above to make the most informed decision possible.

    • shibashake says

      When I was looking into shock collars for my dog, I looked at the studies presented by the proponents (shock collar companies) as well as by the opponents. This gives me a good spread of both sides of the equation.

      For example, the presentation of Tortora’s study by the shock collar company may be biased, which is to say that they only present certain parts of the study and not others, in order to make a stronger case for themselves. If we read the study itself, it presents a different picture. Therefore, when in doubt, read the original study. However, just because it appears in a shock collar company white paper, does not make it worthless to consider, nor does it make the study itself biased. The same applies for studies presented by opponents of shock collars.

      As I have said many times, I did not find much convincing evidence supporting either the efficacy of shock collars or their safety, even from the shock collar company white papers. This is a very important point, because it shows that there is *not* a general lack of evidence, but rather that there is very limited evidence supporting their use, even from the people who have a strong vested interest in promoting them.

      Here are two studies that try to measure the benefits of shock collars in training – from DEFRA and University of Bristol.

      Please remember that just because the results of the study come out one way or another is not an indication of bias.

      As for stress levels, it is significant because it can impact behavior (and possibly also health). I talk more about this in the article above, including Schalke’s study which showed that

      “stress levels remained high, even though they did not receive any shocks during this reintroduction period.”

      Why is this significant? Because it shows that the dogs have associated the shocks with their environment, and this may lead to avoidance of the stress location, fear responses, and more.

      Of course, this does not mean that every dog will react in the same way, have the same changes in behavior, or show the same fear responses. However, the risk for this is higher. For example, if we drive a car while impaired, there is a higher risk of an accident. This does not mean that there will absolutely be one, nor does it say anything about the seriousness of the crash. However, the risk is there, it is real, and in both cases, I do not think that the benefits warrant the risk.

      When I look at shock collar studies, I am looking for supporting data of risk/cost and supporting data of efficacy/benefit. This is why I looked at both proponent and opponent papers and studies. After examining the data, I can decide whether a shock collar is appropriate based on what I understand of dog behavior, what I plan to use it for, the temperament of my dog, past experience, possible benefits I might derive, etc. I have described my reasoning process in the article above. For me, it is pretty clear what the data shows. If the best that the shock collar companies can present is Tortora’s study and limited use cases of “clear-association”, then they have a very weak case, especially given the evidence showing risk.

      My dogs are very important to me, just as yours is to you, so I made very sure to make an informed decision about this. I continue to be open to new studies if any should turn up, showing new evidence. Ultimately, if we do not want to rely on the interpretation of others, then the only thing left is to look at the original studies themselves.

      Thank you for this discussion. It has helped me to see certain things more clearly.

  19. Joe says

    First dogs are not people and I’m tire of folks comparing them to people. You eat cows, chicken, fish and other meat so how humane is that. So stick a pipe in in it. Now of course you don’t want to abuse your pet but what is abuse. Some folks define abuse as keeping a dog outside on a lead or chain. I define abuse as not providing food, shelter, and proper non human medical care. What do I mean by non human. Well I would spend thousands of dollars to save my child’s life but no more than one thousand dollars to save my dog. So if my dog needs expensive life saving measures I will have it put down. I suppose thats inhumane. Now as far as shock collars go they are good if you don’t use them as a crutch. I would not use the invisible fence because you rely totally on shock to keep your dog inside the fence. Shock collars work best to train your dog with the goal of someday not having to use them at all. If you need a fence have a real one put up. Good Day1

    • Joe says

      Of course beating choking and physical abuse is obvious abuse too. But a lot of what so called animal lovers call abuse is not abuse it’s just treating an animal like an animal. Good Day!

  20. Nikki says

    I am wondering which shock collar to buy. I have a female English Mastiff who like to chase horses and bark at them. I need to stop that behavior a.s.a.p.
    I’d appreciate any help you can give me

    • Anonymous says

      I have a Border Collie 20 months old…although well trained would bark when excited in play and training. When introduced to Sheep would also bark…I ended up getting a Dogtra E collar it really has been wonderful hardly any more barking much calmer around other dog’s and the next visit to the Sheep was so much better only a small amount of barking at the start of training…but a word of caution start at the lowest setting to begin with Mollie’s is set a no 2 which is little more than a vibration…Good luck

    • Maria says

      I have a SportDog collar in which you can regulate the shock level and also provides a pretty loud beeping function to use instead of the shock. If your dog is really problematic, you also have the option to maintain either the beep OR shock for a long amount of time. There is a button that keeps the stimulus for as long as you want without having to actually hold down the button.
      I used the shock function maybe 5 times on my dog and she immediately understood, I only used it on the third degree out of eight possible degrees for the first shock. After that, I keep the shock at the first and very lowest degree and that’s more than enough for her. Even though I maintain the shock available to me, I only use the beeping now to get her attention. That’s all I need. I also use a lot of positive reinforcement whenever she comes back to me when called and gets away from other animals when I tell her to. I am totally for shock collars when used like this, you honestly don’t need much.

      Also, I would like to point out I know a professional hunter who uses bloodhounds for work. He has three collars and usually a pack of 8-10 dogs. He will put the collars on the “leaders” and will only use it on them when they don’t come back after having been let loose and called for. They are great dogs, but they are working, hunting, BLOODHOUNDS. These dogs have been bred to hunt and chase down large, wild animals therefore their training needs are very different from a house pet.

  21. Hoosgow says

    There is another method of E-Collar training that can be used with Prongs and other ‘corrective’ methods. Call it a Positive E-Collar/Prong. Basically the dog goes through a series of training to aclimate to the collar. You give the most minimal of corrections only enough for the dog to notice, and after each correction you give a high value reward. The dog is still corrected, but learns that the correction, while a deterrent, is a positive thing. People who I’ve spoken to who have done this report that the corrections, rather than kill the dogs drive, will actually add to their willingness to perform and reduce the negative effects of the correction. The dog still doesn’t like the feeling, but they seem to ‘understand’ that this isn’t a bad thing. It’s all in how you present and train the animals on the equipment, and hardly anyone thinks to do this. They slap a collar on and begin.

  22. Evelyn says

    Ahoy !Unfortunately I am uncertain what to do. My mother is trying to force the use of a shock collar on my american bull dog, Zoe. I dont feel its necessary.My mother and I have different views on how a dog should live. Zoes well behaved. My mom has never liked my dog so it feels personal. SHE WONT let it go. ANY suggestions? Merci beaucoup.

  23. Michele says

    I have an 8 month old Bernese Mntn Dog who weighs about 80-85 pounds, and he’s a joy 90% of the time. He’s highly intelligent and has learned sit, stay, down, etc very well. However, he listens to my husband FAR more than he listens to me. We put him in puppy training classes and hired a private dog trainer to help us with his behaviors. He’s extremely mouthy and bites me non stop, sometimes breaking skin, but mostly bruising my arms. I look like I am in an abusive relationship!! He also jumps on everybody and then he paws us non stop. I have bruises on my legs from his claws after he has dragged them down my leg.

    We have tried rewarding him for good behaviors and we’ve associated “no” with the behavior and no treats when he doesn’t something undesirable.

    Since we have exhausted other methods, we are turning to a training collar. We are not really fond of using this method, but we feel that this is a last resort. It has to stop! We hope that a few shocks with proper association of “No” will train him to stop biting, jumping, and pawing us or others.

    I’m looking for recommendations for training collars as I know they are expensive, so I want to purchase one that is good quality. I’ve read a lot of bad reviews on those that are carried at PetSmart/PetCo. Does anybody have a recommendation of a collar and where to purchase it?

