There’s nothing more precious than having a solid bond with our fur babies.
A relationship rooted in care and love, and not fueled by intimidation and fear.
Since shock collars pose dangers to our canine’s well-being…
I will share with you humane alternatives.
Keep reading to find out:
- Vets and behaviorists’ opinions on e-collars alternatives.
- Benefits of positive reinforcement to your dog’s behavior.
- 17 safe tools and techniques to utilize in training your dogs.
- And many more…
17 shock collar alternatives
#1: Know your Fido
Before you share a special bond, you have to work on getting to know your Fido well.
Understanding their gestures and reactions helps you know their likes and dislikes.
Never assume that all dogs have the same preferences.
Test and find out:
- The treats they like. Is it ham, chicken, or cheese?
- The game they enjoy. Is it fetch, tug of war, or Frisbee toss?
- Their reactions when given praise. Do they find it rewarding?
- The toys they prefer. Do they like rubber, plastic, or squeaky ones?
Simple details like these can make your dog trust you.
It’ll be manageable to train them.
I’m sure you’ll ask…
“How do I know if Fido trusts me?”
Author and behaviorist Alexandra Horowitz said in her book Inside A Dog that…
The first step towards domestication is showing unaggressiveness towards the fur parent.
Furthermore, our fur babies know that we like eye contact and through this, a bond is formed.
Plus, research explains the concept of “Oxytocin-gaze”.
Oxytocin is known as the love hormone.
So sharing a 30-minute gaze with our pooch increases this hormone for both humans and dogs.
#2: Build a physical fence
Most fur babies love to play without a leash.
It’s a great sight to see them enjoy your backyard.
But a total headache once they escape and get lost.
Some fur parents face this problem…
Especially if they don’t have an open space for their pooch.
Others install an invisible fence to prevent them from doing their mischievous stunts.
An invisible fence is a containment system that includes:
- A transmitter.
- An electric collar.
- An underground wire.
These collars send an electric shock to your dog’s neck to prompt them not to cross the line.
Though this fence doesn’t block your view, it bears the following consequences:
- Stresses your dogs.
- Depends on electricity.
- Comes with limited protection.
- Causes injury to your fur babies.
- Requires dog training for it to work.
- Doesn’t stop your dog from escaping.
Plus, vets confirm that electric fences don’t work and come with various problems…
One of which is that it can malfunction and fail to serve its purpose.
This is why installing a physical fence is a good alternative to it.
Physical fences are more humane because they don’t cause fear and anxiety.
If you install this type of fence, you don’t have to worry as it comes in different sizes and materials.
Plus, it doesn’t pose emotional and physical harm to your canine.
Here are some pros of using this positive reinforcement:
- Doesn’t need proper dog training.
- Blocks anxiety triggers in your dogs.
- Doesn’t induce pain, fear, and stress.
- Gives fur parents peace of mind while they’re away.
- Provides dogs with freedom to play, exercise, and explore.
#3: Utilize management strategies
Not all dogs learn immediately after training.
There are those who struggle a lot.
This is where managing your pooch’s environment plays a vital role.
And it’s one of the best ways to help them behave.
“How do we do this?”
If your dogs are great escape artists whenever they have the chance, install an indoor gate.
Another scenario is if they’re fearful around strangers…
You can put them in a separate room away from your visitors when they come over.
Utilizing management strategies can be a handful to do as a fur parent.
As there are changes you need to do such as.
- Buying toys to distract them.
- Installing barricades at home.
- Avoiding car rides if they’re afraid of it.
- And many more…
However, this doesn’t inflict pain and can help you know your dog’s triggers.
#4: Collaborate with a Behavioral Trainer
We share an unbreakable bond with our furry companions.
But there are times we experience difficulty in understanding them.
Especially since they don’t talk the way we do.
Good thing we have canine behaviorists to help us with this dilemma.
You might wonder, “Are dog trainers the same as dog behaviorists?”
No. Both differ in process and education.
Dog trainers gain their knowledge through either formal or informal education.
Some trainers learned through personal reading.
While some attended extensive classes.
Others gain expertise by apprenticing with renowned trainers.
This means there are effective dog trainers without a professional certificate.
Dog trainers can help your canine learn these specific skills:
- Search and rescue.
On the other hand, dog behaviorists are people that earned advanced degrees (MS, MA, or Ph.D.)
They’re vets who completed animal behavior residency and earned a DVM title.
DVM is short for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
You must complete a 4-year professional program after 3 to 4 years of collegiate undergraduate studies.
Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAABs) study:
- Animal behavior.
- Behavior theories.
