What’s Shocking about Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training

< A short link to this post – http://bit.ly/ShockBARK-JUL2019 >

< UPDATED – 27JUL19 >

< A short link to a podcast on this topic – http://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatShock-27JUL19 >

< The original version of this article was published in the July 2019 issue of Barks from the Guild, a publication of the Pet Professional Guild. >You may read it in its original format by clicking here, or you may download a printable PDF file by clicking here.

The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) was founded in 2012 by current president, Niki Tudge. As a dog training and pet care professional, Tudge, like many of us, was discouraged by the flawed and harmful information being disseminated around the profession, including by some trainers, day care operators, groomers, boarding kennels, breeders, shelters, rescues, veterinarians, and even “reality” television shows. In some cases, the latter were promoted as offering “expert” dog training advice, but were, in fact, just like most “reality” TV: entertainment based on conflict and drama.

From its inception, PPG has been committed to the training, care, and management of companion animals that are free from pain, force, and fear. Its Guiding Principles (2012) state that members are obligated to follow this philosophy: “To be in any way affiliated with the Pet Professional Guild, all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Pet Professional Guild members understand Force-Free to mean: No shock, No pain, No choke, No fear, No physical force, No compulsion based methods are ever employed to train or care for a pet.” [Emphasis added]

This guarantee to kind, compassionate and scientific training methods is why I am a member of PPG and why the Find A Professional section of the PPG website is the first place I go when looking to refer to another pet care professional. Whoever I recommend reflects on my reputation and that of my business, so it is essential I know that those receiving my referrals are committed to training, care, and management that comply with PPG’s Guiding Principles.

In January 2015, the PPG Advocacy Committee was born with its mission defined thus: “To reduce or eliminate the practice of using electronic shock devices in the training of domestic pet animals. PPG will achieve this goal through strategic professional, respectful and energetic processes of advocacy and education. These efforts will at all times adhere to the Guiding Principles of PPG and will be accomplished through the development of specific action plans, as determined by members of the PPG Advocacy Committee.”

Key to this plan was to use the existing and developing scientific literature, demonstrating that using shock to train animals is unnecessary and often harmful and not in the interest of animal welfare, as a foundation. Next came the Shock-Free Coalition, established in September 2017, a child of the Advocacy Committee, but a separate entity with its own website and a very clear mission: “The key purpose of the Shock-Free Coalition is to build a strong and broad movement committed to eliminating shock devices from the supply and demand chain. This goal will be reached when shock tools and equipment are universally unavailable and not permitted for the training, management and care of pets.”

Critical steps in this process are:

  • To engage and educate pet owners and shelter/rescue workers to help them make informed decisions about the management, care, and training of the pets in their charge.
  • To build a worldwide coalition that provides pet owners access to competent, professional pet industry service providers.
  • To create widespread pet industry transparency and compliance regarding how professionals implement their services and communicate their philosophy to pet owners.
  • The Shock-Free Coalition website serves as an educational resource for anyone wanting to learn more about the organization and why ending the use of shock is so essential. It also offers anyone the opportunity to support the cause by taking the Shock-Free Pledge, either as an individual or as a business. Participants may pledge at several different levels ranging from simply signing the pledge to signing the pledge and making a recurring financial contribution to help the mission continue toward its goal.

What Does Science Tell Us about Shock?

The Shock-Free Coalition did not come to its conclusion that using shock for the training, care, and management of pets was unnecessary and harmful out of the blue. Its position is based on the careful review of the growing number of peer reviewed, scientific studies that demonstrate that shock is not only unnecessary, but is harmful, both physically and psychologically.

What Do the Professional Organizations Say?

The current scientific data, in addition to the moral and ethical concerns about mental and physical damage to animals subjected to methods using force, fear and/or pain have moved a number of representing professional organizations to advocate for the use of humane training techniques founded on evidence-based learning theories and avoid training methods or devices which employ coercion, pain, force and/or fear (Tudge & Nilson, 2016). These include, but are not limited to:

  • “The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) guidelines oppose aversive training techniques, such as prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls (forcibly rolling a pet on his or her back), electronic shock collars, entrapment, and physically punishing a pet. The guidelines note that aversive training techniques can harm or even destroy an animal’s trust in his or her owner, negatively impact the pet’s problem-solving ability, and cause increased anxiety in the animal. Aversive techniques are especially a concern if pets are already fearful or aggressive, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous. According to the AAHA guidelines, the only acceptable training techniques are non-aversive, positive techniques that rely on the identification of, and reward for, desirable behaviors. Positive reinforcement is the most humane and effective approach.” – American Animal Hospital Association (2015).
  • “The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) supports the use of humane training methods for dogs that are based on current scientific knowledge of learning theory. Reward-based methods are highly recommended. Aversive methods are strongly discouraged as they may cause fear, distress, anxiety, pain or physical injury to the dog.” – –          Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (2015).
  • “Aversive, punishment-based techniques may alter behaviour, but the methods fail to address the underlying cause and, in the case of unwanted behaviour, can lead to undue anxiety, fear, distress, pain or injury.” – British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (2019).
  • The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) “recommends against the use of electronic shock collars and other aversive methods for the training and containment of animals. Shocks and other aversive stimuli received during training may not only be acutely stressful, painful and frightening for the animals, but may also produce long term adverse effects on behavioural and emotional responses…The BSAVA strongly recommends the use of positive reinforcement training methods that could replace those using aversive stimuli.” – British Small Animal Veterinary Association (2019).
  • “The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has concerns about the use of aversive training devices to control, train or punish dogs. The use of devices such as electronic collars, as a means of punishing or controlling behaviour of companion animals is open to potential abuse and incorrect use of such training aids has the potential to cause welfare and training problems…Electric pulse devices are sometimes used in dog training as a form of punishment to prevent a dog from repeating bad behaviour. Although training a dog is important for their well-being, research shows that electric pulse collars are no more effective than positive reinforcement methods. BVA has consulted with experts and examined the evidence. Research by Schalke, Stichnoth and Jones-Baade (2005) showed that the application of electric stimulus, even at a low level, can cause physiological and behavioral responses associated with stress, pain and fear. In light of the evidence, BVA has concluded that electric pulse collars raise a number of welfare issues, such as the difficulty in accurately judging the level of electric pulse to apply to a dog without causing unnecessary suffering.” – British Veterinary Association (2018).
  • “The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) does not support the use of electronic behaviour modifying collars (e-collars) that deliver aversive stimuli for the training or containment of dogs. E-collars have the potential to harm both the physical and mental health of dogs. They are an aversive training method that have in some studies been associated with significant negative animal welfare outcomes. Positive reinforcement training methods are an effective and humane alternative to e-collars for dog training…The use of pain to train dogs is no more acceptable or humane when it is administered by remote control, than if it was delivered as a physical blow such as a punch or kick.” – New Zealand Veterinary Association (2018).
  • “E-collar training is associated with numerous well documented risks concerning dog health, behavior and welfare. Any existing behaviour problem is likely to deteriorate or an additional problem is likely to emerge, when such a collar is used. This becomes an even greater risk when this aversive tool is used by an unqualified trainer (as training is largely unregulated throughout the EU, it appears that a large number of trainers are unqualified). Additionally, the efficacy of these collars has not been proven to be more effective than other alternatives such as positive training. Hence, European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology (ESVCE) encourages education programmes which employ positive reinforcement methods (while avoiding positive punishment and negative reinforcement) thereby promoting positive dog welfare and a humane, ethical and moral approach to dog training at all times.” – European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology (2017).
  • In addition to these professional bodies, several countries, including England, Wales, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, the province of Quebec in Canada, and the states of New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in Australia, have already banned electronic stimulation devices. Under recent amendments to ACT animal welfare legislation, anyone who places an electric shock device, such as a shock collar, on an animal, will attract a maximum penalty of AU$16,000 [$11,000] and a year’s imprisonment (Brewer, 2019). In Scotland, “strict guidance” has been published by the Scottish Parliament which provides “advice on training methods and training aids for dogs, with particular focus on the welfare issues that may arise from the use of aversive methods including e-collars. It highlights the potential consequences of the misuse of aversive training aids, including possible legal consequences.” (The Kennel Club, 2018) (Tudge, Nilson, Millikan & Stapleton-Frappell, 2019).

Examining Arguments

Meanwhile, there are pet care professionals, pet owners, and moneyed interests, such as the companies that manufacture and sell shock collars, who disregard all the research and advocate for the continued use of shock. Common arguments include that the shock “does not cause pain or discomfort” and therefore cannot be abusive or inhumane; shock is “more efficient” for training than positive reinforcement training; shock is the “only way” certain behaviors can be trained (e.g., snake avoidance training); and using shock “saves dogs’ lives.” Let’s now look at each of those arguments individually and examine them from a scientific perspective.

