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 whether it is something I would use on my dogs. Note however, that facts are not always convenient, and facts are not always balanced between the two sides.

If you have already made up your mind about using electronic collars and are looking for validation, this article is not for you.

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).

The Good

1. 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, remote training collars 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

The Bad

1. May 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.

2. May 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.

3. May 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

When I first got my Shiba Inu, I had a lot of problems with him. At the time, I was under the false impression that reward methods would not work on my dominant, stubborn, and aggressive Shiba Inu. Therefore, I was using aversive training and briefly considered the use of electronic collars, because the other aversive-based methods were not working well.

However, after doing a lot of reading, I decided to give reward dog training a chance.

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 remote training 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. Trying the collar on ourselves, and doing a single, short, expected shock, at low intensity, is *not* how the collar will be used on our dogs. It is merely a gimmick to convince us that the collars are innocuous. If they were truly so harmless –

  • Why is their use banned for children and non-consenting adults.
  • Why is there so much scientific data showing how risky they can be.
  • Why are they on the “do not use” list of so many well-respected dog advocate organizations.
  • Why would they “work” on our stubborn dog, when other pain based aversive collars such as prong collars or choke collars have stopped working.

Logic tells us that this is a false claim.

3. Everybody else is biased and dishonest.

Another common argument, is that those who point out the risks of remote training 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 remote training 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. Minpin Mommy says

    I use the beep, vibrate, shock collar on by minpin. I live surrounded by woods (no fence) in the country. Beeping her usually works but if she doesn’t listen I move up to vibrate. I never shock her unless she tries to run in the woods which is very seldom unless she sees a rabbit.
    Last night, I was calling my dogs in and they came running. I had my hands full of items and was following my husband in the house. I did not realize I had changed the setting on the collar remote to SHOCK and I was pushing the button and shocking her. My husband said, what’s wrong with her, she’s flipping all over the place. I was beside myself with grief when I realized I was shocking her. She doesn’t seem herself now but getting better. Could I have really hurt her badly, her heart or nervous system? Someone please help. I love my dogs so much and would never hurt them, they are my babies.

  2. Jeanette says

    i have a rescued cocker spaniel mix with pretty extreme food aggression (people/stolen food) as well as other resources (has growled and bitten when getting corralled after getting out free, and when being told to leave my kids room or get off the couch) and cats. It’s really bad with food though. I had one trainer recommend he probably could not be rehabilitated and the second one – after trying positive techniques and provoking him to see the magnitude of the issue (gave him much wanted food and tried to take it away with a fake hand) suggested the shock collar. I was willing to try, despite misgivings, because i can’t safely keep him unless i fix this (he bit my daughter last weekend when she reached past him and didn’t realize he had found leftover pizza crust from a sleepover. I’m willing to do it as a last resort, but still have misgivings. He had severe separation anxiety at first and i can tell a difference in his personality since starting yesterday. Yet – he’s finally not growling and lunching and attacking the cat, which is more progress than i’ve made in a year and a half (I haven’t done too much work with food yet). I do not want to lose this dog, but i can’t continue without being sure to eliminate his dangerous behaviors. I also just got laid off and can’t really afford more expensive trainers. Do you have any suggestions?

  3. Alexis says

    I have a 4 month old Siberian Husky and she has a really bad problem with playing agressively with the little kids in the house where it’s almost impossible to have her out around them because she bites them and scratches them a lot. Also when i try to take her for walks she jumps and pulls a lot on the leash and its really hard to get her on the leash so a lot of the time I let her run in the yard to make sure she gets her excersize. I have tried so many different ways to get her to stop biting and stop her bad behaviors but nothing seems to work, she is really stuborn. What can I do? Would a shock collar be a good option?

    • Brittany says

      Hey I know this was written a while back, as someone with a husky mix that was trouble for quite a while, I just want to say, you can get through this without a shock collar!

      I didn’t even have access to a backyard to let her run around so yeah lemme tell you it was difficult.

      First I want to say, you dog is a puppy and will remain a puppy until 2 years old. After that two year benchmark, you will see a notable difference in behavior provided you treat your puppy positively. I know, they kinda stop looking like a puppy around 5 months old and it is really hard to see them as anything but a dog after one year old. It gets difficult. And you do have the added challenge of little kids.

      If you could, I would have the puppy long line long enough not to trip the kids when they are playing outside. That way you can grab the line and get a more guaranteed recall because I am going to assume that that hasn’t developed or has gone away in that teen fluffy pup brain of hers. If your pup has a good recall, then recall every time she is too rough with the kids and give him a treat.

      Walking on a leash? Well there are a few great things you could do! Personally what I found helpful was teaching heel first! I know seems totally backwards to how they teach it in class. But teaching heel first actually provides the structure for your puppy to “get it” for later when you want loose lead walking which really is a less structured form of heel and will in time will become rewarding because of all the heeling you will be doing.

      So to do heel, you start with teaching your puppy a few things. You can look these up on youtube no problem I am sure. “Touch” where the puppy touches your hand with it’s nose, super helpful later to give her a clue to guide her into the heel position without any physical force. No video will show you this, but it should come naturally to you as it did to me. “Watch me” where you teach your dog to look at you. This is super important for improving your puppy’s focus. Focus is important for teaching a dog to heel and walk nice on a leash. “Sit” I personally like it when my dog sits next to me when we stop moving. So optional though I am sure your pup knows this.

      First step to learning heel is to teach the position. Simply reward your dog for finding the position. You could use the touch command at first to get your puppy to find your left side, and reward in the position. Don’t say the position name “heel” until you know your puppy will go to your left side or go to your left side and sit if you are like me. Through food away from the position over and over to get them out of position and then get them to come back into position over and over until you feel you have it down. Should take 1 or 2 days? If it takes you longer don’t worry!

      Second. Take a step in any direction and have your puppy find the heel. Do this in different rooms of the house. This shouldn’t take as long as the first step. If the dog follows you into the heel position, you want that. that is step 3.

      Third. Take a step and have the dog just follow you into the heel position. If your dog already did this in step two without convincing GREAT if not just find some way of convincing your dog to follow you. So far, I have been doing this without a leash, if it takes a leash at first for your dog to get that it should follow you at this step, I get it, but make sure you practice without a leash too. very important that they learn the leash is inconsequential.

      Fourth. One step, two step three step 4 step. Make sure you are rewarding you’re one step in position. two step in position. three step in position. You are building up to those 4 steps. If you are stuck on 2 steps and then rewards, or three steps and then rewards, that is fine for now. But the important part to take notice in- your dog is heeling. So cool!

      Fifth! Walk around the house in the heel position and then reward your dog. Add the leash walk around the house in the heel position and it should be the same, reward. If it is not, start from the earliest successful step with the leash.

      Sixth! Do all the steps in the yard! Now that you are outside, outside is completely different and it is time to teach your dog that it doesn’t matter if they are outside or inside, outside is important!

      Seventh! Start with your home street with step 4 only with a leash. Do not move on from step 4 until you are moving smoothly from step 4 to 5.

      And your final 8th step! Move on to other streets and conquer the neighborhood with your amazing heeling husky! Now relax your rules from a heel to a loose lead walk (just ask they not pull, don’t move if they do pull and ask she come back and sit next to you if she does, and move forward at that point) My dog hardly pulls me at all. When she does, we are usually someplace new and exciting like a new trail we just need to establish new rules on.

  4. steve says

    Our outside dog has recently started killing ducks. He knows its bad behavior and only does it when we aren’t home to stop him. Does anybody sell an aversion training product that we can affix to the animals he is killing that will activate a shock collar if he gets too close? Ideally something that could be affixed to a leg band. We have exhausted other training techniques, when we aren’t home he “forgets”.

    • Anonymous says

      Put the ducks behind electro net mesh … The dog will get one zap from the fence and never go back! Keeps coyotes away too and is easy to move.

  5. Michelle says

    My dog has been acting aggressively lately for no reason, what were some books or websites you read to help with your situation? I’d really like to try every other thing before even really considering a shock collar.

  6. blake says

    Is there evidence that a proximity system that uses a warning vibration or sound before shocking the dog is less stressful? Or that the size of the area enclosed by the perimeter is correlated with the anxiety responses? I would think that the more a dog can see the places he got shocked, the more fearful of moving he would be, and that adding predictability would greatly reduce the stress response during normal play, but that’s purely conjecture.

    • shibashake says

      As I understand it, the source of stress is from not knowing why the pain is occurring, and more importantly, not knowing how to stop the shocks. For example, in Schalke’s study, the group of dogs that …

      … 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.

      The risk from shock collars, also comes from the dog mis-associating the pain with the environment, or other surrounding stimuli. For example, dogs usually breach the fence line when they take off chasing after something. As a result, the dog may start to associate the shocks to other animals or even people, as was shown by Polsky’s study.

      An invisible fence is especially high risk because there is no human supervision in administering the shocks, which makes mis-association and unintended responses even more likely. If there are problems, they may not be detected until later on, when a dog has already developed other behavioral issues. In addition, such fences may not always work and do not keep the dog safe from other animals.
      Here is a comment from Tom who uses a shock collar for his lab, but not for his Husky.
      Here is another comment from jacki warren.

      If a dog is getting shocked without the warning beep, I imagine that may further increase stress. However, having a warning beep does not negate the stress caused by unpredictability of the shocks (from the dog’s point of view) or from the great risks of mis-association.

      In this comment from Glenn, his dog has developed a strong fear response to all sounds resembling the collar beep.

      Automatic shock collars such as the invisible or proximity fence, is very high risk, much more so than the supervised use of shock collars. In addition, its effectiveness at keeping a dog within its boundaries is uncertain. Given all this, it is not something that I would use or recommend to others.

  7. Krista says


    We have a 2 year old Hungarian Vizsla who is very well socialised with dogs and people. He about a year ago (and now more and more) started to run and bark full speed at random people walking through the park or on a walking trail. We thought he’d grow out of it but he’s been doing it more now. He doesn’t do it to everyone. Sometimes loads of people can pass and he’ll pay no attention and then suddenly he will bolt towards them sometimes old people and children. He gets a bout 3 feet from them and stops to either bark some more or have a sniff before he either lets them pet him or return to us as we’re of course calling him. Though he normally calms down when he reaches them I fear that as he gets older and/or if provoked he could do something. We want to teach him to come to us if something makes him anxious or just to come to us no matter what distraction there may be. We have borrowed an E-collar from a friend and are doing research on how to go about using it for our issue.

    Do you have any advice? How should we go about training him as normally he is great at recall and we really have no other problems with his training?

    • shibashake says

      I help my dog be more calm around people and other dogs by doing desensitization exercises. Successful and calm experiences will help my dog to build confidence, trust, and positive associations. Similarly, negative experiences and punishment will undermine that confidence, introduce more anxiety, and worsen his behavior.

      This article from the ASPCA has a good list of recall training techniques, including using a long-line. If I issue a recall command and my dog does not come, I need an effective way to get him to come along, e.g. a long line. Otherwise, he will learn that recall means come when I am ready, come whenever, or come if I feel like it.

      I first need to do recall training in a low stimulus environment, and then I slowly increase the environmental challenge. When there are a lot more distractions, getting my dog to come when called will naturally be a lot more difficult. Therefore, I set my dog up for success by starting small, and then slowly increasing the level of distractions, at a pace that he can handle.

      Don’t call her if she’s sniffing the ground, saying hello to another dog or playing. If you call when she’s distracted and she doesn’t come, you’re teaching her to ignore your call. Instead, call her when she’s highly likely to come so that you can establish a strong habit. And remember to be generous with your rewards!

      Once your dog is reliable at coming when you call while wearing her long line, start to test her when she’s more distracted. If she doesn’t come right away, turn and run a few steps away from her while calling. She’ll either decide to chase you or she’ll be dragged by the long line. Either way, praise her for coming and encourage her to catch up to you. Be genuine with your praise and generous with your rewards when she does.

      If my dog is anxious of certain types of people or dogs, then I do desensitization training in a structured environment to help him build confidence and be more calm. However, I also need to manage his environment, set him up for success, and not expose him to situations where he will fail. The more reactive events there are, the more likely he will repeat that behavior in the future and in a wider variety of contexts.

      Studies show that shock collars increase stress in dogs, and have a high risk of causing the dog to make the wrong associations. Both of these can lead to more behavioral issues down the road, including aggression. The article above has links to some of these scientific studies and related articles on the risks of shock collars.

      Suppose my dog is slightly anxious of certain types of people – maybe senior people who move differently, children who are more hyper, fearful people, etc. When he sees such people, he may start to vocalize because of uncertainty. If he gets shocked every time this occurs, he may associate the pain from the shocks with those people. This may worsen his uncertainty, cause greater stress, and lead to even more reactive behaviors. Even in the best case scenario, the shock collar will only suppress symptoms in the short term, and will not address the underlying cause of the dog’s behavior.

      With my dog, I always start by identifying the cause/source of his behavior (e.g. is it fear driven, excitement driven, etc.). Once I identify the source, then I would get a good trainer who can help me with desensitization training and recall training in higher distraction environments, or something else, depending on what is most appropriate. I would *not* use a shock collar, especially not for anxiety driven behaviors.

  8. Sheryl says

    Our dog 11 years Shihtzu-yorkie mix will constantly sniff and whine at our bedroom door after we go to bed. Which makes it impossible to sleep. He’s there all night. We’ve tried a pet gate in front of the bedroom door so he can’t reach his nose to the bottom of the door but he chews on the gate and pulls in down!
    Any ideas?

    • shibashake says

      Has he always shown this behavior? Is he alone at all during the day? What is his behavior like when alone during the day?

      What you describe sounds like anxiety.

      I let me dog sleep in the bedroom since puppyhood. It helps to make her feel safe, and it helps with bonding. As she matured and gained confidence, she chose to sleep downstairs where she has more freedom. However, I leave the bedroom door open so she can hear us and I can hear her. If she gets anxious because of unusual night noises, then I let her up if she wants. She feels safer, more assured, and calm, when she is with us.

      For separation anxiety, I start training my dog with very short periods of alone time (seconds), and slowly build up from there.
      ASPCA article on separation anxiety and desensitization training.
      More on dog anxiety.

      I would *not* use shock collars or any kind of aversive punishment for anxiety behaviors. Punishment will only introduce more stress into the situation, which may worsen the dog’s anxiety and his related symptoms.

  9. Anonymous says

    We afe currently looking into this for our deaf 2 year old pitt bull. She loves to bark at nothing, including the side of our neighbors house at 2am (she goes nuts over any kind of shadow) and attacks my other pitt (in a non agressive playful way) in an effort to gain our full attention when we get home. Nothing else has been successful. She’s a sweet girl, but such a handful. Any ideas?

  10. Peggy says

    Training with non-aversive methods will work for your problem dogs. If they have been allowed performing undesirable behavior for a while it may take longer but it can work. You can teach dogs not to bolt out of doors and to have rocket re-call. Wanting dogs to roam your property, respect boundary lines and not act like dogs by chasing a killing prey is ludicrous. A shock collar will only work if you are there to push the button and how does that work if they are roaming out of site or when you are not home. Electric fences may or may not restrict their boundaries and certainly will not keep them safe from others. These collars have been known to short circuit when they get wet causing severe injury and sometimes death. Dogs can become aggressive with electric fences and shock collars leading to a potential serious attack. Manage your dogs, build safe fences, exercise them and train, train, train using positive methods. If you cannot do it yourself contact a professional to help. If you cannot provide safe exercise and training for your dog then consider rehoming your dogs.

  11. Glenn says

    I’d really like to post this to a manufacturer’s web site, but maybe someone will pass this on. There needs to be a change to the beep that the collars make when they give the correction. We’ve found that a wide variety of electronic products also make the same beep. Our dog is now terrified of our coffee maker, our iron and our digital watches. Just be warned and please pass this on if you can.

  12. Veronica says

    I am only looking into shock collars because my coegi was recently hit by a truck because he likes to chase/race cars and we live in the country and he is out often or was and when i am not home i live with other people who even if i want to keep him in even if he is in my room Somehow he is let out. It is to where our driveway is just a straight shot so i was thinking of almost a post or pole that has a rage if he gets in it that it will administer a shock. I cannot keeps eyes on him and on who is coming in and out or even on the road, is there even such a thing as a range post?

  13. Shawnee says

    Hello. I have a lab mix and she is very energetic and playful, but she can run faster than me or my husband can ever dream of. We got a shock collar to train boundaries because she needs to run! I am quickly assoiciating the shock with the beep to use the beep as an aversion instead of the shock. We tried recall training and treats for staying within her boundaries but nothing worked because of something of more interest. We tried a longer leash but still she can’t run very much before it tugs her back. If we let her run, she is better behaved in the house because her energy is lower. I honestly think recall and positive reinforcement would have worked if she wasn’t so outgoing to other dogs and our dear neighbor who leaves scraps out for animals(one of the major reasons for boundary training, we don’t want her to get sick). IDK if it was for sure the right thing yet but we feel it was the only option short of tying her up outside with limited space on our 12 acres of land.

  14. Steve says

    This is a current discussion so I have hopes that my post will elicit some constructive advice. My new wife and I have 3 female dogs, she brought 2 Airedales to the marriage and I got my teacup Yorkie, my ex kept the Westie and The Golden. We have been together for 3 years now and purchased a home together and are working on blending our lives. My teacup is perfectly socialized and requires little or no discipline in all situations. The older Airedale at 10 is well socialized and other than being very fragile emotionally is well behaved. The younger Airedale is 7 and is extremely difficult to handle. She is a loving dog and seems eager to please but she has the most challenging behavior of a dog I have ever dealt with. She has assumed the alpha role and is only somewhat submissive to me. She regularly bullies the other dogs and at times causes problems, she will knock down the older terrier and aggressively “taunt in a semi playfull” way. It causes us concern as the older dog is experiencing hip issues and the vet has warned us to be careful with her as she can be seriously injured. We have to be extremely vigilant with the teacup as I have caught the younger terrier overtly using very rough play with her ( flipping her with her nose and pouncing with her front paws at the teacup). She could very easily hurt or cripple the little girl and she seems oblivious to this.
    The most frustrating behavior is the younger Airedales tendency to very sneakily time her opportunities to escape from our home, yard or leash and go on these neighborhood rampages where she stays just outside our reach and taunts us with this run and chase game. We have tried everything from ignoring her when she runs and just monitoring her until we can catch her which has almost gotten her run over a few times to enlisting half the neighborhood to corral her.
    She is now approaching 8 years old and isn’t showing any signs of maturing, I am a patient man and have owned and trained many dogs but am at my wits end here. My wife has arranged to give me one of my greatest wishes, another West Highland Terrier, I was so bonded to my last Westie, it broke my heart when my ex decided to keep him. I am looking forward to another Westie and the training experience but I am so afraid of what will happen with the younger Airedale. I have two months to try to work it out with the Airedale before the pup comes home and I am wondering if I should try shock collar training to try and reign in this terror, we have tried every other kind of training and have had little or no success. I veiw this as my failure not the dogs, I just haven’t fiqured out how to get through to her. Please any constructive advice is appreciated.

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog play rules, and I supervise them well during play-time to enforce those rules. I make sure that there is no bullying, and I manage their excitement level by throwing in many play-breaks. When they get over-excited, is when they usually start to play rough and when things start to escalate. Therefore, managing their excitement level is a very important part of keeping play-time controlled and successful.
      More on what I do with my dogs during play-time.

      I do not leave my dogs alone together until I am very sure that there will be no issues, and I exercise them well before any alone time. I also set up a very fixed routine for my dogs, a consistent set of house rules, and they work for all of the things that they want.

      What is the younger Airedale’s daily routine like? Has she always shown these behaviors or did they only develop recently? What types of activities does she enjoy?

      where she stays just outside our reach and taunts us with this run and chase game.

      Yeah, I think many dogs do this, not because of dominance but because it initiates a fun and interesting game. With my dogs, I do recall training exercises. In addition, I train them on door manners, so that they learn not to bolt out doors. I also try to set them up for success by providing a fixed routine and structured activities throughout the day (e.g. making them work for all of their food). In this way, they know exactly what to expect, and they have many structured outlets for their energy.

      More on how I deal with dog escapes.
      ASPCA article on recall training.
      More on dominance and bad dog behavior.

  15. Sandi says

    I have 2 dogs on which I use shock collars. A 60 lb Shiba mix and a 60 lb Husky/Malamute mix. It was my last resort. After major discussion with a farmer and his deer rifle as they chased his cows, watching the Shiba retrieve a fawn from the river and proceed to kill it, kill two of my neighbors cats, chasing and many times killing squirrels, birds, moles, gophers I was at wits end. They also chase coyotes all the way back to their den and I can only pray they are not pack attacked. I spent much $$s on training /behavior. The e-collar was the only salvation. I was not abusive, gave only quick bursts to break their focus and shock level only enough to turn them back. All after trying the beep first.

    • Anonymous says

      Did it work for your dogs? I too am at my wits end and would use it with quick corrections. My dogs almost were killed today when they wouldn’t come back and ran into a busy parking lot approaching a major street. Nothing else is working.

    • Anonymous says

      Why are your dogs off leash and running wild? Don’t allow that and you won’t have these issues to begin with.

    • Renee says

      HI Sandi, and anyone looking to get a shock collar. I to have those problems with my shep. he love to run after anything. Live In the mountains and was afraid of coyotes ,bobcats, hunters. so bought the shock collar worked great. Until this morning. shock collar malfunctioned and all most killed him. Kept going off and did not know what was going on because they are silent. he couldn’t walk very good. Removed the shock collar and he fell to ground. I did hymlik on him and slowly he started to come around. I thank God I was here. and he hadn’t run off with it on. we would of never found him and he wouldn’t be with us now. I hope this helps with anyone wanting to buy a shock collar. I did all kinds of research before I bought it and have not heard of this. So I felt I needed to inform everyone.

  16. Tony White says

    I am considering a shock collar for my dog. He is generally a great dog, and very obedient to recall, except when he sees sheep!

    Unfortunately this behavior has already resulted in the death of one sheep, hence he kenneled at night and on a long leash during the day, except for walk times when he is still on the leash but going for a walk with the family.

    I want him to be able to roam the property and not worry about mine or other people’s livestock being a threat, what are your thoughts?



    • shibashake says

      Based on Christiansen and Shalke’s studies, animal aversion training (e.g. training a dog to fear and avoid snakes or sheep) is one of the few cases where shock collars do not significantly increase stress levels in dogs, if done right. Here is the relevant excerpt –

      {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.

      However, there are also warnings that the training has to be done in exactly the right way. In addition, pain will still be applied.

      Personally, I would consider other types of training first. These two articles have more on retraining prey chasing behavior-

  17. Jennifer Ganus says

    I have always felt positive reinforcement worked best. Say no to unwanted behavior, then promptly show the wanted behavior and reward for it. I prefer the gentle approach. Dogs want to please us and working together creates a great bond, And
    the dog does the wanted behavior to please you. I think with the shock/vvibration collars only deliver negative with no instruction on what to do instead. And less communication with you to learn how to please you.

  18. Katarina says

    Has anybody thought about further problems that might be associated with using any of these advices…….like triggering seizures ?! I guess we might never know, but I wouldn’t say 100% that it cannot. And that something we have been dealing recently……

  19. Jim R. says

    First off, thank you for your article…

    My dog trainer is suggesting using an e-collar (specifically the “e-collar” brand/model) as he does not respond to correction using the slip or prong collar. She first asked me to try the collar on myself so that I’m comfortable with it. My dog responded to the collar at a level 4. I could not even sense anything until over twice that level at level 10 (range is from 0-100). Even then I could not notice anything other than a faint “pulse”. No “shock”, no pain, etc.

    Is the “e-collar” that much different than a traditional “shock collar” or am I just missing something all together?

    Please help as I’m very confused and stumbled upon your article while trying to make an informed decision on how to proceed.


    • shibashake says

      Aversive collars such as choke collars, prong collars, and shock collars/electronic collars use pain to suppress behaviors. In particular, the aversive stimulus (e.g. pain) triggers an aversive response in the dog, which then causes him to stop his current behavior in order to avoid further unpleasantness.

      My first trainer was an aversive based trainer, so I started doing corrections using a regular collar. The first bunch of times I corrected my dog, I was able to suppress his undesirable behaviors. However, he quickly got used to it, and I had to make stronger and stronger corrections to trigger an aversive response. Finally, the trainer suggested that I use a prong, to make stronger corrections (i.e. apply more pain).

      When I started using the prong, it worked great at first, but then my dog got habituated to it again, and then I had to start making stronger corrections, until finally it didn’t work anymore. At this point, I did a lot of reading on dog behavior and decided to go with a different type of training, which has worked out well for my dogs.

      For aversive collars to “work”, we need to apply the right amount of pain. The level needed will change depending on the dog, past experiences, current environment, etc. In the beginning, my dog responded quickly to a “new” piece of equipment because it was something unexpected, then he responded because the pain applied was greater, then he simply got habituated to the pain and stopped responding.

      There are other risks associated with electronic collars that are not present with other collars because the source of the stimulus is unclear. This creates a higher risk for a dog to make the wrong associations. There is more discussion about this in the article above.