    Thank you.

    • Anonymous says

      Hi I have an 9 mth apbt that is mouthy an jumps on my 17 year old son.. have tried everythng bout a training collar off ebay that has beep vibration an shock. Have been using it for almost a week on the beep setting works wonders… no need to try vibrate or shock because she responds very well just to the beep which is set on setting 7 so very low setting just enough to get her attention. As soon as she starts to jump on him I press button to beep tell her no jump an she is getting better dveryday..good luck

  24. Anonymous says

    Hello, I just read your page and it was very helpful. I’m having an issue. I have a 4 year old husky I rescued 2 years ago. She is absolutely perfect and I have done a lot of training with her. She was known for being an escape artist before I adopted her. Since then she does not try to sneak out door and escape BUT if she does escape she will RUN. For example my dad was playing with her on her leash and her martingale must have been too loose and she slipped her collar and immediately without even thinking twice ran away! I run after her because if you don’t she will just keep going and I need to at least keep her in my view. I can yell her name or commands but NOTHING phases her, I mean NOTHING, she just gets in this mode to run. It is becoming extremely dangerous for her… she doesn’t even realize the cars and has ran through traffic before (not a busy road). Like I said, she sits, she stays, she comes, when I do treat training with her but all of that stuff becomes useless when she is running away because she won’t listen. I just started reading about shock collars, because I don’t see many more options in order to keep her alive if this happens again. I mean I’m not lazy, I secure everything, and I myself have NEVER been the one she escapes on..but I can’t trust other people to take the same precautions. Another example, the other day we were at the dog park and some idiot let her out of the fence!!!! With some help from other people we caught her thank god…I’m just not sure what to do and I really need some help because she is my world and I can’t keep letting her risk her life like that.

    • shibashake says

      I do a lot of recall training with my Huskies (in enclosed spaces or using a long line), and it can really help. One time, Husky Lara escaped from her martingale while interacting with one of my neighbors. Because of our recall exercises, she came when I called her back. :D So I rewarded her extremely well for it and then slipped her collar back on. Since then, I am careful about who she interacts with, and I tell people not to hold-on to her collar, because that is how she slips out of it.

      Here is a good list of recall training techniques from the ASPCA-

      As for enclosed dog parks, we took Sephy there when he was young but we stopped after a few months because he was picking up a lot of bad behaviors. The environment was just too unstructured and chaotic for Sephy. Smaller, more structured, and well-supervised play-groups work out best for my dogs.

      Here is more on our dog park experiences.

      I think that a big part of dog training involves ‘people training'; training ourselves, and those who are around our dog. Managing my dog’s environment, carefully choosing his friends, and setting him up for success, are also important aspects of training and shaping my dog’s behavior.

    • Ron says

      Having trained gun dogs and bird dogs before, I can say “Recall” is an obvious must. It’s somewhat different than a “Come” command, in that the dog is actually in some sort of pursuit of prey. It’s extremely easy to get dogs to chase things on command, getting them to break off and return on command is another thing. There are a few simple techniques, but first does your dog see you as the leader?
      I assume she will “Go Away” when you tell her. She will “Stay” for 20min or longer. She will “Heel” or walk behind you when “YOU” take her for a walk and not yank you down the street? These exercises (plus others) are the building blocks. You have to walk before you can run. Calling a dog back after it’s “prey instinct” has been fully activated is not just running, it’s sprinting.
      Here’s a very good technique for the “Recall.”
      First use a short leash, then try a longer and longer line. (I use fifty feet.) Put your dog on “Stay” then back off a few feet. Wait a few seconds then say excitedly “Come” and tug on the leash towards you. If the dog doesn’t move or turns a different way, just reel them in like a fish. All the while praising them and making them feel happy to be near you. If you want to do the treat thing, then that’s the time to do a small one. I however don’t feel a treat is necessary. If you’ve bonded with your dog correctly and established the leader and protector role as you should then your happy voice and rubs on the chest are truly sufficient. Always try to combine hand signals with audible signals together. Try this exercise for 10 or 15 minutes every few days. Your dog will respond to your signals regardless of which one you use as long as they can see or hear you. They do it out of respect and love to their leader.

    • Anonymous says

      Thanks for your help. Unfortunately I have done all these things. Rae (my dog) comes when she is called in a closed area off leash. I make her stay and hide in the bathroom then whistle she comes..I make her stay using only hand signals and then wave her to me, she comes. The problem is I can NOT get her focus on me when she is running away. I can scream, whistle, wave go completely crazy and it does not matter. Same with other people., they can call her over and she won’t even look at them. I don’t have a lot of experience training dogs but I do have a good amount. I work at an animal shelter and it seems I can fix a lot of issues just not this one, and that’s why I need help. I will continue working on these things with her..but everyday that goes by seems like another day at risk of her escaping and getting hurt. I didn’t want to train her with the shock collar, I wanted to have it in the case I had to stop her before running onto the highway for instance which we were very close to last time…

    • Anonymous says

      I have a Husky a little over a year old and have recently implemented using a dogtra e collar for off leash training because she would do the same thing your husky is doing, RUN! I only use it on trails when hiking or camping. I use the commands wait with a vibration when she gets ahead of me to stop her to wait for me and come with a vibration when she is a ways behind me. I will also use no with a vibration for unwanted behaviors. At first you may need to shock your dog a few times to get its attention to stop running but after that the vibration will do the trick. Im on my third day with my husky and she listens to everything i say while out hiking only using the vibration. Great training tool. Keep a pocket full of treat so when she comes directly back to you you can reward. Good Luck.

  25. Midi says

    I have a 4 near 5 year old female sib. husky. She is generally well behaved and ive completed 3 obidience courses as top off the class with 80%+ scores. She is dominant but never attacks or bites. however she often gets barked at and snapped at or bitten. in respond shell toss them over growl and hold then releases them no harm done. She always just wants to play but does not allow another dog to snap at her without apparent reason. She does approach overexcited but stays polite. To drain energy and give her more exercise id love to have her offleash. I live in a major city but we do not have any fenced in dogparks. I have agility jumps and stuff and a large grassfield outside but again no fence. Also i take her on rides to run alongside my horse in a very large park, during that time she does tend to be more reliable on the recall and staying with me. I trained that with dashing off on the horse which triggers her to follow and keep up(could be just because she respects the horse). But sometimes it takes longer and i leash her near the roads, but still scooters etc give me a scare when she shoots out infront off one to say hi to another dog. However on longboard or bicycle she just doesnt recall or sticks close the moment another dog/ cat/ rabbit/sheep/running person comes in sight. On leash she will pull me over which can lead to an accident, most off the times i can tap her neck or jerk the leash briefly and just keep moving and shell calm down and stop pulling. Sometimes she breaks free and i have no chance to get her back easily. Training her is nearly impossible as she is not interested in any type off food when focussed on something. She will even pull her head away from it. Also praise or toys are not interesting. She has a desire to please me which were fine for basics but with these more fun distractions i just cant get her attention. Im leaning toward trying an vibration collar with elongated pins just to keep her on the field for agility. I was banned with her from the dog club as others found her look scary and let their dog run offleash at her which had led to a few pinning down without harm. But deemed her aggressive at the club by members( not by the main trainers) And banned from all trainings except obidience/ which i already did in 3 difficulties. All trainers ive contacted in the past just told me shes impossible as she just doesnt accept treats/toys etc. and only a poke/ tap timed right has helped with her. I dont want her onleash all the time and unable to give her the exercise and play she really needs.
    Your thoughs on reaching my goal?

