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Ban the sale and use of shock collars

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Imagine you are a puppy.  You are 6 months old and fully of energy.  You love to explore, run, sniff, and keep a watchful eye in the window.  One day you are on a walk with your owner, something you love to do. You smell something to the side and head over to check it out. Suddenly, you feel this sharp shock in your neck.  You yelp out in pain and have no idea what happened. 

This is the story of many dogs (including my own).  They are being shocked by owners and trainers to prevent “bad” behavior.  But people forget that dogs don’t understand what the word bad means, they don’t understand language, remember. All they know is that they suddenly felt extreme pain. Causing pain to an animal is unacceptable. This is why the sale and use of shock collars should be banned.

Shock Collars (also called E-Collars, Electronic Collars, Remote Training Collars, ect.) are devices that electrically shock a dog’s neck for a measured or constant duration. Like a human, a dog’s neck contains many vital organs including the trachea, jugular veins, spine, thyroid glands, and more.   In fact, in a study of 400 dogs "91% of the dogs who had neck injuries had also been exposed to jerking on the leash by the owner or been allowed to pull hard on the leash for long periods of time.” (  If jerking on a leash can cause neck problems, sending a shock to this sensitive area must be harmful too.

A research article published in September 2014 concludes "there is no consistent benefit to be gained from e-collar training but [there are] greater welfare concerns compared with positive reward based training.” (

Another article published in March 2013 compared two training schools, one that uses positive reinforcement based training and another that uses a shock collar based training. The author "suggests that training methods based on positive reinforcement are less stressful and potentially better for their welfare." The abstract can be read here:

Michael Baugh, a dog trainer in Houston, writes, "So many trainers still use fear and pain as a first choice in handling dogs...The irony is that we won’t tolerate abuse of dogs in other contexts, but we tolerate it in training." (  Isn't that the truth!  

 In The Problem with the Shock by Angelica Steinker writes, "The primary reason shock collars are effective in stopping behavior is because they hurt. The problem is that when you train with pain you have unwanted side effects. These side effects are called fallout. Fallout is when we use shock that will be associated with both the trainer and the training process causing stress for the animal. That stress can then be associated with the behaviors we are training, with the equipment we are using, the training field and of course with the trainer.” (

 We must ask ourselves what kind of person would use a shock collar on an animal and what kind of person would allow the use of shock collars! Do you want to be that person?  Austria, Denmark, Finland and Germany have banned these torture devices and other countries have restricted their use. 

Please join me in asking out law makers to ban the use and sale of shock collars in Houston.

 Mail letters to the following council members or your council member with the letter that follows.

1. Council Member Ellen R. Cohen
City Hall Annex 
900 Bagby, First Floor
Houston, TX 77002
2. Council Member Dwight Boykins
City Hall Annex 
900 Bagby, First Floor
Houston, TX 77002
3. Council Member Ed Gonzalez
City Hall Annex 
900 Bagby, First Floor
Houston, TX 77002
4. Council Member Mike Laster
City Hall Annex 
900 Bagby, First Floor
Houston, TX 77002


 Imagine you are a puppy. You are 6 months old and fully of energy. You love to explore, run, sniff, and keep a watchful eye in the window. One day you are on a walk with your owner, something you love to do. You smell something to the side and head over to check it out. Suddenly, you feel this sharp shock in your neck. You yelp out in pain and have no idea what happened.

Please enact legislation that will prohibit the sale and use of shock collars on animals in Houston.

Shock collars are a form of cruelty to animals. Most owners don't understand how the collar works. Further, animals typically do not know why the shock was administered or how to stop it. Sometimes, they simply repeat the behavior (for example barking) that only causes the shock to repeat, which causes the animal to bark again (typically in pain) and this cycle just repeats itself again and again.

Even police must endure being shocked with a taser and sprayed with pepper spray so they understand the effects when they use it on someone else. Owners of animals with shock collars are not required to undergo similiar experiences.

Without proper laws, many animals are tortured (whether intentionally or not) daily. Austria, Denmark, Finland and Germany have banned these torture devices and other countries have restricted their use. We must reevaluate how we treat our animals.

Make Houston a leader in the eyes of the country and ban the sale and use of shock collars.  







I have copied and pasted more source material for reading. Links to the material are posted after the articles. 


The Science of Dog Training: Is It Okay To Use A Shock Collar?