      Finally, aversive collars work by suppressing behaviors that are undesirable to us, but they do not address the source of the behavior. For example, my dog was vocalizing because of anxiety. I may suppress that behavior in the short term by using aversive collars, but in the long term, it would only make things worse because applying pain to my already anxious dog will only cause him to get more stressed. The pain may stop his barking behavior in the short term, but the underlying issue (his anxiety) is still there.

      Now, I try to understand where my dog’s behavior is coming from first. Once I understand that, I can help him overcome the issue at the source. In this way, I am not just suppressing the symptoms in the short term.

      More on how I deal with my dog’s bad behavior.
      More on how dogs learn.
      More on aversive training.

  20. Amy Fehnel says

    My husband and I have 2 pitbulls. They are both neutered males from the same litter. We got the first one at 8 weeks old and the 2nd one when the original owner couldn’t find him a home around 6 months. Once we got them acclimated things were fine. But eventually they started being aggressive towards each other regarding food, toys and us. Unfortunately, they got into a fight that lasted about 10 minutes and resulted in severe injuries to our first dog. We don’t want to give up on either dog, so after we got them medical treatment we had a dog trainer come. We use commands and separately they listen. We are now muzzling, and medicating (doggy prozac) and are now considering shock collars to deter the aggression. I would be interested to know your thoughts on our situation. Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      That sounds like resource guarding behavior.

      In serious cases of aggression, it is best to get help from a good professional trainer. However, the dog training field is not well regulated, so finding a good trainer can be challenging. What techniques did your trainer suggest? Did your trainer suggest using prozac and shock collars?

      Dogs develop food/object guarding behaviors because they associate another dog coming near their stuff with something negative. Personally, I would stay away from using shock collars. Injecting pain and more stress into an already volatile situation is highly risky, and may cause even more extreme and erratic behavior. In addition, it will create even more negative associations with other dogs.
      More on how I help my dogs get along.

      Given that the aggression is serious, it is best and safest to find a good trainer/behaviorist.

    • Daniel says

      Hi Amy
      No, I would highly discourage using any aversion therapy with your dogs at this point. Not that I am any authority, other than my own. But your dogs seems to lack emotional well being, and that is what I think is the source of their aggression.
      They seem to need a change of outlook in life, a more positive outlook. They need to feel more safe. They need oxytocin, more trust.
      Then they will relax more and be happier, and more allowing.

  21. 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-

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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!!!

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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!

  29. 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.

  30. 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

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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,

  35. 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’.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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!

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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

  44. 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. 😀 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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!

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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. 😀

      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. 😀

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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

  66. Amy says

    How to I tactfully tell my neighbor that their dogs barking is annoying, bothersome, and rude. Is it too much to request they not let the dog out til 7 am ??? All she does is bark!

  67. Danooshy says

    Hi There,
    I really need your help and thank you for your article.
    I have a 7 month old labrador and our issue is that he constantly eats every bit of bark, stick or mulch in the park. I have tried clicker training with “leave it” and “drop it” and int he park it does not work. I tried to keep him on leash but that didnt burn the energy a 7 month lab has.
    I recently started using a shock collar on him, I started with the beep and vibration and the first two days there was an improvement. He doesn’t seem to react to the collar I think as his head is bent munching he is not feeling it.

    My main questions to you is what can I do to stop him eating all the sticks/mulch/bark in the park. Its not an issue when walking but a major issue off leash. I understand all dogs chew but the quantities are excessive and it cant be good to throw up all the time and have a sore tummy. Many thanks, D

    • shibashake says

      Training a strong recall may help-

      When I do recall training, I start in a very low stimulus area, e.g. my backyard.

      With Sephy, I also did controlled “leave-it” exercises with outside objects that he likes, e.g. pine cones. Once he is doing well in a low-stimulus environment, I very slowly raise the environmental challenge, number of tempting objects, and distractions. What works best with Sephy is to start small, take one step at a time, do training in a structured environment, and set him up for success.

      Consistency is also very important. If there is something that I do not want Sephy to eat, I consistently supervise him and stop him from getting any. If he is allowed to eat it sometimes and sometimes not, he will be encouraged to try harder, because the next time he may get lucky and be allowed to eat it. If I give the “Leave-It” command, I make sure he does not get whatever it is that he is trying to get. Otherwise, the command will lose all meaning.

    • Danooshy says

      Thanks Shiba for your response. I will keep working on the leave it command but I am hoping he also grows out of this habit in time as I really cannot isolate him from all the garden/park things he eats to 100% control the meaning all the time. I am starting small but I have a lot of Labrador energy to burn and when he is at the park he is fixated on sniffing out things – not sure if its a puppy thing or if he is destined to be a working dog sniffing out things. Thanks for your help and ill let you know how we go in time.

    • Anonymous says

      I would also look at your dog’s diet, even excellent diets don’t suit every dog and a lot of dogs eat harsh things like sticks and bark to deliberately make themselves sick to sort out an upset tummy. It may be a displacement behavour but I know that sometimes we can look at training to stop dogs doing something but in fact their are health reasons for the behaviour. This may be completely off for this but it’s something I’ve found happens.

  68. gaby ward says

    have one american bulldog [5] and one ambulldog/labmix[3] about every 3months bulldog gets a”little” excited and starts tearing into other dog…bad,messy gettin them apart very scary,then they feel baaad,scared and hiding….,think scockcollar is the answer on the am bulldog…off leash great…love people,just that…..scary for me …and love them both….

    • shibashake says

      Using a shock collar while in the middle of a dog fight will very likely worsen the situation.

      Adding pain in the form of hitting or shocking the dogs will often escalate the fight and make it worse, so don’t hit them with anything or expect a shock collar to work.
      ~~[The Dog Training Secret]

      Do NOT use a pinch collar or any other pain-to-neck device (including especially a bark-corrector or remote shock collar) on any dog with an aggression problem. Pain tends to increase aggression. For dog-aggressive dogs, any pain in the neck can trigger the same fight response as would be triggered by being bitten in the neck by the other dog. So use of neck pain to a dog who is dog aggressive is likely to cause the dog to start a fight as a pre-emptive strike under less and less provocation from the other dog.
      ~~[Big Dogs, Huge Paws]

      Even aversive trainers who use shock collars in training, advise *against* using them in a dog fight.

      People talk about using cattle prods or shock collars to break up 2 pets that fight. I can tell you that many times this is not going to work. The electric cattle prod or electric collar will only put the dogs into higher fight drive. When they are shocked they will turn and bite the prod, or when they are shocked they will think the other dog is causing the pain and they will fight harder.
      ~~[Ed Frawley]

      Once a dog fight has started, the dogs are in instinct mode, and are no longer capable of learning. The best we can do at that point, is to minimize the damage inflicted to both dogs and people. As is stated in *all* the articles above, breaking up a dog fight requires experience and skill, is risky, and can result in bites on us (redirected aggression).

      Therefore, the key with dog fights is prevention.

      What has worked best for my dogs is to manage their level of excitement, set up a consistent set of interaction rules (so they know exactly what to expect from each other), and use desensitization techniques to raise their instinct threshold.

      For serious aggression issues and dog fighting issues, I would get help from a professional trainer.

  69. Emma says

    I have always been very strongly against the use of shock collars, but am starting to wonder if it’s the only way I can keep my dog safe. She’s a beagle who has developed strong hunting instincts and has now disappeared in pursuit of deer 4 or 5 times. The most recent incident, she was gone for 2 hours. I don’t have any safe and enclosed parks nearby, just acres of forest. I don’t want to confine her to walks on the lead for the rest of her life, but I also don’t want her to be hit by a car or train while chasing something.

    Is there really any likelihood that I can train her not to chase deer with any traditional methods? I just want to keep her safe, but still let her enjoy life and a good romp in the woods.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah Beagles are bred to follow their nose. When they catch a scent, instinct will take over and it will be difficult to override their DNA and stop them from following the scent trail – whatever training methods we use, including shock collars and invisible fences.

      Here is an excerpt from the National Beagle Club of America,

      Beagles are scent hounds, bred for many, many generations to follow a scent. It is their instinct. Ideally, they require a fully fenced yard with at least a 5 foot fence and chicken wire or cement buried at the fence line. Invisible fencing alone is not suitable for beagles, in most cases. They must also be walked “on leash” at all times. Young beagles are quite active and will be happiest in a home that can provide a safe and secure yard in which to play.
      ~~[National Beagle Club of America]

      As for recall training, this article from the ASPCA gives a good list of methods. It is important to note, though, that recall training will never be 100% reliable, especially with breeds that have high prey drive or scent hounds that have been bred to follow their noses.

      Given that shock collars are risky, increase stress, and are not fully reliable, it is *not* something that I would use on my own dogs; except perhaps in the very limited case of snake aversion training. Even there, though, shock collars can result in more behavioral issues down the road. Therefore, given current data, it is not something that I would recommend to others.

      Are off-leash dogs happier than on-leash dogs?

  70. Daniel says

    Thanks for writing an excellent article. I despretly want to be able to run around the woods with my belg sheepdog and I am considering getting a shock collar. I voted “more important to have off leash than stress” but I am aware that if I didnt work and go to school, I wouldn’t need this shortcut. Maybe ill go to the dogpark today and get the e collar next weekend.

  71. Abbie says

    I have two labradoodles ages 2 and 6. We have lived on an acre of land with a big backyard and an invisible fence that kept them safe and in the yard and they learned quickly and didn’t mind it and were happy. The dogs bark constently and loudly every morning when neighbors are still asleep and in the middle of the day aswell. We are haveing to sell our house and downsize and our soon to be new back yard for the dogs is much much smaller and the houses are close together and we are afraid the barking will cause problems with the neighbors and result in them poisining our dogs. We are thinking of barking shock collars, but I love my dogs very much and dont Want them to stress or be in pain but they MUST stop barking! Our dogs are very spoiled and are terrible with training (they think they’er the boss) what do I do to stop the barking and help make the move easier for them to adjust to the new house and backyard?

    • shibashake says

      I love my dogs very much and dont Want them to stress or be in pain

      I think that that is a very good goal.

      In terms of barking, dogs may vocalize for a variety of reasons. To fix the behavior, I first identify what is causing it. For example, one common reason for dog barking is anxiety. Some dogs may get anxious when they are separated from their people, and this may cause continuous barking and whining. This is also known as separation anxiety.

      Anxious behaviors are not the result of disobedience or spite. They are distress responses! Your dog displays anxious behaviors when left alone because he’s upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. If you punish him, he may become even more upset and the problem could get much worse.

      ~~[ASPCA – Separation Anxiety]

      Some dogs may also become anxious or fearful because of negative associations made with the environment. For example, the studies described above show that dogs may associate the pain received from a shock collar to the environment, rather than to a particular behavior. This may in turn cause the dog to become anxious while in the shock environment (e.g. backyard), and result in vocalizations or other stress coping behaviors.

      Some things that help my dogs with anxiety and barking –
      1. Daily exercise and structured positive activities. Exercise helps to relieve stress, and gives my dog a positive outlet for his energy. It also helps with bonding and fulfills his need to explore, smell, and see new things.

      2. A consistent routine and a consistent set of rules. In this way, my dog knows what to expect from me and his environment. He also knows what I expect from him. This reduces uncertainty, which will reduce stress. When we moved to a new place, I set up some routine and rules right away. In this way, I can re-establish some consistency amid all the large changes. I also increased my dog’s daily exercise.

      3. I put the barking behavior under command control. In particular, I teach my dog “Speak” and “Quiet”.

  72. D. Richards says

    I need to buy a shock collar for our Aussie. She wants to attack the 2 baby calves we just bought. Also, about 800 feet away from our house is my parents house. She goes up there and scares them. They wont even go outside cause she wants to attack them. There has never been any incidents between them, and when we are there she is so sweet to them. I can not spend 100.00 on a collar.. please advise what is best?? Oh, She has been fixed, she gets chained at night (And is loose only when I am outside) . And she is not allow to wander and I live in the country. There is so many brands, so expensive. Please advise ASAP. D Richards

    • shibashake says

      Some things that help with my dog –
      1. I do people desensitization exercises with him to teach him how to interact with people and to help him associate people with positive events.

      2. In my previous house, I did not have a secure yard, so my dog stayed inside the house with me. For exercise and socialization, I would take him out on several supervised walks every day. This creates a consistent structure and routine for him, which helped significantly with his behavior.

      3. I try to redirect my dog’s energy into positive structured activities, including training exercises, working for his food, structured games, etc. Herding training may work well for an Aussie. It will engage her in a positive ‘job’ with her people, and put her herding drive under command control.

      In terms of chaining, my understanding is that it can cause frustration in dogs, and lead to behavioral issues including increased aggression. A bit more on chaining.

  73. Sharon McQuirk says

    I’m considering the electric fence to keep my dog from chasing deer. We live in a wooded area that is pretty remote and there are allot of deer. He goes completely nuts and will chase them for hours 6-8! He has come home with every kind of injury you could imagine. We now have a second dog that will run with him, so we have to keep him on a chain and I think the electric fence would give him more freedom. What do you think?

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, my Sibes also have high prey drive and like chasing deer. In my old house I did not have a secure yard, so what worked well is to have my dog inside the house with me, and then I would take them out on daily supervised walks.

      Chaining can cause frustration in dogs, and lead to behavioral issues. More on chaining.

      The electric fence also has some issues –
      1. Dogs still escape from electric fences, and once they leave, they will not want to return. If they return, they will get shocked again, so they learn to stay away from their own home.
      2. Dogs often associate pain from the fence with their environment or with the people, dogs, and other animals in their environment. This may cause a dog to become fearful of their own home. Polsky’s study and other studies also show that the electric fence can lead to increased aggression towards people and other animals.
      3. Schalke’s study shows that electronic collars increase stress in dogs and leads to a lower quality of life.
      4. The electric fence does not keep other animals from coming into our dog’s space.

      What works best for my dogs is to only leave them unsupervised in a fully fenced area. To save on cost, we can also fence up a smaller area or a dog run. For exercise, we go on daily supervised walks.

  74. mommaJ says

    We have a 7 yr old Jack Russell who’s been a very non-typical JRT for most of his life. In the last year or so he has become obsessive about barking when he hears noises – even neighborhood kids outside will send him into a frenzy. He rushes the door when someone knocks or rings the doorbell and barks non-stop until it’s opened.

    We don’t want to completely discourage him from barking at an intruder, for example… but this constant and obsessive barking at noises is becoming unbearable.

    He’s already very sensitive to being reprimanded – a lot of the time it just takes a look to make him appear ashamed. However, we are running out of ideas when it comes to the barking issue. We don’t think that an audible collar would work as he also obsesses over squeaking and other noises. We’ve started looking for other options, and are thinking that we may have to go to a shock collar. The main concern is that we don’t want to stress him any more than he already is.

    Would love to hear your suggestions.

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, what is his daily routine like? When he is out on walks, does he show similar behavior with people and other dogs? Or is this something that only happens when he is in the house? Did something change a year ago when his behavior changed? Have you noticed any physical issues – e.g. with his sight?

      When my dog shows reactive behavior, I start by identifying the cause of the behavior. For example, is it from a physical issue? Is it because of stress? Is it because of frustration? Is he guarding?

      Understanding the root of the behavior is important because using a shock collar on a stressed out dog will likely increase his stress, and worsen his stress symptoms and behaviors.

      When my Husky got stressed with certain loud noises, I did noise desensitization exercises with her. This helped her to build her confidence, and also enabled her to better cope with the stress. Here is more on dog anxiety and stress.

      More on dog barking.

    • matt j r says

      I’m Just everyday guy, hope this helps. Just to put things into perspective, people say, jokingly, don’t look them in the eyes, that’s when they got you. If the dog’s, looking at you, such as in pitiful begging eyes, so that you won’t tell it No or enforce that. My personal opinion, the dog found out it works, and every animal will get it’s way if it can. Dogs do not recognize being considerate, in my experience. If you want the dog to still bark at intruders, what good is a shock collar. Consistency, tell him Quiet, but not as though you are competing with him for loudness. Of coarse you have to teach him Quiet first, it helps to give the dog a recognized command that will remove him from the situation. The alternate command, Leave It or Go Away perhaps will give him an idea that you don’t need his help in that regard. If he does not respond, block him, or hold him by the collar, assuming you can stoop that low, he may be too focused on barking to notice your command. If this does not work, remove him from the situation for a while. You may have to reintroduce him to the stimuli and remove him many times before he understands command. And obviously, praise him when he does right, even accidentally. Except not immediately after he stops, because then you’re just telling him you liked what he was just doing right there. Without the praise he may never know what you Do want from from him. Show him right and wrong.

  75. Trish says

    Hi I have a 5 year old Siberian husky named Bowie. Bowie is a rescue dog that is neutered and seems calm,until he goes into prey mode. We are currently working with a dog trainer for behavioral problems i.e his high prey drive. We have tried rewarding him with treats but that didn’t seem to work for long. We also tried the prong collar to help with the training but he ended up breaking the collar and attacked a small dog. Bowies prey can be anything from dogs to kids. He so far ignores every command even when presented with treats for good behavior. Our trainer now wants to try the remote shock collar in order to snap him out of prey mode. Should this be out next option or is there a better one? Please note that he has broken out of the prong collar twice and has attacked two dogs and a child.

    • shibashake says

      Re Prong collar:

      Yeah, it is common for prong collars to break or pop open especially when put under strong pulling pressure. I used a prong collar on my Shiba Inu in my very early days of training, and we used a flat collar together with the prong. In this way, if the prong breaks, I still have control of my dog.

      The article I quote from below has some really good information on prong collars and leash corrections.

      Dogs can and do break, pop open or simply cause the prong collar to open & fall off unexpectedly. Should that happen, the fail-safe strap is still connecting leash to buckle collar!

      ~~[Suzanne Clothier]

      Here is a bit more on my own experiences with Shiba Sephy and leash corrections.

      Re Dog-to-dog aggression:

      Sephy, my Shiba Inu, was also quite reactive to other dogs. Here are some things that helped with Sephy. I did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with him early on, and that helped to raise his instinct threshold and impulse control. The key with desensitization training is to start with a very weakened version of the stimulus; weak enough that our dog is able to stay in control, and to learn.

      Here is an article on how I deal with my Siberian Husky’s prey drive.

      If a dog gets shocked every time he lunges at another dog, there is a very high likelihood that he will associate the shocks to the other dog instead of to his lunging behavior. This is also true of lunging at children. Polsky’s study and many others show that there is a high risk of dogs making the wrong associations with shock collar training. This can lead to more problem behaviors, including increased aggression.

      This article from the RSPCA has more useful information and scientific studies on shock collars as well as aversive training.

      Re dog training and dog trainers:

      I started with an aversive based trainer with Sephy. He taught us some useful management techniques, and knew a lot about different aversive collars, and techniques. However, the training he proposed did not bring us good results.

      There is a lot of misinformation out there about dog training, and there is very little regulation on dog trainers. Later on, I found the APDT site to be a useful place to start when looking for a good trainer.

      As for dog training information, I usually turn to scientific studies, behavioral articles from good vet schools (e.g. UPenn, UCDavis), and articles from well-established dog advocate organizations (e.g. RSPCA, ASPCA).

  76. jacki warren says

    Hi I have two sube dogs. We have the underground electric fence and never thought it would work on our then 2 year old, Spirit, who loved to run. However it was perfect and at 7 she stays in the yard with no collar. Our other pup, Princess, learned early on to jump thru the shock to get the yummy treats (geese, turkeys, ducks) the farm up the road had to offer. We cannot keep her in the yard without tying her. However occasionally she gets loose and we get “treats”. We are very lucky to have understanding neighbors. Recently she got loose and got into a fight with the neighbors dog who then needed stitches. This has me very concerned about what may happen the next time. She is good with Spirit and with our new 4mth old shepherd pup. You do have to keep an eye on her that she does not get too worked up. So I was wondering if you thought I should be concerned about her behavior with the neighbors dog? No one was there to see why she attacked it. When she gets loose we can not get her back until she is tired and comes home on her own. (She is 4 years old). Any thoughts or advice welcome. I am very concerned about the neighbors and getting in a row with them but love my dog.

    • shibashake says

      So I was wondering if you thought I should be concerned about her behavior with the neighbors dog?

      Yes. Dog fights are never a good thing, our dog may get hurt, someone else’s dog may get hurt, and people may get hurt when they try to intervene. I love my dogs very much as well, and it would be terrible if one of them got attacked or got hurt from a fight.

      As you say, dogs can consistently escape through an invisible or underground fence. In addition, Polsky and other studies show that such fences can also encourage aggression. As you say, dogs can also escape from tie-outs, and there are other associated risks. Tie-outs and invisibile fences also do not prevent outside dogs, and other animals from coming in to our dog’s area and starting something.

      What has worked well for my Huskies, is to build a secure fence around our backyard. We also put concrete blocks below the fence to prevent them from digging out. Some people bury their fence or use blocks of wood to prevent underground escapes.

      To save on cost, we can start by first fencing off a smaller exercise area. Alternatively, we can keep our dogs inside, and only have them outside under human supervision.

  77. Patty Sills says

    I have a one year old french masiff who is generally well behaved except has “excitement aggression” towards whom ever is walking him. At the end of a walk for instance, he will suddenly start jumping at me, trying to bite my arms and feet, for no apparent reason. He may occasionally do the same activity if some else pets him or a dog plays with him, yep he turns to me and becomes uncontrollable. I have to spray him with vinger several times to settle him down, but the whole routine is becoming a fiasco. Embarssing and sometimes painful…otherwise a great dog. ECollar?

    • shibashake says

      For dog-to-people and dog-to-dog excitement or reactivity issues, I do desensitization training with my dogs.

      With desensitization training, I first expose my dog to a very weakened version of the stimulus, e.g. stand a comfortable distance away from a calm person, who is not giving any attention to my dog, and is just sitting still, reading a book. I teach my dog to focus on me, stay calm, and use alternate behaviors (Sit) in the presence of the “person-stimulus”.

      Once we are comfortable doing this, we take one step closer to the person and repeat the exercise. As we have more successful sessions, my dog learns to associate other people with positive events, being calm, and looking to me for direction.

      Here is more on people desensitization exercises and dog-to-dog desensitization exercises.

      Here is my story on being embarrassed by my dog.

  78. Sinaira says

    I have 6 month old german sherped mix, who loves to whine. He will whine when he sees us putting out boots on to take him out, he whines if he see our lab mix go to the door be it for us to take them out or her hearing something in the hall. He whines if he doesnt see our lab, he even whines when she in her kennel next to each other. He also whines any time either of us go to walk into the hall that leads to the door, which is the same hall that leads to the kitchen which sets him off too. We tried ingoring it but he had started to bark. So we followed advice from a breeder/trainer friend of mine and bought a training spray that taste nasty to him. It stopped the barking but he contunies to whine no matter how much or how often we use it. His even whined when we been standing right next to his kennel. At first i thought it meant he had to use the washroom but now its so often i have no idea what to do. I really dont wanna use a shock collar but this is getting ridiculous. They both get tones of attention, they get lots of play time together as well as one on one time. They get there long walks too. I just dont understand, otherwise his pretty well behaved dog.

    • shibashake says

      He only vocalizes when he is in the kennel or at other times as well? Does he only whine after a certain period of time in the kennel or does he start right away? Does he seem anxious or stressed when he is in the kennel or away from his people? Does he usually get let out when he whines? Do people go over to him when he whines? What is his routine like?

      Often, puppies whine because they want to be close to their people and family. I put my puppy’s crate in a people area, so that she can still see and be with people even during her crate time. When our Shiba Inu was young, he used to whine whenever he couldn’t see us. After we put his crate and enclosure in a people area, he was happy to be in there and stopped vocalizing.

      There are many other reasons why a dog may whine.

      How we stop the behavior will depend on why the dog is doing it. Sometimes, it may be out of anxiety. Other times, dogs whine because it works. It gets our attention, and at the very least, we go over to them to check things out. This rewards the behavior because whining = get people to come over.

      If a dog is whining to get our attention, then we want to make sure *not* to reward the “whining” behavior. For example, I always wait until my dogs are quiet before I go over to them and let them in or out of the house. They know that whining = don’t get anything, but stay quiet = get rewarded with greater freedom, play, walks, and other rewards.

      Here are some methods on how to stop dog barking.

      Scientific studies also show that shock collars are *not* more effective than spray collars for dog barking. In addition, shock collars are very risky, especially for younger dogs.

  79. Paul says

    I have an aussie that is almost 2. We also have an older lab (8.5 yrs). The aussie tries herding the lab by nipping her behind her collar. When aussie was younger, lab would put him down when he tried to teeth her like this. Now he is gaining dominance over her and it seems his herding/teething is getting worse. For the first time today he put his teeth on a neighborhood dog in an aggressive way behind the collar. He didn’t break the skin, but I am concerned about this behavior and wonder if this might be the kind of thing that requires a shock collar. What do you think?

    • shibashake says

      What works with my dogs is to teach them clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. Some of my rules include no-humping, no stealing, and no bullying.

      If one of my dogs is too rough, I no-mark, and stop play temporarily. Then I refocus them on doing something else with me, e.g. doing some simple commands with me, including movement commands. This gets them to calm down and to refocus on me. Then they can go back to playing after they have calmed down.