    • shibashake says

      This article from the ASPCA has a good list of recall training techniques-

      However, many Huskies have high prey drive and they love to run. My Huskies are very attuned to motion, and when there is a running cat, squirrel, or deer nearby, their instinct will take over and they will give chase. Distance can help and I also do desensitization exercises to raise their reactivity threshold.

      However, the instinct to chase is always there, so for safety, I walk them on-leash using a no-slip collar. They get off-leash exercise in fully enclosed areas.

      Of all the shortcomings to be found in Siberians, the most dangerous to the pet owner is their tremendous desire to RUN. But the very first dash that a puppy makes across the road could be his last run, anywhere. A Siberian, for his own protection, should be kept confined or under control at all times.
      ~~[Siberian Husky Club of America]

      Right from the beginning, obedience lessons are a good idea, so that owner and dog understand the boundaries and each other. This is a breed that thrives on positive training methods, and often is unfazed by negative methods. Finding a good trainer can be almost as challenging as finding a good dog.
      ~~[Siberian Husky Club of America]

    • Midi says

      I walk her on a non-slip collar or harness. I live in europe with no fenced in fields, unless i drive a few hours. I have had heard/done/tried all the tips on recall but it was very nice to reread and see them summed up. Very nice refresh! Also tried the gorgonzola they suggested. In training she wont take it. So no magic treat for training :( . Ive started a daily obedience routine during her walks to make her sharp and paying attention to me. Hope this refresh for the both off us and will help in the long run. Also took her to run with the horse as its raining so no scooters and she was excellent on her recall. After the energy draining she was also better with the wild bunnies and other dogs. One soft jerk got her to ignore them. (This shows me that she just needs to be drained more which i cant seem to do onleash, so i will try out a vibration collar with a policedogtrainer supervising for an offleash correction, i will lend the horsearena so she cant run away should she panic/run/ignore. Also will i let her wear the collar indoor and outdoor without using it so she can get used to it first) I wish i could use a more positive method but the moment i come with praise, treats or toys she fully ignores me. Is there a way to get her interested in any off them? She does play ; retrieve balls and tug-o/war( if i say drop it she does immediatly). Or playfight. And she takes food from me outside, But each time i try to use it combined with training she wont accept it. However a stranger( after a few times with the same person shell ignore him/her aswell) can get her to sit or any other command for a dogcookie. Shell put it down on the ground and wait untill i give it to her or look at me untill i say its ok. I have never trained this behaviour, she started doing it after about 9months off age. She loves searching games so i might start training her for search and rescue or local competitions(also a reason to have a reliable recall), but one training and step at a time. I really want to do a positive training as i know its more effective(not a touch or stern voice, which i now use). Please toss me some creative ideas!! Ive ran out off them. Im willing to try almost anything.

    • shibashake says

      In terms of reward motivators, I think it very much depends on the individual dog. Both my Sibes are very food focused, so that is what I use with them most of the time. I make sure to only reward them for good behavior.

      My Shiba Inu is not very food focused but he likes to explore, he likes new things, he likes to play games, and he likes playing with other dogs. Therefore, those are the things that I use to motivate him. In addition, he is more food motivated when he is hungry, so when I need to motivate him with food, for example for grooming, I do it before meal-time. There are several types of food that he likes, so I switch them around so that things are fresh and new, which helps to strengthen the motivator *for him* (because he likes new things).

      However, as I have said before, both my Huskies have high prey drive. Once instinct takes over, they are no longer capable of learning or listening. The instinct to chase is very strong, so if I wanted to use shock collars or other pain based techniques, I would have to apply an extremely strong stimulus. Some dogs are more sensitive and feel more pain, so the amount of pain felt also depends on the dog.

      A vibration is most often used as a marker, in the same way that we use a verbal “Yes”, “No”, or clicker. A marker often has to be associated with a consequence for it to carry any meaning. For example, in clicker training, the clicker marker is associated with food and other rewards, so that our dog learns to associate the marker with a positive consequence. This is also known as charging the clicker/marker.

      Similarly, a vibration alone isn’t going to do much unless it has been “charged”. In the extremely short term, there may be a startle response, but that isn’t going to last for long. If vibrations alone solved prey drive issues, everyone would be using it.

      Therefore, in most cases, we are talking about applying pain or shocks, which presents a very different value proposition. Shock collars carry many serious risks, as has been shown in numerous scientific studies. In addition, they are not fully reliable. This is why the ASPCA, RSPCA, Blue Cross, and many other dog advocate organizations recommend on-leash exercise for companion dogs with high prey drive (i.e., not fully reliable recall), unless they are in a fully enclosed space.

      I do desensitization exercises to raise my dog’s reactivity threshold, and that is helpful. However, when in non-enclosed spaces, I walk my Huskies on-leash. In my old house, I did not have an enclosed backyard, so I cleared out a couple of rooms in the house and used that for off-leash play.

      There is no special sauce or miracle technique that I know of that can fully get a Husky to forget about his instinct to chase prey animals. Here are a couple of articles from the ASPCA on dealing with the bicycle/skateboard/runner chasing scenario.

  26. Claire says

    I am at my wits end with our 4.5 year old border collie/akita mix… we adopted him last about 8 months ago from a family that was moving and couldn’t take him with. They neglected to tell us that they were taking all of their other pets EXCEPT this dog with them. Understandably, he has some anxiety about being left home alone – he chews on his paws and has some destructive behaviors (he has ruined the trim around the door, scratched the paint on the wall, tore down blinds on the front window, etc). He is the sweetest, most gentle hearted dog – perfect for our family – but I can’t afford to keep replacing everything he is ruining. I do not want to get rid of him – I think rehoming him again, less than a year later, would not be in his best interests. But he has had 4 years of these behaviors being allowed in his previous home. What would be the best method to work with him on this? I should add, he is not completely alone while we are at work – we also adopted a miniature schnauzer several months after we got him, when we realized he needed companionship.

  27. Brenda says

    I have a 11 yr old dachshund part chihuahua male who was potty trained and has been fixed. I’ve had him since he was a few months old. Over the past year or so he has gotten to where when I and my husband leave the house even for 10 minutes or just go across the street he will initiate and hike his leg and pee in my house and poop. Now my female is doing it as well and she is 9 yrs old. I do not know what to do. I have never and will never use any form of shock collar on them. If I see them do the deed where they are not suppose to I get on them and they know right away they have done wrong. It is mainly my male dog that is doing this. I have taken him to vet and they said it is a behavioral problem. I reward them for going outside as soon as they come in. But when we go to work we have a mess at home waiting and its stinking that area up. He also tends to get snappy when we are laying in bed if we move our feet and its near him. He growls and tries to bite….don’t know why? I have tried secluding them to one are while we are gone, and done the kennel thing but he chews or gets out. And I don’t want him to hurt himself or be in a kennel. I have never had to do the kennel thing and I am not real comfortable with it. My dogs are real spoiled. I’m just wondering if they have separation anxiety or what? Please help I am at a loss here. I am afraid he is too old to stop this behavior. I hope you have some answers. Thank you!

