PetSmart uses only positive reinforcement in their in-store training classes, citing that reward-based training is scientifically proven to be the most effective method, as well as being the most humane and fun way to train. "Learning should not be painful or harmful," says their website, "and many of the 'old school' training techniques were based on using pain or the fear of pain to get dogs to respond. Clearly this is not how we train at PetSmart."
Yet, just down the aisle, they sell a variety of electronic collars designed to shock your dog.
In an open letter regarding shock collars, veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Overall wrote "Shock is not training -- in the vast majority of cases, it meets the criteria for abuse."
Victoria Stilwell, trainer from Animal Planet's It's Me or the Dog, says "You train a dog to do something by giving it an electric shock? It is disgusting, it is perverse, it is abusive, and no wonder this dog's got problems."
The Association of Pet Dog Trainers says that electronic collars "can result in trauma to your dog" and should not be used, particularly by novice dog owners and trainers who are not properly instructed in the collars' use. Anyone can walk into PetSmart, buy a shock collar and put it on their dog or puppy straight from the box.
It's time for PetSmart's products to be consistent with their humane training policies. Ask PetSmart to take shock collars off the shelves.
Photo credit: Nightscream
Yet just down the aisle from the training centers, your stores sell a variety of electronic collars designed to shock dogs and puppies, that anyone can buy without experience or instruction in how to use them.
Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Overall wrote, "Shock is not training -- in the vast majority of cases, it meets the criteria for abuse." She cites both personal experience, with patients exposed to shock being much more likely to end up euthanized for behavior than dogs trained with positive methods, and research that has shown that the adverse effects of shock collars continue long after the collar has been removed.
The Association of Pet Dog Trainers warns that electronic collars can result in trauma to your dog. Shock collars can cause physical injury ranging from burns to cardiac fibrillation, as well as psychological distress. A simple malfunction can result in nonstop shocks being administered to the dog.
Your trainers wouldn't use shock collars in their classes. I urge you to make your product line as humane as your training philosophy. Please set an example for the industry by no longer carrying electronic collars.