      If my dog does not listen or goes right back to being rough, then he goes to timeout briefly.

      This teaches him that if he plays too rough or does not follow play-rules, then he does not get to play and temporarily loses his freedom. Since my dogs really love to play, this is a very effective way to get them to follow my interaction rules.

      Another thing that helps with my dogs is to manage their excitement level. During play, I throw in many play-breaks, so that they learn to regulate their energy and do not reach a state where they lose control of themselves.

      I set the rules, I supervise to make sure the rules are followed, and I resolve any conflicts that occur. In this way, my dogs learn that they do not need to use aggression with each other, because I will handle things in a fair and consistent manner. They also know exactly what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are not.

      Finally, it also helps to give my dogs alternative outlets for their doggy behaviors. For example, my Huskies love to dig, so I take them to places where they can dig, and also set-aside a large area in the backyard for their digging pleasure. My dogs are not herding dogs, but I have come across some places that do herding training as well as practice. This may be a fun activity that will also help to put the herding behavior under command control.

      Here is a good article on shock collars and herding.

    • Anonymous says

      No its not just in his kennel ( which is in the living room which is also right next to our bedroom) his doesnt whine when we go to bed so i doubt its for not being able to see us. He also doesnt whine when we leave them for work or if we are going to dinner or something. He whine while sitting in a room full of people and his getting all the attention and boots (our lab) has gone out of his site. I know his whined to try to get her to come back but she ignored him and went about her business ( this was at my in law, which his not yet allowed full range because his not house broken and they dont want him making a mess) he has also whines in the car when let boots out first. We have tired ignoring him for long periods of time but he just keeps at it, i end up waiting over an hour one day and he still hadnt stopped. Thats when we started using bitter apple spray with ack ack ( his tiger word for him not being allowed to do something, which works great with bounders and when he gets to rough with the cat) but for some reason doesnt seem to be working for this. When we were just ignoring him we would either stand out of site or with our backs turned to the kennel so we were giving any attention to him etc. As for his routine my bf take him out in the morning when he comes to pitch me up from work ( because I work over nights and have the weekends off) goes for the car ride , comes back does his business again comes in side which they get their first meal of the day. Which after I do some basic sit, stay, come etc training for 10-20m after that I get on the floor with both of them and play with them till they both get tired out. Which at that time I take him out again before he falls asleep for his mid morning nap. Which when I hit the hay for a few hours. So I normally sleep for about four hours which is normally when he wakes up and starts playing with his toys cause I wake up to him playing with the squeakier. Then I get up dressed feed the fish, then go put my shoes on and coat. Before I even able to put one shoe on he starts whining…. Is the most hi pitched whine I have ever heard. Once he quits down long enough for me to take him out I do. I do my very best not to give him any attention because i know it rewards the behaviour (i done a lot of reading up on it, but none of seems to work, and i hoped someone might know something that isnt written down or i havent been told/ tired before) while we are out this time I take them down the long gorgeous nature path we have beside our place, which allow them to run and play with each other. (Which last any were from 45 mins to about 2 hrs at most depending on weather and condition of the path) If its to mess we go for a shorter walk then I take them down to our under ground parking ( which no one uses because there no cameras and no good view into) which then I let them run and play chase each other then they both just lay down and give me that look of okay Mommy we are done now lol. Its also a good place for me to do 1-1 and group training with them. Like today we spent almost two hours down there doing training and play time, when they got in they both passed out until after dinner. Normally they dont sleep for that long though. Normal days they would sleep for couple hours after that/ after his done picking on the cat ( mind you the cat picks back lol) Though once they are both out again I’ll curl up on the couch watch tv/ nap on and off or do what ever needs to be done around the house. After that my bf normally gets home from work, dogs go out again come back in get play time with either one of us or both of us while the other makes dinner. Once dinner is done we feed them both so they are eating dinner at the same time as we are. After that its more play time with my bf till they both go chill/ sleep or just play with toys. ( by then i am normally back in bed taking a nap before work) then when I go to work they come out with of us for the car ride, bf comes home with them goes for a short walk, then they get free roam to play and do what ever till he goes to bed at 1-3am in the morning. So breaking it down he whines every time we go to take him out to use the washroom. Even when we go to get him his food and water. He whines any time either of go into the hall/ in the kitchen. His even whinnied before when I went to take a shower ( mind he hasnt done that in a long time) he whines when we go to get out of the car, even when we even havent opened the car doors yet. Etc.

    • shibashake says

      Thanks for the detailed response.

      To retrain behaviors for my dogs, here is generally what I do –
      1. I observe my dog’s behavior closely and try to identify common elements.

      For example, does my dog only show the behavior when *I* am not around, when he is alone, when the mailman comes, when there is a certain noise outside, when the doorbell rings, etc. Sometimes, it may be a combination of things.

      Identifying the triggers that cause the behavior will also help me understand the behavior better, whether it is from anxiety, stress, excitement, or something else. This is important because it will determine the best way to retrain or redirect the behavior. For example, punishing a dog that is already anxious will likely increase his stress level, and worsen his anxiety symptoms.

      So breaking it down he whines every time we go to take him out to use the washroom. Even when we go to get him his food and water. He whines any time either of go into the hall/ in the kitchen. His even whinnied before when I went to take a shower ( mind he hasnt done that in a long time) he whines when we go to get out of the car, even when we even havent opened the car doors yet. Etc.

      Need more observations of the dog during all this.

      Is he roaming freely then or in his kennel? What is he doing at the time before he starts to whine? Does he try to follow you? What is his body language? We want to try and understand what he is trying to say to us.

      What are the common surrounding elements?

      All this is detail is difficult to get without actually being there to see things as they unfold. Getting a good professional trainer can be helpful because he can visit with the dog, get to know him, understand his routine and environment, and more accurately identify the triggers for the behavior.

      2. Once I identify the source of the behavior, I can start to retrain it.

      If it is from anxiety, then I will probably use some sort of desensitization.

      If it is from excitement, I make sure I am very calm and move in a very calm pace. I may also try putting the behavior under command control, e.g. Teach my dog the Quiet command. In this way, I can teach my dog that when he is “Quiet” he gets to go out for our walk, but if he is not, then we have to wait until he is calm and quiet before we go. From this, he learns –

      calm + quiet = door opens and walk starts,
      whining = door remains closed and walk does not start.

      3. I try to set my dog up for success.

      I manage my dog so that he does not find himself in situations that he cannot handle. When training, I always start small, and only very slowly increase the environmental challenge. With each success, he will gain confidence, learn to trust me, and also learn what his role is in the family.

      I set up a set of consistent rules and a fixed routine. In this way, my dog knows exactly what to expect from me and vice versa.

      Finally, the more successes we have, the less he will practice the undesirable behavior. As a result, he will be less likely to repeat the behavior in the future. The opposite is also true – the more a dog practices a given behavior, the more likely he will be to repeat it in the future.

      Here is a bit more on how I deal with bad dog behaviors.

  80. Matthew says

    We have a one-year-old Labrador retriever who is in training as a hunting retriever. She’s got tons of drive and loves nothing more than playing serious fetch. She even knows quite a bit of handling already. My younger brother and I spend a lot of time training her. She has, however, learned that once we send her and she is out of reach, she’s off the hook–her responses slow down when we whistle-sit her.
    We are not at all interested in “magic cures” or “quick fixes”. We are totally willing to take our time and do things right, but as far as I can tell, there are few alternatives to an e-collar to tighten up her obedience at long distances. (If she doesn’t sit in the right spot, that is, as soon as we whistle her, the retrieve is inefficient and it takes too long.) I’m not trying to win a contest or anything, just trying to get Cassie to be the best I know she can be. What do you recommend?

    • shibashake says

      As I see it, it is all about priorities. My Huskies love digging, so I take them to places where they can dig. We also left a large part of the backyard un-landscaped so that they can have fun digging.

      They are not required to catch anything,
      they are not required to dig a hole according to human specifications, and
      they are not required to dig the biggest hole in the least amount of time.

      I care about my dogs’ quality of life and I want them to enjoy doing the things that they love, in a safe way. That is my priority, and I make my decisions based on that. Different priorities will likely lead to different decisions.

      When I have to make big decisions for my dogs, I always ask myself – am I making this choice for me or for them. My dogs do not care about winning competitions, they do not care about making quick, precise turns, and they do not care about digging the biggest hole in less than 5 seconds. Therefore, it is clear that using something which increases stress, is risky, and can easily cause fear and other unwanted associations, is not right for us.

      I try to enable my dogs to be what *they* want to be, not what *I* want them to be.

      Here is more information from the RSPCA about shock collars or ecollars.

      Here is an article on shock collars and herding training.

  81. Ivana says

    Hi, I was desperately reading articles on e-collars. Until now I was strongly against any kind of punishment as a method in dog training, but I have amazing, beautiful and super smart 10 month old English setter. She was a rescue, and she was always extremely fearful and anxious. I`ve managed to build very close bond with her and to correct most of her issues, slowly using rewards and praise’. However just before New Year`s we ran into a group of kids who threw a bunch of firecrackers just behind us while we were walking, that scared my dog to death and she started running like crazy without any control. Now whenever she hears any crackling sound she runs. I`ve tried desensitizing but it`s a slow process with a lot of set backs. Also she has very strong hunting instinct. To sum it up I have a dog that is fearful and submissive on one hand and has strong instinct on the other. We live in a densely populated area with a lot of traffic and speedway nearby, and when she gets scared or something distracts her she starts running without control and calling her and luring her with treats doesn`t work. That`s why I started considering e-collar. Would you be so kind to give advice if shock collar could help me. Even though I dread using it somehow seems less scary than my Bug being hit by a car :,(

    • shibashake says

      I`ve tried desensitizing but it`s a slow process with a lot of set backs.

      Can you elaborate more on the desensitization exercises you have tried and the reaction of your Setter? What are the set backs? The more detail the better.

      My Husky Lara was also afraid of the sound of firecrackers and also the sound of coyotes. What helped her, was to get a recording of the sound, and then start training her to tolerate it at a *very very low* volume. Here is more on what I did to get Lara more comfortable with the different sounds.

      Here is a bit more on dog anxiety and fear.

      As for shock collars, Schalke’s study shows that shocking a dog for recall, will cause elevated levels of stress. A dog that is fearful and anxious, is already under a great deal of stress. Therefore, it seems that introducing more stress and pain into the situation will only make things worse.

      Here is a list of recall training techniques (training a dog to come when called) from the ASPCA.

      Note though, that whatever recall training we use (including shock collars), it is never fully effective. As a result, off-leash training and work is best done when we are far away from roads and cars.

      For neighborhood walks, where there are cars nearby, I use a no-slip collar and leash to walk my dogs.

    • Ivana says

      Thnx for your quick response. As for desensitizing I`ve tried playing firecracker sound recording first low and then bit louder, and then clicked the clicker (clicker also scares her to death) while giving her the tastiest treats I could find and walking through apartment asking her to “sit”, “stay”or “come”. She was okay with sounds of firecrackers played on my MP3 as long they were not too loud, and the sound of clicker would be fine when muffled , but as soon as I`d click the clicker at a regular noise level she would run below kitchen table, tail between legs, shoulders bent, avoiding eye contact, and would become uncooperative, not responding to “come”or “sit”or any other command. I an not sure if it is of any significance but she was abandoned by a hunter when she was 4 months old I am not aware of what kind of training she went through before I adopted her. She was afraid of everything including collar and leash, confinement anxiety , and she had extreme separation anxiety (now she`s walking on leash and off leash as the real champ – unless distracted or scared – and she`s more relaxed when left alone, for months I didn`t find any damage when I return home).

    • shibashake says

      the clicker (clicker also scares her to death)

      The clicker is just a marker. It is often used to let a dog know that she is doing something good and that a reward coming. If our dog is afraid of the clicker noise, then it is no longer useful as a “positive-marker” because it is no longer positive.

      We can also use our voice as a marker. For example, when my dogs do something good, I say “Good Girl” or “Good Boy”. For a fearful dog, I use a softer and calm voice, so that I do not spook her.

      Here is a bit more on markers and dog training.

      The key with desensitization is to help our dogs gain confidence, and re-associate the scary noise with calmness and positive events. Therefore, we want to try and always keep our dog below his instinct threshold, i.e., we want to make sure not to use sounds that are too loud, that will overload him, scare him, and cause a fear reaction.

      I always go very slowly. I start with a very very soft volume, and keep sessions short, rewarding, and positive. The more positive experiences my dog has, the more confidence he gains, and the more he learns to tolerate the “scary stimulus”. The more negative experiences my dog has, where he gets afraid and runs away because of a loud noise, the more fearful he will become.

      Therefore, it is important not to only maximize successes, but also to minimize fear reactions. I very carefully manage my dog’s environment, so that he does not get exposed to more than he can handle even during walks, and at all other times. I only very slowly increase the environmental challenge when he has progressed in his desensitization training and can handle louder sounds.

      I start walking my dog in the house or backyard first – where it is quiet and safe. When I take him out, I start with very quiet areas of the neighborhood. If that is not available, we may drive him to a quiet field or quiet hiking trail, etc.

      For fear issues, I always try to set my dog up for success, so that he will gain confidence, enjoy his walks, and in this way, learn to become less fearful.

      I also visited with several professional trainers while training my Shiba Inu, Sephy. It was helpful to get a good trainer to observe Sephy, his body language, environment, etc., identify how I can improve his training, and also learn new ways of training.

      Big hugs to your girl! It is great that she has now found such a good home and a good friend. 😀

    • Ivana says

      Oh, yes, when we have a “set back” she is not only unresponsive to commands she also refuses food, water, she doesn`t pee or poop at all, and it takes a day or 2 to regain her trust by cuddling her, praising her, offering treats etc, and it`s like she`s learning everything for the first time over and over again.

  82. Trisha Wulf says

    I’ve had my dog for 8 months and I live on 18 acres. There is a fence but it is old and there are holes in it, sometimes I can’t even find where she got out. On one side is the interstate and on the other railroad tracks. Jasmine used to stay in the fence but now she has started finding ways to get out and doesn’t come back when she is called. She was literally seconds from being hit by a train once. The longer I have her the less she listens (we even did obedience classes) I cannot afford to re-fence the entire yard so I was going to do the shock collar because treats don’t make her come anymore but now I am hesitant because she is a rescue that was abused (2 yr old pit mix). I don’t want to keep her tied up or have to resort to walking on a leash in such a large yard. What else can I do?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Trisha,

      As you already know, there are no perfect solutions to this issue. Shock collars have a lot of risks, often lowers quality of life, and are not fully reliable, whether used as an invisible fence or as a recall training tool.

      Other options that come to mind –
      1. Some people fence off a smaller portion of their yard.

      This saves on cost, and still provides a safe, enclosed space for their dog. A fence also keeps other animals out, including other dogs. A shock collar will not help with this, since it only operates on the dog that is wearing it.

      2. A very solid recall.

      Training our dog to have a very strong recall is a very important part of off-leash walking. We have some very nice trails close to our neighborhood, and many people walk their dogs off-leash on those trails. When there are people biking, or when they see other dogs, they will call their dog back and put them on-leash temporarily until the distraction passes.

      Recall training is partly dependent on breed and the temperament of the dog. Dogs with high prey drive will be harder to train on recall, because they have a very strong instinct to chase after prey, especially moving prey. The environment also matters a lot. A high distraction environment will be more challenging then a low distraction environment.

      Finally, I find that training my dogs is a lifetime activity. The more I successfully repeat an exercise with them, the better they will be at it. Therefore, I start small, and then slowly build up the challenge.

      For recall training, I start in my backyard, which is fully enclosed, safe, and does not have many distractions. This sets them up for success, and significantly increases the chances that they will come when called. The more often they come when called, the more likely it will become a habit. Similarly, the more often a dog does not come when called, the less likely he will come on the next call.

      This article from the ASPCA has a good list of different recall training techniques and on what to do when our dog does not come.

      3. Walking a dog on-leash

      Leash-walking is a very viable alternative, especially for walking in areas that are close to traffic or for walking dogs that have very high prey drive. My dogs get off-leash time when they are at home and in the backyard. When we go walking in the neighborhood, I walk them on-leash using a no-slip collar. I walk them on a loose-leash so they still have a lot of fun smelling and exploring. Since I do the walk for them, they get to pick where they want to go, and we often make it into a joint activity. I take them to areas where they can dig, I help to clear out brush and rocks on their digging spots, they help me up hills, etc.

      Are off-leash dogs happier then on-leash dogs?

  83. Monica says

    Please help. I have a 9 month old English Bulldog. She is my 4th dog as an adult and I am at a total loss. I loves dogs! Never have I had a dog that was so bad. She is so incredibly destructive and so much more. She terrorizes my Yorkie too, biting her ear so hard one time she bled. I have to keep them separated. She has chewed up everything from shoes to electronic cords, the corners of my molding, chairs, everything. We crate her when she is bad but she has succeeded in bending the bars so bad the door won’t close. I am truly fearful. My 15 yrs son does not want to give up on her but I don’t know if I can handle much more. One time when feeding her, the food was gone but she chewed on the ceramic bowl until it broke. Thank god she has not bitten a person yet but I worry its only a matter of time. Is there any chance a shock collar will help?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Monica,

      Excessive chewing can be a result of stress. Does she mostly do this chewing when you are not home? Does she like chewing on her sanctioned toys? She may not know what she is allowed to chew on and what is off limits.

      What is her daily routine like? Does she like going on walks? playing games?

      What helps with my dogs, is to set up a fixed daily routine with a good amount of structured activity. In this way, they know exactly what to expect from me, and this certainty helps to reduce stress. The structured activity, e.g. walks, structured play, obedience exercises, interactive toys, etc., gives them positive outlets to redirect their energy.

      In addition, I also set up a consistent set of rules and a consistent way of communicating with my dogs. I motivate them to follow rules by using the Nothing in Life is Free program.

      I also do bite inhibition training with my dogs. This teaches them to pay attention to the force of their bites, and also that people have much thinner skins than other dogs, so they have to be a lot more gentle.

      Here is a bit more on dog anxiety and how I trained my Husky puppy.

  84. leah zerfoss says

    Hi I have a five month old st bernard who is just ornery. Im having troubles with him getting into and eating the trash. Also destroying things in the kitchen when we go. We keep him in the kitchen. He also tries to eat my son’s food or anyone elses and unless someone bigger than him is there to stop him its chaos. We are contemplating a shock collar to teach him these are bad things because bad dog and making him lay down as a time out arent working. Any advice?

    • shibashake says

      What I have noticed with my dogs is that they will repeat behaviors that get them good results and stop behaviors that are not rewarding.

      Dogs often get into the trash because when they do, they get rewarded with interesting smelling, yummy stuff, that the don’t get anywhere else. To stop undesirable behaviors, what has worked well with my dogs is to –

      1. Make sure they *do not* get rewarded for the behavior.
      For example, I dog-proof my house and do not leave nice smelling food on tables unattended. I keep trash containers closed, and/or behind closed doors.

      2. Make my dogs work for their food.
      This is a great way to teach my dogs what behaviors they *do* get rewarded for. Instead of giving my dogs their food for free in a silver bowl, I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program. I teach them house rules and positive ways for interacting with people. Then, I reward them well for following rules, staying calm, and interacting well with people.

      In this way, they know what are undesirable behaviors that will get them nothing, and also what are good behaviors that will get them good rewards.

      Here is a bit more on my experiences with stopping bad dog behavior.
      Here is a bit more on how I trained my puppy and how dogs learn.

      Also destroying things in the kitchen when we go.

      During puppyhood, my dogs like chewing and have a lot of puppy energy. What helped was to set up a fixed schedule and routine, which includes a lot of structured play time, walks, and obedience training. In this way, I can redirect their puppy energy into positive activities.

      Does your dog seem anxious when he is left alone? Dogs are pack animals, so they enjoy the company of their family. They can sometimes get anxious when left alone, especially if it is unexpected. Here is a bit more on separation anxiety.

  85. dorothy says

    Came across this article just as I’m at the end of my rope and was looking for ecollar for my 2yr old border collie/lab/perrenese girl.

    Great dog, super intelligent but has a very strong herding instinct. She is also Alfa and a jumper. She is super friendly and extremely excitable which is when she herds. I have been bit on more than one occasion, circled and barked at and charged.
    I try the reward for coming to me and do it regularly during our walks. But it is not curbing the herding. Just a little thing like calling her over from being too ruff on a small dog will set her off.
    I’m afraid that if I give her a treat every time she herds she’ll herd to get a treat. She’s that smart. She figures out all my tricks and avoids them. Any thing can send her into a herding mode. Sometimes we go periods of just a happy dog but herds more often than not. It’s affecting the joy if the walk fir me and my other dog who is blind and needs to be on leash (who unfortunately gets nipped a lot).
    How do I not turn to an dollars?
    Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, Border Collies can be very intense sometimes, and the ones I have met seem happiest when they have a job to do.

      I don’t have a Border Collie, but here are some things that work well for my dogs –

      1. Redirection rather than suppression.
      I come up with a “job” for them to do during our walks. For example, my Huskies like pulling so they help me go up hills during our hikes. They also like to dig, so we go to places where they can dig and where there is a lot of earth critter activity. I take them to good spots, help them clear out rocks and brush that are in their way, and we have fun doing joint activity together.

      One of the trainers that I met at our local SPCA told us that her Border Collie really loves to play Fetch, so she set that up as her job. We also visited with a trainer at a nearby Humane Society that uses her Border Collie to help her train other dogs.

      The very nice thing about giving my dogs a job is that they have something positive, that they enjoy, to redirect their energy into.

      2. Set rules and boundaries for the job.
      I also teach my dogs what the rules are when performing their job. For example, my Sibes help to pull me up the hill, but they know not to pull while going down the hill. There are also places where they are not allowed to dig.

      The reward in this case, is being outside, interacting with people, and performing their “job”, which is something that they really enjoy. Therefore, they are happy to follow the rules. If they do not, then we just go home, and all the fun ends.

      3. Group dogs by energy level.
      I used to take my dogs to daycare, and one of the things that a good daycare center does is group dogs by energy level. This enables the higher energy dogs to wrestle and play, while the more relaxed dogs can rest together without being disturbed.

      I usually walk my three legged dog by herself. She is energetic, but she needs more rest breaks, so we go for longer walks with more stops in-between. When I walk her together with my other dogs, she feels she has to keep up, so she doesn’t get to rest as much as she usually does. Also, my younger Sibe really wants to be on the go all of the time.

      I have found that it works much better to split them up, and then everyone can go at their own pace and enjoy the walks a lot more.

      4. Variable schedule of reinforcement.
      In terms of rewards, I try to mix things up and reward my dogs with a variety of different things. Sometimes they get affection, sometimes they get a fun game, sometimes they get chicken, etc.

      Also, studies show that rewarding a dog intermittently, can motivate them a lot better than rewarding them every time or every other time.

      I don’t do herding with my dogs, since that is not their thing, but I know there are places that do herding practice and training. This will still allow a dog to herd, but it will put structure and rules around the activity. In general, I would find something that my dog loves to do, and then make it fun, positive, and interactive.

      Here is an article about herding training and shock collars.

      Hope this helps and hugs to your furry gang.

  86. Sophia Ravelli says

    I have an 11 month old Labrador puppy. He is very friendly and behaves well, with one exception. If he is left outside alone for any period of time he leaves the yard and quick. We unfortunately at this time cannot afford to put a fence up. When we call for him, he normally runs back to the yard, but he often runs far enough he cannot hear us calling. We have to drive around the neighborhood looking for him. I don’t know how to keep him in the yard and I am afraid he will get hit by a car. My husband has suggested using a shock collar, but I am not sure I agree with it. Do you have any suggestions that could help us train him to not leave the yard?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Sophia,

      An invisible fence is probably one of the more risky applications of shock collars. This is because the fence line is invisible, which makes it even more difficult for a dog to associate “the right thing” (something he can’t see), to the pain he receives. As a result, there is a greater likelihood of making false associations, and that may ultimately lead to stress as well as behavioral issues. This article talks more about the dangers of an invisible fence system-

      In terms of training a dog to stay inside the yard, some people do “boundary training”. The article below gives a really good and detailed description of boundary training.

      Another option is to build a visible fence. Some people fence up a smaller area of their backyard or build a small dog run. This cuts down on cost but still enables safe containment.

      Another possibility is to supervise our dog when he is outside. We would probably want a very strong recall for this option.
      Good list of recall training techniques from the ASPCA.

  87. Rachel says

    Hello, We have a 10 year old jack Russell terrier who cries and howls every time our infant cries. We initially thought he would get used to the baby crying but it has been 7 months and he still does it every time she cries. We are not sure if he is doing this to tell us something is wrong or if the noise hurts his ears or what. He seems to want to be right next to us or under our feet when this is going on, which is right next to the baby who is crying. We have tried everything from comforting him when he cries to squirting him with a bottle of water to get him to stop. The only thing that remotely works is to have him go to another floor of the house, but he still howls from there. We have been considering an electronic collar as a last resort. The howling has to stop. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      Some sounds also trigger my dogs to sing. For example, Shania (Husky) will sing when I squeak a soft toy. Lara used to vocalize when the coyotes in the area start to howl. In Lara’s case, it was a new type of sound and she got anxious when she heard it.

