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The Case Against Shock Collar Training For Dogs (2023)

Shock Collar Training For Dogs

Shock collars are a hot topic for dog lovers.

Even big companies, groups, and professionals speak up about this.

But with all these controversies…

You’re left wondering:

“Why is everyone against this training method?” 

Keep reading to find out: 

  • 7 proven facts about shock collar training.
  • 13 alarming ways this training technique can harm your dog.
  • 3 scientific reasons why professionals are against this method.
  • And that’s only the beginning…

Is a shock collar good for training dogs?

A shock collar isn’t good for training dogs. In fact, it harms canines not just physically, but also mentally. Its long-term usage causes stress, anxiety, and aggression. This eventually leads to more behavioral issues. That’s why most dog professionals stand against this inhumane training method.

13 reasons why dog professionals are against shock collar training for dogs

#1: Severe stress 

Studies found that shock collar training is stressful for Fido.

And it’s due to the sudden pain the device causes. 

“But some trainers say this electric product is harmless.” 

Unfortunately, those claims are proven false.

You see, most canines react to shock collars by: 

  • Cowering.
  • Squealing.
  • Suddenly barking.
  • Letting out high-pitched yelps.
  • Being aggressive to you or other people.
  • Avoiding you or the person training them.

Those are some of the signals dogs give when in pain. 

But the concerns don’t stop there.

Stress from shock collars may also lead to:

As you can tell, the risks are alarming.

In that case, you might be wondering…

“How would I know if my pup feels stressed?” 

Vets say you’ll notice symptoms like: 

Now, you might be worried after reading all that. 

So take these expert tips on treating stress in dogs:

  • Let your pooch exercise.
  • Remove the shock collar.
  • Give Fido a peaceful alone time.
  • Ask the vet for stress-relief medicine.
  • Keep calm. Your dog can sense your emotions.

Continue reading: 17 Clear Signs Of Dog Stress (Stressed Dog Body Language)

#2: Triggers aggression 

When you’re caught off-guard…

You might feel a sudden surge of energy. 

That’s what we call an adrenaline rush. 

And it activates when the body faces extreme stress. 

Which is what shock collars do to dogs.

Now, PetMD states adrenaline affects Fido the same way as humans. 

Meaning, your furry friend can also experience:

  • Breathing issues.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Higher blood pressure.
  • Blood pushing through the heart, muscles, and kidneys.

That aside, Harvard says adrenaline might lead to another reaction called…

Fight-or-flight response

During this moment, most dogs are on high alert. 

This may leave them prone to defensive aggression. 

Thus, they might bite you or lunge at someone. 

Even if your pup stays calm, they could still attack other animals. 

Experts call this ‘redirected aggression.’

Now, this only happens because Fido feels unsafe. And that’s due to the sudden shock they get from training.

This is why researchers conclude: 

Shock collar training only makes things worse

So if you’re trying to fix unwanted behavior like aggression in dogs…

Using e-collars would only give the opposite results. 

Yes, your pooch might stop their bad habits in front of you. 

But they may still misbehave if you’re not around. Or when not wearing their shock collars.

Moreover, dogs are creatures that learn by association. If they associate seeing another dog with pain, you’re not helping them build positive associations. 

In simpler terms, you’re not fixing the problem. Instead, you’re using a shock collar that acts like a bandaid. It will cover aggression towards other dogs. But it will not eliminate it.

Instead, your dog won’t give out warning signals. And in the long run that can lead to a dangerous situation.

That’s why dog professionals stick to harmless training methods.

Reading recommendation: 17 Shock Collar Alternatives To Train & Bond With Your Dog

#3: Anxiety 

As I mentioned in reason #1: 

Stress from shock collars also creates anxiety in dogs. 

Now, you might be thinking…

“What’s the difference between those stress and anxiety conditions?”

Anxiety is more about fear. 

And in this case, most canines are afraid of pain from their e-collars

Thus, Fidos would always worry for their safety.

Eventually, that could affect any dog’s mental health.

This is why studies say anxiety from shock collars may cause Fido to:

  • Yelp.
  • Hide.
  • Freeze.
  • Tremble.
  • Be distant.
  • Suddenly pee or poop. 

At first, these things might seem harmless.

But in the long run, AKC warns that anxiety could lead to:

  • Drooling.
  • Aggression.
  • Restlessness.
  • Destructive acts.
  • Barking too much.
  • Compulsive behavior.

Now, you wouldn’t want to deal with these symptoms. 