No matter what you call them – shock collars, e-collars, or the more scientific-sounding "collar mounted electronic training aids" – are designed with the most basic form of learning in mind, operant conditioning.

How Do Shock Collars Work?

From a psychological perspective, the idea is remarkably simple. An animal has a behavior you'd like to reduce or eliminate, and you apply positive punishment in an effort to do so. The "positive" refers to the application, rather than the withdrawal, of a stimulus; the "punishment" refers to the intended effect, which is the elimination of an unwanted behavior. When a child misbehaves and a parent yells at him, that's also an example of positive punishment. Despite the fact that the Father of Operant Conditioning himself, B.F. Skinner, maintained that reinforcement was more effective than punishment in modifying behavior, some animal trainers do incorporate punishment into their trainers' toolbox.

Shock collars apply a brief electric shock to the dog's neck through two blunt electrodes that make contact with the skin. The owner can usually set both the intensity and duration of the stimulus; some models allow for increasingly longer or more intense shocks each time they're activated. For a shock collar designed to prevent a dog from incessant barking, the hope is that eventually, the lowest activation will be sufficient, provoking perhaps mild discomfort in the dog rather than intense pain.

What Are The Arguments?

There are, undoubtedly, theoretical welfare risks, at least if shock collars are used improperly. For example, for effective conditioning, the electric shock must be clearly linked with the undesired behavior. The most common way to foul up their association is by improperly timing the punishment to immediately follow the behavior. In other words, you can shock a dog all you want, but if it can't make the association between the pain and its own barking, then it will never learn to stop.

This is an extremely nuanced point: there is no question that shock collars have the capability of inducing distress in an animal. However it is not necessarily the case that they induce distress "when used in accordance with best practice by trainers experienced in their use," writes University of Lincoln researcher Jonathan J. Cooper in the journal PLoS ONE.

On the other hand, various veterinary associations claim that reward-based methods can be equally effective as punishment-based ones, and lack even the possibility for welfare risks.

Their use is illegal in at least four European countries (Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany) and is restricted in three others (Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy).

The Companion Animal Welfare Council, a UK-based organization, pointed out in a recent working paper that there is lots of emotional rhetoric on either side of the debate, but not much scientific evidence regarding the efficacy or welfare consequences of shock collars used properly. The scant research that has been done on the use of shock collars has focused primarily on dogs being trained for police work or hunting, while the most common use is with regular household pets. That's why Cooper and colleagues set out to determine (1) whether shock collars used to train household pets were effective, and (2) what were the associated welfare consequences.

A Scientific Approach

Cooper's group rounded up 63 pet dogs in the UK, none of whom had prior experience with shock collars, and all of whom were older than six months, and whose owners reported some persistent problem that they wished to eliminate. Approximately half were male and half were female. The dogs were split into three groups, with roughly equivalent distributions in terms of sex, age, and breed.

Group A was trained with the use of electronic shock collars. The dogs in this group were trained by "two experienced dog trainers [who] were nominated by The Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association (ECMA)." Each owner worked with half the dogs in the group. The trainers used either the Sportdog SD-1825E or the Dogtra 1210 NCP. In addition, dogs were rewarded with positive reinforcement such as food, play, or praise for compliance with their instructions.

The dogs were trained to herd sheep not to harass livestock in the experiment. (C. MacMillan/Wikimedia Commons)

The same trainers worked with Group B, but without the use of shock collars. By including this group, the researchers could control for variables related to the trainers' own personalities.

Finally, a pair of trainers who belonged to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), a UK-based group opposed to the use of shock collars, worked with Group C. The training period in all cases lasted five days, with two fifteen-minute sessions per day.

The dogs in Groups B & C wore a de-activated collar. That ensured two things: first, that any differences between the groups couldn't be attributed to the physical sensation of wearing a collar, and second, so that observers who coded the videotaped training sessions could not tell to which group any particular dog belonged. In all cases, the dogs were trained to herd a group of sheep.

Equally Effective

A whopping 91.8% of owners reported improvements in their dogs' behavior following training, with no differences across groups, and all were highly satisfied with the results. That suggests that the use of shock collars was no more effective than the use of positive reinforcement alone when it came to improving obedience.

There were no differences between the groups for the amount of corticosteroids in dogs' urine, a physiological marker of stress. When it came to salivary cortisol, Group C dogs were actually highest. While that's perhaps puzzling, it does mean that collars aren't too blame. In addition, when comparing salivary cortisol before and after training none of the groups showed a significant change.