      With Lara I used desensitization exercises to get her comfortable with the coyote sounds. First, I would start with a very soft version of the stimulus, i.e. play the coyote singing at a very soft volume. Soft enough that Lara can tolerate it and stay calm. Then, I get her to do some very simple commands, and reward her really well for it. If all goes well, then I very slowly increase the volume of the sound and so on. Here is more on noise anxiety and desensitization.

      It is important though, that during the retraining process, we do not expose our dog to high volumes of the stimulus. Otherwise, Lara will keep practicing the howling behavior, and it will undo the retraining work.

      If the behavior is the result of anxiety, using pain based techniques may cause a dog to become even more anxious, and worsen the behavior.

      Finally, studies (Steiss, Soraya, and others) that have been conducted on nuisance dog barking with spray and shock collars, show that spray collars have the same effectiveness as shock collars.

      When it comes to calming “nuisance-barking” dogs, a spritz of fragrance under the chin is more effective than electric shock, a test by the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine has found.
      ~~[Cornell Chronicle]

  88. Michelle says

    We have a 2 year old basset hound that has become very well behaved…listens pretty good. BUT…when we let him outside he jumps on the house and the doors, has ripped screens out of windows…because we are inside. If we go out with him, he doesn’t do it. HOW do I get him to stop? We are getting new siding and windows this summer and I do not want him jumping on the house anymore. The only suggestions I have been getting IS the shock collar…because we can be in while he is out… Would REALLY appreciate any advice. Thanks!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Michelle,

      Based on what you describe, it sounds like it may be a separation anxiety issue. He may be trying to get back into the house to be with his people because he is anxious and stressed when left alone outside.

      Does he stay in the house alone sometimes? What does he do when he is home alone?

      What helps my dogs with anxiety is to-
      1. Help build up their confidence through desensitization techniques.
      2. Exercise them well.
      3. Socialize them well to new things and new environments.

      Here is a bit more on separation anxiety.
      Here is a bit more on dog anxiety issues.

      I also teach my dogs door manners so that they do a simple pre-trained command, e.g. Sit, before I let them in. If they do behaviors that are undesirable, I no-mark and tell them what to do instead, e.g. Sit. However, if it is separation anxiety, a dog may be too stressed to listen to commands so desensitization and counter conditioning techniques would probably work best.

      Getting a professional trainer to come over and observe the behavior may also be helpful. A good positive based trainer will be able to identify the trigger for the behavior (whether it is from stress/anxiety or something else) and be able to suggest a good plan for re-directing the behavior.

    • Michelle says

      Hmmm. Anxiety. I really appreciate your input! He does HATE his cage. He only goes in it when we are not home….because I don’t trust him. (He ate the sofa cushions once) He is better now when we leave the house and leave him out for short periods of time. If we put him in his cage he drools all over it and leaves a HUGE puddle. He does the same thing by the back door when he is trying to get in. When he know he is going to go in his cage, he starts piddling on the floor the whole way there. He’s a good dog, very smart (knows how to get ice to come out of the door of the fridge so he can eat it). Just need to figure out how to get him to not jump on the house. Thanks for the links…

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, excessive drooling is another sign of anxiety. Here are a couple of articles more on separation anxiety-
      Separation anxiety from the ASPCA.
      Separation anxiety in dogs from the Animal Humane Society.

      Anxious behaviors are not the result of disobedience or spite. They are distress responses. Your dog displays anxious behaviors when left alone because he’s upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. If you punish him, he may become even more upset and the problem could get much worse.

      ~~ [ASPCA]

  89. Mike says

    I have a two year old boxer/pit mix that is full of energy. We live on a farm and have some chickens and sheep. She has a strong prey drive so animal that attracts her attention sets off a chase. I just started use a collar so I can break her off of the chase. Do you think there are better ways?


    • shibashake says

      There is a guy who comes every winter to clear out the brush in our surrounding hill area. He has a large number of goats and a helper Border Collie dog. It is amazing watching his dog work. He doesn’t train using a shock collar, but he works together with his dog and has very good command control.

      His dog is very focused on doing his work, does not try to attack goats, and sometimes chases off coyotes that come too near. Here is an interesting article on herding and shock collars.

      Of course, breed also matters as well as the temperament of the dog.

      If I were looking for alternative training methods involving livestock, I would probably look to the people who do herding using positive reinforcement techniques.

      There are also management and prevention methods such as fences, leashes, etc.

  90. Steve says

    Hi. I have a 3 1/2 year old Australian Shepherd / Border collie mix, named Marty, and he’s a fantastic dog. I inherited him about 5 months ago. He’s gentle and loving and typically gets along well with other animals. My girlfriend just got a lab puppy and Marty gets along very well with the pup. My problem is that when anyone comes into my house Marty becomes extremely aggressive, he barks, and the hair down his back stands up and he’s quite scary. He has not bitten anyone, but they sure think he’s going to. I’ve tried to discipline him to show him that this type of behavior is NOT acceptable, but nothing seems to be having any kind of impact. In most cases, when the person is in the house for a while, he seems to gradually calm down and accept them, but the other night we had a couple over for dinner and he just kept on and on and on, I finally had to take him downstairs and shut him up in the bathroom, so we could enjoy the evening. I finally started to consider a shock collar because I’m at my wits end. I need to be able to teach him that this behavior is unacceptable, but I don’t know how. Any ideas?

    • shibashake says

      Dogs may get reactive to new people because they are an unknown quantity and may be a threat. As a result, a dog may try to protect himself and warn the new people away, try to protect his family/pack, and/or try to protect his belongings. This is especially true when on home turf.

      What has worked well with my dogs is to retrain them to associate people with positive experiences and outcomes. I use people desensitization techniques to help my dogs be more comfortable around new people, and to teach them new behaviors to deal with stress.

      The key with desensitization is to start with a weakened version of the stimulus – for example a new person who is sitting far away and not moving. Also no talking, and no eye-contact, which can also be seen as a threat. I get my dog to do commands with me and reward him well for staying calm, in the presence of a new person. Once we are comfortable with this, I move one step closer to the person, get my dog’s focus again, and so on.

      I make sure to go slowly and I keep training sessions short and rewarding. Through this process, my dog learns to relax around new people and learns to associate new people with positive, or at worst neutral experiences.

      During the retraining period, I also make sure *not* to expose my dog to people-situations that he cannot handle, i.e., I take him out on a walk when friends come over to visit with the family, or put him in a very quiet part of the house where he won’t be disturbed. I only try regular people greetings when I think he is truly ready, and I keep him safe and on-leash.

  91. Brittney says

    I have a 13 month old German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois crossbreed. She knows her basic commands – sit, lay down, short stay/long stay, leave it, drop it, etc etc. but I am having a lot of difficulty when I take her for play dates, as she has recently begun showing a lot of aggression toward other dogs. It started last summer when another dog (about 50-60lbs) jumped on me and my girl heard me say “No!” very firmly. She proceeded to tackle this dog and keep her pinned. When I got my dog off of her, there was no sign of physical harm, she had simply let the dog know this was not acceptable. The problem now is that every time we schedule play dates for these two dogs, my dog immediately wants to attack her. We have only had a few play dates since, as I am worried of my girls behavior. Each time my girl attempts to tackle this other dog in some way but ONLY when we are outside (where the initial event happened). If we all play indoors, there isn’t much problem. I was considering a shock collar to correct her behavior, as well as enrolling her into obedience classes and doggy day care one day a week to start; I am very fearful of how she interacts with other dogs. She was even slightly aggressive with a puppy and doesn’t seem to understand that she is very rough! I’m mortified, as she never showed any signs of aggression until literally that one jumping incident. Suggestions?! She is well acquainted with clicker training, as we started training at 8 weeks old. She is beyond obedient for me when we are home…. I’m just lost to the rest of it!

    • Brittney says

      I also add she has never physically left a mark on another dog, and has been knicked twice but doesn’t seem phased by it. Her pain tolerance is extremely high, hence my consideration of a shock collar. But I don’t want to make her more aggressive! I want her to play nice, which is impossible off leash and outside right now…

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu, Sephy, also used to be pretty reactive towards other dogs. Here are some things that helped with Sephy –
      1. I only do small supervised play sessions with him. During these play sessions I set up very consistent play-rules (e.g. no humping, no stealing, no playing too rough). If he breaks any of these rules, I no-mark the behavior, and stop play temporarily. Since he really enjoys playing, that is a very good motivator to get him to follow play rules.

      2. I throw in a lot of play-breaks. My Huskies are very food focused so every so often, I call them over, get them to do some simple commands for me, and reward them really well for it. This gets them all to calm down and focus on working cooperatively for me. Most importantly, this helps me to manage their excitement level.

      3. I try to stay very very calm. If I am stressed, frustrated, or fearful, then Sephy will pick up on my energy and become even more reactive.

      4. Sephy enjoys being with playful, goofy dogs most. He likes to wrestle and chase, so he plays best with larger dogs. He does not like dominant dogs because he will not back down when challenged. I try my best to set him up for success and pick playmates that will work well with his personality.

      5. When Sephy was young, we also did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with him. This helps him to get more comfortable with other dogs, but in a very structured way. It also teaches him to use alternative behaviors for dealing with his stress.

  92. Natalie says

    Hi, I have a 10 month old male German Shepherd, named George. He’s shown signs of food aggression literally since the night we got him – at only 8 1/2 weeks old. I’d never seen a dog that young growl like that before. We started professional training, and while he’s learning and become pretty well trained across the board, his food aggression has only become much worse. We’ve done the whole “be the alpha” thing, and he knows I’m the boss..unless it involves his dish. He has always growled/snarled if you’re near his dish – but tonight he bit me (for the first time in about 6 months). He continued to growl and snarl at me (until I (terrified) took him to the ground and threw him outside). He’s 85 pounds. He’s the sweetest dog 95% of the time…but when it’s feeding time he’s meaner than mean. The funny thing is, I can feed him out of my hand and he’s fine (sits and waits to be released to eat, eats gently)…but when food is in his dish, or even his dish is empty he’s very aggressive. We plan on having children in the next few years…and honestly I’m terrified. He’d be at face-level with them. We’ve come to the conclusion that we have 3 options: 1) avoid it, and just feed him alone in the garage for the rest of his life…2) try to adopt him out? or 3) put him down because we don’t know what he’ll do next. I love him so much, but he scares the crap out of me. And I shouldn’t have to feel like that. Can you offer any advice?? I really don’t know what to do. It would break my heart to give him up, but I’m too scared to see if he’d hurt someone else, a kid, or me again. Shock collars have been suggested to us, but I’m scared it’ll just make it worse (more stressful for him). Please help – I feel like we’ve tried everything.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Natalie,

      What kind of training techniques are you currently using with George? What did the trainer advise wrt. to his food aggression? What was George’s response to the techniques?

      He continued to growl and snarl at me (until I (terrified) took him to the ground and threw him outside).

      Hmmm, not totally sure what you mean by “took him to the ground” – was it an alpha roll? If so, here are some of my experiences and thoughts about alpha rolls.

      While training Sephy (my Shiba Inu), I found that he is very sensitive to my energy. If I am fearful, angry, frustrated, or otherwise not-calm, Sephy will pick up on it. This will cause him to get even more excited/stressed, and his behavior would worsen. Here are a couple of articles on my early experiences with Sephy –

      Pack leader to an aggressive dog.
      Afraid of my dog.

      Here are some of my experiences with Sephy and food aggression. Some things that helped with Sephy’s food and resource guarding behavior.

      Note though that Sephy never attacked me, anyone else, or other dogs over food or resources. He was starting to show guarding behavior, e.g. growling and defensive posture. We started to retrain him at that point. I think it is important to retrain food aggressive behavior because if I or someone else accidentally drops some food on the ground, I do not want Sephy to suddenly become aggressive.

      Some things that helped with Sephy during our difficult times-
      1. I visited with several professional trainers (both reward and aversive based).
      2. I did a lot of research into how dogs learn and on various dog training techniques. There is a lot of misinformation out there, so it really helped to understand the science behind dog training. This also helped me to evaluate the trainers that I talked to.
      3. I observed Sephy a lot more closely, tried to understand his body language, and tried to understand where he was coming from.
      4. I instituted a very fixed set of rules, a fixed routine, and a very consistent way of communicating with him. I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs. They work for all of their food and don’t get any food from a bowl.
      5. I had clear and safe plans on how to address each of his difficult behaviors.
      6. I set Sephy up for success by not exposing him to highly stressful situations that I know he won’t be able to handle. The more he practices bad behaviors, the more likely he is to repeat them in a wider variety of contexts.
      7. I try to stay very calm when he misbehaves. The first step to getting Sephy to calm down is to stay calm myself, and have a clear and safe plan of action.

  93. Sara says

    I thought your article was very unbiased and well written. I own a 1.5 year old pug that doesn’t know much about cars. I am leaving the country for a little while and I have to leave her with my parents. They do not have a fenced yard and a my pug is capable of being on a road with frequent traffic. She doesn’t necessarily chase cars but sometimes her instincts take over and she chases the tires. I have tried calling her off the car but she is totally distracted by the car. I was thinking a getting shock/vibration collar for her. I plan on watching her from a window and making her collar vibrate if she approaches the road (I want to teach her not to go to the road at all). I know she doesn’t like vibrations (because she doesn’t like my phone when it vibrates). If she persists I will use the shock mode on low. Do you think this will be an effective method? If not, what are my other choices?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Sara,

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

      The thing with off-leash training though, is that no matter which methods we use, there will still be some outlier moments. Dog behavior is not always predictable, and is very dependent on surrounding context, which is also very unpredictable.

      I only do off-leash work with my dogs in a safe enclosed space, or when we are in large hiking parks, and are far enough away from the road.

      One of my neighbors has a pug who walks with her off-leash, but he is a very senior dog and his days of chasing cars are far behind him. Her little guy sticks very close to her most of the time, but there are still some moments when he sees a running cat, squirrel, or another dog, and he tries to move into the road. He is not very fast though, and she is right next to him, so she picks him up. Still, there is some risk involved.

      Is your girl an indoor or outdoor dog? Is it possible to do on-leash walking and be in the house for the rest of the time? Some people may also enclose up an area of the backyard to create a small dog-run.

      I really would not take any chances when it comes to dogs and cars. A collar also does not prevent other dogs from coming over and starting something.

  94. J.K. says

    I intend to buy a shock collar for one, and only one purpose: I live in a region, where poisoning of dogs as a preparation for burglary is common. I have trained my dogs to never eat anything, that is not in their food bowl or given to them by my girlfriend or myself. Works 100 %, as long as we are with them. One of us has laid out different treats (including raw meat) on a known course, the other than walked that course. The dogs show no interest in the treats. BUT, if we leave something on the outside and then let the dogs out in the yard, while they can not see us, they eat it immediately.

    I see no alternative to the shock color, that has the potential to stop this behavior. As changing this behavior might save the dog’s life one day, I want to do everything in my power, to do so.

    If anybody here has better ideas, I would be very grateful to hear them!

    • shibashake says

      My younger Husky, Lara, used to like digging on our landscaped backyard grass. She does not do this when I am out in the backyard with her, but when alone, she may dig if she smells something good under the grass.

      To stop Lara, I stay inside the house where she can’t see me. However, I am watching her from my hidden position. As soon as she starts to dig, I give her a loud no-mark (Ack-ack) to let her know that it is an undesirable behavior. She usually stops when this happens. If she does not, I will go out and bring her in and she loses her backyard privileges temporarily.

      After repeating this a bunch of times, Lara learned that even though she can’t see me, I am watching her and she can’t get away with digging on the landscaped grass. The behavior became unrewarding, and she stopped doing it. Now, she only digs in the back part of the yard that is not landscaped.

      All Lara needed to learn was that even though she can’t see me, she still has to follow backyard rules.

      In addition, one common method for discouraging a dog from chewing on or eating particular items is by using taste deterrents.

      I always make sure that the deterrent is safe and does not upset my dog’s digestive system.

  95. Steve says

    Hi shibashake,
    Thanks for the great article. We have never considered a shock collar, but our Giant Rat Terrier (Decker) Merlin has us really tempted…
    We have a great dog park and go almost every day…Merlin is young (4 years) and athletic, and gets lots of exercise playing with his friends (several of whom are Shiba Inus)…a very positive activity.
    At the dog park, Merlin is a frantic marker. He was neutered at 8 months and does not lift his leg all that much elsewhere, NEVER in the house, but at the dog park he has a 3 gallon desire but a half cup bladder…after a few minutes it’s mostly just ritual, but he’ll lift his leg several times a minute. No problem EXCEPT….
    He tries to pee on everything more than an inch tall, which of course includes other dogs, which everyone seems to accept, but also PEOPLE, which is at best embarrassing. He’ll lift his leg on a half dozen people in a 45 minute visit to the park. Virtually always just leg lifting, not actual peeing, but still…
    Because he can cover ground so quickly it’s of course impossible to stay all that close to him, and even if I’m just a few feet away a shout does not stop him quickly enough to prevent the leg lifting.
    Your perspective on how the shock fits into the dog’s sense of the cause and effect of it all makes me worry that he will just associate the shock with leg lifting rather that the particular circumstance of lifting on a person. If he’d just realize fence post ok, log ok, rock ok, person not ok it would be a wonderful thing, but we sure don’t want to punish him for lifting his leg at the dog park…any thoughts on our dilemma?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Steve,

      Does Merlin show this behavior when playing at home with other dogs? How much time does Merlin spend playing and how much time does he spend doing the marking behavior? Does he do this every time he visits the park? Is there something that triggers the behavior (e.g. when the park is crowded, etc.)? Does he start marking right away as soon as he arrives or does he do something else first?

      From what you describe, it sounds like the marking *could* be a displacement behavior that is a result of stress or anxiety (similar to biting nails, pulling hair, or pacing in humans). Dog parks can be exciting, but they are usually also high stress environments because there are frequently many dogs in a fairly limited and enclosed space. The environment is very unpredictable because new dogs are arriving, existing dogs are leaving, there may be kids playing, there is a lot of excitement, energy, and little supervision or structure.

      What worked well with my Shiba Inu is to invite friendly neighborhood dogs over to have smaller and more structured play sessions at our house. In this way, I am able to supervise well, establish clear play-rules, and Sephy still has fun playing with other dogs. The situation is more predictable, less risky, and I can use it to teach Sephy positive behaviors because he is very motivated to keep the play session going.

      Here is a bit more on our enclosed dog-park experiences-

      This is a pretty interesting article on dog displacement behavior-

  96. Jure says

    Hi, very nice and helpfull article. I have a 4 and halph year old Labrador. He is still very playfull and good-natured dog, but he is also alfa male, trying to be dominant, specialy to smaller dogs. We did some basic training and I could say that I can control him 100% when he is on the leach. I live in the suberb and he is most of the time off-leash. Most of the time when there I see another dog, I call him, he comes and we pass on the leash. Most of the times, but a few times it happened that he attacked another dog.
    Since I would like to have him off leash I am thinking of Shock collar training. What you think? I would be very glad for you advice.
    Thank you.
    Kind regards,

    • shibashake says

      Dear Jure,

      The risk with shock collar training is that the dog may associate the shocks not to his behavior, but rather to the environment, or to elements in the environment, for example, another dog. If a dog consistently receives a shock every time another dog is in his proximity, he may associate the pain he receives to the other dog, rather than to his own behavior.

      Dog to dog aggression may arise for a variety of reasons. What I do with my dogs is this-
      1. I first identify the trigger for the aggression, e.g. is it only small dogs, another dog posturing, another dog entering his space, small dogs that move around a lot, etc. – what exactly is it that triggers the aggression. The more observed detail I can recall, the better it will be for management and retraining.

      2. Once I identify the trigger, I can more easily manage my dog so that he is not exposed to situations where he will practice the bad behavior until he is trained and ready. The more a dog practices a behavior, the more likely he will repeat it in the future. For the safety of everyone, I always keep my dog on-leash until he is fully trained, I trust him to come when called, and I absolutely trust him not to start anything with other dogs.

      3. During the retraining period, I use desensitization and counter-conditioning methods to slowly raise my dog’s tolerance of the trigger stimulus, and teach him alternative behaviors for dealing with stressful conditions.

      Given that there has already been a fight, it is likely best to contact a professional trainer to help with this matter.

  97. Danielle says

    Dear Shibashake,
    My family and I have a 1/2Boxer/1/2American bulldog (Lucy).We’ve had her since she was 7weeks old and she’s now 6/7months old.Lucy is a wonderful puppy she’s already protective of my family and plays great with my 2yr old daughter,crate trained,potty trained. WONDERFUL …but about 2months ago we adopted a kitten that my daughter had caught (we live in the country on a farm) It had a bad leg but we got her back in good health. Our problem is Lucy is rough with her! I realize she’s a puppy but its kind of weird. When both the cat and dog are inside she plays good with the kitten but when we are all outside she chases the kitten away to where she flees up a tree or under the car. My husbands family has always had boxers and my husband and father-in-law say that boxers are funny towards cats and will eventually Lucy will probably just kill her. So I had thought about the collar and using it if she tried to get the cat but after reading this I dont want it to backfire and make the situation worse. I just dont want her to kill the kitten. My husbands boxer when he was a kid killed their cat and all of the kittens. Should I just get rid of the kitten or is there something I can do to keep the kitten from being Lucys chew toy?

  98. Mark says

    My seven-year-old Labrador is the light of my life, but, for several years, he has had the undesirable issue of eating dog poop (his own and others’). It may have started from boredom (I would let him out in the yard while working in my home office) and then transitioned to a guilty pleasure to disobey his master. Once I discovered that he was doing it (I trained him to have a potty zone behind the garage so he wouldn’t go in the yard), I tried chili powder but he proceeded to just eat fresh poop and leave the chili-doctored poop alone. I try to clean up poop right away so he can’t be tempted, but he’s sneaky and sly: I’ll walk away for a short while and he’ll have pooped and snacked on it in that quick period. If I’m there to spy on him, then I can prevent the behavior (he knows, from repeated instances of catching him in the act and scolding him immediately, that that is undesirable behavior in his master’s eyes), but I can’t always be there and he’s too smart for his own good. The dog park has exacerbated the issue since so many owners just stand around texting instead of taking direct responsibility for their dogs. I can’t go anymore because he would be fine in the beginning (played fetch, etc.) but then, it inevitably turned into a “snack” search on his part. He would run off, sometimes in the middle of playing fetch, and go to an area he had sniffed/made a mental note about prior. I started picking up poop right away that he sniffed in the beginning because he would just go back to it later. That’s a losing battle, though, not to mention thoroughly disgusting and not something I want to have to do every time. Obviously, avoiding the dog park will help, but, if he doesn’t get vigorous daily exercise, he gets mopey (dog walks happen if nothing else but it’s not the same). The final piece of this issue is that I cut back his food a half-cup/day last year at the recommendation of my vet, but, considering that this has been an issue for years prior to that reduction in daily calories, I don’t think that was the “cause.” He has been to the vet once for a case of giardia, which I have no doubt came from eating infected poop at the dog park, so I feel like using a shock collar is my only remaining option. He knows in no uncertain terms that the behavior is not acceptable to his master but he looks for ways to do it, regardless. My intent would be to use the shock setting only once and then use the vibration setting afterwards, as needed, to curb the disgusting issue from a distance (so he thinks it’s somehow connected to the poop and not me). The thing is that, as you point out with association, he’ll associate the shock with the special collar that he only wears from time to time, the same collar his master put on him (so the shock was from me, by association). I’m really frustrated because, other than this issue, he obeys the sit, stay, down, off commands just fine. He had an issue with separation anxiety earlier on and would dart out open doors, but we worked on it a lot and he doesn’t do that at all anymore. Despite communicating to him repeatedly that eating poop is not acceptable, I’ve been unable to create a change with his behavior. What is your advice?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Mark,

      As you say, the dog park environment is too unstructured and often times, a dog picks up bad habits from other dogs. One thing that worked well with my Shiba Inu is to have smaller, supervised play sessions with friendly neighborhood dogs. During our walks, I try to keep an eye out for friendly dogs who like to play. We were lucky in our last place because our neighbor from across the street, has a wonderful Shepherd-mix, called Kai. We would invite her over to have fun play sessions with Sephy almost every day. In this way, he gets to play with other dogs, but it is done in a structured and well supervised environment.

      Sephy really loves his play sessions, and he understands that if he does not follow the rules, the play session ends. He is very motivated to follow play-rules.

      In terms of poop eating, I think you point out, rightly so, that supervision is key. Many dogs eat poop because it feels natural for them to do so. It is not so much to disobey us, but rather because it is rewarding to them. The same is true of eating trash, rolling around in dead stuff, and all the other wonderful things that dogs love to do. 😀

      Here are some things that help in terms of stopping my dogs from eating poop-

      1. During the training period, I make sure I am there to catch Lara (Husky) every time she tries to eat poop. Consistency is very important at this stage because if I am not consistent, she will figure out (very quickly) that it is not ok to eat poop when I am there, but ok when I am not there, or when I am distracted. Dogs are very good at observing us, and since eating poop is very rewarding for some dogs, they will figure out all the special exemption clauses.