So, how can you treat Fido’s anxiety? Check out these… 

Vital tips to help an anxious dog

  • Find a safe, peaceful space for your pup.
  • Remove the source of fear (their collars.)
  • Consult the vet for anxiety-relief medicine.

Suggested read: 19 Proven Ways To Calm Your Anxious Dog (How-To Guide) 

#4: Neck damage 

Shock collar training can also cause lesions

Those are bumps that may be cancerous. And they could develop on Fido’s neck.

Now, some trainers might say: 

“This also happens when dogs wear normal collars.” 

That’s true. But the risk increases with the electric ones. 

“How?” you ask. 

It’s because of the shock collar’s design. 

First, they’re made to fit tightly. ‘Cause if not, the metal pins won’t shock dogs at all. 

But the closer those materials are to your furry pal’s skin…

The more Fido’s at risk of having neck damage or lesions. Plus, this increases the odds of pressure necrosis in dogs. 

And having that means your pup may show signs of: 

  • Hair loss.
  • Reddish or cracked skin.
  • Being in pain when you touch Fido’s neck.

This is what makes e-collars different from regular ones. 

At least, the latter is still comfortable for most dogs to wear.

#5: Skin irritation 

Aside from lesions… 

Fido’s skin may also get irritated from shock collars.

That’s due to how tight these devices need to be.

Now, here’s the problem.

Some pups already have dermatitis. Which is a common type of skin allergy. 

And PetMD says it can cause the following in dogs: 

  • Rubbing.
  • Redness.
  • Rough skin.
  • Greasiness.
  • Persistent itching.
  • Nonstop scratching.
  • A foul odor from the skin.

Now, these symptoms may get worse if Fido’s allergic to metal too. 

Which is found in e-collars.

And if that’s the case… 

Your dog might wound themself. Especially if they can’t stop scratching.

After that, Fido could develop an infection too. 

This would lead to a series of health issues for your pooch. 

Continue reading: Help, My Dog Is Constantly Scratching And Biting Himself!

#6: Burn wounds

Shock Collars Can Cause Burn Wounds

Still on the topic of skin, shock collars can burn your dog

Now, trainers who promote the device might say: 

“That won’t happen if the product’s used properly.” 

While that could be true… 

A news report tells a different story.

So, meet Oreo, a rescue dog.

He was enrolled in a training class called Sit Means Sit. And it’s led by a licensed trainer named Billy Salcido. 

But just a week after Oreo stayed with this instructor… 

The fur baby came home with burn marks and wounds. 

Apparently, Billy used shock collar training on the poor dog. 

The dog’s parents took the shock collar off and noticed that it had 4 prongs that were responsible for Oreo’s pronounced wounds. 

Now, this trainer claimed the neckband only ‘vibrates.’ Thus, it shouldn’t hurt the puppy. 

But the marks on Oreo’s body tell otherwise. 

In the end, Billy lost his license. 

So, if even a ‘proven expert’ could harm Fido with shock collars… 

What more if untrained fur parents use that device? 

After Oreo returned to his family, they noticed he could perform certain commands. Such as “Sit” and giving the paw. 

On the other hand, he appeared to be: 

  • Skittish.
  • Distrustful.
  • Nervous around strangers. 

Reading tip: 5 Vital Tips To Treat Shock Collar Wounds

#7: Depression

With all the harmful effects of e-collars on dogs… 

It’s not a surprise if canines may end up depressed. 

In fact, there’s even a study on this topic. 

Around 1965, a researcher named Martin Seligman tested how dogs react to light shocks. 

During the experiment, some canines showed changes in their reactions. 

Instead of trying to escape from the electric zaps… 

The Fidos remained calm as they received the shocks. 

Now, this seems like the dogs already accepted their fate. 

That’s why Seligman described the behavior as learned helplessness (LH). 

And its symptoms are just like depression in humans. 

This means dogs with L.H. may show signs of: 

  • Anhedonia.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Sleeping too much.
  • Moving less than usual.
  • Losing interest in rewards, even treats.
  • Giving up before even starting an activity.

With these symptoms, another study came to a conclusion.

Basically, L.H. is a coping mechanism for pups.

But it’s too unhealthy. And it harms both Fido’s physical and mental health.

That’s why you should also know… 

How to treat depression in dogs

  • Make Fido exercise.
  • Ask the vet for antidepressants.
  • Spend more time with your pup.
  • Using serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Note: PetMD states you shouldn’t reward inactivity. 