  28. Willow says

    “I control my dogs and keep them safe through two general approaches – training and management.”
    YES!!!!!!!!!! Agree completely.
    My dog (a Aussie / Husky mix) & has never had a shock collar on, pinch or choke. She is a certified therapy dog and does canine heel-work to music. She is my first dog and as such it is ME who could be better at training her. Dogs want to please. I promote positive reinforcement training. One thing I ask children, ‘if you were at a baseball game and you got hit by the ball several times would you want to go back just to get hit again?’ They always say, ‘no’. Positive activities that you the trainer control (your management) work.

  29. Bill says

    I have an 18 month old female English Mastiff. Although inherently sweet and submissive around ALL dogs and most people, she goes ballistic watching dogs and their owners walk by our home. Most days she sits in our living room with floor to ceiling windows. She barks and leaps on the windows (140 pounds) causing fear that she will smash through them and land on the ground 10 feet below. There is really no other place in the house for her. Would a shock collar work each time she lunges towards the window?

    Thanks for all of your insight,

    • shibashake says

      The behavior you describe sounds like barrier frustration.

      Dogs who are prevented from engaging in exciting activities sometimes direct biting, shaking, tearing and chewing at nearby objects. Shelter dogs and puppies sometimes grab and shake blankets or bowls in their kennels whenever people walk by because they’d like attention. When they don’t get it, their frustration is expressed through destructive behavior. A dog who sees a squirrel or cat run by and wants to chase but is behind a fence might grab and chew at the gate. A dog watching another dog in a training class might become so excited by the sight of his canine classmate having fun that he grabs and chews his leash.


      Several articles on barrier frustration-

      In barrier frustration situations, using pain and other types of punishment is usually inappropriate. The pain will create added stress, which may further increase a dog’s frustration. In addition, an otherwise friendly dog may start to associate the pain with the other dogs and people that he sees from the window, and start developing even more behavioral issues.

  30. Carrie says

    My daughter has a Norwegian Elkhound/Golden Retriever mix. He bites her hands and bites her in the butt. He has never broken the skin. He also bites our Puggle in the neck. She is a lot smaller than him and she yelps with pain. We can’t trust him alone with her. I don’t think he hurts her on purpose but, I’m not sure.

  31. sonya thomas says

    I got my babies December of last year, and I have been trying desperately topotty train them, my pads just lay in the floof while they pee and poop on my carpet, I have cleaned uplittle piles of mess til I’m disgusted, they are Pekinesse and Daschund mix, Chauncey my Chiuauhhua, goes outside and lets me know. My husband suggested a shock collar and watch them all day and when they started to do their business, shock them and say “No, Outside”. I’m going crazy trying to get them trained, they have urinated on the pads in the past very seldom and pooped, and I have rewarded them with a treat saying good girl. But my babies are just like my children, and I feel like I have 2 of them problem children without the drugs, alcohol, and gangs. I lost a tiny jack russell when leaving Ft. Walton, Bch, one of my sons opened door at Taco bell and she got out and didn’t realize she was gone til I was all the way back in Alabama, I came home and for 2 days could not sleep, cried, and I told my husband I have to go back and look for her, So I took offthat morning and went back to Fl and walked areas searching , calling her name, asking posted $500.00 reward. I know who got her but she knew I was looking and she hid my dog so cops could not legally retrieve or know they had my dog. My husband said we were going back and ride by her house in a different vehicle and when he sees Bella, hes walking up and taking her, and pitties anyone that gets in his way. I love the ones my son got me to help ease the pain from Bella, Harmione and Allie Bear, but I need help, I don’t really want to hurt them. But I know it’s just like diciplining your kids, you have to spank them for them to learn when talking doesnt help, Right? So I shouldn’t feel guilty, atleast that’s what my husband says. With Bella and Chauncey, I had no problem training, None of my dogs bark, they are great in this area, you let Hermione and Allie Bear out and they run off. Any advice to make me feel less mean, for resorting to a shock collar purchase, would be greatly appreciated. HELP!!!

    • shibashake says

      Dear Sonya,

      I really *would not* recommend using shock collars for potty training. This is because there is a *high risk* of the dog making the wrong association, and developing more behavioral issues, including submissive urination.

      Dogs who urinate in submission are usually shy, anxious, or timid and may have a history of being treated harshly or punished inappropriately. A dog who’s unclear of the rules and unsure how to behave will be chronically insecure. He urinates and adopts submissive postures to mollify anyone he perceives as a “leader” and to avoid punishment.
      ~~[Humane Society of the United States]

      Schalke’s study which I summarize above, as well as other scientific studies show that shock collars significantly raise stress levels in dogs, and can cause other behavioral issues.

      As well, while aversive conditioning may eliminate an unwanted behavior, it does not serve to establish an acceptable alternative. This is most likely due to response blocking—the dog learns that not responding leads to the absence of the aversive stimuli, and stops responding (Seligman and Johnston, 1968).
      ~~[Electronic Training Devices: A Review of Current Literature]

      It is also important to note that shock collars are commonly used to eliminate unwanted behavior through pain. In potty training, we are *not* trying to eliminate a behavior, because our dog needs to poop and pee. Instead we are trying to teach our dog the “right place” to do his potty.

      If a dog gets shocked every time he tries to potty, he *may* very likely associate the pain from the shocks with his potty behavior. This will cause him to learn that pooping and peeing causes pain. As a result, he may try to hold in his poop and pee (i.e., stop responding, which is unhealthy), he may learn to only poop and pee when people are not around to shock him, or he may become generally fearful and insecure because something he *needs* to do is causing him pain.

      Here is what I do to potty train my dogs. As you say, supervision is key. It is also very important to consistently show our dog what the right behavior is, and to reward the behavior extremely well. Timing, supervision, consistency, and repetition are all crucial while potty training my dogs.

  32. Tracey says

    Hi. I have a german shepard cross of 2.5 years old. We take him for walks etc and he really is a lovely dog most of the time, with our kids, bird and other dog.

    Our pro blem is when he is outside – its that he constantly jumps against the wall of our yard to bark at passers by. We have tried planting hedges and he pushes past them. We have also tried erecting fences in front of the hedges and he pulls them down or jumps over them to jump against the wall. He is damaging the wall so badly and scaring the living daylights out of the people walking by.

    Another one is that he chases my older son whenever they are outside together. It seems he wants to take a nip. Especially when he is on his bicycle. Yet he ignores my younger son flat.

    We do not know what to do with him – we have tried training and it just hasnt worked. Do you have any suggestions? We do NOT want to get rid of him but we are really having a problem.

    • shibashake says

      Dogs may bark at outside people because of their protection instinct, i.e. they are protecting our property from intruders. German Shepherds are commonly bred to have a strong guard drive. If a dog barks and the “intruder” leaves, then the dog learns that Barking = Keep intruders away = Success.

      we have tried training and it just hasnt worked.

      What have you tried and for how long? What is his daily routine like?

      My Shiba Inu also has pretty strong guarding instincts. When he alerts to let me know that someone is near the house, I go to check things out. It is a great way to catch people who don’t pick up after their dogs. One time, he was barking at the garage door and we discovered that some rats had gotten in, so having a guard dog can be very helpful.

      1. Usually he stops barking as soon as I arrive. If he does not, then I give him our pre-trained Quiet command and make sure to reward him well for staying quiet.

      2. If he continues to fuss at the fence or window, then I engage him in doing something else. If he redirects, I reward him by interacting with him.

      3. If he does not want to redirect, then I bring him inside the house and he temporarily loses his outside privileges. This also has the advantage of removing him from the trigger stimulus (people walking outside).

      4. If he continues to bark inside the house and will not stop, I put him briefly in a timeout.

      In this way, he learns that –
      Non-stop barking = Lose outside privileges and may lose freedom in the house as well.
      Stop barking = Get rewarded with attention and games.

