We are not activists. We have never felt strongly enough about a subject to join a movement, a march or a protest. That is until now. The Dog Knowledge wants to expose the ugly truth about shock collars.
We have checked out the website of a number of dog trainers who train with shock collars.
You will see claims like: “No Clickers” “No Treats” “No Bribes” “Guaranteed Off Leash” “Guaranteed Training or Your Money Back” “Life is Better Off-Leash.” They also will never refer to them as shock collars. They use terms like “stimulation,” “remote,” or “e-collar.”
As trainers, we have watched loving dog owners struggle with their timing giving treats, using the clicker, even holding a loose leash becomes difficult for many pet owners. How can anyone expect a pet owner to understand what they are doing with a shock collar? We don’t blame the owner, we blame the trainers who turn over the remote to the owner.
In the course of one week, we have had four pet owners talk to us about their shock collar. Ironically, all four said the same thing. “All I have to do is show my dog the remote and immediately he becomes obedient.”
As dog trainers/behaviorist we’ve spent countless hours studying the whys behind dog behavior; let us share with you the sad truth behind why shock collars are fast and seemingly effective. It’s called “escape/avoidance conditioning.” Dogs trained solely with a shock collar have learned. IF THEY ARE OBEDIENT THEY ESCAPE OR AVOID THE CORRECTION OR IN THE CASE OF THE SHOCK COLLAR THEY ESCAPE THE SHOCK. Some of the pet owners said, “rarely do I ever have to shock my dog, usually the sound of the buzzer will do the trick.” This is “avoidance conditioning.” Just to make this crystal clear – so called, e-collar trainers teach a dog to come when called by shocking them continuously until they reach the trainer. Then the continuous shock subsides. Simply put, all shock, e-collar training is a dog that obeys or does tricks to turn off the pain.
Are there any circumstances when we would use a shock collar? The answer is yes. But only in very specific and extreme circumstances and only because we are professional trainers who understand the “picture” that the dog sees and understand how critical timing is in all behavior modification and training. Also, there are dog sports that require use of an e-collar due to distance training
Dog Knowledge trainers are professionally trained to use relationship and positive reinforcement as a primary teaching tool. And when we hear e-collar trainers brag about not using treats, bribes and clickers we share this analogy with pet owners to help them understand the difference.
“So you arrive in America not speaking English and you have a teacher who puts a shock collar around your neck and trains you how to do everything by giving you a shock when you aren’t performing a task correctly. Or you have a teacher who trains you with praise, stuffed animals, a box of candy, smiles and mild corrections.” Which teacher would you have the best relationship with?
All of our personal dogs respond to corrections. Sometimes a strong verbal no and sometimes a slight physical correction. We can walk any of our dogs off-leash. We can put our dogs in a down and they will remain in place. They aren’t perfect but our relationship is second to none. Every part of their life and obedience is out of their relationship and love for us. They want to please us. They never fear us.