"Overall the physiological data from the main study suggest two things," write the researchers. "Firstly that once the dogs entered training, none of the treatments resulted in large increases in cortisol secretion and by inference arousal or stress; and secondly the differences in salivary cortisol between treatment Groups appear to represent some underlying difference in arousal, perhaps related to time of year, rather than a difference in arousal due to the training programmes."

Welfare Concerns

Beyond that, things don't look too good for those who advocate for shock collars.

While 95 to 100% of owners from Groups B and C indicated that they were comfortable continuing to administer the training program on their own, only 76% of owners from Group A said the same. Among the most important variables in dog training is owner confidence, and an effective program in the hands of an uncomfortable owner is still a recipe for disaster.

In addition, there were some subtle behavioral indications of stress, even in the absence of physiological ones. For example, dogs from both Groups A and B carried their tails lower than those in Group C and displayed more sudden movements away from their trainers. Since these findings applied equally to groups A and B, it is unlikely that they're due to the collars, but rather to the trainers themselves.

Since only four trainers were used in the study, it is impossible to derive clear conclusions. However, the researchers say, "these trainer based differences would be worth further investigation, to examine if they are simply individual differences, or reflect a more general difference in style associated with training philosophy." Those who wore shock collars were also rated as "tense" more often and yawned more, which may be a sign of anxiety.

Taken together, the study paints two broad pictures. One is that neither approach to dog training is more or less effective than the other, in terms of improving obedience and reducing an unwanted behavior, even under the most ideal of circumstances. The second is that despite the lack of physiological indicators of stress, "there are still behavioural differences that are consistent with a more negative experience for dogs trained with e-collars," according to Cooper.

Since training with shock collars was no more effective than without, the tradeoff in terms of animal welfare is – at least in most cases – unacceptable. Even when used in the most optimal way, shock collars are detrimental to the well-being of pet dogs. Imagine how much more a risk they present when implemented by non-expert pet owners.



The problem with shock

By Angelica Steinker, M.Ed., PDBC, CDBC, NADOI Endorsed, CAP2

It isn’t that shock collar training doesn’t work, because it does. The question is at what price? Some extremely skilled trainers may be able to offset some of the problems shock collars can cause. However, shock collars are for sale at almost every pet store making them readily accessible to the general public. A shock collar can potentially lead to very serious problems if not managed by a skilled trainer. There are a multitude of other powerful training options including obedience, behavior management, and positive reinforcement.


The first potential problem is that the unit itself may malfunction. Malfunctioning shock collars can cause electrical burns, creating holes in the affected dog’s neck and causing serious physical and emotional damage. To prevent this from happening never leave a shock collar on an unsupervised dog. This presents a problem for owners who use in ground shock fencing which makes use of a boundary that shocks the dog if they cross it. By design this particular type of shock collar is left on an unsupervised dog.

Logistical issues

Any clicker trainer can tell you timing and reward delivery are mechanical skills. When you are a clicker trainer if you click late or fumble to get your treat you haven’t done any harm. Learning may be delayed or the behavior may not be quite what you wanted but you have not hurt the dog. For effective shock collar training superb timing is needed, a skill that even very few professional trainers possess. Another logistical issue is to be effective the collar must be on the dog, this means the dog will become “collar wise” i.e. they will learn when the collar is on and when it is not. Many dogs would rather run through the fencing and endure a shock than avoid reaching other dogs or people. For these dogs the underground shock fences are ineffective and for the unprotected people, children and dogs the situation is potentially dangerous. In addition users of underground shock fencing can forget to replace batteries making the shock fencing ineffective.


Shock collars can too easily lead to abuse. Many people don’t want to hurt their dogs. Thus they set the shock at a low setting which is typically ineffective for stopping the undesired behavior. They then raise the setting and again this is ineffective. So the setting is raised yet again. Since the dog is exposed to the pain gradually, the surprise effect is lost and the shock may not be effective at all.

As trainers we must understand that some people feel powerful when punishing a dog. When a person of this type is given a shock collar it can lead to a vicious cycle of abuse. Many professional trainers have seen dogs “housetrained” with shock collars. In one particular case a terrier had learned to avoid urinating in front of humans, not a useful concept when you want to housetrain a dog. The professional trainer who rehabilitated this dog had to work months to undo the damage that had been done to this small terrier. Without the use of a shock collar she housetrained her and placed the dog in a loving home where the owners adore her and are committed to training without pain.