      2. I motivate Lara not to eat poop by making the behavior be totally unrewarding to her. Lara only tried to eat outside poop. She really likes cat poop and may sometimes sample poop from other dogs. Since I am there to supervise, I give her the Leave-It command (pre-trained). If she listens, I reward her very well for following the command and not eating the poop.

      If she ignores the command and tries to go for it, I make sure she doesn’t get to the stuff; then she is not allowed to stop and smell for the rest of the walk. Sometimes though, she will sneak in a little bit when I think she is just smelling. If she does that, I no-mark right away (Ack-ack) so that she knows which behavior is undesirable, then I end the walk right away; i.e. I march her directly home. She know that I am absolutely strict with that – if she ever tastes the stuff, we go home – Do not pass Go! Do not collect 200 dollars!

      In this way, “trying to eat poop” becomes very unrewarding because I showed her right from the start that every time she tries, the fun walk ends. Since the behavior always results in a very undesirable outcome, she stopped doing it.

      As you point out, we can’t always be there to supervise. When Lara was a puppy, I would put her in an enclosure when I can’t supervise. For poop eating issues there are several other possibilities –
      a) Keep the dog in a poop-free area.
      b) Make the poop taste bad. There are additives that can be put in a dog’s food to make their poop taste bad or bitter. It is probably best to consult a vet on this. Since it is added to the food itself, it makes all of the poop taste bad. This can help discourage a dog from eating his own poop. It will not help to stop a dog from eating cat poop or poop from other dogs.

      No matter what method we choose to use, consistency is key. We need to ensure that the behavior is *always* not rewarding. At the same time we want to motivate our dog to do something else (e.g. Point, Sit) and make that be very rewarding.

      Here is a bit more on dogs and poop eating.

  99. robin says

    We are looking at getting a shock collar for our rescue Saluki cross. He is 2 years old and will run up to people and start barking at them. If they ignore him he leaves them alone, if they react he keeps barking and our rescue Labrador cross joins in and this terrifies people. They do not bite but we are afraid that someone is going to hurt them by throwing rocks and hitting them with sticks.

    A shock collar sounds like it would be very effective. He runs up to someone, starts barking, gets a shock. It would probably stop the barking at people problem very quickly but not solve the anxiety problem he has which makes him start barking at people in the first place. We have to let him off leash as he needs to run and we are running out of places to take him. He is also being a bad influence on our other dog.

    We are worried about him associating the shock he gets with the people he barks at and then getting more aggressive. When I see him running up to random people I wish I had a button to press to shock him. The collars we have seen just shock when the dog barks which would work fine in the situation.

    Any advice you could give us ?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Robin,

      With Sephy, I did a lot of desensitization and counter conditioning exercises to get him comfortable with people and other dogs.

      I like desensitization because it helps to increase a dog’s threshold level, helps the dog gain confidence, and also teaches the dog alternative behaviors for dealing with stress and anxiety. Desensitization is not a quick fix, and will take time, patience, and effort. However, I like it because it targets the source of the problem behavior, has long-term results, is safe, and helps to enhance quality of life.

      During Sephy’s early days, it was also helpful for me to visit with some professional trainers. We visited with both aversive and reward based trainers. It helped to give us a better idea of what was available, and the various pros and cons of the techniques. The dog training field is not well regulated though, so I always ask a lot of questions over the phone, and make sure they have good experience, good credentials, and a good understanding of behavioral science.

  100. Fran says

    Great article. I was going to use the shock collar on my 11month old golden retriever. He has an obsessive personality. I can’t let him run in the yard because he will grab the dirt and grass( football size) and eat it. He won’t drop it or let it go if I tell him to. He gets an obsessed look in his eyes and nothing will make him stop.He is like this with soft toys and tennis balls. I’ve tried to distract him but nothing seems to work and thats why I was going to try the shock collar but after reading this article, I don’t think I want to. Any suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, when did this behavior start? A big part of it will depend on the cause of the behavior – whether it is from stress and anxiety or something else.

      There is a type of disorder called Pica –

      Pica (pron.: /ˈpaɪkə/ py-kə) is characterized by an appetite for substances largely non-nutritive, such as clay, chalk, dirt, or sand.[1]

      More recently, cases of pica have been tied to the obsessive–compulsive spectrum, and there is a move to consider OCD in the etiology of pica.[12]


      This article has some pretty good information on OCD-

      If we suspect it is OCD, it is best to consult with a qualified behaviorist.

      Sephy does not have OCD but he does get very focused on certain things. A Shiba owner once described his dog as having “a very singular state of mind”. I think that is also a very apt description for Sephy.

      Some things that help with Sephy-
      1. I provide him with a fixed routine and a lot of structure. This certainty helps him to manage stress.
      2. He works for all of his food through training exercises, grooming, and interactive food toys.
      3. I provide him with a range of structured activities which help to keep him from getting too focused on any one thing.
      4. I walk him daily and also change where we walk, sometimes we go to the park, hills, etc.

  101. Patty says

    Thank you for your article. It was thoughtful, kind, and well researched.

    I have trained several dogs and have never considered using a shock collar till now. I’m at the end of my rope. I can’t leave the house or get a decent night’s sleep. I rescued a 1yo Weimaraner, a beautiful boy who was injured, abused, and mistreated by a former owner. He is a wonderful animal who deserves a great home.

    He has one problem, severe separation anxiety. He is in good health. I have tried the squirt bottle, prescription meds, Thundershirt(he ate it), DAP collar, desensitization training, and reward training. With little in the way of positive results.

    My poor Blue screams and whines like he is being tortured whenever we leave the house and at least once a night. He sleeps in our bedroom in his level III crate. Level III because he escaped from everything else when we left the house. He can see us and the other dogs. It’s not the crate. He doesn’t mind the crate at all. He runs to his crate whenever he sees his food bowl and gets lots of treats in his kennel.

    No, he doesn’t need to go potty at night. He wants to get in bed. He will sleep all night in bed but there’s not enough room for one Weim(about 100lbs) and 2 people. And sooner or later the other dogs will get jealous. They DO keep track!

    We need to be able to sleep for 6 hours and leave the house. If a shock collar will distract him and discourage his bad behavior, I’m ready to give it a try. It certainly isn’t my training method of choice but I have pretty much exhausted my other options. I just need to make sure I get a collar that will be triggered by the screaming. I’m hoping that a couple weeks will do the trick and we won’t have to use it anymore.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Patty,

      That sounds like a difficult situation.

      When I was doing my research into shock collars, I came across a study by Steiss (2007). This study shows that there was no significant difference between spray collars and shock collars in preventing dog barking.

      The issue is that the collars may only suppress the behavior temporarily. The anxiety will still be present, and a dog will likely look for other outlets of stress relief.

      With Sephy, I found that it was most effective to target the anxiety itself. His chewing and vocalizations were symptoms of stress. Once I was able to set up a very fixed schedule, reduce his stress, and teach him other coping mechanisms, the symptoms went away.

  102. Stve says

    Hi, i have a whippet and usually she is quite well behaved but when there are others dogs in site (even in another field) she just bolts to get to them, nothing i do or say can stop her. She also sometimes just ignores me completely and refuses to come. I have considered the collar (mainly the vibrate) to try and distract her attention, do you think this will work? do you have any other advice to help with this?

    • shibashake says


      As I understand it, the vibrate option acts like a marker. To affect behavior, we will need to associate the marker with something else.

      For example, when a doorbell rings, a dog will usually run to the door. This is because the dog has learned to associate the doorbell (marker) with “someone at the door”. He runs to the door in anticipation of a happy greeting. Depending on training, some dogs may run to the door to chase the ‘intruder’ away.

      If we consistently ring the doorbell and then feed our dog his dinner, he will learn to re-associate the bell with dinner instead of with someone at the door. Once this new association is made, the dog may run to the kitchen instead of the front-door when the bell rings.

      In terms of coming when called, this article from the ASPCA has a very good list of techniques for recall training-

      For most dogs, moving people, other dogs, running squirrels, etc. are going to be very interesting and very strong stimuli. It will take consistent training and perhaps a good counter-stimulus to balance their effect. Here are some of my experiences with my dogs and bolting after squirrels.

  103. melissa says

    Great article! My miniature Schnauzer barks A LOT and recently has gotten worse. He it 10 years old so Im not sure about the “you can’t teach an ikd dog new tricks” but I wanted to know if there is anything you would suggest I could try out. Thanks :)

  104. Jaclyn says

    I have 3 rescue dogs that consist of 2 labs & a collie/ husky mix (all males). I was considering the shock collar to help wit the collie husky’s aggression towards the oldest lab. It seems to be a jealousy issue whenever I want threw the door he attacks and chases/ bites him. The lab doesn’t participate, he tries to run away. He is otherwise a great dog but this problem is quickly becoming unbearable to witness. I feel terrible even considering to cause pain to him but I also feel terrible for my lab that’s getting attacked :/ Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  105. Jill says

    My 2yr old border collie mix is a fence climber. Funny thing is this just sarted. I want to try a shock collar but don’t know if it would work. Any suggestions?

  106. Aishling O'Doherty says

    Hello, I was wondering if you had any more information on the pros of using shock collars? I’m against them myself but have a debate in college on them and i’m unfortunetly on the pro side. Any science papers, articles or books you could reccommend would be a great help as I’m finding it hard to find anything scientific! This is for my behaviourism class in my veterinary nursing course. Thank you!
    PS beautiful dogs!

    • shibashake says

      Wikipedia may provide some leads, but make sure to verify the cited sources.

      Some proponents of shock collars use Tortora’s 1983 to support their case. However, that is for extreme situations where there are few options left to the dogs, and it is between euthanasia or extreme shock treatment.

      As you say, there is very little scientific evidence that support the use of shock collars.

  107. Scott says

    My wife and I read your article as we were looking into a shock collar. We have a rescue dog great pyrenees/retriever mix about 18 months old who has been fixed. She is mostly friendly and loving, however sometimes when my wife loves on her, and has been doing so for several minutes, she starts growling. There is no rhyme or reason. She can be loving on her, and petting her for 2-3 minutes, and Akela will roll over for my wife to rub her belly, and then when she does, Akela will start to growl.

    My wife has tried standing up over her, and reprimanding her with a firm “Bah” but that doesn’t doesn’t help. My wife has walked away, and Akela will come and seek her out and ask for more attention.

    This is driving my wife and I crazy. It doesn’t happen all the time. She has growled at me, but not as much. I’m thinking this is a alpha male issue.. We’ve had her about 7 months, and this is still an issue.

    What type of training besides shock collar will work in this type of situtation?


    • shibashake says

      Hmmmm, it is difficult to say without looking at the dog and surrounding context. My dogs will sometimes vocalize when they are getting affection. It is a low vocalization, but more like a “cat purr” in intent, and they are totally relaxed.

      What is Akela’s body language like? Is she tense (stiff) or relaxed? Does she only start growling when she is touched in a particular location? Is it a particular type of touch that triggers the growling?

      Dogs may sometimes vocalize if they are feeling physical discomfort when touched in certain areas. Does she seem to be walking, jumping, and generally moving normally?

      Another possibility is that it could be a miscommunication issue. Dogs communicate differently than we do. For example, dogs do not really “hug” each other whereas that is what we do to show affection. During puppyhood I did a lot of touch exercises with my dogs to get them accustomed to human touch and human affection. The key is to teach our dog to associate certain types of human touch with positive experiences. In this way, they grow to enjoy it (or tolerate it) rather than seeing it as a threat.

      Getting a good professional trainer can also be helpful. A trainer can help us read our dog’s body language and also identify what is triggering certain behaviors. I visited with many trainers when Sephy was young. The tricky part is finding a good trainer who is qualified, experienced, and knows what he is talking about. Dog training is not regulated so anybody can come along and claim to be an expert. Still, I learned many useful things from the one or two good ones that I found, so it was definitely worth it, especially during Sephy’s difficult period.

  108. Ashley says

    HI Shibashake!

    I, like you am on the verge of using a shock collar for one purpose- leash aggression with other dogs. I live in the city and so not using a leash is not an option. I have a very stubborn breed (doberman pinscher) who is very well behaved otherwise, but we do have some alpha issues.

    I have tried reward training, unfortunately when another dog is around has absolutely no interest in the treat at all. For that matter, she is not that food motivated at all.

    Do you have any ideas how to address this?

    Thank you!!


    • shibashake says

      Hello Ashley,

      Here are some things that helped with my Shiba-

      1. Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises

      As you say, if the “dog-stimulus” is too strong, our dog will go into a rear-brained state (instinct state). When in this state, a dog is focused on his target and will no longer be interested in food, commands, or anything else.

      I learned that the key with my dog (Sephy) is *not* to expose him to such a strong dog-stimulus during training. This is where dog-to-dog desensitization exercises come in. With desensitization, we start by exposing the dog to a very weak version of the stimulus in a controlled environment. In this way, the dog is still able to respond and learn. We can then help our dog to re-associate other dogs with something positive. At the same time, I was able to retrain Sephy to use alternate behaviors to deal with his stress rather than aggression.

      Here is more on dog-to-dog desensitization.

      2. Saying Calm

      With Sephy, I found that it was very important that ~I~ stay calm. In the beginning, I would always get stressed when we see another dog, becauseI was anticipating a bad encounter. Sephy would pick up on my bad energy right away, get stressed himself, and start acting out right away.

      What works best is when I stay calm and just focus on creating neutral experiences.

      3. Neutral Experiences

      When we see other dogs, we just ignore them. I create as much space as possible (cross the road, go in driveways, etc.), I control my energy, and we just walk along at a measured page. Since every time we see a dog – nothing happens – it became a non-event. Since nothing happens, Sephy learned to relax instead of anticipating an action-charged meeting.

      Here is a bit more on what I did to help Sephy with his dog-to-dog aggression.

      Here is a bit more on reward training and aversive training.

  109. Valerie says

    I have an 8 year old rescue doxie/ chihuahua mix. Very sweet, small, male dog who up until now was the alpha. My daughter brought a stray pit/chihuahua male home a year ago. Both dogs are peeing around the base of my bed and I was looking at shock collars as a possible tactic to curb this frustrating territory-marking. After reading the article, I don’t think this is the way to go. Do you have some suggestions as to how to correct this problem behavior?
    Thank you…

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, when did the peeing start? Was it just recently or has it always been that way? If it was only recently, was there anything that changed during that time? Did anything else happen when the behavior started?

      What is their daily routine? Do they mark when out on their walks?

  110. Ali says

    Hi… I’ve found your article to be very helpful, as well as your comments to people… I’m wondering if you have advice for this situation… 3 months ago I had a baby and my almost 3 year old havanese has become extremely protective of her. He barks like crazy at visitors but more concerning, if I am sitting on the couch with the baby and someone (even an extended family member that he has a great relationship with) approaches us he growls and barks frantically. I love our dog. He is our first baby- but I am VERY concerned that he is going to snap at someone while trying to “protect” the baby. Clearly I can’t have this.

    • shibashake says

      Congratulations on your new baby girl!

      In terms of guarding behavior, here are some things that help with my dogs-

      1. People desensitization exercises.

      Desensitization exercises help the dog to associate people coming near him with positive events and outcomes. It also teaches the dog new ways to deal with stress rather than through aggression.

      2. I do the protecting so they don’t have to do it themselves.

      I establish very clear and consistent interaction rules – with other people and with other dogs. In all cases, I teach my dogs that if there are any issues, I will come and resolve it so that they do not need to do so themselves. For example, when Lara was young, she would try to guard her “affection time” with me. If one of my other dogs come to join in, she would play bite them to keep them away.

      I respond by doing a “no-mark” to tell her that this is undesirable behavior. Then, I tell her what to do instead, e.g. go into a Down-Stay. If she does this, then I reward her with more affection and food rewards. I also reward the other dog with the same if she is calm and also does a Down-Stay.

      If Lara ignores me and continues with her bad behavior, then I withdraw my attention from her, and totally ignore her. If she continues to harass my other dog, then I calmly say “Timeout” and remove her to a timeout area. When Lara was young I put a drag-lead on her so that I had better control (only with a regular flat collar and only under supervision).

      In this way, she learns that if she is calm and in a Down position, she gets lots of rewards and affection. However, biting and harassing others gets her nothing and she may even lose her freedom to be with people.

      Dogs often guard resources (e.g. food, toys, people) because they think that someone else coming near their “stuff” means something negative. I try to teach my dogs that they get the most rewards through cooperation and by being calm. I also teach them to associate other dogs and people with food, attention, and other positive outcomes.

  111. Kennieb1 says

    I have a 7 month old Newfoundland puppy with separation anxiety. He is very well behaved with the exception of food. He’s constantly scouring the floors, couches, end tables (I have 3 year old twins so he’s always on the hunt for something they may have dropped). He tries to take food straight out of their mouths if they are eating a snack. With dinner time, he will calmly lay down and not even beg but the rest of the house he acts like he can do whatever he wants when it comes to food/snacks. I know the easy solution is to keep all food in the kitchen but anyone knows with a toddler, that’s not possible and him taking food from their hands or mouth, NOT acceptable. I can’t crate him because he freaks out and has actually learned how to escape. His crate, he constantly barks and digs at the door and no, I don’t tell him no or give him any attention but I ignore him until the behavior stops and he calms down, but sometimes that takes up to an hour and is obviously very disruptive and now he fights me to go in. He used to go in with treats but he won’t do that anymore. I started instead of crating trying to put him outside. He has toys, a kiddie pool, water, chewies and my other dog to play with but instead he gets “mad” that I put him out and has gone as far as to actually chew ON the house. Today he stole food from my son, I told him no, immediately put him out and when I went to let him in 30 min later he had eaten the house, the deck, 2 cardboard boxes, the hose and a toy crate. I love this dog dearly but I’m at my wits end at what to do about this behavior and any insight would be great!

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, dogs are usually very opportunistic about food, especially food that they don’t normally get. In general, dogs repeat behaviors that have good outcomes and stop behaviors that have bad outcomes.

      When a dog jumps, grabs at hands, and gets a yummy, unique snack as a reward, he will keep repeating that behavior because from his point of view –
      jumping and grabbing hands = very good food reward that he never gets otherwise.

      The way that I stop this behavior with my dogs is to make sure that they never get rewarded for their jumping and biting behavior.
      1. As you say, one possibility is to limit access to people food.

      2. We can also use supervision and management. For example, when puppy Lara bites on something she is not supposed to, I no-mark the behavior and then give her an alternate simple command (Sit). If she does it, then I praise her really well and reward her with food, affection, and a fun game.

      On the other hand, if she continues with jumping and biting then I use her drag lead to remove her from the location and redirect her into doing something else. Body blocks can also be used depending on the situation. Then I keep her with me for a certain duration.

      In this way she associates following commands with food, attention, games, and other rewards. However, jumping and biting leads to less freedom since she has to stay with me afterwards. Most of all, I make sure that she never gets any free food from jumping and biting.

      Limited freedom can also be achieved with timeouts, but then, it may not be as appropriate for dogs with separation anxiety. Also, I usually start with very very short timeouts (1 minute or a few minutes).

      3. Dogs with separation anxiety chew as a way to deal with acute stress. They may also chew through crates and chew at dry wall in an effort to escape or try and get back to their people. These behaviors are not a result of vengeance or anger. The chewing is a familiar behavior that the dog uses to cope with anxiety, similar to how a person may pace, chew on her nails, or play with her hair when under stress.

      Here is a bit more on my dogs and separation anxiety.

  112. lisa says

    My 15 month old boxer runs wild if he gets loose from us or busts out the doors and runs crazy and Will Not come back. We actually have to chase him and sneak up on him to catch him. We walk him on a leash all the time. When we got him he was confined to a small outdoor kennel and didn’t have a lot of interaction wth owners. Please help.

    • shibashake says

      Two things that help with my dogs-
      1. Recall Training
      This article from the ASPCA has a great list of recall techniques and how to teach a dog to come when called.

      2. Door Manners
      I use our daily walks to teach my dogs “door manners”. Every day, before going on a walk,
      – I call my dogs to me.
      – When they come, and I ask them to Sit and wait calmly.
      – I put on collar and leash if they are calm, and reward them for being calm. Then, I hold the leash and open the door.
      – If they break their “Sit”, I no-mark and close the door. I wait for a while, then try again.
      – If they Sit nicely, then I give them the “Break” command and we go for our walk.

      In this way they learn the following-
      Sit and be calm = Go for nice walk
      Break sit = Door closes and don’t get to go for walk.

      Dogs often bust out of doors because they inadvertently get rewarded for it; not only by getting a nice trip outside, but also by starting a fun chase game. To teach a dog not to run out of doors, we want to turn things around and reward calm behaviors. We also want to make sure that they are not inadvertently rewarded for their door escapes.

  113. Connie says

    Good article. I’m glad I came across it on my search for a collar for my dog. You seem like you have done a lot of reading, so maybe you can point me in the right direction. I have a three year old lab/alaskan malamute. We got her when she was 7 weeks old. She behaves very well when it is just my husband and I, but she LOVES other people. We’ve taken her to dog parks, run, etc. from the time she had her 1st shots. If I’m running with her, I can keep her on track and she doesn’t really pull towards others, but if she’s walking, she’ll pull. I’ll give her leash corrections, or even swat her butt with the end of the leash, to redirect her. However, if she is close to someone or if they make happy noises to her (“oooohhhh, what a cuuuute dog!”), she goes batty and pulls like crazy. I am 109 pounds, and she is 107# of pure torque, so it really takes everything I have to keep her from getting to people. She is super friendly, but I am really afraid she is going to knock someone down. Well, that was my biggest concern, until I had a baby. My son is now 14 months old, and I’m concerned she is going to pull like that when I’m holding him. She went nuts for a guy, who walked over to me today. Luckily, my son was standing just behind me because she gave it all she had to get to this guy, who was terrified. She won’t go to the bathroom in the yard, so she must be walked, so I need to come up with something. Leash jerks really don’t help when she’s in that state because the leash is already stretched out and she is pulling as hard as possible. Even my husband can’t jerk her back, just keep her from going forward. Really need some advice. At this point, a shock is really all I can think of.

    • shibashake says

      Some people use a head-halti to control pulling for larger dogs-

      As with any other piece of equipment, that has its own strengths and weaknesses.

      As for leash training, I usually start by training my puppy in a very quiet, low-stimulus environment, e.g. my backyard. This gets her used-to various commands and also used-to being together with me on a leash. During leash-training I walk the in-training dog by herself. This allows me to focus all of my attention on the training session.

      Once puppy is comfortable with walking in the backyard, then I start walking her in only very quiet parts of the neighborhood. In this way, we start small, and slowly increase the environmental challenge.

      I also do some people desensitization exercises with my puppy to help get her accustomed to new people so that she doesn’t get over-excited.

      Here is more on my leash training experiences.

  114. Robert says

    Great info; thanks. I haven’t seen anything directly related to our problem, so maybe you can comment: We typically adopt older dogs since they are harder for the shelters or rescues to place, because they seem grateful to have affection and a stable home to live out the rest or their lives in, and because they typically are less trouble to care for. Recently, however, we couldn’t resist taking in an abandoned 1-2 year old female beagle-pointer mix (maybe some whippet or something – really fast runner). Sadie began to adapt nicely to our environment and our three older dogs (Jake 14, Sasha 12, and Ruby 13 – all neutered) when my wife noticed on a blog she frequents that there was a recent addition to our local shelter who looked a lot like Sadie. Primarily out of curiosity, we checked her out and she was practically a spitting image of Sadie. We adopted Maddie. They are perfect for each other, playing for most of the day in the pasture or in the house. For two months all was good. Then, one day I came home to find blood on the floor and the walls in the utility room and our old dog, Jake, nursing a torn ear and a wound on his back. Still trying to figure out what happened (he is NEVER aggressive – most good tempered dog I’ve ever seen), later that day Sadie and Maddie jumped him in the living room while he was lying down. I had to physically beat them off kick/pushing them away from him (not hard kicks at all). Since then, there have been a couple of times it got close to a dust-up, but we keep them separated when we leave and watch them when we’re home, so no fights. I should mention that Maddie was spayed before leaving the shelter but we were misinformed about Sadie and she came into heat within a few days of the first attack. We don’t know whether to attribute any aggression to that (a friend says being in heat always made her female more docile/good tempered). We are very worried that we might miss an encounter and Jake will be badly hurt (he already hit the road one night while I was out of town – my wife found him in a perimeter canal at midnight after 4 hours of searching). We thought shock collars for the two aggressors but after reading the article are back to not knowing the best solution. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Robert,

      What has worked well for my dogs is to establish clear rules of interaction. I just got a Sibe puppy last year, and boy was she full of crazy puppy energy. She is sweet but wanted to play all of the time. The other two dogs like playing with her sometimes, but other times they just want to sleep or laze around.