      Most importantly, I make sure to stop Sephy from continuously repeating his fence barking/charging behavior, which will ultimately become a habit. I put a lead on him if necessary to control him and lead him inside. Proper dog socialization, daily walks (at least 1 hour per day), structured games, a fixed routine, and a consistent set of house rules also helped with my Shiba Inu. I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs.

      Another one is that he chases my older son whenever they are outside together. It seems he wants to take a nip.

      Sounds like he may be trying to herd, which is another in-bred trait of Shepherds. All dogs are also born with prey drive, which is an instinct to chase moving things (especially fast moving things). This is a self rewarding behavior, i.e the chasing is the reward.

      What helps with my dogs is to give them other outlets for the need to chase and herd. For example, there are places that do herding training. I also play *very structured* chasing games with my dogs including recall training, flirt pole, and more.

      When I play games with my dogs, I set up and teach them the rules of the game. For example, there is no jumping, nipping, or biting on me. If they do any of these things, I no-mark, briefly stop the game, and we have an obedience break. In this way, they learn that –

      Biting people = Game stops,
      Not biting people and following rules = Game continues, and get attention.

      If Sephy starts chasing when he not supposed to, then I no-mark and give him an alternate command. If he does not stop, then he temporarily loses his outside privileges. As with the case before, it is important that I consistently stop him from repeating this behavior, which is self rewarding, and which will ultimately become a habit.

      In changing dog behavior, timing, repetition, and consistency are all very important. If I want to stop a particular behavior, I make sure to supervise my dog very well (especially in the beginning) so that I *always* catch the behavior, and can *always* respond to it in a very consistent way.

      If we only catch our dog sometimes, and sometimes not, then our dog will learn that it is sometimes ok to bark and jump at the fence. Therefore, he will keep barking and jumping because the next time, he may have success and nobody will stop him. This makes him bark and jump even more.

      During Sephy’s early days, it was also helpful to visit with a professional trainer. A good trainer can help us with timing, consistency, reading a dog’s body language, management, and more.

      Here is a bit more on how dogs learn.

  33. Robin z says

    I would like to know if its ok to keep a shock collar on a dog at all times even when the owner leaves and puts the dog in a crate? Everytime the owner does this, the dog barks like crazy. Is it possible that the crate can affect the shock collar some how? Could he be feeling shocks in e crate?

    • shibashake says

      As I understand it, the shock collar is a training aid. It is put on for the training session, and removed at the end of training. For example, in this study of shock collars and dog barking, the collars were only put on for 30 min/day, for 3 consecutive days.

      Incorrect or prolonged use of a shock collar can lead to high stress, anxiety, and more behavioral issues down the road. It can also lead to physical damage. Another experience of physical damage.

      As for barking, dogs bark for a variety of reasons (anxiety, excitement, warning, etc). To stop my dog from barking, I first identify the source of his barking behavior. This is important because punishing an already anxious dog with shocks, will increase stress, make the dog even more anxious, and make things a lot worse.

      Is it possible that the crate can affect the shock collar some how?

      What type of shock collar is the owner using? There are bark collars that deliver shocks when a dog vocalizes. Therefore, if a dog gets anxious in the crate and starts barking, such a collar will deliver shocks to the dog based on the barks.

  34. Kim says

    Thank you so much for this wonderful site and all the feedback you offer! I would like to ask your advice on my 2 dogs with territory and barking issues. They’re both female mutts, 5 and 2. They have been called “two of the best dogs ever” by my pet sitter, and they were trained with the clicker method. They get along great with other dogs and people after they are briefly introduced, but they’re getting increasingly territorial and obnoxious.

    I live in the country in New Mexico where there are no fences for miles. Everyone in the whole area lets their dogs run free, and this was a big reason I moved here, so I don’t want to change that. But they keep running off too far from my property and barking at people on hikes, photographers in the canyon, dogs they haven’t met yet, and coyotes. They often run away so far I can’t track them down, and I just keep hollering for them until finally they shut up and come back. It seems to have been made worse by them befriending a dog-wolf mix next door that is poorly trained and runs off and barks at EVERYTHING and starts fights. Because the neighbor’s wolf-dog, the landlord’s dog on the other side of the property, and my 2 dogs are kind of a “pack” now, it’s becoming harder to keep my dogs well-behaved.

    I don’t make enough to even cover my bills at the moment, so I do not have the money to hire a trainer. Do you have any thoughts on reigning in their territory so they just protect the immediate area around my house and stop this excessive barking? I’ve been running around outside in my bathrobe all morning and am fed up. Thank you so much!

    • shibashake says

      I control my dogs and keep them safe through two general approaches – training and management.

      1. Training
      Before letting my dogs off-leash, I make sure they have a very solid recall (come when called command). This article from the ASPCA has a good list of recall training techniques.

      However, motivators, context, and timing are all very important in dog training. If there are very strong competing motivators when we try to recall our dog, for example other dogs, running deer, cats, and more, then it will more of a challenge to get our dog to respond. Therefore, when I do recall training with my dogs, I always start small, in an enclosed low stimulus area, and slowly build up from there.

      Dogs also have certain drives and fears (just like we do). These may sometimes cause a dog to lose control of himself – which is when instinct kicks in. When we are running for our lives, we will likely not be very responsive to commands, and neither will our dog. Dogs also go into instinct mode when chasing after prey (also known as prey drive). This is when proper management becomes very important.

      2. Management
      A good way to keep our dogs within our property is to build a fence. A real fence keeps our dogs in and also keeps outside dogs, coyotes, and wandering hikers out. Invisible fences on the other hand, only *try* to keep our dogs in, they do not keep other dogs or wandering people out. Scientific studies show that invisible fences are risky, may increase dog aggression toward people, and increase stress levels in dogs. Therefore, if a hiker should accidentally wander into our property, our dogs may charge and attack. However, they are much cheaper than building a real fence and require little training effort from us – which is why they are sometimes used.

      In my old house, I did not have a backyard, and it was difficult to properly enclose my front-yard. When a fenced backyard was not available to me, this were some of the things that I did –

      a) I kept my dog in the house, and cleared out a play-room for him inside the house.

      b) I took him out for several walks during the day, and we would also go to our nearby SPCA to play in their enclosed exercise area.

      c) Other times we would visit the less popular enclosed dog parks in our area, during off hours. We usually have the whole place to ourselves then, and can have lots of fun in a safe play-space. If friendly dogs should come, we would have a fun supervised play session with others. If unfriendly dogs come, we just leave and come back another day.

      d) We would also go to hiking parks, but for those, I only let my dogs off leash when I am *sure* of their recall response and we are far away from cars.

      Another possibility is to fence up a smaller area of our property or to have a dog-run, which would save on cost.

      Some people also do boundary or no-fence training with their dog.

      Here is more on dog barking.

  35. Christopher says

    Hi , I have a 8 year old female Jack Russell ( Myla) that is really mean towards other dogs , I actually just bought a female Siberian Husky (Frances) that is about to turn 3 months on the 24th. The pet shop owner recommend to keep my husky in a cage for about a week or two it’s only been like , 3 days and it seems like my jack is slowly getting to be okay with another dog being in the house . Sometimes she will bark and I would have to put a Muzzle on her for like a few and then take it off and she will be fine , I actually took out Frances for a few and had myla there too , they were okay for about 3-6 mins and then myla started to act up , I was wondering if I should buy a shock collar for her ( I never used one but she’s been really Aggressive towards other dogs for awhile and I would just like if she can stop and enjoy others and play, please !!’ NEED HELP …

    • shibashake says

      If we consistently shock a dog when he is interacting with another dog, he may associate the pain from the shocks with the other dog rather than to his own behavior. This will make him view other dogs as an even bigger threat, which will cause stress, more aggression, or other behavioral issues. This was shown in Polsky’s study and others.