#1: Does the electric shock from a shock collar cause pain? States Anderson (2012): “During the initial training period, [shock] must be painful, uncomfortable, or frightening, or it wouldn’t work. It has to have some unpleasant feeling that is robust enough to get the dog to work to make it stop.”

Science, through published peer reviewed research, is quite clear that shock collars cause pain. While proponents might call it a “stim” a “tap,” or a “static charge,” we know from the science of operant conditioning that the aversive stimulus (electric shock) must be sufficiently distressing (i.e., physical or emotionally painful) to cause a change in behavior. If it did not hurt, it would not work.

Several studies have reported that shock collars cause undue stress to dogs. A study by Schilder and van der Borg (2004) examined guard dogs who were specially bred for toughness and low sensitivity to pain and stress and found that training with shock collars caused long-lasting stress effects — to the point that the dogs continued to associate their handler as aversive even outside of a training context. The dogs exhibited behaviors associated with fear and anxiety long after they had received shocks. “The conclusions, therefore are, that being trained [with electric shock] is stressful. That receiving shocks is a painful experience to dogs, and that the dogs have learned that the presence of their owner (or his commands) announces reception of shocks, even outside of the normal training context.” (Schilder & van der Borg, 2004).

Fear and Anxiety

Late veterinarian Dr. Sophia Yin (2011) discussed this study in a post on her blog and made the following key conclusions:

  • Overall, the researchers concluded that even when compared to working dogs trained using choke chain and pinch collar corrections, dogs trained with electronic shock collars showed more fear and anxiety behaviors than those trained by other traditional police dog and watch-dog methods.
  • Avoidance behavior and fear postures during the shocks indicated that the shock elicited both pain and fear and therefore were not just a distraction or nuisance.
  • “The enormous rewards the dogs experience during training i.e. chasing down, catching a criminal and winning the sleeve, do not counter the negative effects of getting shocked. This is in spite of the fact that handlers of non-shocked dogs admitted that they use prong collars and that their dogs experienced beatings and other harsh punishment, such as kicks or choke collar corrections.” (Yin, 2011).

An important point to note here is that shock collar users may sometimes say something along the lines of, “I don’t use the shock feature any more. I only use the collar with the beep on now.” However, the Shock-Free Coalition (2019) points out that the tone itself can become as aversive and damaging as the shock once the association has been established: “If I pull out a gun, and I cock it, are you any less scared than if I fired it? If your dog does what you ask when he hears the beep, it means that he has learned that the beep predicts a painful shock, just like cocking the gun predicts a bullet hitting you. While the collar is no longer physically hurting the dog, it can still be scarring him emotionally.”

Another study, by Schalke, Stichnoth, Ott and Jones-Baade (2007), examined the use of shock for training to stop undesirable hunting/ chasing behavior. This study also revealed that the dogs being trained with shock found it to be very stressful. The authors concluded, “…the general use of electric shock collars is not consistent with animal welfare.”

A third study, AW1402, conducted by the University of Lincoln and the University of Bristol for DEFRA in the United Kingdom (2010), compared the features of several shock collars and examined how they are typically used by pet owners. The researchers concluded that “for a subset of dogs tested, the previous use of e-collars in training are associated with behavioural and physiological responses that are consistent with significant negative emotional states; this was not seen to the same extent in the control population. It is therefore suggested that the use of e-collars in training pet dogs can lead to a negative impact on welfare, at least in a proportion of animals trained using this technique.”

The AW1402 researchers also observed that the instruction manuals that came with shock collar products did not provide an adequate explanation of how to use the device. When the individuals using the collars were interviewed, they could not explain how to use the collar properly and often indicated that they had failed to read the instructions or chose to ignore them. The researchers concluded that “…some of the reported use was clearly inconsistent with advice in e-collar manuals and potentially a threat to the dog’s welfare.” (DEFRA, 2010).

As noted in the AW1402 study, misuse and inappropriate use of shock collars are not uncommon. One of my employees witnessed such abuse at a field trial event. A dog owner with two dogs was working with one dog and had a second dog in his truck in a crate. The dog he was working with did not respond to a cue, so the owner pressed a button on the remote to shock the dog. The dog still did not respond to the cue, so the owner shocked the dog again. Meanwhile, the dog in the crate was yelping each time the owner intended to shock the dog he was allegedly training. It was not until our staff member pointed it out that the owner realized he was shocking the wrong dog as he was using the wrong remote unit.