Side Effects

The primary reason shock collars are effective in stopping behavior is because they hurt. The problem is that when you train with pain you have unwanted side effects. These side effects are called fallout. Murray Sidman, a famous behavior analyst, wrote an entire academic text on the topic which those looking for a thorough exploration can read (Coercions and its fallout). Fallout is when we use shock that will be associated with both the trainer and the training process causing stress for the animal. That stress can then be associated with the behaviors we are training, with the equipment we are using, the training field and of course with the trainer.

Slow work and Frantic work

Dogs who are shocked during training are stressed. In a scientific study dogs who were trained with shock displayed stress signals when they were approaching the training area. This behavior is the opposite of what we want as dog sport enthusiasts. Dogs that are trained with shock will frequently work slowly and deliberately. They are over thinking and being very careful to avoid being shocked. If the punishment of the collar outweighs the joy of the sport, they won’t love their work and won’t do it with speed and happiness. Of course highly skilled shock collar trainers can force a dog to work quickly. It’s simple. If the dogs work slowly they are shocked if they work fast they avoid the shock. In behavioral science this is called negative reinforcement. The dog’s behavior makes a bad thing go away, so the behavior increases. It does work, but it does not make the happy attitude that training with positive reinforcement does.

The bottom-line is that shock can cause stress. In a well known experiment Stanley Milgram showed that shocking another being is very stressful for most humans. Professional trainers should be familiar with Milgram’s obedience to authority studies. Authority carries with it power, and that power is something that should not be exploited. The reality is that if you have credibility people will comply with even abusive training instructions.

A dog who is shocked for several different behaviors may go into a state of shut down, or a global suppression of behavior. Owners may mistakenly assume the dog is now “trained” because the dog is suddenly very quiet and not doing anything. In reality this dog is afraid to do anything. The ultimate step of the global suppression of behavior is learned helplessness. This occurs when the dog fails to do anything, curls into a ball, and gives up. Many who work with rescue dogs have seen the traumatic and long lasting effects of learned helplessness.


A dog that is being hurt may become aggressive. If a dog has a history of aggression the use of a shock collar is particularly dangerous. Aggressive behavior should NOT be punished (suppressed). When you punish a dog for aggression and you don’t teach a substitute behavior you simply hide the problem. You then open yourself up to a much bigger problem where without warning the dog may become aggressive. You may have punished the barking, lunging and growling, so the dog may go straight to biting which is VERY dangerous.

Shock yourself

Shock collar users often attempt to argue that the shock doesn’t hurt. For this specific reason I bought a shock collar and used it to shock myself. It does hurt. It is common for underground fencing companies to put the shock collar on the lowest setting to show the owner the shock sensation. Do not be fooled, a shock collar works if it hurts.


Many shock collar supporters use euphemisms for shock collars to soften their image. They call them e-collars, training collars, e-touch, stimulation, tingle, etc. They do this to avoid the fact that shock collars shock.

Ideal training

The ideal training methods prevent unwanted behaviors before they ever occur. Trainers read their dogs’ subtle body language signals to avoid stress which may lead to aggression or fear. Ideally a trainer never sees the unwanted behaviors in the first place. They play with their dogs instead of forcing behaviors, thus deepening their bond with their dogs. They act instead of react and their dogs love them for it. Most widely recognized associations in the world forbid the use of shock collars. A well informed trainer should not need to use shock. Sports, tricks, and training are supposed to be enjoyable and reinforcing for canines and humans on their own merit without the use of force. Let’s make training and competition fun, and shock free. 

Scientific Articles

Polsky R. “Can Aggression in Dogs Be Elicited Through the Use of Electronic Pet Containment Systems?” Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 3(4): 345–357, January 2000. An abstract is available free online at The full article is also available for purchase.

Hiby, E.F.; Rooney, N.J.; Bradshaw, J.W.S. “Dog training methods: their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare.” Animal Welfare, Volume 13, Number 1, pp. 63-69(7) February 2004.



No Shock Collars! Train with Your Brain, Not Pain! 

(A version of this article first appeared in Volume 11, Issue 2 of Green Acres Kennel Shop Paw Prints – June 2006, updated December 2006)

Green Acres opposes the use of shock collars because they; 1) cause pain and stress, 2) they can cause aggression and 3) because there are ample humane alternatives to training and containment. The use of shock amounts to abuse.