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and a fixed routine. I make sure to properly teach any new dog these rules, so that everyone knows exactly what to expect from each other. They also know that I set the rules and I enforce the rules. If there are any issues, they will let me know and I will deal with it. I *do not* let them correct each other or bully each other. Structure and routine helps to reduce uncertainty, which helps to reduce negativity and stress. In addition to reducing negative encounters, I try to create as many positive interactions as possible so that my new dog will associate other dogs with fun, play, and positive experiences.

      My Shiba Inu was more reactive to other dogs, so I helped him be more comfortable by using structured desensitization exercises. Desensitization exercises help to raise my dog’s reactivity threshold, teaches him to use alternate behaviors for dealing with his stress, and helps him to associate other dogs with positive events.

      Here is more on what I do when introducing a new dog.

      However, note that each dog is different in terms of temperament, background, routine, environment, and more. Based on what you describe, I would get help from a good professional trainer who can come to meet the dogs, observe their body language, behavior, routine, and more. In this way, he can accurately identify the source of the aggression and come up with a good plan for retraining.

  36. Victoria Sepulveda says

    My dear dog is a 5 years old mutt, really big and lovely, the problem is she jumps really high, I mean she jumps our back yard wall into my neighbord’s yard. My neighbord has been really nice about it, but she has jumped at least 30 times. We had to chain her, she is so big we hired a person to walk her and play with her, we tried to train her, we play with her, but if we are not with her all the time she jumps to my neighbord’s yard and into the street, She even disentagles herself from the chain. We feel so bad, we just don’t know what else to do, we give her away? our neighbord asked us to take “measures” because she is so big it scares his mother in law, it’s completly understanding. So we read about the perimetral fence and thought “this is it!!” But then read about your pros and cons, and I’m like “Is this really human?” She is a healthy and beautiful girl, i don’t want to be forced to make her sleep because she just can’t stay put.

  37. Theresa D says

    Hi, I’m looking for some direction. We rescued a lab/pit mix just over a year ago. He is very sweet and very intelligent but fearful of a lot of things, noises, people, water etc. We walk him daily and I also put him in day care so he would be around other people and dogs. He goes 3 days a week and loves it, they have a structured daily routine and it includes play time. It was helping tremendously with his behavior, he is now 18 months old. We moved a couple of weeks ago to a small beach front community. We live near the water. We have a fenced yard but there is a side walk in front of our hose and a small street and on the other side, the bay. People walk by constantly, alone, with their pets, jogging, etc. Unfortunately Harley (the rescue) is beginning to show very aggressive behavior. He barks and lunges at people, not everyone but I’ve noticed there’s no consistent type or trigger that I can tell. He’s beginning to pull while walking so much that I haven’ walked him for a couple of days because I just can’t deal with it. People are afraid of him, although I don’t think he would hurt anyone. I’ve tried to normal commands to keep him calm but none work. Leave it used to get his attention but no longer. I am at a loss for what to do, I think he’s afraid but can’t have him showing such aggressive behavior, especially because of the type of dog he is. I am considering getting a shock collar. Any suggestion would be most helpful. He is apart of the family so I am feeling desperate to handle this as quickly as possible before someone complains to the local authorities.

    Thank you so much!!
    Theresa D.

    • shibashake says

      He is very sweet and very intelligent but fearful of a lot of things, noises, people, water etc.

      I really would *not* use shock collars on a fearful dog. The pain from the shocks would only make the dog become even more fearful and anxious, which will likely worsen the symptoms of aggression, degrade quality of life, and cause other bad behaviors.

      Dogs, especially fearful dogs need help to cope with change, especially big changes in their environment and lifestyle. Moving from a more quiet area to a high traffic, noisy area would make it even more difficult to cope.

      Some things that helped with my dogs when we moved-
      1. I set up a fixed routine right away as well as a consistent set of rules. I also increased the amount of daily exercise.
      2. If my dog cannot cope with being outside, I keep him inside, in a quiet area, and mask out whatever outside sounds that he is afraid of.
      3. I very slowly desensitize him to the scary noises.
      4. I very slowly desensitize him to people.

      We also visited with several professional trainers to trouble-shoot Shiba Sephy’s reactive behavior (mostly towards other dogs).

      Here is a bit more on dog anxiety.

    • Rachel Wise says

      I can’t really advise you on all your problems, but my three dogs were really bad pullers. The gentle leader or halti head collars have worked miracles in getting them to walk nicely and there are no adversive corrections involved.

  38. ashley says

    Have a 6 month old pomeranian. Shes very fiesty. Loves to bark and chew on everything. I can’t trust her at all because she likes to destroy everything. Sometimes when I try to correct her she growls at me or just doesn’t care. She and my 5 month old poodle are very disrespectful when someone us eating rhey well jumo on you and try to jump on your plate And take your food. And when people comeover they don’t know how to behave they will jump on them the poodle will try to jump on them like crazy and lick them in the mouth. While the pomeranian thries to nibble on their hands and feet. & tge poodle consistently licks to the point where it feels pretty gross. & can’t take them on walks and expect them to mind their own business because they bark and try to get to anyone or any dog they see. I can’t seem to discipline them, can a shock collar help with any of these issues?

    • shibashake says

      Shock collars are very risky to use. When not applied with exactly the right timing and force, they can encourage more aggression in a dog. In addition, a dog may not always make the right association.

      For example, if a dog receives a shock every time he jumps on a person, he may associate the pain received not to his behavior, but to the person he is jumping on. As a result, he may start to view people as threats, and try to keep them away or protect himself with his teeth. Shock collars also increase stress levels, and can cause a dog to become anxious or fearful, which makes them especially inappropriate for puppies and younger dogs.

      What type of discipline methods have you tried so far?

      Puppies are going to be high energy, and they will do what seems natural to them (as dogs). Jumping up on people is a natural thing for dogs to do, and we further encourage this behavior by giving them attention when they do it.

      For initial greetings, I put my dog on a leash so that I have good control, and then I teach him what *to do*, and what not to do when meeting someone. I also help my dog to associate people with positive rewards so that he enjoys people and does not become fearful of them. Here is a bit more on dog jumping.

      When I get a new puppy, I set up a consistent method of communication, a consistent set of rules and a consistent routine. This teaches my puppy what I expect from her and what she can expect from me in return. Here is more on how I trained my puppy.

      With our Shiba Inu, we also consulted with several professional trainers. They can be helpful in troubleshooting problems, pointing out problem areas, as well as creating a retraining plan that suits our dog. Shock collars are a very extreme measure, that also requires a fair amount of training experience. It can cause even more serious issues when not used in exactly the right circumstance and in exactly the right way. I would definitely talk to a professional trainer first before going down such a path.

  39. C Lou says

    I was wondering if a shock collar would be a good idea for my situation. I also have a shiba, and she is a big sweet heart in many respect. We adopted her when she was almost 3, and she’s a little over 4 years old.

