Is It Humane to Use Shock Collars on Dogs?

Shock Collars and Dogs

Shock collars have become the go-to devices for dog trainers and dog owners who are tired of trying to correct certain dog behavior. Yet, there are mixed feelings about shock collars; some people believe the devices are ideal while others think they are inhumane. One famous veterinarian and dog trainer, Ian Dunbar, equated training a dog with dancing with his wife, which should be fun. Dunbar added that no one should talk about punishing, dominating, or hurting a dog. Unfortunately, electronic dog collars continue instilling pain in our furry friends, but people still ask whether it is humane to use shock collars on dogs. Let’s get into detail regarding this touchy subject for dog owners and trainers.

The Case Against Shock Collars

According to The Guardian, shock collars in dogs are inhumane, going by the stand by most animal welfare organizations such as the Kennel Club and the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.) Although some people swear by shock collars’ effectiveness in training dogs, officials of such welfare organizations beg to differ. For instance, Holly Conway, the Public Affairs Manager of the Kennel Club explained that dogs do not reason like humans. Therefore, if you shock a dog when another incident is happening, the dog will associate the incident with the electric shock. Dogs cannot reason that the shock is to deter them from unwanted behavior. Most people turn to shock collars to train their dogs. The collars, placed on the neck of dogs, release an electric current which results in a mild sensation to a painful shock. Trainers are culprits of this method, and they use a remote control to administer the electric signal. Unfortunately, as OneGreenPlanet explains, trainers can also press the remote control to punish dogs. The worst thing about shock collars is that it is counterproductive. Whereas dog owners prefer using it to train their dogs, maybe to stop unnecessary barking, the dogs, as Conway argued, can start associating the sensations with people. For this reason, the canines develop fear and anxiety that can lead to aggressive behavior, which you were trying to get rid of in the first place. Due to the pain and lack of effectiveness, it is no wonder that some states have banned the device. In countries like Germany, Slovenia, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, and some parts of Australia, shock collars are illegal. Dog lovers should find it inhumane to use shock collars because the electric shock causes physical pain, psychological stress, and injury ranging from burns to cardiac fibrillation. While some argue that shock collars do not have enough voltage to cause burns in dogs, others believe that a malfunctioning collar can cause electrical burns. Besides, some trainers set the voltage way too high, leaving painful burn marks on the dog’s neck.

The Case for Shock Collars

K9Electronics argues that there are many misconceptions about shock collars that make it seem like the devices are inhumane and unsafe. However, the article enlightens us that when used correctly, shock collars are safe and humane. The author goes ahead to explain the tapping method recommends placing the shock collar on the dog’s neck. You should then increase the voltage slowly until you notice the canine reacting and then set the device to the lowest level at which the dog reacts. K9Electronics argues that you only need static correction a few times before the dog learns of the unwanted behavior it needs to stop. However, according to Southwest Journal, the inhumanity in shock collars depends on the type of device you choose. The author opines that electric fence collars and bark collars are humane because the dog can control whether or not it is shocked by the electric current. When a dog associates the fence with the shock, it will stop going too close to the wall. Also, when it realizes that each time it barks it receives a sensation, it will stop barking unnecessarily. Therefore, the author reasons that the most inhumane method is when the human delivers the electric current – remote-controlled shock collars. Unfortunately, such remote-controlled devices are the most common, and even when taking dogs for a walk, dog owners will ensure the pets wear collars to prevent them from wandering. Such dogs cannot be comfortable playing with other animals in the park or even sniffing around because they are afraid such actions will cause them pain. While this level of discipline is important for training police dogs, pets do not need to undergo such stress.

The History of Shock Collars

It is believed that ancient Egyptians introduced the dog collar back in 5000 BC. The design of the collar relied heavily on the dog owner’s status since the collars were used mainly for aesthetic purposes. However, the Greeks decided the collars could be more functional in protecting dogs from wolves; thus, they developed spiked collars. That way, wolves would not bite in the dogs’ necks. The collars evolved to being made from metal and locked with padlocks whose keys remained with the owners to prove ownership. While modern dog collars provide options such as style, designs, and colors, other functions have been added to the devices. In 1960, the first electronic dog collar was invented. The electronic dog collars evolved to become shock collars primarily for dog owners whose pets were problematic. It went from having only one stimulation level to three: high, medium, and low. Despite the technological advancements, the inhumane aspect of the collars persists. It is only until dog owners fully understand how to use the shock collars responsibly that our four-legged animals will no longer have to experience anxiety and pain. Then again, there is hardly any hope for dogs considering that humans also prefer to use shock collars for their pleasure.

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