We first warned you of the danger of shock collars in our May 2004 Paw Prints. Since writing that article, we have obtained studies and information further supporting Green Acres position on this serious matter. Additionally, many canine behavior professionals have reached the same conclusions about the problems caused by the use of shock collars. Sadly, due to the continued popularity of electronic underground fence systems and the use of shock collars in training, we felt the need to address this topic again.

What Is A Shock Collar?

A shock collar consists of a buckle collar worn around the dog's neck. Attached to the collar is a small box with two metal electrodes. The collar is fit tightly on the dog so the electrodes penetrate the dog's fur and press snuggly against their skin. When activated, there is a potential of 1500 volts to 4500 volts across the electrodes, which delivers a painful electrical shock to the dog1. Some collars may even operate at higher voltages. Unfortunately, it is impossible to confirm voltages because manufacturers are very secretive about the amount of voltage their systems apply.
There are three types of shock collars in current use; 1) remote collars, 2) anti-bark collars, and 3) underground fence containment collars. The manner in which the collars are activated varies with the type of collar.

Remote training collars utilize a transmitting unit, held by the person. By pressing a button on the transmitter, they can shock the dog whenever they wish. The shock is used as a form of positive punishment (the dog is shocked when it does something the person does not want) or negative reinforcement (the dog is shocked continuously until it exhibits a desirable behavior). These collars are often used by those who hunt or compete in field trials so that their owners can earn trophies and ribbons. There is even a group of dog trainers that advocate their use for training typical pet dog behaviors such as sit and stay. There are humane and more effective ways to train these behaviors as well as to train dogs for hunting and trials.

Anti-bark shock collars work by detecting when the dog barks and then administering an electric shock as a form of punishment, hopefully stopping the dog from barking. Barking is a very normal and very complex behavior for a dog, meaning that there are many possible reasons a dog barks. One of the most frequent reasons a dog barks is due to anxiety. If a stressed dog suddenly receives a painful shock on its neck it is much more likely to become even more stressed and increase its vocalizing, thus receiving more shocks. These collars cannot distinguish why a dog is barking so just keep shocking away.

Underground fence containment systems administer a shock to the dog when they cross a visible or invisible line in the yard. In theory, they serve as an alternative to a real fence. However, they do not keep animals or people out of your yard and your dog will not only receive a shock for leaving, but will also receive a shock for coming home. I have personally witnessed dogs with burns on their necks due to the use of these collars and have observed dogs that have become aggressive and have bitten because of these systems.

What Are the Problems with Shock Collars

There is no doubt that shock collars cause pain. While proponents might call it a "stim" or a "tap," we know from the science of operant conditioning that the aversive stimulus (shock) must be sufficiently aversive (i.e. painful) in order to work. Folks, let's call them what they are: shock collars are nothing less than devices used to hurt your dog from a distance. Fortunately, standards and laws prohibit physical abuse such as kicking or hitting an animal, so why should abuse by remote control be acceptable? We don't think it is.

Two studies2, 3 have reported that shock collars definitely cause undue stress on a dog. A study of guard dogs2, specifically bred for toughness and low sensitivity to pain and stress, found that training with shock collars caused long lasting stress effects to the point that the dog continued to associate their handler as aversive even outside of a training context. The dogs exhibited behaviors clearly associated with fear and anxiety long after they had received shocks.
Another study3 examined the use of shock for training to stop undesirable hunting/chasing behavior. This study also revealed the dogs found being trained with shock to be very stressful. The authors concluded "...the general use of electric shock collars is not consistent with animal welfare."

As a behavior counselor, I have worked with clients whose dogs became aggressive after they began using a shock collar containment system. I know of many other trainers who have done the same.

How Does A Shock Collar Cause Aggression?
The use of positive punishment in the form of choke collars, prong collars and shock collars can cause aggression. This occurs because the anxiety and pain the dog feels when shocked is often associated with whatever the dog was focusing on at that instant rather than their own behavior. Both real life cases described below illustrate how using a shock collar created aggression in previously friendly dogs. These people sought me out for advice, after the aggression problem had developed.

Case #1

A happy, gregarious dog, whom I will call "Jake", bounded off to greet every person he saw. Jake's guardians were concerned about him leaving the yard because he frequently went to visit the neighbor. For what they believed was his protection, the family installed an underground fence system that would shock Jake before he was outside of his yard. They trained him to the system per the manufacturer's instructions.