    Due to a lack of exposure to children, she is very sensitive to them. Pays them way too much attention, in a stalking way (like she does with squirrels and other prey animals), even if they are minding their own business and not even running around or looking at her. As we do not have kids of our own, and it’s unlikely that anyone will want to lend us their small child for training, we have simply kept her on leash (with the leash around our waist) whenever children are around. This allows us to restrain her and verbally discipline her if she lunges for them. When we were able to respond quick enough, we have tried “alpha-rolling” her a couple times. We hold her on the ground for a few seconds and release our hands but stare at her with angry eyes for about a minute until she relaxes. She’s very good about it and does not resist us.

    There has been a couple of incidents where people have small children at the dog park where we let her off leash (and all the other dogs are fine, not paying attention to the kids), and our dog will start running full speed to lunge at the children. It’s really hard to respond fast enough, so I usually run full speed after her calling her name and yelling No and Sit and Come. Usually I get to her when she reaches the kid, and she runs away (after giving the kid a big scare, lunging/an attempt at nipping at their hands). I she knows she’s done wrong, so she’ll dodge me and runaway for another minute, before obeying my sit. At which point, I cannot reasonably punish her, since she’s actually obeyed my command and sits while I approach her (which I want to encourage).

    At the cottage we have her on a long lead outside tied to a tree, under our super vision, so that she can explore and hunt chipmunks (she never catches anything). She will quite often bark and lunge at the neighbor cottage kids who walk by and it is very scary for everyone. I could just get her a basket muzzle and get back some piece of mind, but that doesn’t change her behavior/mindset.

    I wondering if having shock collar training would help her in this specific situation, perhaps to the point of a warning sound or vibration could be enough indication that she should stop right away, instead of ignoring me, plowing over a kid and then finally obeying the command.

    I have also tried positive recall, where I whistle and when she comes I give her a high value treat. Sometimes that works, but I can’t use that when there are other dogs around, because she is also treat possessive and will act aggressively towards any dog hovering remotely near me when the whistle is blown in an attempt to defend her treat.

    Any feedback would be much appreciated!

    • shibashake says

      I think it is *extremely* risky to use shock collar training in situations with children. What ends up happening is that the dog receives a shock every time he goes after a child. Likely, the dog will associate the pain with the child rather than to his behavior. As a consequence, the child or children in general, could be viewed as a threat that the dog may try to attack, or keep away with aggression especially when he thinks he is cornered. I try to make sure that my dogs have positive or at most neutral experiences with people, so that they do not become afraid of people and do not associate people with negative events.

      Alpha rolls did not work well on Sephy at all. More on our experiences.

      This article from the ASPCA has a good list of recall training techniques. Still, Shibas are not known for their recall abilities.

      With Sephy, we did people desensitization exercises with him to get him comfortable with meeting new people and to teach him proper greeting manners. Desensitization can work with fear and also over-excitement cases. There are also a fair number of children in our neighborhood, so I train him when we run across them during walks. Getting help from a professional trainer can also be helpful. There were always some older children in the training classes that we went to.

      Most of the time I teach Sephy to ignore children during our walks (he is on-leash). When a child wants to greet, his parent is ok with it, and the child is calm and able to follow instructions, I get Sephy to do a Sit once he gets up to the child, and they can meet. If I notice even the slightest amount of hesitation or stress, we either don’t meet or we end the meeting.

      As for enclosed dog parks, they are too unstructured and unsupervised for Sephy’s temperament. He does much better in smaller playgroups that have rules and are well supervised. More on our dog park experiences.

    • C Lou says

      Thanks for the feedback. I was worried about that too. I don’t think the electric collar is for us.

      Sometimes when she is on leash, and I get her to sit and let a calm child pat her, she’s totally fine. I usually have on hand around her collar and one hand stroking her head neck area (so the kid is patting her shoulder, back area only). But quite often even after meeting the kid (we make the kid demand some tricks from her and give her treats) and being perfectly good/calm for hours (on leash around my waist), if we let her off leash, she’ll instantly change behavior and go after the kids. When she senses fear she pursues them even more (it seems our dog has bully complex).

      Sometimes when we are just walking past kids (on leash) on our usual walk around the neighborhood, she’ll do a little lunge towards their unsuspecting hands (most times she ignores them). I’m not sure what the trigger is (since the kids weren’t even paying her any attention during those scenarios). I just jerk her back on the leash with a brief no, and then walk on.

      It’s hard to understand what is going on in her head, since she is very sweet with us, and even somewhat social with most adults. We are definitely getting her some training, it’s just hard to practice with kids. For the time being, I just keep my eyes out for any kids entering the dog park, and instantly call her and leash her back to my waist before they get in.

  40. Nina says

    This is an excellent article, thank you so much!
    This fall, we adopted a shelter dog. They told us she was a heeler-terrier mix. She has many wonderful traits, but she is also incredibly wired and obsessive. On walks, she is usually very good and walks right along side us, but if we encounter smaller dogs or birds, she instantly stops listening to our commands. This is annoying, but we hike a lot in fairly remote places so it usually isn’t an issue. The biggest problem we have with her is that she incredibly obsessed with our cat. As soon as she sees the cat, she freezes and stares, shaking. She isn’t particularly aggressive, even letting the cat drink out of her water bowl, (although admittedly she has nipped at the cat once or twice) but she is constantly cornering the cat and staring at her. When she can see the cat, she doesn’t come to the door when someone comes in, she doesn’t come when called, and she doesn’t even come to the kitchen when we fry sausage. We have had the cat for years, and we all love her very much. We feel that the dog is seriously ruining the cat’s life. Our dog is very sweet and wonderful when the cat isn’t around, but as soon as she sees the cat, she suddenly becomes this trembling, deaf stalker. We are at our wits’ end with this. My sister is her main caregiver, and the dog listens to her the best, but she is leaving for college this fall. My mother is talking about taking her back to the shelter if her behavior doesn’t improve. Although we have always been very against shock collars, we are beginning to think that they may be a lesser evil than taking her back. We would really appreciate any advice you might have.

    Sincerely, The Ecksteins

    • shibashake says

      Hello Nina,

      If a dog gets shocked every time a cat is around, she may associate the pain from the shocks to the cat, rather than to her own behavior. This may cause her to start to see the cat as a threat, and she may feel the need to keep him away by whatever means necessary, including aggression. Rather than helping matters, a shock collar can make things worse, especially when not properly applied with perfect technique and timing.

      This article describes some good alternative ways for dealing with cat chasing-

      The comments section also has a discussion on shock collars.

      I would get help from a professional trainer *first* before resorting to shock collars.

    • Victor Chu says

      When the electric collar or the prong collar is used properly at the right timing, you can teach your dog that a cat is not a prey very quickly. Remember that some dogs have a high prey drive while some have less. If a dog has a high prey drive, like mine, he will value the prey higher than the valuable food. Also, it may not be possible to carry treat at all time. I made a big mistake shortly after I adopted my dog by letting the cat escape from her room when I jogged with the dog in the morning. When I returned home and opened the door, the cat was waiting to greet me. The dog smelled her and thus rushed into the house and went completely out of control. Although the leash was on and the cat escaped fine, it took the cat a long long time to recover.

      As mentioned by the author of the article, a prong or electric collar must be used in the right time and the right way with positive re-enforcement. The dog should know what not to do but please also tell him what he should do.

      If used correctly, you can teach the dog that the house cat is a family member, not a prey, in no more than 3 attempts. If they are not not used properly, the dog can develop an aggressive behavior towards the cat as mentioned by the author. Also, keep in mind that a still or walking cat is different than a running cat to the dog.