These professionals publish scientific research and medical papers about dog behavior.
Moreover, they identify potential health risks associated with those abnormal behaviors.
According to VCA hospitals, CAABS cannot treat physical problems like vets.
However, they work together to address the physical and behavioral issues of your dog.
It’s time to seek a behaviorist’s help if your dogs:
- Display anxiety issues.
- Exhibit destructive behavior.
- Start to have potty problems.
- Express frequent aggression.
- Show signs of trauma and depression.
AKC suggests picking dog behaviorists that are affiliated with professional and respected organizations.
You might be interested: Quiz: Does My Dog Have Anxiety? Test It With These 9 Signs
#5: Clicker training
Clicker or marker training is an effective tool for behavior modification.
You can use this small noisemaker device to send a signal when dogs are being rewarded.
For example, if you are training your dog to jump, you must click it right after they complete it.
In this manner, it’ll let them know it’s a desirable behavior.
Don’t forget to give treats or rewards afterward.
#6: Engage more mental routine
According to Dr. Charlotte Burn, Fidos do get bored.
Her study revealed that boredom is not only for humans.
But our furry friends suffer from it too.
Lack of mental stimulation may cause behavioral problems if we fail to address them.
What are the signs of dog boredom?
- Running away.
- Digging in the backyard.
- Overexcitement or restlessness.
- Excessive licking, barking and chewing.
- Scratching without symptoms of allergies.
To stop this unwanted behavior without using e-collars…
Try using the following techniques:
Make mealtime fun for a change.
We’re used to leaving their bowl and letting them finish it to their hearts’ content.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but you can create fun games for them while feeding them.
For instance, you can use a puzzle feeder when feeding them.
Vets agreed that using puzzle feeders as a behavior modification method soothes separation anxiety.
If puzzle feeders are not accessible for you at the moment…
You can introduce special commands such as handshakes or high-fives to make each meal fun.
You might also want to check out: 9 Surprising Reasons Why Your Dog Is Eating Slowly
Introduce a new trick
Aside from making feeding time exciting, try teaching them new tricks.
If you happen to have a shy dog, this is a good start to building their confidence.
Plus, you will feel more connected with them because you get to spend time together.
Get puzzle toys
If one of your goals is to improve their focus…
Get puzzle toys for them to play around with.
Plus, interactive toys teach them problem-solving skills and boost their confidence.
AKC suggests that you choose the right puzzle that is suitable to your dog’s size and jaw power.
You might be interested in: 17 Brain Games For Dogs To Entertain Your Fur Baby.
#7: Positive reinforcement
If you think dogs dislike being praised for a good job, you thought wrong.
They love being spoiled with food, treats, and praise.
This is where positive reinforcement plays a vital role in your dog’s life.
Each time they feel a good deed is rewarded, they’ll continue it.
You might ask, what is positive reinforcement?
It has two concepts: positive and reinforcement.
Positive means adding something that your Fido loves after a good deed has been done.
Reinforcement is to encourage that behavior to continue or go up.
For instance, you want your canine to stay, and when they follow you…
Give them treats.
This will remind your dog to do it more often.
However, it’s not as simple as you think.
Practicing positive reinforcement with your pooch takes time.
Moreover, you have to learn many things before reinforcing this method:
Timing is vital
Positive reinforcement means quickly rewarding your dog for each desirable behavior.
Delays in giving treats might mean a different thing to them.
For example, if you ask your dog to sit and the rewards come after they stood up, they’ll think it’s their prize for standing.
If you are living with your family, it matters that they know your rules and cues.
Having different cues may confuse your pooch.
So, ensure to familiarize other family members with set cues.
If you live alone, remember to frequently apply positive reinforcement.
Keep it simple and short
Dogs learn like 2-year-old kids, a study confirms.
This means that they get excited over the thought of being rewarded for a job well done.
Since they use their body language to communicate with us, it’s fair only to learn from them.
Plus, behavioral researchers claim canines learn words by playing with their fur parents.
Remember that every dog responds to the tone of voice more than the words themselves.
So, it would be best to use body language and a calm voice to train your dogs.
For example, if you see them perform good behavior constantly you may mix verbal cues with a mild tone.
Remember to keep it short and simple to follow, like:
- Leave it.
Moreover, never forget to give them a “good dog” pat.
Further reading: 15 Ways To Read Your Dog’s Body Language (How-To)
#8: Try redirection
Redirection is shifting your dog’s attention from unwanted behavior.
For example, dogs don’t know that chewing pillows are bad.
Instead, get their toy and redirect them to chew on that instead.
Remember to praise or play with them after they use the toy you want them to chew.