Ultimately, I think the question everyone with a dog needs to ask themselves is, “Do I want to be working with a pet care professional that does not understand the basic principles of learning?” States veterinarian and veterinary behaviorist Dr. Lisa Radosta in the 2017 documentary, Dogs, Cats and Scapegoats:If your trainer is still using pinch collars and choke collars, they haven’t read a book or gone to a scientifically based seminar in 25 years.” The sad fact is that dog training is an unregulated profession, and because of that, there are far too many people in the profession spreading disinformation about dogs, their behavior, and how to train them.

For anyone who understands how animals learn, what could be their motivation for using, recommending, and selling shock collars all the while telling people it’s not really a shock and/or it won’t hurt their dog? They are certainly not being truthful. Sadly, greed has caused humans to do unethical and unnecessary things from the beginning of time. I believe this excerpt from Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats (2017) further illustrates my point about shock causing pain as well as the motivation for selling shock collars. It begins with Dr. Radosta’s statement cited in the previous paragraph and continues with a video of someone demonstrating a shock collar on themselves. I use this excerpt in my orientation program for all my Basic Manners students and in a presentation for my aggression clients, and it does help people understand that shock is very painful.

#2. Is training a dog with an aversive such as a shock collar more efficient than using positive reinforcement training and food? The next argument we might hear in favor of using shock is that the pain it causes is “irrelevant,” because, as a training method, it is “so much more efficient.” Well, is it?

The DEFRA AW1402 study (2010) indicates that not only does shock cause pain, it is often misused. This led to a second DEFRA study, AW1402a (2011), to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs. AW1402a was designed to investigate how dogs would react when a shock collar was used per the manufacturer’s instructions. The study looked at three different groups of dogs, all with owners that had reported their dog either had a poor recall or chased cars, bicycles or animals. One group of dogs was trained with a shock collar by dog trainers that had been trained by shock collar manufacturers; the second group of dogs was trained by the same dog trainers but with positive reinforcement. The last group of dogs was trained by members of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) in the United Kingdom using positive reinforcement. The researchers found “behavioural evidence that use of e-collars negatively impacted on the welfare of some dogs during training even when training was conducted by professional trainers using relatively benign training programmes advised by e-collar advocates.” The study also demonstrated that the shock collar was no more effective at resolving r call and chasing behaviors than positive reinforcement training.

Ethics and Welfare

A study by Hiby, Rooney and Bradshaw (2004) specifically assessed the effectiveness of different training methods (positive reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative reinforcement) and how they affected a dog’s behavior. The scientists did not just look at shock as an aversive, but even evaluated vocal punishment and physical punishment. They concluded: “There are ethical concerns that dog training methods incorporating physical or verbal punishment may result in pain and/or suffering. We provide evidence that, in the general dog owning population, dogs trained using punishment are no more obedient than those trained by other means and, furthermore, they exhibit increased numbers of potentially problematic behaviours. Problematic behaviours can compromise welfare as they are often associated with an increased state of anxiety (e.g. Askew, 1996) and they can also lead the owner to relinquish the dog (Serpell, 1996). Because reward-based methods are associated with higher levels of obedience and fewer problematic behaviours, we suggest that their use is a more effective and welfare-compatible alternative to punishment for the average dog owner.” (Hiby, Rooney & Bradshaw, 2004).

A 2012 study by Blackwell, Bolster, Richards, Loftus and Casey specifically looked at the use of shock collars for training dogs, why owners used them, and how effective they were. The researchers concluded that “more owners using reward based methods for recall/chasing report a successful outcome of training than those using e-collars.” (Blackwell, Bolster, Richards, Loftus & Casey, 2012).

Aggressive Behavior: Case Studies

How can shock cause aggressive behavior? I believe most everyone understands that there are times when they have been anxious, reactive, rude, or outright aggressive when they were experiencing any type of pain or stress. Often, the target of that aggression will be whatever they are focusing on when they experience the pain. Here are two cases involving dogs that were brought to me for a behavior consultation due to aggressive behavior. In both cases, the owners believed the aggression had been caused by the use of a shock collar.

Case #1: Jake

“Jake,” a very social dog, 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 neighbors. He loved visiting with them and they enjoyed having him there. For what they believed was Jake’s protection, the family installed an underground fence system that would keep him in their yard. They trained him to the system per the manufacturer’s instructions.

After the system was installed, Jake saw the neighbor out in her yard. Since he had always liked his neighbor, he ran straight toward her, but was shocked when crossing the invisible line. This happened a few more times, until, one day, Jake was inside his home 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.

To Jake, the neighbor was the predictor of the shock, and he now associated her with being shocked. This incident could have been pre-vented with the installation of a real fence or by supervising Jake when he was out in the yard.