      I love my pets and it is my responsibility to create a happy and yet risk free environment for them.

  41. Cindy says

    I have a Golden Retreiver that has a strong pray instinct. She is a rescue and in her prior life she was a stray. She tends to be a bit ADD and become fixated on objects, like small animals or even children and ends up nippy at them. Recently, she nipped at a small child that was running in the yard with her and she nipped the childs rear end. Could a shock collar help curb this type of behavior? We need something that will break her out of her trance like activity.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Cindy,

      The problem with using shock collars in such a situation is that the dog may make the wrong associations and learn the wrong things. If we shock a dog every time she goes near a child, she may associate that pain with the child, instead of with her nipping behavior. This may cause her to become fearful of people or start to view people and children as threats. This *may* in turn cause her to use aggression to keep people and children away.

      With my dog, I use desensitization exercises to –
      1. Teach him what *to do* in the presence of people. I get him to Sit and reward him for being calm when in the presence of other people. Instead of just suppressing a behavior, this allows me to teach him what is the right thing to do, and reward him well for it.
      2. Help him associate people and children with positive events.

      I also supervise him closely when he is playing, and throw in many play breaks to manage his level of excitement. I try to keep him below threshold, so that he is able to learn and stay in control of himself.

      Here is more on people desensitization.

  42. Wendy says

    Hi There,

    I have a beautiful 11 month old lab/rott mix (not sure of his breeds since he was a stray). We live in a fairly rural area, our closest neighbor is about a mile away. The puppy is having issues running away from home. We have 4 fenced acres with plenty of toys and bones and an older dog to hang out with while we are away during the day. I run him between 10-20 miles/wk out on the trails and yet, he’ll come back home only to escape again. This is becoming a serious issue with the county (he has been picked up by animal control several times) as well as with my irritated neighbors. I’m afraid that he’ll end up on the highway and cause an accident. My husband and I are very busy people. We have two small children and run a business. We always make time to be out with the dogs in the evening and make sure they get enough exercise. I refuse to keep a dog that needs to be tied up. We have done all we can to secure the fencing and gates. We still haven’t figured out how he is getting out since he only goes when we are away. I’m interested in correcting the behavior but am lost how to go about it. Our last resort is the shock collar to set up fence boundaries. I’m wondering if you have any suggestions before we give up and end up finding a new home for this puppy. He is very intelligent, loving, gentle and will become a great dog when he matures.
    Thank you so much for your time.

    • shibashake says

      Some things that I do with my dogs to prevent escapes –

      1. I set up a fixed routine and a consistent set of rules.

      I set up consistent rules for interaction, house rules, play rules, etc. In this way, my dogs know exactly what to expect from each other, from the people around them, and they also know what I expect from them. A fixed routine helps to calm my dog down, makes his behavior more predictable, and reduces stress. When I get a new dog, I slowly teach him, and get him accustomed to our rules and routine. I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program so that my dog works for all of his food.

      2. I increase the amount of supervised exercise.

      Young dogs and puppies have a lot more energy, so they will also need more exercise and supervision. We do daily walks of at least one hour, I play with them in the backyard, we do obedience exercises, and I supervise them when they play with each other.

      When Sephy and Shania were young, I did not have enough time to spend with them so we got a dog walker for Sephy and we put Shania in daycare some of the time.

      My dogs are all older now so they need less supervision. However, they still like being around their people, so they prefer to stay in the house a lot of the time. Having them in the house keeps them happy, they are calm, and follow house rules. Plus, I like having them around. :D

      3. I check my fence line.

      Dogs often escape by digging under or jumping over a fence. We put in a 6 foot fence and also put concrete blocks all around the fence line to prevent digging. I also make sure there are no objects next to the fence that my dog can use to climb over.

      Here is a bit more on dog escapes.

      Big hugs to your puppy. He sounds like a fun-loving boy, who is full of youthful exuberance. :D

  43. Bill says

    I have to strongly disagree with Polsky’s theory of invisible fence method of containment.We have 5 rescued dogs, and they all have the invisible fence shock collars. They have NEVER become aggressive,have never become anything that he states. The dogs must be trained with the fence and collars, and it takes about a week to do so.We have been using the invisible fence for 7 years and have never had a problem with our dogs.

    • shibashake says

      1. Many studies show that shock collars raise stress levels in dogs.

      2. Not all dogs will have a fight response when they feel stressed or threatened. Some dogs will appease/submit, some dogs will freeze or shut down, some dogs will run away, some dogs will respond with aggression. Polsky’s study shows that shock containment systems *CAN* cause

      “unconditioned aggression as a result of a dog having received electronic shock and avoidance-motivated aggression mediated through fear reduction toward human stimuli.”
      ~~[Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, Volume 3, Issue 4, 2000]

      Avoidance motivated aggression is a very dangerous type of aggression because
      – The dog does not produce any signals to indicate onset of aggression.
      – It produces a much more serious attack than other forms of aggression.

      3. There are people who like the convenience aspects of shock collars, but there are also people who have had bad experiences with them. Scientific studies help to minimize bias and inform us of the risks involved.

      The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.[1] To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[2]

      The scientific method attempts to minimize the influence of bias or prejudice in the experimenter. …

      It provides an objective, standardized approach to conducting experiments and, in doing so, improves their results. By using a standardized approach in their investigations, scientists can feel confident that they will stick to the facts and limit the influence of personal, preconceived notions.
      ~~[How Stuff Works]

    • Anonymous says

      Thank you. I was afrade there would be no hope using the invisable fence. My dogs are alaskan huskies with intelegence and energy. Training them is a challange to say the least. I need this to help in focousing there attention on stayinsg home in the yard.
      Thanks again.

  44. Fretful says

    My cocker spaniel has started becoming very territorial and aggressive. At first, it was towards my cat. Now, it’s gotten worse and he growls, barks, and snarls at people in my apartment. He has even charged and snapped at them (and now at me!). Outside, he’s fine, loving, and his normal, wonderful self. In the apartment, though, he’s getting scary if there are people other than me there. Would a shock collar be suitable in this instance? I’ve heard, also, of citronella collars to help with behaviour training. Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      Dogs have a natural instinct to guard their home and family. Some breeds and some dogs may have a stronger guarding instinct than others. Strangers may be viewed as threats, which is why a dog may use “aggression” to get the threat to back-off.

      It is up to us to teach our dogs what behaviors are desirable, and to teach him what to do when faced with something new and possibly threatening. What worked well with my dogs is to introduce them to new people in a structured and positive way.

      I do people desensitization exercises. With desensitization it is *important* to do training in a structured environment and to always start with a weakened version of the problem stimulus. With people, I use distance to weaken the stimulus, as well as a calm demeanor. I want the stimulus to be weak enough so that my dog is still in-control, and is still capable of learning. Then, I can teach my dog to associate people with positive events (rather than as a threat), and to use alternate behaviors for dealing with stress.

      If we shock or otherwise apply pain to our dog every time he sees a new person, he will learn to associate people with pain, and see them as an even greater threat that needs to be kept away at all costs.

      This was shown in Polsky’s study and others.

      dogs kept in shock containment systems, showed extreme aggression towards humans, over and beyond their normal behavior to people.

      With aggression cases, it is usually best to get help from a good professional trainer.

  45. Miemie says

    I have a 11 month old pitbull who has to sleep outside so he cries and barks all the time. I use the shock collor at night but some days he doesn’t even need it there are times where he can go a day maybe 2 without it. Is there anything i can do? I hate using the shock collar on him

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