That means don’t give treats to your dog. Or spoil them with cuddles while they’re feeling down.

Otherwise, your pup might stick to their unhealthy habits. Because they think you’re rewarding their behavior.

Instead, slowly encourage Fido to do their favorite activities again. 

Once your pooch does something good, then you should praise them at that moment.

You might find this helpful: Quiz: Is My Dog Depressed? 19 Symptoms (+Tips To Treat It)

#8: Device malfunction risks 

Shock collars are electric gadgets.

This means they could break down at any moment. 

And that’s proven by the research I included in reason #3. 

Researches tested how durable these devices are. 

21 e-collars were put to the test.

And at least 2 or 10% of them malfunctioned. Which could lead to electrocution. 

Now, that happens if the device can’t stop sending shocks. 

Not to mention, another research added that… 

These e-collars have minimal product info. Meaning, those who sell them rarely share details about the device. 

With that, dog parents may not know the following: 

  • Duration of the electric zaps.
  • How strong the shocks can be.
  • The amount of energy the e-collars use.
  • Number of shocks they give when activated.

The uncertainty comes from the fact that every e-collar model is different. 

After all, the shock level varies based on the dog’s size. 

And the bigger the pup, the more electricity they could endure. 

But here’s the thing. 

Research says every dog reacts differently to pain. Now, 100% of vets believe in this claim. 

So, despite Fido’s pain tolerance levels… 

It’s still hard to tell how much e-collars may hurt your pup. 

And that’s what makes these devices risky. 

After all, you can’t be certain which model may fall into your hands. 

With that, your furry friend could get fatally injured by the electric shocks.

#9: Diseases 

Poor mental health eventually leads to physical illnesses. 

And that’s what might happen to your furry friend. 

Especially if Fido has untreated stress, anxiety, or depression from shock collar training.

Now, those issues may cause diseases, such as:

  • Hair loss.
  • Skin infections.
  • Heart problems.
  • Breathing issues.
  • Cushing’s disease.
  • Digestive problems.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Cancer from lesions.
  • Diarrhea caused by adrenaline.

With this variety of illnesses… 

I’m sure you’re worried about your furry pal. 

But once again, this would only happen after long-term exposure to shock collars.

Still, you might wanna know: 

“How can I help my dog if the training made them ill?” 

First, you must check if Fido’s showing signs of being sick. 

For that, experts say you should look for symptoms like: 

  • Appetite loss.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Personality changes.
  • Sudden weight gain or loss.
  • Changes in Fido’s peeing frequency.

Now, if you notice these signs, take Fido to a vet right away. 

Only they can identify the specific disease in your pooch. Plus, they’ll guide you on your dog’s treatment plan.

Find out more: 7 Alarming Shock Collar Side Effects (This Hurts Your Dog)

#10: It’s cruel 

In general, dogs deserve 5 rights in life.

Specifically, they should be free from:

  • Discomfort.
  • Thirst or hunger.
  • Fear and distress.
  • Pain, injuries, and diseases. 
  • Oppression that prevents natural behavior. 

These rules were made by the UK Animal Welfare Council

Now, they originally created those rights for livestock. 

But their standards also apply to furry companions, like dogs.

That said, e-collars take away the 5 freedoms Fido deserves.

How so? 

Well, based on what you’ve read so far…

The e-collar training method may affect your dog by: 

  • Causing fear and stress.
  • Inflicting pain and illnesses.
  • Making them uncomfortable. 
  • Indirectly causing appetite loss.
  • Changing Fido’s natural behaviors.

That’s how these devices violate Fido’s rights in life. 

And that’s exactly why this training method is found cruel. 

But that’s not all…

The same researchers from reason #2 also revealed the following:

  • 26% of dogs still barked despite being zapped before.
  • 36% yelped in pain after their first shock from e-collars. 
  • In another research, over 59% of dogs would make noises during training.

Now, these facts further prove the pain e-collars inflict. 

That’s why many dog lovers find this training method cruel.

#11: Poor communication 

E-collar training is also harmful to you as a fur parent. 

Why, you ask? 

According to dog expert, Dr. Ian Dunbar

This training method doesn’t teach you how to communicate with Fido. As a result, your furry friend may feel miserable.

Sure, your dog can’t talk like humans

But there are other ways to teach Fido what you want from them. 

For example, you could study your pup’s body language. Or you may also check out common words dogs might recognize

Either way, these methods are 10x better than using shock collars. 