      Some things that helped with my dogs-
      1. I made sure that when my adult dogs are resting, puppy does not bother them.
      2. I have a fixed schedule and a consistent set of rules for puppy. She gets a lot of play time, but she can’t play all of the time and most importantly, she is not allowed to disturb the other dogs when they just want to rest.
      3. During play time, I have safe no-play zones. If a dog is feeling overwhelmed or does not want to play anymore, she just comes over to me and I make sure she stays safe and does not get disturbed by the others.
      4. I supervise all their play sessions and make sure there is no bullying, stealing, or humping. During play, I also throw in many play breaks. I call them over and we do some simple commands. They get rewarded well, so they look forward to these mini-breaks. This helps them to refocus on me, and helps to reduce their level of excitement.
      5. I don’t leave puppy alone with my other Sibe (Shania). Shania is a 3 legged dog, and she has gotten hurt before from puppy playing. Now, there are clear rules of play. For example, Lara is not allowed to chase Shania. I also do not let her jump over Shania or play too rough with her. If Shania is lying down, Lara has to be lying down as well. She is not allowed to pounce on Shania or step all over her.

      In general, what has worked out best is for me to supervise and resolve conflicts before they escalate into something more serious. They can play, but I make sure they follow play rules and I manage their level of excitement. When they get over-excited, is when things are most likely to get out of control.

      As for coming into the heat cycle, I do not have much experience with that because both my Sibes are spayed. From talking to my breeder, I know that she separates out any dog that is in heat. This is because the males may try to mount her or compete over her. This creates conflict and may result in fights if the female does not want any male attention, or if the males feel they have to fight over her.

  115. Kasey says

    Hi there – I found your article really helpful, but I am curious for your thoughts on my particular situation. Our 18 month old Wheaten/Airedale mix is a great dog, super loving and full of energy. He does really well off-leash and does great with recall, never strays too far from us, etc. However, often he gets SO excited to play with other dogs, that he gets OVERLY into playing/wrestling to the point where the other dog clearly wants him to stop. But he wont. It’s almost like he fixates on that dog and just wont let up. It has lead to one or both of them starting to get aggressive or nipping a little too hard. We use “off” command, but when he’s in that state, it does nothing. When we try to pull him off, he has a few times gotten aggressive with us. It’s really shocking b/c he is SUCH a sweet and lovable dog, so it’s really weird to see him act like that.

    Our dog walker who takes him on daily off-leash hikes, has suggested we try an e-collar to help him learn “off” better. I should also mention he jumps on everyone who comes in the house, except my husband and I. Not aggressively, but just annoyingly. Anyway, I am on the fence about it. I think it could help and I don’t want to get into a dangerous situation with the dog, other dogs or myself. What do you think? Do you have suggestions for helping him to learn when enough is enough? Just putting him on the leash does not seem to work.


    • shibashake says

      Yeah, Sephy used to redirect on us as well during his bouts at the dog park. He would get into really excited play, and when we go to stop him, he would redirect that excitement onto the lead and onto us. At that point, he is not thinking anymore, just acting on instinct. It is similar to when we restrain people who are in the middle of a fight or some intense activity – they may redirect on the people restraining them.

      Some things that help with Sephy during play-time-
      1. Play-breaks
      I have lots of play breaks where I call my dogs over, reward them well, and we do a short obedience session. Play breaks help to refocus them on something else, and helps to calm them down. In this way, they never get too excited, and play doesn’t escalate into something else.

      2. Play rules
      I have clear and consistent play rules that I teach to all of my dogs. For example, there is no humping and no stealing. I supervise them during play and if I see anyone attempting to hump or bully, I stop play right away. If the same dog continues with the behavior, then he goes for a short time-out. In this way he associates “play too rough” = “don’t get to play”.

      3. Smaller play groups
      Instead of large play groups at the park, I found that Sephy does much better in a smaller and more structured play environment. Here are some of my experiences with enclosed dog parks.

      The key with stopping Sephy from escalating “play-time” is to stop him before he gets overly excited and switches to instinct. Once that happens, he can no longer listen or control himself. What has worked well, is to redirect him every so often, and manage his excitement, so that he never reaches his instinct threshold.

  116. Des says

    You said you were posting a non bias article but all your little side comments were really distracting and clearly show that you do not like shock collars but I am at my ends and still don’t know what to do. My beagle (2yrs) will not stay off the table, will not stop taking food from my kids, and will not stop eating his whole bowl of food and the other dogs food what am I suppose to do rewarding him with treats will only encourage his eating habits. When we found him at 8 months he was very small we thought he was newborn and he had a parasite as long as his intestines he never ate and was dying but the Korean vet was able to save him since he healed he eats like he is still deprived of food and he is now 2 1/2 years old. He eats till he get sick and pulls our dinner right off the table. Help please!

    • shibashake says

      You are right, some of the caption comments are distracting and does not flow well with the article. I have changed them so that they are more in line with the tone of the article.

      As for not liking shock collars – I think I am pretty clear that I decided *not* to use them on any of my dogs. I wrote this article to talk about why and how I arrived at this decision. I try to present the facts and keep emotional and personal attacks out of it. As for bias, everybody has a bias, especially when it comes to something that we care about deeply, like our dogs. I try my best to keep an open mind so that if new information comes along that can help me improve things for my dogs, I am able to listen and learn.

      When I started looking at shock collars as a possibility for my Shiba Inu, I was concerned about the risks. However, I wanted to consider all of the available options so that I could make the most informed decision. After all, there are some tempting aspects of shock collars, chief of which is that they can deliver a correction from a distance and without a leash. After reading a fair number of articles and studies on shock collars, I decided against using them for the reasons stated above.

      As for food begging and opportunistic eating, that is a common dog behavior. Beagles especially are bred to follow scent, and that includes the nice smelling dinner on the table.

      Both my Sibes are also very food focused, and they will do much to get a food reward. Therefore, I use that to my advantage. For example, I do not give them free food in a bowl. Instead, I make them work for all of their food. They get food for doing obedience commands, staying calm, walking without pulling, brushing teeth, following play rules, etc. The key is that they only get rewarded for good behavior. Bad behavior = they get nothing or they lose one of their privileges. This is also called the Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF program).

      During dinner, my dogs can stay in the eating area with us as long as they are calm. If they start fussing, then I give them a pre-trained command to get them to calm down, e.g. Go to Mat or Down. If they calm down, then they get rewarded. If they keep fussing, then they are escorted out of the eating area and no longer get to be with everyone else. If they continue with bad behavior then they go for a brief timeout.

      Here is a more general article on how I trained my Sibe puppies and how I stopped bad behaviors.

      Here is an article on how dogs learn.

  117. Nathan says

    I have a bit of a issue lately. My 7 month old Siberian husky has been ignoring me when I try to call him inside. We have 4 other dogs, one Great Dane(yr.6), n three Chinese cresent/fox terrier mixes(two of them are 3 and the other one is 2yrs old) n they all come inside when you even say one of their names. So u can see how disgruntled when I have to fight with home to get in. The issue is worse when we finish playing. He doesn’t know when im done. Im currently a college student n have a full time job so I understand i don’t have lots of time to be around him. He is always happy when i come home from those places though. I do currently live with my parents n the eldest of my siblings. My parents have talked to me about getting a shock collar for the front yard, since when he does get out the door with out a harness n leash. He is gone! I hand to chase him down several block n bring him back. Im lucky he doesn’t weight that much. And for his behave with the other dogs we have at home. He is fine inside but the moment he is out there with them he thinks they all want to play. They have all snapped at him when he is getting to rough, but he has physically harmed them now they won’t even leave the padio if he is out there with him…

    I do both reward training n physical discipline. Which works when he is inside and when I was train him on leash n he is a smart dog n gets it the first time threw. But out side i can tell by how he acts is play with me!! And that i know is cause my little time home, family that doesn’t want to help, and his aggressive(to our dogs they think he is) play to our older dogs is putting more stress on me cause i worry about him ever second when im not home cause the sitters i have dont care… I do t want to go to the shock collar or give him to some one else… I just love him too much to give up on him for the three month i had him.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, recall training is challenging for Sibes because they tend to have very high prey drive, and are bred to run. Here is a nice list of the various recall training techniques –

      After some training, both my Sibes will usually come when called if they are in the backyard. However, if they are after some prey, then all bets are off.

      1. Bolting out the door
      What has worked well for my Sibes is to train them on door-manners. Before I take a Sibe out for her walk, I get her to come to me by the door. Then, I ask her to “Sit” (previously trained) calmly while I put on her collar and lead. I reward her well for doing these things. After that, I give the “Stay” command and I open the door to put on my shoes (while holding the lead).

      If she breaks from her “Stay”, I no-mark (Ack-ack), close the door, get her back into position, and repeat. We absolutely do not go out the door until I give her the “Break” command. In this way, she learns to wait until I am ready, before going out the door. Otherwise, we don’t go for our walk.

      2. Play-time
      During play-time, I also establish rules that my Sibes have to follow. They are not allowed to place teeth on my hands or jump on me. When I call a “Stop” to the game, they have to stop and not resume until I start the game again by giving the appropriate command.

      To teach them these rules, I make sure to reward good behavior with food and more play. However, when they do something undesirable, I no-mark (Ack-ack), stop the game, and ignore them. In this way, they learn that if they play rough, the game stops. However, if they follow game rules, then they get food and a fun playmate.

      Here is more on what I do with my dogs during play-time.

      3. Interaction with other dogs

      Sibes are very energetic dogs, especially during puppyhood and they love wrestling and rough-play. They can easily overwhelm smaller dogs because of this.

      I supervise my dogs when they play with each other and also establish some dog-to-dog rules of play. For example, there is no humping or stealing. If they start to hump, I will quickly interrupt and stop play. Then, we have an obedience break. If a dog keeps wanting to hump, then he goes to timeout and doesn’t get to play anymore.

      Here is more on what I do at home to help my dogs get along.

      Here is a more general description on what I do to train my Husky puppies.

  118. AJ says

    I live in a rural area and have a young Pitbull that won’t stop harassing my neighbor’s goats/chickens/ducks, and his bad behavior is rubbing off on my good dogs. By the time I can respond in person, he’s home and sucking up to me.
    I’m going to have him neutered and try a shock collar to keep him away from other animals. Call it cruel, but it’s either that or a bullet.

  119. sara says

    I have two dogs about 80 lbs. There are two problems we have can’t seem to fix with them as it is impossible for me to drop everything I do and run out to correct their behavior, as by the time I do, they already stops, or they associate that action with getting my attention.

    1. My dogs will run to the fence and bark at the fence when the neighbor let out their dogs. They get so anxious and aggressive that they actually start to turn on each other. Not a full on fight, but definitely shows aggressive barking and biting at each other. I can’t introduce them to the neighbor’s dog because it’s a little dog and the neighbor doesn’t want to.

    2. They chase after cats/squirrels and bark up the tree, sometimes lasting for 20 minutes.

    I work at home and these behavior are driving me nuts. They are otherwise good dogs, walks great on leashes, no human aggression, no food aggression. We have used ceasar milan methods, but he never addresses these two barking problems. We are thinking of getting the shock collar so when that behavior starts, I can correct it from inside the house, so that they won’t associate ‘human’ with the shock, and if they stops the barking, the shock pain goes away.

    If anyone else has any tips on what else I can do, please let me know. I know someone told me to use the hose but I don’t want them to fear water. I’ve throw a can full of coins out to divert their attention but it doesn’t last, they go right back to it.

  120. Jody says

    Thank you for sharing this article. My parents have a Shitzu female named Ruby that is a car chaser. Whenever a car leaves the yard she will chase it down the drive way, they live on acreage. We have tried scolding her and unfortunately she isn’t very food motivated, so we have no idea what to do next. My parents are very worried that she is going to get hit by a car. Someone suggested a shock collar, but I don’t think that is the solution. I would be grateful for any advice you can give me. Thanks!


  121. Steve says

    I have a 3 year old italian greyhound. He has been fairly well behaved. We recently got a “mutt” who was found in the bushes. They play and get along well. When we walk them both together the Italian Greyhound (he is neutered) barks at cars, other dogs, and pulls relentlessly on the leash. he pulled at times on the leash before the new dog, but this is constant. I tried walking backward when he pulls, I tried stopping, lifting him up, and giving him a treat when the leash is loose. He still pulls and “freaks out” as we approach other dogs. Once we get to the other dog he is OK. Considering a shock collar and just not walking them together which means they both get 1/2 the walks, which I don’t want to do. HELP!

    • shibashake says

      My Sibe Lara (over 1 year old) also gets a lot more excited when I walk her with Shiba Inu Sephy. With Lara, she likes being ahead, and she often wants to rush to a person or dog before Sephy gets to them. The “want to do it first” syndrome.

      Sometimes, a dog may also feel protective over a new dog and want to evaluate possible threats first, or keep possible threats away.

      With Lara, I leash trained her one-on-one. She is getting pretty good at that now, so the next step is I will walk her, and a friend will walk Sephy. In this way, I still have the ability/hands to train her not to pull, while she is walking with Sephy.

      The dynamic is different when she is walking with another dog, and it is a more challenging experience for her, so more training is needed. However, I slowly build up to it by leash training her by herself first.

      As for shock collars, they are risky to use and can have bad side effects. Studies show that dogs often associate the pain from shock collars to their environment or to the animals and people in that environment; rather than to their own actions. For example, if a dog gets a shock every time he sees another dog, he may associate the shock to the other dog, rather than to his own actions. This may, in turn, lead to fear and aggression issues.

      Sephy used to be very reactive to other dogs when he was young. He was reactive even when we walk him by himself. Here are some things that helped Sephy become more calm with other dogs-

  122. Brenda says

    Hi, I enjoyed reading your views on shock collars and am still unsure what to do. I have 2 – 2 yr old male boxers (same litter) along with a 12 yr old female beagle/terrier mix. My problem is.. the “boys” are now each confined to their own cage. Approx. 8 – 10 mos ago they’ve decided that they both wanted to be the dominant male and try to kill each other every chance they get. Our female has also been attacked by the larger of the two boys. We’ve try clickers, rewards, etc. but once they’ve “locked on” to each other it’s everything we can do to get them apart. We, ourselves have both ended up in the emergency room trying to break up the fights. Costly for all of us! Dog trainers in our area won’t work with them or their methods are very undesirable. The next step is the e-collar. I’m worried that it may make them more agressive. I hate to spend money to find out later that’s it’s not going to improve anything. Any suggestions? We need help… Thank you

    • shibashake says

      With Sephy, I did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises. The key with desensitization, is to only expose the dog to a small amount of the problem stimulus, small enough that the dog can handle it *without losing control*. Then, we get the dog to focus on us and engage him alternative and positive behaviors. Once the dog is comfortable with the low level stimulus, we can very slowly increase the challenge.

      Desensitization exercises help a dog associate other dogs with more resources and positive outcomes, rather than with pain and fighting. It also helps them build confidence around other dogs, and teaches them to use alternate behaviors when dealing with conflict and stress.

      The key is to keep the dog below threshold, because as you say, once the dog has lost control, he is no longer able to listen and learn. Rewards will not work, and neither will any kind of pain punishment. Introducing more pain into a fight will make the dog feel more threatened, and very likely escalate his aggression.

      Even in regular training, shock collars are risky to use. Studies show that a dog may associate the shocks to his environment, or to the objects, animals and people around him, rather than to his own behaviors. For example, if a dog gets shocked every time he sees another dog, he may associate the pain to other dogs (rather than to his own reactive behavior) and become even more dog-aggressive.

      What helped with Sephy is to carefully manage him and set him up for success. I made sure not to put him in situations that he cannot handle, and where he would resort to aggression. At the same time, I helped him associate other dogs with positive events through very structured desensitization exercises.

      At home, I set up very clear rules of interaction between my dogs and I enforce those rules. They are not allowed to hump each other, or steal from each other. During meal times, I make sure they each have their own food toy to work on, and I supervise to prevent stealing. If there are any conflicts between them, they alert me and I will resolve the conflict.

      Dog trainers in our area won’t work with them or their methods are very undesirable.

      From what you describe, it seems best to do whatever training you decide, under the direction of a good professional trainer. I am not sure why the trainers in the area will not work with them – perhaps you could elaborate? Have you worked with these trainers before? Were there bite incidents with the trainers? Also, what are these undesirable methods?

      When I was looking for a trainer, I found the Association of Pet Dog Trainers site to be a useful resource. Here is their trainer search tool-

    • Brenda says

      Thank you for replying to my message. I would love nothing more than to have all of my dogs out of their cages and play and get along like they used to. I can appreciate the desensitizing exercises but unfortunately once they are out together the fights are almost immediate. We’ve tried putting collars and leashes on them and keeping them by each one of us and allow them to get kind of close but all they do is lunge and/or stare each other down. It’s almost like breaking up a fight that hasn’t occurred yet. It gets very stressful between all of us. As far as the “undesirable methods”, I don’t believe in using tools (i.e. reed sticks and shock poles) to get their attention. Another trainer just doesn’t want to undertake such “viciousness” and are afraid they or others will get hurt as we have in the past by trying to break them up. Another one uses methods similar to Cesar Millan and they seem to work while he’s there (we believe the boys are intimidated by having someone else correcting them and are nervous of the situation and that’s why they listen) but as soon as he’s gone they relax and go back to their ways. I’m at my wits end because I know it’s me. Their trying to “own” me and all it’s doing is keeping my babies locked up. Now what? I’m exhausted! Please….. anything you can tell me would be appreciated. Thanks….

    • shibashake says

      The key to desensitization is to use distance to separate the dogs and start from a state where the dogs are far enough that they are totally calm and non-reactive.

      With Sephy, I did a lot of training at our local SPCA with one of their trainers. The trainer would have a dog in their quiet enclosed space, on-leash and engaged with her. I have Sephy on-leash with me. We stand far away from the other dog – far enough that Sephy is calm and not reacting to the other dog in any way.

      Distance can be used in this way to weaken the stimulus of the other dog. In this way, we start desensitization with a very weakened version of the stimulus, and *very very slowly* work our way up. If the dogs are right next to each other to begin with, then we cannot do desensitization exercises because the stimulus is too strong, and the dogs would have lost control.

      With Sephy calm, I can get his attention and get him to focus on me and engaged in doing obedience commands. Then, once we are comfortable at that far distance, I take one little step forward and repeat the exercise. I keep sessions short, and very rewarding so that Sephy views them favorably and looks forward to them. In this way, I slowly condition Sephy to associate other dogs with positive experiences and outcomes.

      Here is more on our dog-to-dog desensitization experiences.

      As far as the “undesirable methods”, I don’t believe in using tools (i.e. reed sticks and shock poles) to get their attention.

      It sounds like most of these trainers are very steeped in aversive training. I would consider looking at the other group of trainers that practice leadership through resource control rather than physical force. Look for trainers with credentials from good training organizations, e.g.APDT, AVSAB, KPA, CCPDT.

  123. Joelle Morrison says

    Desperate situation here! I have had my Katrina rescue pit mix for seven years. She was a year and a half old when we got her; before I took her, I asked if she got along with cats and was assured she did. Wrong (she probably was still too traumatized to react). Along with her other issues (she had not been housebroken, still pees in the house anywhere from three to 10 times a day), she is violently cat aggressive and killed my beloved 11-year-old cat (she broke through a window screen to get to the cat, who was outside on the porch). Our other two cats were safe in a separate apartment with my son, but we had to move and are now all together. The cats are in my bedroom upstairs. My son is putting a metal gate on the stairway and I can put the cats into a middle room she cannot get into when I am at work (I’m 73 but I still work part-time) or out of the house. He wants me to put the dog down. Living like this is crazymaking. I have tried to get her into a sanctuary to no avail. I am considering an electric shock collar because I’m desperate.

    • shibashake says

      Dear Joelle,

      Based on most of the things that I have read, it seems that shock collars are very risky to use. One of the big problems with shock collars is that the dog may associate the pain applied, *not* to his own behavior, but rather to the objects, animals, or even people around him. As a result, the dog may form a negative association to those things, and become even more aggressive towards them.

      I went through a difficult time with my Shiba Inu Sephy when he was young. During that time, I considered using a shock collar. However, after reading many of the studies that have been conducted on its use, I decided against it based on the high risk involved, as well as degradation to quality of life.

      I describe some of the study results in the article above.

      Some things that helped me when I was going through difficult times with Sephy –
      1. I got help from several local trainers. First, we went in for an evaluation session, and then we had a series a training sessions targeted at each of his problem behaviors.
      2. I also did a lot of reading on dog training and dogs in general (both online and from books). I found that talking to other Shiba Inu owners helped a lot. Many of these people have gone through similar experiences as I have, and were able to offer good advice.
      3. I very carefully managed Sephy so that I did not expose him to situations that he cannot handle. The more he practices his aggressive behavior, the more likely he will repeat it. Therefore, I want to minimize the number of aggressive incidents.
      4. At the same time, I slowly desensitized Sephy to each of his aggression triggers. I focused on only one or two issues at a time so that I did not get overwhelmed.
      5. I exercised Sephy well, and provided many structured positive activities where he could drain his energy. In this way, he had less energy to spend on other things.

      Since it is not possible to place the dog, another alternative is to find a different home for the cats. Is that a possibility?

  124. Dana Zier says

    Hi I have a 6 month old dalmatian mix and she is very good for the most part, she is half house trained meaning she never poops in the house
    But she will pee atleast once a day and I take her out constantly!!!! She also jumps on to the table whenever food is up there and eats it! I don’t allow her to have people food but she just helps her self!!! We have tried the reward system and it works for some things but not for others? I don’t understand why these two things do not register with her to not do them. She is spayed and is up to date with shots and the vet told me that getting her spayed would help with her peeing in the house but it hasn’t! And I have to wet vac my carpets constantly and we live in an apartment so I can’t get a run for her to be outside more!! And with the food thing she constantly has raw hide bones and I feed her twice a day so why is she acting like she is starving? Should I be feeding her more than twice daily? HELP PLEASE!!!!!

    • shibashake says

      I got a new Sibe puppy last year, and she reminded me that the most important thing in potty training is supervision. 😀

      We were doing really well on the first day and she didn’t make any mistakes at all. The next day, I let up a bit on supervision, and there were mistakes all over the place. After that I would supervise her all of the time. If I cannot supervise, even for just 1 minute, I put her in her puppy enclosure.

      Here is more on our potty training experiences.

      As for food, both my Sibes are also very food motivated and will do almost anything for more food. The key, I found, is to only give them food when they are doing good behaviors for me. I make sure to supervise carefully when there is food within reaching distance. Otherwise, I put all food away.

      If they keep getting free food by jumping on counters, they are getting rewarded very well for that behavior, which will encourage them to keep repeating it. From their point of view, jumping on table = lots of yummy food.

      Another thing that really helps with my dogs is the NILIF program. With NILIF, my dogs only get rewarded with food, attention, and other good stuff after they perform some simple commands for me.

  125. Faye says

    Thank you for this great article. I hoe that you may have some advice, I have a four year old shar-pei. She is not really trained except for basic sit, high five etc and so trying to train her now has been tedious.

    We recently moved from a house to an apartment, every time we leave she barks constantly working herself up into a state. We have never had an issue before with barking, chewing etc and now she seems to have picked up all these bad habits. We purchased a bark off, this has not worked.

    Any advice is much appreciated,


    • shibashake says

      Sounds like the barking and chewing could be from stress. My Shiba Inu is the same way, he likes having a fixed routine and becomes stressed when there are changes to that routine. The bigger the change, the more stress. When dogs get stressed, they may chew or bark (displacement behaviors) to help relieve some of that stress. We do the same thing, e.g. some people bite their nails, pull their hair, pace, etc.

      Here are some of my experiences with dog barking and dog anxiety.

  126. stacey says

    This was very informative.

    I have a jack Russell that we adopted from a local shelter,he goes after people’s feet,even people he knows. It is getting worse as he gets older. He witnessed our golden lab attacked 4 times by our neighbor’s Pitt bulls,and just recently,as of last month,his little play buddy(a puppy given to us) was attacked and killed in our yard by the same Pitts. Toby,my jack Russell,was trying to defend the puppy. Ever since then,he has not been the same. He now attacks my aunts in law dachshund,who Toby has grown up around,the attacking of the feet,and 2 Weeks ago we adopted another baby who is now on the receiving end of aggression. I was seriously thinking if bringing him back to the shelter after a year and a half of him in our family. I also considered shock collars,but now ,I think that may only make matters worse.

    • shibashake says

      He witnessed our golden lab attacked 4 times by our neighbor’s Pitt bulls

      Yikes – how did that happen? Were your neighbor’s dogs roaming loose outside his property? It sounds dangerous. Were the incidents reported? Did Animal Care and Control take any action?

  127. Jenny says

    Hi, Thank you for your article. It was very informative.

    My problem is that I have a dog that otherwise well trained, but is showing signs of people and dog aggression. She has already been in two dog fights in a month, the first she was jumped by someone’s dog who was roaming off leash, the second she attacked her “sister”. I have children in my neighborhood and I am terrified something bad will happen. My trainer recommended a shock collar for those moments when she begins showing aggression.

    Do you agree or disagree with this course of action?

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu Sephy was also reactive to other dogs when he was young. I decided against using shock collars because-
      1. They are risky to use. If not applied in exactly the right circumstance and with perfect technique and timing they can encourage aggression. For example, Polsky et al. showed that the dogs actually became more aggressive because they associated the shocks to people and animals rather than to their own behavior.