#9: Practice reassurance
One of the things that can help you gain your dog’s trust is reassurance.
Dr. Melissa Bain, a professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine said…
Comforting our dogs doesn’t make fear worse.
For renowned tv personality and dog trainer Victoria Stilwell…
Reassuring our dogs can help them cope with phobia.
It matters that we provide comfort and presence at all times when they’re looking for it.
Thus, before you deprive your dogs of that reassuring touch…
Never forget the psychological effect of it on them.
You might want to read: 7 Signs That You’re A Bad Dog Owner (+How To Change It)
#10: Provide more activities
Giving mental stimulation is great for dogs but never forget their physical health.
Physical activities help them decompress from all stress and anxiety they experience.
One reason why your pooch misbehaves could be the lack of exercise according to vets.
It can lead to:
- Garbage raiding.
- Excessive barking.
- Unnecessary chewing.
These unwanted behaviors push others to use shock collars to discipline Fido.
However, you don’t have to do that anymore. Here are some good ways to exercise with them.
- Hide and seek.
- Search games.
Watch this and know the importance of play.
Remember to ensure you stop the game once you notice overly excited behavior.
And reward them each time they behave well.
#11: Work on ease of anxiety
One of the reasons why other fur parents use shock collars is to stop constant barking.
But, what they miss is this…
Excessive barking can be a sign of stress, boredom, and anxiety.
Instead of hurting them each time they do this…
Consider doing activities to ease what they feel.
You may use toys designed for dogs’ anxiety.
Or stay by their side until they feel safe.
Further reading: 101 Proven Ways To Calm Down A Dog (How-To Guide)
#12: Start with obedience training
Aside from physical and mental activities, obedience training is a good e-collar alternative.
It teaches Fido the basics of:
- Good behavior.
- Simple commands.
Vets suggest you start training them between seven to eight weeks old.
You have options whether to have your dogs enrolled in a class or have your DIY training.
A proper dog training class costs per session depending on the trainer and location.
If you choose to do it yourself, ensure that you have:
- Set up consistent sessions.
- Basic command knowledge.
- Proper equipment (such as body harness, snap collar, or flat buckle).
- Training methods (positive reinforcement or conditioned reinforcement).
#13: Train with empathy
Emphatic dog training helps you see things from your dog’s perspective.
Sometimes we decide based on how we feel and think…
And not through how our dogs truly feel.
It matters that we understand why they react or behave in such a manner.
For instance, Fido suddenly showed aggressiveness.
RSPCA said this aggressiveness depends on the events that are happening around them.
This means, by nature dogs are not mean.
And if you are thinking that breed has something to do with this…
Researchers suggest otherwise – bad training makes aggressive dogs.
And fur parents have a direct influence on their pooch’s level of aggressiveness.
The following factors also contribute to a dog’s aggressiveness.
So, before you strap an e-collar to Fido’s neck, ensure you know these factors.
#14: Use long lead
Long leads are better than shock collars.
These come in different lengths which makes them ideal for walking or hiking.
Using these leashes can help your dog have the freedom to explore more and sniff a bit.
Here are some of my recommended ones:
- Long leash chew proof.
- Heavy-duty leash with swivel lockable hook.
- Hi Kiss obedience recall training agility lead.
Furthermore, dog trainer Jo Laurence believes that…
Using long leashes works and can be an effective training tool.
Whistles and clickers (from #5) work the same way.
The only difference is that whistles are meant for hearing frequencies.
If your dog barks excessively, you can pick up a whistle to stop them immediately.
This helps build strong recall and is less painful for our furry friends.
#16: Spray dog collars
One good alternative to shock collars is using citronella collars.
Citronella is safe to use for our furry pals because it’s a plant-based oil.
However, they dislike the smell of this.
This means once this oil puffs out from their collar…
It signals them to stop the undesirable behavior they’re showing.
Between giving shocks and puffing citronella, experts favor citronella spray collars.
Warning: When using this option to train your dogs, ensure to observe them closely. Too much use of Citronella can be toxic for them.
#17: Maximize vibration collars
Another option that is humane and safe to use for Fido is vibration collars.
These types of collars are often used by fur parents raising deaf dogs.
This is effective in getting their attention as it releases painless signals.
Vibration collars work well when mixed with positive reinforcement or redirection.
For example, you caught your canine chewing your furniture.
Use the vibration collar to get their attention.
After that, redirect them to chew on another toy instead of the furniture.
Lastly, reward them for doing it.
Once your dog realizes that every buzz meant they did something undesirable…
They’ll no longer continue doing so.