And Dr. Dunbar explains why. 

If you say 1 command to your pooch, like ‘sit’ for example… 

You’re communicating 3 things to your fur baby – you: 

  • Want them to stop what they’re doing.
  • Are gently requesting them to obey and behave.
  • Will reward them for listening so they’ll learn what to do.

See? With only 1 word, you deliver so many things to Fido.

While it does take more time and patience… 

Many canine experts like Dr. Dunbar tell you it’s worth the effort.

That said, you can also listen to Zak George. He’s another famous dog professional. 

And here’s his in-depth conversation with Dr. Dunbar.

In that clip, these 2 dog experts will tell you about the negative effects of e-collars.

#12: It follows the alpha theory 

Some trainers promote e-collars due to a popular myth. 

And I’m referring to the dominance (alpha) theory. 

It’s an idea that dog parents should act as the ‘leader’ in a pack. 

That’s how some trainers may mislead fur parents like you. 

Basically, they might encourage you to ‘dominate’ your pooch. And tell you to be the ‘alpha’ by using shock collars.

Cesar Millan is a good example of this topic.

Now, you might’ve heard of him before. He’s very well-known after all. 

But Cesar’s career as a canine expert is heavily questioned today. 

And it’s partly because he promotes the alpha theory. 

Plus, Millan admitted in a report that he uses shock collar training on aggressive Fidos.

Now, here’s the scientific truth from an animal behaviorist:

Dogs aren’t the same as wolves 

In fact, those wild Fidos typically get along with their family members. 

So, with these observations… 

Canine experts debunked the alpha theory

And it adds to why dog professionals don’t support e-collar training. 

Moreover, many studies have the same conclusion about this hot topic: 

Positive reinforcement (PR) is still the best training method. 

Especially when compared to using harmful techniques. 

Like following the alpha theory. Or relying on e-collars. 

Also, PR doesn’t strain Fido’s bond with their fur parents. 

Plus, it doesn’t harm dogs at all.

Due to these facts… 

Most experts found that e-collars are unnecessary.

And it’s only a cruel technique born from the misleading alpha theory.

#13: Not a permanent solution 

“Prevention is better than cure.”

I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase before. 

And while it’s a wise saying to apply in life… 

It may not always work when training dogs.

You see, the quote I mentioned is exactly what shock collars do. 

Basically, using that device only prevents Fido’s issues. 

But since it doesn’t focus on the cure…

Your furry friend may still repeat their unwanted behaviors.

And this is why Dr. Dunbar also implied: 

Shock collars won’t solve your dog’s real problems

“What do you mean by that?” 

Here’s an example.

Let’s say Fido bites you when you try to hold them.

Well, vets say some dogs may do if they’re sick. And since they’re in pain, the pooch doesn’t want to be touched.

Another example is when pups chew on blankets

This could be a sign of boredom or anxiety.

But you may not realize that if you’re always relying on shock collars.

If anything, those devices would only make things worse for dogs.

With this, you’ll struggle even more in stopping Fido’s habits.

“So, how do I solve my pup’s concerns for good?”

First, you must focus on the why’s. 

Basically, act as a detective and ask yourself questions like: 

  • When did this issue begin? 
  • What made my dog react that way?
  • How did Fido end up with the unwanted behavior?

As you focus on what triggers the problem…

The entire picture becomes clearer for you. 

Then it becomes easier to find the ‘cure’ your dog actually needs.

This harmless trick is what most dog professionals would want you to follow.

But in case you still have troubles with your pooch…

It’s safer to consult a vet first.

That’s because health issues could be the main cause of Fido’s poor habits.

BONUS: It’s deadly

While it may sound like an exaggeration…

Long-term usage of shock collars might kill your pup. 

And no, this isn’t meant to strike fear in fur parents. 

But it’s only a risk every dog lovers should know about.

Sure, e-collars won’t directly cause any death. 

Truthfully, there are no reports about this concern yet.

But here’s the thing: 

You’ve read the many ways shock collars can harm your dog. 

For one, they cause both mental and physical issues in Fido. 

And if those are left untreated…

Their health problems could develop into something worse. 

Just like the illnesses I mentioned in reason #9. 

So, in a sense: 

E-collars have side effects that can indirectly cause life-threatening problems in dogs. 

That aside, e-collars might also malfunction. 

Meaning, it could lead to a deadly electric shock for some dogs.

This is why you can consider it a deadly device for canines.