      2. They increase stress in dogs and lower quality of life (Schalke’s study)

      With Sephy, we used dog-to-dog desensitization exercises, combined with creating neutral experiences during our walks.

      This is what I do to keep the peace at home with my dogs-

  128. Regina Carey says

    I loved this article and I even MORE appreciate all the comments people have left and you have taken the time to answer.

    I too am looking for some help and answers.

    Link is my 1 year old Siberian Husky. Link is extremely well exercised (he runs along side my bike 2-3 times daily for 30-40 minutes at a time) and taken care of. When he is indoors, he is wonderful. When he is on a leash, he does well. When Link is off leash, he is a free spirit! I can not for the life of me get Link to come when called off leash. I have tried treats (he does not respond to any of them outdoors, I have tried praise (it seems to bore him), I have tried “the invisible rope” (he is too dang smart and knows when that rope is not attached to him), I have tried playing tug when he comes (still nothing), I have tried running in the opposite direction and jumping up and down, I just looked stupid with no results.

    I DO NOT KNOW WHAT is going to give Link the WANT to come to me. I can not seem to find a reward that will “outweigh” the benefit he feels from running off leash and not coming when called. What rewards if ANY can do this for a Husky? I know they were bred to run, eat little, and think independently. Is there any hope for me to have Link come when called??

    He loves to play at the dog park but it is very stressful for me when it comes time to go home. If I try to approach him his runs away. There just doesn’t seem to be ANYTHING I can do to make it worth his while to come to me :( The last visit to the park, thankfully he approached a stranger and the man was nice enough to hold on to Link’s collar till I could get there with his leash.

    I SO badly want Link to have everything he enjoys, like playing at the park, but for his safety and my sanity I NEED to be able to have him come when called. I DO NOT want to resort to using a shock collar, it possible side effects seem too cruel. I am willing to work very hard to acheieve a reliable recall, I just need the guidance. Please, PLEASE help Link and I.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Regina,

      Here is an article that I like from the ASPCA on all the different recall techniques-

      I usually start recall training in the backyard, and then very slowly increase the challenge. One thing that may help is to do recall in a structured setting with other dogs. For example, start with one calm dog in the backyard that is doing commands with his own handler.

      My Shiba Inu was also very dog focused and we did a fair amount of dog desensitization training with him at our nearby SPCA. We started with a calm dog that was engaged with his SPCA trainer, then we slowly increased the challenge as his recall improved.

      Many dogs learn that when they get called to “Come” it means that the park fun is over and they have to go home. They may get a treat, but a treat is not as good as playing at the park. Therefore, another useful exercise we did was call Sephy to come to us many times during his SPCA play session. If he comes he gets rewarded well and then he gets the best reward ever, which is to go back to playing. If he does not come, then play stops for a brief time and he has to do a set of commands, or do a brief mini timeout. Then we try again. This teaches him that –
      “coming” = get rewarded with more play, whereas
      “not coming” = play stops.

      However, I do also want to say that going from a structured training scenario into an unstructured dog park situation is a big leap. Most of the dogs at the enclosed dog parks I have visited are not under good owner control or even supervised at all. Sephy ended up unlearning a lot of his lessons and also picking up a lot of bad habits at the enclosed park. He does a lot better with smaller, more highly supervised play groups, which is what we do today. We also do on-leash walks in non-enclosed hiking parks.

      Here is more on our dog park experiences-

  129. Jillian says

    I was wondering if maybe you could help me with one of my two dachshunds. They are 3 years old and sisters. I bought them from a pet store at 6 months old (they were in there for 4 months). They have never really been apart other than for a few hours at a time. They are crate trained and share the same crate while we are out and for the night. Both dogs are not dominant but one is naturally very submissive and nervous. The other is the problem dog, she is the instigator, the submissive dog is very obedient and eager to please but as soon as her sister does something bad she will follow.
    The “bad” dog has two issues, she barks at every little noise she hears, also when loose she runs at people and dogs as well as barks at them (they are really friendly dogs and do not attack, just run and bark). She has also chased cars down the street and just last week ran across a busy street after a dog and person after she broke loose and was almost hit by a car.
    She does have an automatic anti-bark collar and knows not to bark when it is on, she also knows how to work it so she can still do a slight woof without receiving a shock. It truly does not get to the route of the problem as she still is doing these bad behaviors.
    She behaves a lot better when her nervous sister is not around so I feel as though it may be some sort of protection for her sister.
    They both listen well with everything else, it’s just this barking thing.
    Any recommendations on how to curb this problem for good? I would love to allow her off leash and not have to worry about her barking at/chasing people!

  130. Polly says

    i need some help. Our Standard schnauzer is very territorial. She barks at everything that comes up and down our street whether it be a car, bicycle or people. She will bark at birds flying above our house and lizards. This, however, is not even the biggest problem. When people come over she attacks them, she actually bites them and i can’t stop her. I feel really bad all the time, no one wants to visit any more becuase of her. I have tried all different types of training, but nothing ever seems to work. we have found out that she has fear aggresion. Will a barking collar help or hinder our situation? Will it make her stop attacking people when they walk through the gate, becuase when she attacks people she barks at them as well. She barks at anything and everything. Please help!

    • shibashake says

      I have tried all different types of training

      Hmmm, can you elaborate?

      For dogs with fear aggression issues, desensitization exercises can be helpful.

      Will a barking collar help or hinder our situation? Will it make her stop attacking people

      Administering a shock or some other aversive stimulus may make an already fearful dog even more fearful, and runs the risk of causing more aggression. This was shown by Polsky’s study.

      In such situations, it may be very helpful to get a professional trainer to come and observe the dog. A good trainer will be able to read the dog’s body language and identify what events are triggering the aggressive behavior. Then we can slowly desensitize our dog to those triggers and help her gain confidence.

  131. Casey H. says


    I have an 8 month old AKC husky. He has a really bad problem with excessive and nuisance barking. We live in a semi-suburban area that contains many houses. He refuses to be quiet in his crate inside (even after reward training) and will not be quiet outside unless you are out there with him at all times. How do I fix this problem with him before our landlady gets a complaint from our neighbors and forces us to leave? I’ve tried the TERMINATOR 2 bark collar, he took the battery case cover and the battery out in the backyard. I’ve also tried audible correction with a smack on the top of the nose when he does it if I’m outside with him and he still does it. What can we do? Please email me back. Thanks.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Casey,

      My younger Husky, Lara, is also very vocal. Taking her on long walks every day helps a lot. I also make her work for all of her food, and I institute the NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) program at home. She is less likely to make a fuss when she has had a full day of activity.

      I also taught her the Quiet command so that her barking is under behavioral control.

  132. says

    Good review. Well written. I am glad you came to the conclusion that there is a better way! As a certified professional clicker trainer, and a trainer whose method has evolved from military-style, force-based “yank and thank” training to positive reinforcement to The Third Way and finally to clicker training as taught in the Karen Pryor Academy I am definitely of the school of thought that the risks of aversive, force-based training far outweigh the benefits. Clicker training is a far more effective and versatile method of training than correction-based training. Further, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior and the American College of Animal Behaviorists advise against using trainers who use shock collars, choke chain collars and prong collars as well as dominance-based methods such as those used by Cesar Millan.

  133. Apkallu says

    I have a siberian husky 6.5 week old puppy. The best way to describe him and our situation is exactly like Milo who posted the other day here. My sib. puppy however, JUST ROCKET LAUNCHES at the food when he see’s it. He is trained to sit but when he see’s the full amount of food, not shielded by my hand, he sits, unless its close, he goes nuts and the moment I put it in the bowl it’s like he has NEVER EATEN. and I am certainly feeding him right… vets told me 1- 1.5 cups of the specific dog food per day.. I am up to 1.5 now and i mix in rice and sometimes potatoes. But i don’t over do it. Is this his reaction due to me always hand feeding him slowly bit by bit over a course of 4-10 minutes, for at least 1 of the 3 meals a day. Originally I was doing it for the majority of his meals. Is this bad? He will go in his crate to eat…. but he just POUNDS it down without even chewing it,,, which is why i also like hand feeding because he will actually crunch it in his teeth if it’s not over 2 kibbles at a time..otherwise its just full force into the hand, no chewing, just super fast swallowing.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Apkallu,

      Congratulations on your new Sibe puppy!

      Both my Sibes also love eating food and will inhale their food if they could. However, I find that it is best to make them work for *all* of their food.

      I use their daily food portions for obedience training, bite inhibition training, handling exercises, grooming, play rewards, during walks, and other activities. Whatever is left over, I put in interactive food toys.

      In this way, they learn that Nothing in Life is Free, and that they get what they want most by working for me, and cooperating with me. It also slows down the speed of their eating, which as I understand it, is more healthy.

  134. Milo says

    I recently got a sweet little 6 week male Siberian Husky companion.
    I am a college student living in a condo, I do have the time for him and his stimulation, except that I would like to be able to go to work for 3 hours without him being a crate crying the whole time. He doesn’t whine out of the crate if I’m gone, but he eats stuff he shouldn’t, and there is a 40% chance he will do business in the non-designated spot. I guess then my problem doesn’t lie with getting him to not cry when in a crate (impossible, he will cry…i tested it today, left him in there…after 20 minutes of pure volume and in so many different melodies I casually without making eye contact slowly made my way to him. Even in front of him he still would whine..if he stopped for a second I would put my hand in and start petting him, so if he started up it was just a whimper..eventually got him to sleep but this doesn’t seem right… its a giant crate… can’t put it in room at night, so he sleeps with us.. so here I am with a few ideas…

    -I could train him while he is IN his cage, with positive reinforcement of snacks..but train him to do what? bark on command? so he wont bark when not asked? or wouldn’t that teach him that barking gets him treats?
    He is smart, I already taught him to sit by using positive reinforcement, even to stay… but he gets the two mixed up so am sticking with just sit for now..and might change the word stay to HOLD, or WAIT.

    -I could just not crate train him… he isn’t scared of the crate, he goes in it to eat, and walks in there by himself,,, just doesn’t like it closed with him inside it. Rather than crate train, just let him keep at what he’s doing, and just keep working on potty training and not chewing up stuff while gone… because I’m sure he will not bark.

    To sum it up, my biggest fear is him yelping while i’m gone and getting me kicked out for that reason… he is a husky after all and will howl cause it is natural for him… but where he does it should be something I can enforce through positive training. He is definitely one of the most intelligent dogs I have personally known. His problem is just making sounds I thought only a human could make with practice..

    Any help with what I should do or ideas or something I’m not thinking of that I could do would be VERY much appreciated!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Milo,

      My Sibes will go into their crate at night to sleep, but during the day they do not go in there (unless something is wrong). My younger Sibe Lara especially likes to pace, so she likes being in the house or backyard where she can move around.

      During the times when I am not home, I usually put puppy in a long-term enclosure or room. I make sure there is nothing dangerous in the enclosure. I put safe chew toys and safe interactive food toys in there. I also put some bedding, puppy pads, and water.

      In terms of training not to bark, one way to do this is to teach a dog the Quiet command.

      Here is what I do to get my dogs used to their crates-

      In general, I try to set them up for success so that they do not whine while in the crate. If they start whining, then I wait until they stop before giving them any attention, even eye contact. Often, I will also reward my dogs for staying calm and resting quietly. This teaches them that-

      Whine = No attention
      Stay calm and quiet = Attention, play, and other rewards.

  135. Vanessa says

    Dear Shibashake,

    I really need your advice. We have a Terrier mix that is sooo sweet to us. He loves our one-year old, does not show aggression when you go near his food bowl, and is so gentle with us. But (big but) he dislikes strangers. Usually when someone comes over to visit I tell them to ignore him. When they do he eventually warms up to them within minutes and wants to be pet. This usually works well with grown ups but he is really scared of kids. When our niece comes over he is so scared of her and aggressive. We tell her not to pet him and he usually avoids her when she’s running around the house. Yesterday a group of kids were playing in front of our house and the gate was open in the yard. We are very careful with keeping it closed but my husband was doing yard work and I didn’t know that the gate was open. Next thing we know he is barking like crazy and he bit one of the kids! It wasn’t a serious bite. He was just bruised a little but did not bleed. But oh my god I was so worried. I’ve been worrying about it since. The child was fine and was playing shortly after I gave him ice. I have thought about getting a shock collar before and decided not to. But now I am really considering it. I have contacted dog behavior specialists and can’t really afford them. Would you recommend a shock collar? And if not, how should I specifically train him with positive reinforcement. If he runs up to the gate and barks at people, how should i stop him? We love our dog and really want to correct this behavior. Any advise would be appreciated! thanks.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Vanessa,

      I decided against using shock collars for my dog because-
      1. It may increase stress and lowers quality of life.
      2. It is very risky and may worsen aggression issues.
      3. It may negatively impact our bond with our dog.

      In terms of getting a dog more comfortable with people, desensitization exercises have worked out well with my dogs.

      People desensitization exercises help the dog to re-associate positive events with the fearful stimulus so that he can gain confidence, and deal with stressful situations by using alternative behaviors rather than aggression. During desensitization though, it is important to manage our dog so that he does not get exposed to situations that will cause him to get fearful and lose control.

      The key is to set our dog up for success by maximizing positive controlled events, and minimizing negative events where the dog feels overwhelmed.

  136. Abigail says

    Hello, I appreciate your article. I have a almost 2-yr-old Westie/Yorkie mix, whose main problem is barking. I tried many methods of training her to stop barking, and finally gave in a while ago and bought a remote controlled bark collar. I wanted to have some control over when the shock was applied, since I don’t want her to necessarily stop barking COMPLETELY (i.e. if someone is at the door.) I found it to be largely ineffective though for several reasons. First of all, it was difficult to keep track of the small remote and always have it with me. Secondly, it is hard to always be in range of the dog, and respond promptly. I also found that she seemed to get a bad attitude whenever it was applied. She would skulk around me, and sometimes even bark defiantly at me, even though I’d be right there in front of her holding the remote. We gave up on the bark collar for several months, until just the other day when we bought another bark collar. This one is automatic, not remote controlled. I have yet to see the results of this endeavor, but so far she has sulked around all day, and not been her usual cheerful self. Sure, she hasn’t barked much (except at our neighbor in the hall), but she hasn’t brought me the ball either, or shown an interest in licking my cereal bowl, or any of her usual little habits. She’s just slept all day.

    So my question is this: how do you train a dog to NOT bark, using POSITIVE reinforcement? For example, one of her big problems is when she sees people she doesn’t know (our neighbors in the hall for example) she explodes away from me and barks like a maniac. I can curb the running away by leashing her, but nothing I do or say will stop her barking at them while they are still in sight. I understand the positive behavior results in positive reinforcement idea, but when she never exhibits positive behavior in these circumstances, what are you to do?

    I appreciate your non-threatening responses to all of these comments, by the way. You answer each question carefully, and I appreciate your taking the time to answer mine! I love my doggie dearly, and don’t want to spoil her cheerful little spirit in my endeavors to make curb her barking habits!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Abigail,

      Thanks for sharing your shock collar experiences with us.

      In terms of barking, it would depend some on what the dog is barking at, why the dog is barking, and what we want the dog to do instead. For example, barking at people on walks is different from alerting us that there are people around our house. The first is usually the result of excitement or fear, while the second is to alert the pack.

      My Shiba Inu barks when there are unusual things happening around the house, but he does not bark at people during walks. One of my Sibes bark when she gets overly excited, as a way of releasing some of her excited energy.

      one of her big problems is when she sees people she doesn’t know (our neighbors in the hall for example) she explodes away from me and barks like a maniac.

      It sounds like she may be fearful of strangers. Smaller dogs may feel more threatened because people are relatively much larger, especially when they are standing up, looming over them, and staring at them (giving eye contact). That is why when meeting new dogs it is best to practice “no talk, no touch, and no eye-contact”.

      Dogs may sometimes also bark out of excitement. To tell the difference we want to look at the dog’s body language. Is her tail up? Is she trying to approach or is she trying to get the person to stay away?

      Some things that may help-
      1. People desensitization exercises. We only expose the dog to small amounts of the problem stimulus, and train her to focus on us and stay calm. Once she can tolerate low levels of the stimulus, we slowly increase its intensity.

      2. Achieve better control over the barking behavior with the Quiet command, and by teaching the dog to use alternate behaviors.

      3. Slowly socialize the dog to new people, new experiences, and new things so that she gains confidence and becomes less fearful.

  137. SiberianHuskey Owner says

    Shiba Shake,

    I need help with my 2 yr old Siberian Huskey, every chance he gets he runs away. I have recently had to incidents where police were involved because my dog got off his chain or escaped when one of my kids left the door open. He has an attitude problem as well when you chase after him or try and stop him, so I’m seriously thinking of the Shock collar for training him to stay either indoors while the door is open and in his yard. I would use the collar tempararly until he knows what’s good and bad. The Huskies that are across the street from us were both trained on shock collars and they now dont have a collar nor leash on and are obedient. Advice please!

    • shibashake says

      Here are some of my experiences on why and how to stop dog escapes.

      As for shock collars, I decided not to use them on my own dogs because of the risks listed in the article above, including increases in stress levels, and a greater tendency for aggression.

      My end goal is to give my dogs a good quality of life, and I am able to achieve this with alternative methods that are less risky.

  138. Jordan says

    I’m very excited to use our E collar. I have lost all trust in our pit mix who recently bit our new puppy and likes to run and attack other dogs. I feel that I can’t even take him for runs even on his lead anymore. The E collar will help me gain confidence and control again.

  139. says

    Referring to your post on Dog Shock Collar – The Good and The Bad, could help but write to say I totally agree with your conclusion. There are many other alternatives to train your dog and it is difficult to justify the use of shock collars. Love your post and glad your postive rewards based methods are working for you. Cheers

  140. fennec-fox says

    I have a friend that’s so persistent to fight with me over this subject. I’ve tried convincing her to use positive reinforcement on her pup(chocolate lab that is under a year old) but she thinks I’m just talking out of my rear. Because I never “raised a hunting dog”. Honestly it gets under my skin because she thinks its alright to shock him whenever he decides to chew because well like any other puppy he chews and she fails at puppy proofing the house. What can I do to convince her that what she is doing is wrong and any advice on curbing the “chewing stage”

    • shibashake says

      Hello fennec-fox,
      When people ask me about shock collars, I just tell them about my own decision making process, the scientific studies I came across, and how I made my decision.

      With dogs, as with children, there are many strong feelings and also a lot of ego involved. It is often more difficult to receive advice from a friend, than from a third party, e.g. a trainer, author. I am currently reading the book Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz. In it, Horowitz talks a lot about understanding the world from our dog’s point of view (or umvelt). Another book that I like is Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs by Suzanne Clothier. Clothier’s book really changed my point of view on dogs. Perhaps these books may help.

      In terms of chewing, puppies do not know what things are acceptable to us to chew, and which are not. Therefore, it is up to us to teach them our very human rules. Usually I no-mark my puppy (ack-ack) and redirect him into biting on something acceptable. If he redirects, I reward him with attention and a favorite game. Other techniques include teaching him the Leave-It and Drop commands, and playing the object exchange game.

  141. Roswitha says

    used it twice in a very very long time BUT

    the dogs learned first with reward training what to do instead of their selfrewarding and dangerous misbehaviour:
    Malinois, strong in coping with aversive stimuli during high level agitation,chasing and nipping people on bicycles, joggers, running after horses.. learned at the same time a very strong recall with a whistle / play with the ball connection. Alas it was 20 years ago and reward training was really frowned upon by many. I used the shock collar for one afternoon on everything she chased after voluntarily after her having it on for 4 weeks without anything happening. I hit the button when she got to her target to be absolutely sure her focus was right on it.

    Afterwards I intensified rewarding her for staying with me or just plain ignore the formerly chased objects.

    What I didn’t know then – I could have clicker trained her to willingly look away when seeing something to chase after. It might have worked then. It sure did years later because, of course the shock treatment didn’t last forever as she was a strong bitch and overcame her fear.

    Secondly I used it with my Spitz who was chasing after cows and sheep, she saw at great distances or when she stopped running after crows she found herself close to milk cows or worse, mother cows. She is also very strong on getting over aversives which was obvious as she had some accidents which hurt. To make the shock collar useful and not only painful, she learned first what to do instead of running after cows and other livestock. I shocked her only very very close to her “prey”. She never ever has run after any of them since then which is over 6 years ago this spring. BUT BUT BUT: I help her since then to ignore them by rewarding her in difficult situations with livestock esp. in spring when the cows are quite frisky to be out again.

    So, I think shok collars can become a very effective tool if combined with sound and tireless reward training when the dog already knows the alternative, and therefore can choose not to run the risk to get shoked againg.

    Because there are other scientifique realities that say: If you think you get a reward and you don’t get it, you get frustrated or even angry.
    On the other hand: If you know how to avert punishment(shocked) you are relieved.

    Anti-Bark-Collars: They are really bad, because a dog barking is NOT concentrating on the barking but on the object/situation causing the bark. Wrong associations and fear or aggression are most often the result. Or less obvious a stressed fearful animal which goes into freeze.

    That is a discrmination many people do not seem to be aware of: Dogs do not concentrate on their behaviour but on the environment. So must often punishment does not really decrease the behavour but intensifies it.

    And sometimes I think people rationalize this occurance by thinking: Thank god did I punish him, if the behaviour got that bad although I am punishing him, how bad would it have gotten if I had done nothing?

    You might think now I am keen on e-collar-training. I am not. My dogs get rewarded on a daily bases for doing NOTHING on walks – because they could be doing loads of stuff I don’t like instead. Ever thought about it?

    My Spitz thinks everything I say outside means “food” even if I am swearing very loud and angry because she ran off to gobble up some half-rotten-food again! She runs back as fast as she can to get even more food from me :-).


  142. Anonymous says

    i have a beagle and he does good walking around the neighborhood but he likes to run away and we have a fenced backyard just for him but i think someone is letting him out because he cand work the lock on the gate we just got him back from the dog pound he hasnt ran scence

  143. Wodeshed says

    Hmmm. I don’t know. This piece strikes me as an anti-shock collar person reaching a foregone conclusion, namely that shock collars are bad. It seems a lot like a debate about whether you ought to spank your child.

    Lots of things are bad if used incorrectly. I have a border collie/golden retriever cross who is almost unbelievably willful. I’ve been using the collar for three years with him, and it’s the only way he’ll obey. I think in that time I’ve only shocked him with the momentary “nick” twice, both times when he was about to run out into heavy traffic.

    Instead, what I do is to walk him on a leash attached to his collar. The instant he pulls (or lifts my resting arm), I give him a vibrate. He hates the vibration (which is NOT a shock), and instantly ceases to pull.

    For my wife, who has an ongoing carpal tunnel issue, it has been a godsend.

    • shibashake says

      Dear Wodeshed,

      The reason why I looked into shock collars in the first place, was because I had a difficult dog (a Shiba Inu) and I wanted to explore if shock collars would help solve some of our problems. As I described above, there are certain aspects about shock collars that are very tempting.

      However, based on all the scientific data and provable facts that I found, I decided that shock collars are not appropriate for the type of relationship and lifestyle I want to establish for my dogs. After reading Polsky’s and Schalke’s studies, I decided that the risks involved far outweighed any potential benefits, except perhaps for very simple aversion training. If you have data that proves otherwise, or if you have any information that I missed, please let me know. I always want to make the best informed decision for my dogs.

      As for vibrate vs. shock, I highlighted the differences between the two modes in the article above. I also stated –

      Note that the subsequent discussion is solely based on the shock functionality of electronic collars (not on the beep and vibrate modes).

      This piece strikes me as an anti-shock collar person reaching a foregone conclusion …

      As I stated above, based on careful consideration of the data and studies I have read, I do not think that shock collars are appropriate for my dogs. That does not seem like a foregone conclusion to me, but perhaps I am missing something. If so, please let me know.

      foregone conclusion – A conclusion formed in advance of argument or consideration.

      My goal, as always, is to give my dogs the best quality of life that I can, which I imagine is the goal of most dog owners as well as parents.

  144. Alexia says

    E-collars are so hard to use right. Like you say, clear association with the problem is needed. My small mixed breed went after chicken. Two shocks timed perfectly fixed that problem for good. So for everyone who need to put a stop to dog chasing/killing chicken, this is the way to go. I know it’s a severe issue and a problem for many in rural areas where dog who kills chiken(or any other farm animal) is highly likely to be put down if not corrected completely.

    • shibashake says

      E-collars are so hard to use right. Like you say, clear association with the problem is needed.

      Well said and succinctly put.

      Interesting about the chicken aversion training.

    • Paul Kendall says

      We have had a dog fence around our property for 3 years for a little Sheba, Echo. He adapted to it very easily as there is an existing barb wire fence there so the boundary is visable. So, this winter he sees a coyote and runs thru it and now goes thru…..but we have thinned his fur and tightened the collar and seems ok again. He will spend most of the day outside and can open the door of our house when he wants in :) his 5 acres are his..he will share with the neighbors horses when they are put then in our paddock in summer to eat down the growth and is quite unhappy when they leave,he will lay with them and quite enjoy thier company. We have always been positive with him as he gets so upset when we are unhappy with him,, scolding is just a terrible thing for him! When out he has never come back but today I purchased a Petsafe ultra sonic pet trainer with a negative and positive button and when he got past the fence I pushed the positive button a few times and miraculously he came back and was one the move 100 feet away when I did it,,,,wow. I think it is uncomfortable but for whatever reason he comes back. I used one other time today when on his little track and usually ignores everyone and he came back again! Not sure what to say other than very cool! Will use it very sparingly only as last ditch thing, but wanted to let other shiba owners know about it.