A few weeks after the system was installed, Jake saw the neighbor out in her yard. Since Jake had always liked his neighbor he ran straight for her, focused on his human friend when ZAP! he felt a sharp stinging pain around his neck. This happened a few more times, the once friendly Jake always getting shocked as he ran towards someone he thought was his friend. Then one day Jake was inside when the neighbor knocked on the front door. When the family opened the door, Jake saw the neighbor and immediately reacted by biting her in the leg, before she could cause him pain.

To Jake the neighbor was the predictor of the shock, and he took action in an attempt to prevent being shocked. This incident could have been prevented with the installation of a good, old fashioned fence or by providing Jake with supervision when he was out in the yard.

Case #2

A young dog that we will call Jenny, would drag her guardians around on leash, especially when she saw another dog. Jenny was just curious and friendly and wanted to greet the other dogs, but her guardians were older and Jenny was a strong dog. They had made no attempts to train Jenny, and were frustrated with being pulled all over anytime Jenny saw one of her own kind. They went to a pet store where it was suggested they purchase a remote shock collar. They were instructed to shock Jenny whenever she pulled on her leash.

On their next walk, Jenny, as she always had done, lunged forward in friendly greeting when she spotted another dog. Jenny was fixated on the dog she wanted to meet when ZAP! she yelps in pain, not sure what happened. The next time Jenny saw another dog on a walk she immediately became anxious, remembering the pain she felt the last time she saw a dog. As the dog approached, Jenny lunged, but this time she also growled and bared her teeth. Jenny had become very afraid and was trying to look fierce to scare the dog away before it hurt her when ZAP! she again yelped in pain. Jenny, now anxious and confused about other dogs, has learned to become defensively aggressive.

Jenny's guardians did not train her to stop pulling; all they succeeded in doing is making a previously good dog, dog aggressive. If they would have enrolled Jenny in a reward based training class or made use of a Sensible or EZ-Walk Harness or Gentle Leader they could have taught her to walk nicely without ever causing her any pain or fear.

Why did Jake and Jenny become aggressive? Because they associated the pain and anxiety of the electric shock with what they were focusing on at the time the shock occurred, not their behavior. In Jake's case it was the neighbor. For Jenny, it was other dogs. Are these isolated occurrences? Far from it. I have training colleagues throughout the country that could tell you of similar incidents. Both of these situations could have been very easily remedied without ever inflicting pain and suffering on the dogs.

What Do the Experts Say About Shock Collars?
A study published in 20001 looked at five dogs who were subjected to shock collar containment systems and who later bit people, resulting in a law suit. No dog had a prior history of displaying aggression towards people and it is believed that the dogs received a shock at the time of the attack. There is no evidence to suggest that the humans bitten were acting in a threatening manner prior to the attack. In all cases, the dogs bit the victim repeatedly and uninhibitedly, resulting in serious bodily injury. Other studies on the use of shock on other species, including humans, have noted the extreme viciousness and intensity of shock-elicited aggression.

Fortunately, opposition to shock collars by educated canine professionals and dog lovers is growing world wide. The use of shock collars has been banned and is illegal in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Austria and many parts of Australia. By the end of the year, Parliament will pass a new animal welfare bill which will prohibit the use of shock collars in the United Kingdom. Supporting this bill are the Kennel Club (the British equivalent of the AKC), the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), The Dogs Trust and Blue Cross (three animal welfare organizations), UK Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC), The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, Association of Chief Police Officers, The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, and the UK Armed Forces.

Here in the US, Dr. Karen Overall, noted Veterinary Behaviorist, has stated "Let me make my opinion perfectly clear: Shock is not training - in the vast majority of cases it meets the criteria for abuse. In my patient population, dogs who have been 'treated' with shock have a much higher risk of an undesirable outcome (e.g., euthanasia) than dogs not subjected to shock, and I never recommend euthanasia. In all situations where shock has been used there is some damage done, even if we cannot easily see it. No pet owner needs to use this technique to achieve their goal. Dogs who cease to exhibit a problem behavior usually also cease to exhibit normal behaviors."

A group of concerned dog behavior counselors and trainers have formed two new groups; ( and the No Shock Collar Coalition ( A group in Canada, the International Positive Dog Training Association of is also opposed to the use of shock collars.

Sadly, there are trainers that will insist these pain causing tools are necessary to train dogs. They believe that reward based training does not work on all dogs. This says a great deal about their lack of knowledge and skills in training dogs and their lack of compassion in caring for their dogs.
If you would like to express your opposition to the pain and suffering inflicted by shock collars consider doing the following:

Add your name to the member list of the No Shock Collar Coalition at

Purchase a "No Shock Collars" button, decal or bumper sticker from the No Shock Collar Coalition or from Green Acres the next time you are in the store.