    • Roswitha says

      Dear Alexia

      As you have not told us so, I hope you help your dog to avoid chickens and the lure to go after them again. Because one of the facts of live is, almost every dog desensitizes itself if the lure is great or often presented without anything bad happening and no alternative behaviour is learned. And shocked too often your dog will get used to the pain or get stressed out because one day the connection won’t be so clear cut.


  145. Sam says

    I have a Shiba and she has slipped out the door twice and obviously doesn’t listen when we call her. She just takes off. Thankfully we’ve found her both times. We are very careful when opening doors, but she has gotten past us. I’m at my wits end and can’t keep going through this. Any advice?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Sam,
      Some things that I do with my Shiba that may help –
      1. Use a drag-lead
      When Sephy was young, I put a drag-lead on him. When I go to open the door, I make sure I have his drag lead in hand. I also make sure he does not crowd the door before I open it. If he tries to bolt out the door, he goes to time-out.

      Escaping out the door is a self reinforcing behavior. As a dog makes more successful escapes, the more likely he is to repeat that behavior. Therefore, to stop the behavior, we want to consistently prevent escapes, as well as teach our dog that if he tries to bolt, he loses his freedom in the house. However, if he stays away from the door and does not try to run out, then we want to reward him with play and very good treats. In this way, he learns that not-escaping is very rewarding, but trying to escape is not.

      2. Practice door manners every time before going out for walks.

      Another thing that helped with Sephy is to practice door manners with him before we go out. Before the walk, he has to sit by the door and stay. I put on his collar and leash. Then I hold the leash and he has to stay while I open the door and put on my shoes. If he does not, I no-mark (Ack-ack) and close the door. Then we wait a bit by the door before I try again. If he keeps trying to bolt then I leave, and he doesn’t get to go on his fun walk until later.

      This gets Sephy into the habit of waiting nicely by the door and not bolting out.

  146. Peter Hyde says

    I appreciate the effort you’ve gone to here to lay out the pros and cons – including useful research – fairly dispassionately. In my life I’ve lost one dog to a vehicle and another nearly so. We currently having a steep 1-acre semi-rural yard which is nearly impossible to make dog-proof. Thus, I feel I need more tools in the chest than just our voices – which our year-old terrier is good at ignoring. “Come” just seems to be not in her vocabulary, even after months of positive reinforcement.

    But your article persuades me to be very specific and moderate in what we use on the new tone/vibrate/shock collar. And using the tone in association with treats (just as we’ve been doing for “Come”) is a fine idea.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Peter,
      Glad you found the article to be helpful, and thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us.
      Hugs to your Terrier-girl.

  147. Dennis Hales says

    I have a huskey, he is a year old. He is perfect in every way its just his recall that let’s him down. I know before.
    Him down. I knew before I got him that this would be a problem. It’s just seeing him off the lead playing with other dogs makes me feel so happy knowing he is enjoying himself. When it comes to getting him back on the lead its a night mare. I have tried treats his favourite toys he just plays silly bugggers. Question is will a electric collar work and solve all my problems.

  148. Sally and Jamie says

    Hi, we have a 1 year old husky malamute cross…he is very good with sit, lie, high five, spin etc and will respond to ‘come’ when no other dogs are around so we can let him off the lead but if he sees another dog he totally ignores us and wants to play with the other dog..the thing is not all dogs want to play. We just bought a shock collar for him but aren’t sure whether to use it or not. Will it make him scared? Or is it a good idea? Can someone help?. :)

    • shibashake says

      Hello Sally and Jamie,
      I considered using shock collars on my Shiba Inu when he was younger. However, I decided against it after reading Polsky’s and Schalke’s study on it.

      One of the key dangers of shock collars is that the dog may associate the pain with the wrong event. For example, our dog sees another dog and then starts to move towards him, at that point he gets shocked. After this happens many times he may start to associate seeing other dogs with the shock. This may in turn result in aggression towards other dogs. This result was shown in Polsky’s study.

      Another key concern with shock collars is that they significantly increase stress in dogs, thereby decreasing quality of life. This was shown in Schalke’s study.

      Here is another article on why I chose not to use shock collars-

  149. retrieverbeagle says

    I still have a question… How can you train a dog that is 3 years old and 8 years old not to go out where you don’t want them to go? My beagle is 8 and me retriever is 3. They love going out in the woods where the hunters are. I sometimes worry about them because if I don’t keep them inside or keep one dog tied up, they’ll be gone for the whole day. They are good dogs otherwise. The retriever is very obedient except when she is chasing a animal that she wants… I just can’t see any other thing that will help except a shock collar.

    • shibashake says

      There are a fair number of problems with the “invisible fence” or shock containment system.
      1. It is not a full-proof containment system. Some dogs learn that if they can endure the initial shocks, they can get away. Then once they escape, they are rewarded with no-shocks.
      2. It has a high risk of encouraging aggression as is shown by Polsky’s study which is specifically on shock containment systems.
      3. It can cause the dog to become fearful of the shock environment.
      4. It can significantly increase stress and lower quality of life.
      5. It only keeps the dog in and does not keep wild animals out.

      Alternatives to using a shock containment system is to fence up a smaller area to act as a backyard and the dogs’ play area. Then we can take them out for regular supervised walks in the woods.

      I very much enjoy the walks that I have with my dogs. They help me go up hills, they keep me company, and they also help keep away the coyotes.

  150. retrieverbeagle says

    One thing I have a question. How can I teach my golden retriever (who is a 3 year old, 4 in Jan) to stay in our yard? She does very well at coming when shes called. I don’t want her getting shot in deer season. I just don’t see any way to escape not getting a shock collar…

  151. Robin says

    I have a 9 month old bulldog who is so sweet. He will lick you to death an is awesome when it comes to listening for the most part, his only issue is when he is around another dog, he is very dominate. He has never bit a dog but he pins them down an sounds like a Tasmanian devil while he is doing it, i’m scared one day he will bite tho. When walking him he is good most of the time but sometimes he pulls to get to another dog an he sounds mean. What do you suggest I do to stop that behavior?? I have tried the sit stay when i see a dog coming an food rewards but when he is in the zone its hard to get him out. I was going to try the shock collar but not sure cause I don’t know how to use it…like when timing wise..Do you think it would be a good idea??

    • shibashake says

      Hello Robin,
      Yeah, my Shiba Inu was also reactive to other dogs when he was young. I did consider using the shock collar, but ultimately decided against it for the reasons listed above.

      Some things that helped with my Shiba’s dog-to-dog aggression issues –
      1. Doing dog-to-dog desensitization exercises.

      2. Creating neutral experiences during walks.
      Rather than stopping to meet and greet dogs, we just ignore them and move along.

      3. Identify his social triggers and set him up for success.
      I try to observe my dogs closely and see what they like and dislike. For example, I have observed that my Shiba really dislikes dominant dogs and dominant gestures, e.g. the butt sniff. Therefore, I do not let new dogs sniff his butt. I protect him from rude encounters so that he does not have to use aggression to protect himself.

      Here is more on our dog-to-dog meeting experiences –

  152. wolf pack says

    I used to not believe in shock collars until just a couple days ago one of my dogs broke loose from me ran out in the street and got ran over by a car just a couple of feet from me getting there to grab her.She was a little 3 lb chihuahua who lived in pain for ten more minutes and died in my arms.I could feel her little broke ribs and watched the blood pour from her mouth from the internal bleeding and felt her little heart beat slow then come to a stop as she passed.I have another dog who will fight the leash and me if i put one on him and likes to run off across the street into the field across from my house.i went today and bought a shock collar and so far so good he has not tried to run out in the street all it took was 1 warning beep and 1 shock now everytime he hears the warning beep he stays away from the street.I will not watch another dog die!as far as sit and stay training i will not be useing the collar just good ol hot dogs.its only for the purpose of keeping him away from the street if he breaks loose from me.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Wolf Pack,

      as far as sit and stay training i will not be useing the collar just good ol hot dogs.its only for the purpose of keeping him away from the street if he breaks loose from me.

      I think what you say here is key. When properly applied, under human supervision, and with the correct timing and pain setting, shock collars can be helpful for the very limited case of aversion training – e.g. don’t go near snakes, or don’t go near the street.

      The scientific data actually supports this and shows that for the case of simple aversion training, there is less risk and less stress.

      However, as you say for anything more complex, shock collars become risky and can lead to a whole host of other problems. In those cases, it is clear that there are much better and more effective ways for training or rehabilitating a dog.

  153. cc says

    until experience death of animal from him running after another animal innocently & not being able to stop him for his own safety, you could not understand this safety measure tool. with anything, use only when necessary in emergency situation as such:(

    • shibashake says

      A collar and leash are great as safety measure tools, and no shocks are necessary.

  154. says

    Thanks for the GREAT article! I work with shibas and do my best to educate adopters of the potential risk in using e-collars. In my experience, the primitive breeds do not adjust well to these types of training devices. A shiba with a broken spirit can become highly aggressive to both humans and animals. Their high prey drive puts them in a “zone” when they spot small animals and they cannot be trusted off-leash, even with the use of an e-device. My opinion is that if a fenced-in yard is not available, participate in leashed exercise (walks, runs, SUPERVISED play on a tie-out).

    • shibashake says

      What you say is so very true.

      Shiba Sephy responds really badly to any kind of pain-based aversive training. He sees that as a threat and starts to fight back. It also significantly erodes his trust in people. I will always regret using aversive techniques on him when he was young.

  155. Lyndi says

    For the longest time I have been opposed to shock collars. I have never worked with a dog that after obedience training and just normal maturing that most behaviors went away. Our newest addition we have had for two years, gone through training and everything with still insists on running away. She typically goes to one of two places. One of which leads her towards a very busy road. After talking with my trainer she said what is more humane a dog hit by a car or a zapped dog? I have not used the collar yet and after 8 months of continually taking my dog out on a leash on our 3 acre property, I let her play in the snow yesterday. She after 8 months ran towards the fence, hopped over it and as I called for her and did all the positive reinforcement I could squeaking toys, telling her she could have treats she wouldn’t even look at me as she ran, sniffed and ignored me. In the yard on a 30ft line she listens, and comes to me without a tug on the rope. Loose she takes off! Hoping she can join my other border collie in trail riding eventually however I just can’t trust her to be wise enough to stay out of the road and listen to me when it is most important.

    • shibashake says

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Lyndi.

      To be sure, this is a difficult decision. My Siberian also has high prey drive so when she spots a squirrel or a deer, she is off and doesn’t look back until much later. Otherwise, she likes to stay close to her people. Squirrels really aren’t the problem because they usually run up the nearest tree, but a deer will run forever, and so will a Siberian.

      Even with a shock collar, it is unclear how much that will stop a Sibe’s strong prey instinct. A running deer is an extremely strong stimulus to overcome. Plus, that runs the risk of her associating the shocks with going hiking in the hills. This is not to say that once a shock collar is used, dogs lose all capacity for joy. Indeed, dogs are very adaptable, even to pain. But shock collars do increase stress because the dog is usually unsure when and where the next shock will come from.

      Ultimately, I decided that the risk and cost of shock collars were not worth their uncertain rewards. Now we only go on leashed walks and have off-leash time in fully enclosed areas. This is a personal decision though, and the situation will be different for each dog-owner pair. However, the dangers posed by shock collars are real and should not be glossed over – which was the main reason for this article.

      You clearly know a lot about training and have put in a lot of time with your girl. She is lucky to have someone like you looking out for her. Let us know how things turn out.

  156. Dog Lover says

    Dog training is a totally personal issue for people, every bit as much as raising kids since that’s essentially what we’re doing. This is very similar to the spank or no spanking debate with kids.

    Here’s what I believe, and you are free to take it or leave it, I just wanted to present my point of view.

    It’s extremely important to know your dog. I would NEVER recommend any kind of aversion training until after the age of 2 for any dog because their personalities are not fully in tact before then (would you agree?). However, after that point, you need to have a full grasp on who your dog is, what they can or cannot tolerate and HOW any kind of training will affect them.

    I have a Schnauzer. He’s a terrier.. and therefore very strong willed. He’s sensitive, too, and has no desire to disobey and get in trouble but sometimes he just can’t help himself when a dog/cat/squirrel/or even leaf blows by him. I can see the struggle within him as he tries to obey as I am correcting him verbally, but I usually lose. And every time you lose a battle with your dog, he doesn’t forget it. All he’s learning is that he has control (and you can’t reprimand him when he does come back because he DID come back…just not when you wanted).

    So, this is just a long-winded way of saying that I believe in everything IN MODERATION. No matter what kind of training you try, start on the lowest level if it’s aversion training. And only use it for specific stimuli. Decide what is the most important behavior to correct and use the vibration (that’s all I know my sensitive dog can handle) only for that. Don’t start zapping them for barking, growling, jumping…etc. I think you can handle aversion training properly without harming or stressing your dogs.. just approach it like a child. NEVER push that button when you’re angry. Just like you’d never spank your child until you had calmed down.

    If you’re in the wrong state of mind when you correct your dog, nothing will happen except instilling stress and fear in him. Honestly, just like eating junk food or drinking soda.. it’s all fine as long as it’s not excessive.

    Thanks for listening. Go out and train effectively. :)

    • shibashake says

      Hello Dog Lover,
      You bring up some great points about dog training.
      1. Tailor the training to suit the dog. There is no one-size fits all approach.
      2. Don’t correct a dog when you are angry. Patience is key in dog training.
      3. Use a balanced approach. Don’t over-correct and don’t under correct.
      4. Aversive training should not be performed on overly young dogs. My first trainer (an aversive trainer), told us that we shouldn’t start with collar corrections until after the dog is about 8 months old.

      I think shock collars tend to be a risky proposition. As with so many other aversive techniques, they often get misused. Alpha rolls is another one. This is not to say that they will never work, but as you say, we should always start with the least stressful method and only consider these other more extreme techniques as a last resort.

      There are usually many other methods that end up working better than pain based aversive techniques. I started with aversive techniques on my first dog, mostly collar corrections but with some alpha rolls thrown in just for good measure. This was all under the direction of a trainer with 30 years of experience and knew what he was doing. While my dog was with the trainer, he did fine. Unfortunately, I did not have 30 years of experience and did not execute things with the precision that the trainer was able to. The results were very bad. I ended up having to do a lot of counter-conditioning work to gain back my dog’s trust, calm him down, and lower his stress.

      Finally, thank you for being calm and balanced in your comment. Often, we try to be patient with our dogs, and forget to be patient with our fellow human beings. :)

  157. Ethan says

    Zap-collars are way, way, way more humane than keeping your Sibe on a leash. I can call mine off an animal now without zapping him, and have many times. Only had to use it about half a dozen times in different circumstances. Once he realized I could reach out and touch him no matter how far away I was from him, everything changed. Like magic. I bike, he runs. No more problems with horses or cats either. He is off leash and in the woods minimum of three hours a day, usually more. I used a mountain scooter with him in harness until his training was complete at about 12 months, now I mostly bike with him off leash. We also hike, swim, walk through town, and go to the dog park. I take him out 3 hours a day minimum and he is always with me because I work from home. Huskies NEED TO RUN. If you can’t run them, you shouldn’t own one.

    • shibashake says

      If you are happy with zap-collars then you are free to keep zapping.

      I can only report on the facts and the scientific studies that have been conducted on the use of shock collars.

  158. Greg says

    Ecollars are a interesting thing, and many people love or hate them. Even more scary is that many people think they are a quick fix for basic training, which they are definitely not. I believe this is why they get a bad reputation. They can AID in training when used on VERY low stimulations, to great results.

    First, my personal thought is that anything less than 18 (dogtra models) is not giving any pain to the dog. I have used it on myself in many locations (arm, neck, etc) up to about 40, so I understand what stimulations I am sending. I have never needed above 35 which is quite unpleasant, but not necessarily painful (this was when chasing another animal).

    I have a two dog model and use one on a husky who was well trained by other methods first, but would run off once and a while if unleashed. ALL our dogs are off leash, so leaving one on leash 100% of the time just will not work, we are in the country and regularly take walks in the woods. The Ecollar now allows him to be off leash whenever I’m outside.

    The benefits of him running free with the other dogs is 1000 times better than the one or two corrections he gets per day. He is a happier dog now than before. There is NO other way to have a Siberian Husky off leash, and recall with complete confidence. That said, there is still the risk of him running away ignoring the collar, but that is another risk I am willing to take. If I lived in a large city perhaps my thoughts would be different.

    Now, another of my other dogs, a border collie, lab, husky mix is quite good and I only got the two dog model because it was not much more money. I did aquaint her to the collar as well and now walk in public places such as parks, boardwalks, etc., without a leash on her. She is so well behaved that a slight vibration (no shock) and she is giving me her complete attention.

    Now, as far as your disadvantages in the article. I purposely am adding stress in the dog’s life. Learning IS stressful, why do you think everyone hates college so much. This should not be mistaken as a disadvantage. Study after study says that people perform best when under stress, just not too much. Therefore when using the collar one must realize when a dog has had enough and give it a break for a few hours or days.

    Also, I found that the collar has created a greater bond with my dogs. They do not understand that I am giving them the stimulation, and thus look to me for guidance, which of coarse I am trying to give in the first place. Its a win-win.

    • shibashake says

      Hi Greg, Thanks for your very well thought out comment. It really made me think.

      I have always wondered about the off-leash use of e-collars, but my Sibe has an extremely strong prey drive. I am pretty sure she would bolt after the deer or whatever even with the pain stimulus. Also there are some barbed wire fences in the hill trails that we walk in – so I am uncomfortable with off-leash walking.

      I am not sure which my Sibe would prefer in the long-run. If only we could ask our dogs eh?

      Re stress and college –
      When I was in college I had a really good advisor. He was of the belief that stress makes you into a better person. He always told me that he was making things difficult now so that I could take the pressure of graduate school :) I really respected him and am very glad I had him for an advisor in college.

      When I went to grad school I had a truly awesome advisor. He knew how to get me motivated, and he knew how to inspire me. There was some stress (not from him, more from myself), but a lot less stress than before. I don’t know if I actually performed better, but I think I enjoyed life a lot more. This advisor I truly loved.

      I guess in the end it depends on the dog’s temperament, and what we want most from and for our dogs.

  159. Bold Text says

    Hard to read because there are so many bold things. Hard to concentrate. Probably a great hub but just too busy.

    • shibashake says

      Thanks for the input. I will try to take off some of the bold.

      Btw – it is fine to use your real ID – I have no problems taking constructive criticism 😉

  160. Fzambaz says

    Hello, it’s been a few days I’m reading all I can on shock collar, before making a decision on weather to use one on my 2 year old male husky.

    For the story, I had him from the beginning, and as I have always been living in the swiss alps, I trained him to walk free from the start. He was great the first 8 months, then started to wander further away from me each time we went out. I am also an alpinist and have always taken him absoltely everywhere, skiing, trekking, etc. (in my back pack when he was little).

    Problems started after 1 year, when he begun not to return for some 10-15 minutes at every walk. Then it got worse and today, he would just not listen and do whatever for half a day or so. I have been to my local, very serious, dog school every week for the last year, and he has made incredible progress. I can do a hole hour of training without the leash, in a field with 15 other dogs, and he listens to me very well most of the time. Then he has moments where is doesn’t listen at all anymore. In these moments, I loose him, he runs away.

    I have tried food, toy, other dogs, to attract him back to me, but nothing does it. He comes back when he wants. We live in the middle of a forest and to be honest, I really want him to be able to run free when we go for walks, and I would be sad to have to leave him at home when I go back country skiing.

    Last sunday he went after a sheep hord and one got scared and jumped off a cliff and died. It took me three hours to get him to stop running and barking after the sheeps. I was very shocked on how my dog is sometimes out of control, and the only solution I see is not to let him run free anymore. What a shame, he’s young and he knows exactly what I mean when I give him the “come back” order, he just decides not to listen.

    I know huskies have a strong hunting instinct, and I would like advise on how to use a shock collar on him, as a very last resort method, to be able to let him run free when we go for mountain hikes.

    I bought a innotek 1000 collar, it has bip and shock, and a antenna up tp 900 meters, but I haven’t used it yet.

    Thank you if you can help me!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Fzambaz,

      It sounds like your Siberian is very well trained, and that you already know a lot about distance work, so I am not sure how much help I can be.

      As you say, Siberians have a high prey drive and an independent nature, so it will be difficult to overcome that. The concern that I would have in using the shock collar is that you may have to use a fairly large shock to have an effect over the strong prey drive, and I am uncertain if short term use of it would be sufficient as a deterrent. And using it in the long-term is probably not a good solution.

      What does the trainer in your class suggest?

      Is the terrain too dangerous to have him pull you during skiing? If you engage him in a common task with you, he may be less likely to wander and get distracted. And I think he will still have a lot of fun.

      Let us know how things go. I would be very interested in hearing about your results. Thanks!

    • Fzambaz says

      Hi Shibashake,

      Thanks for your reply.

      About the skiing (which is only 4- 5 months of the year), it’s great to have him pulling me, he loves it, but only on the prepared slopes, which I don’t really go to when I can go up wild and untouched mountains. It’s way too dangerous for him in deeper snow, he needs to be able to run at his own rythm. But I do a bit of both an enjoy it.

      He has a very thick fur as he’s always outside, and I’m concerned the collar won’t work on him. As an example, he doesn’t feel the shock from electric cows’ fences if he touches them with his back…

      I will speak with the trainers and keep you posted on how things went.

  161. Am I dead, yet? says

    I totally disagree with the use of shock collars on any animal. If someone feel the need to use one on their pets, let them have a go with one on and see if they still feel the same about the collar! I think it is cruel! Love and dedication is all you need for a pet, not an artificial babysitter to remind an animal if they are being naughty or nice.

    Fantastic article, very informative and visually appealing. Beautiful dogs!

    • shibashake says

      Hi AIDY, So happy to see you. :)

      Sometimes I see a lot of let’s dominate that dog comments which after a while, leave me a bit discouraged. Thank you for the picker-upper comment. It is especially timely today and greatly appreciated :)

  162. Nanny J.O.A.T. says

    I usually do not believe in shock collars as a rule. However, I have had to use one on two of my dogs. Each time was to correct bad behaviors learned from previous owners that couldn’t be corrected using other methods.

    In the first case, the dog wold bolt through the door and a merry chase would ensue until the dog felt like coming home. 1 day of “shock treatment” every time the door opened and he tried to bolt cured him permanently.

    The second case was a let’s go over the fence and romp the neighborhood, but only if no one was in the yard. In this case, the dog was let into the yard and watched from a window – every time she jumped on the fence to climb it – the shock was administered. This took 2-3 days of diligent dog watching – but it did work.

    Using a shock collar, in my opinion, is a LAST resort when other methods haven’t worked or the safety of the animals and people around the animal is at stake. We always used he lowest setting possilbe.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Nanny J.O.A.T. , Thanks for sharing your experiences of the shock collar with us.

      Yeah I think you are right in that it is an absolute LAST RESORT thing, only for the very short term, only under close supervision, and for very specific things (i.e. like those that you mentioned and the snake aversion).

      I think the key is using it in a very clear case where the dog can easily associate a simple SINGLE action with the shock. As was shown in  Schalke’s study, in those cases, there were no elevated levels of stress.

      Unfortunately, most people are not as careful. And really those automatic shock systems are extremely bad news.

    • shibashake says

      LOL QS – You are too much. And that’s a good looking profile picture 😉 Thanks for the zoom.

    • quicksand says

      On second thoughts, I have an idea which could replace this CRUEL shock treatment method of YOURS!

      It’s like this … attached to the upper part of the dog’s collar is a metal box which contains a set of springs and a lever attached to the main trigger spring which is in turn controlled by an electronic device.

      The protruding end of the lever is set in line with the dog’s backbone, and positioned preferably at 45 degrees to the horizontal when the dog is standing on all fours. The protruding end has a wooden paddle attached to it, curving inwards such that it could be customized to fit into the thud-area.

      When the electronic devise issues a command, the spring is released, enabling the lever to bring the paddle down hard on the thud-area. The intensity of the thud could be controlled by the timing devise. The shorter the timing, the greater the “thud.”

      A built in programmable device could activate the mechanism whenever required.

      Alternately a remote could be used.

      Cool? Patent pending? Fifty-fifty?

      PS: The paddle could be the shape of a human hand.

    • shibashake says

      LOL QS – Actually I think I have seen that invention before on Looney Tunes 😀 But it was not all fleshed out like what you have just done so I think you still have a shot at the patent.

      I would add an option where you can change the paddles to different shapes – maybe human hand, your annoying neighbors face, your boss’s shoe, etc. We could make a killing in these added accessories.

      You are sick my friend – thanks for sharing your sickness with me 50/50 😀

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