Boycott places that sell, use, or recommend shock collars.

As the late Mahatma Gandhi said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Sadly, zapping dogs with electric shocks in the name of training does not say anything good about our greatness or our morality. While we recognize both managing and training a dog can be frustrating at times, there is always a better way to deal with a situation than using electric shock.



Shock Collars - The Shocking Truth

Inga MacKellar and Mat Ward 

There are many ‘quick fix’ products available to dog owners who wish to modify the behaviour of their pet. One such device is the electronic collar. The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors advises that the use of devices that rely on pain or discomfort to modify behaviour are inappropriate as they have the potential to seriously compromise the welfare of dogs, and ruin their relationship with their owners.

Shock Collar Risks

Despite advances in our understanding of dog behaviour and training, and the general move towards reward-based training techniques, some people still continue to recommend unpleasant or painful techniques as the best way to train dogs, or to deal with behaviour problems. While the pain or discomfort of shock collars can work to suppress behaviour, their use comes with risks, and often the underlying reasons for problem behaviour are not dealt with. Even in experienced hands, it can be difficult to deliver shocks at the right moment and to predict the level of discomfort or pain experienced by a dog; in inexperienced hands the use of shock collars can result in poorly timed intense electric shocks that induce fear and ongoing anxiety in the dog. Owners are often unaware of the high levels of pain that they may be causing their dog.

Aggression and Shock Collars

One of the most common behaviour problems encountered with dogs is that of aggression. In many cases, aggression is motivated by fear. When a dog is nervous or frightened, a natural behavioural strategy is to use aggression to get rid of the “threat”. Placing a shock collar on such a dog to stop it being aggressive can result in the dog becoming even more fearful of the situation, which can make the aggression more likely in the future.  Imagine if you were scared of spiders or snakes and were shocked for trying to swat away a tarantula or cobra from your lap! The use of a shock collar to try and stop aggressive behaviour can also suppress the warning signs displayed by a dog before it is aggressive, which can make their aggression less predictable and more dangerous.

Linking the Shock with the Wrong Thing

Dogs learn by association - when using a shock collar there is a risk that the dog may associate the shock with something other than the behaviour that people are trying to stop. For instance, if a shock is administered for barking, there is a danger that the dog might associate a benign aspect of its environment (such as a nearby child) with the pain of the shock, rather than its own barking. This could lead to the dog developing distrust or even fear of certain locations, individuals, or other stimuli.

Generalised Anxiety

Another significant risk with the use of shock collars is that rather than linking the shock to the wrong thing, a dog may not be able to link the shock to anything at all! This results in a dog becoming totally confused, anxious and stressed as it repeatedly suffers the pain of the electric shock for no apparent reason.




This study investigated the welfare consequences of training dogs in the field with manually operated electronic devices (e-collars). Following a preliminary study on 9 dogs, 63 pet dogs referred for recall related problems were assigned to one of three Groups: Treatment Group A were trained by industry approved trainers using e-collars; Control Group B trained by the same trainers but without use of e-collars; and Group C trained by members of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, UK again without e-collar stimulation (n = 21 for each Group). Dogs received two 15 minute training sessions per day for 4–5 days. Training sessions were recorded on video for behavioural analysis. Saliva and urine were collected to assay for cortisol over the training period. During preliminary studies there were negative changes in dogs' behaviour on application of electric stimuli, and elevated cortisol post-stimulation. These dogs had generally experienced high intensity stimuli without pre-warning cues during training. In contrast, in the subsequent larger, controlled study, trainers used lower settings with a pre-warning function and behavioural responses were less marked. Nevertheless, Group A dogs spent significantly more time tense, yawned more often and engaged in less environmental interaction than Group C dogs. There was no difference in urinary corticosteroids between Groups. Salivary cortisol in Group A dogs was not significantly different from that in Group B or Group C, though Group C dogs showed higher measures than Group B throughout sampling. Following training 92% of owners reported improvements in their dog's referred behaviour, and there was no significant difference in reported efficacy across Groups. Owners of dogs trained using e-collars were less confident of applying the training approach demonstrated. These findings suggest that there is no consistent benefit to be gained from e-collar training but greater welfare concerns compared with positive reward based training.

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