Case #2: Jenny

“Jenny” would drag her guardians around on her 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 an energetic and powerful dog. They had made no attempts to train Jenny and were frustrated with being dragged around anytime Jenny saw another dog. They went to a big box 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, moved forward in friendly greeting when she spotted another dog. Jenny was fixated on the dog she wanted to meet when she was shocked. The next time Jenny saw another dog on a walk, she immediately became anxious. As the dog approached, Jenny lunged, but this time she also growled and bared her teeth. Jenny had become very afraid. She was trying to look fierce to scare the dog away before he hurt her, when she was shocked yet again. Jenny, now anxious and confused about other dogs, learned to become aggressive because of her fear of the shock, which she associated with other dogs.

Jenny’s guardians did not train her to stop pulling; all they succeeded in doing is making a previously dog-friendly dog, dog-aggressive. If they had enrolled Jenny in a reward-based training class and made use of a front-connect walking harness, they could have taught her to walk nicely without ever causing her any pain or fear.

These are not isolated occurrences. I have training colleagues throughout the country that could tell you of similar incidents. A study by Polsky (2000) examined five cases of severe attacks by dogs who had been trained or contained via electric shock. None of the dogs had a history of aggression before being shocked. The study concludes there is a high probability that experience with shock was at least partially responsible for the aggressive behavior. This is very similar to Jake’s story.

#3. Is the use of aversives necessary to train behaviors such as snake avoidance?

Why use a shock collar if we know it can cause pain and can create previously nonexistent behavior problems like anxiety and aggression, especially when it is no more effective and often less effective than reward-based training? One answer we may often hear is that there are certain behaviors you can “only” teach a dog with an aversive like a shock. A typical behavior that is often used as an example is training a dog to stay away from rattlesnakes, or any other kind of venomous snake. While there is no peer reviewed literature to support the argument that shock is not necessary for training snake aversion, nor is there any peer reviewed literature to suggest that it is. Meanwhile, there is ample anecdotal evidence that demonstrates shock is not necessary in training more challenging behaviors. Certified professional dog trainer Pamela Johnson conducted a webinar for PPG where she explains exactly how to train your dog to be safe around snakes without resorting to the use of shock.

When it comes to teaching animals “mission critical” behaviors, far more advanced than rattlesnake aversion, one only need to look to the work done by Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE) and the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Training program. Marian and Bob Bailey were part of both of those efforts and trained animals to do many amazing things all with positive reinforcement training. Yin (2012) discusses how Bailey and Bailey continued to use their expertise to help train military dogs and also shares a little-known story about work they did in the 1960s training cats for the Central Intelligence Agency. What were the cats trained to do? To follow people through airports. If you want to learn more about how animal training moved from being a craft to a science, you might want to track down a copy of a film ABE made on the subject called Patient Like the Chipmunks.

#4. Does using a shock collar save dogs’ lives?

Sometimes we might hear or read on social media that “using shock can save a dog’s life.” This is essentially the argument for using shock to train snake avoidance. In reality, it is a last-ditch attempt to “shock” an owner into a state of fear and anxiety, because no one wants their dog to die. The fact is there is no peer reviewed research to prove or disprove this statement, and never will be, because the design of such a study would never be approved by a review board because it would not be ethical.

How You Can Help

If the Shock-Free Coalition is going to be successful, we need the help of every single PPG member as well as all of the pet parents that want the best life possible for their furry friend. Here are some things you can do to help:

Sign the Pledge

If you are a PPG member, a pet parent, or a pet care profession and have not signed the Shock-Free Pledge), please do so! I get it, we’re all busy, and sometimes we put things on a “to do list” and then just never get to it. As a PPG member, you have already committed to The Guiding Principles, so we know that you understand the importance of ending the use of shock collars. It is important that we get all PPG members to sign the pledge.  It is equally important that we get pet parents and pet care professionals to support our call to end the use of shock for the management and training of dogs.

Position Statements

Familiarize yourself with the PPG Position Statement on Shock Training and the AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines. These two documents, especially when used together, make a compelling and scientifically sound argument for never using shock. Ask the veterinarians in your community if they are familiar with the AAHA Guidelines, especially those that are AAHA accredited facilities. If they are not, print a copy and share it with them. You might even highlight the most important parts.

Even though the ESVCE Position Statement on Electronic Training Devices focuses primarily on Europe, being one of the most recent position statements, it is a valuable resource anywhere. Ask the veterinarians in your community if they are familiar with this document and if they are not, print a copy and share it with them.

On the Web

The Shock-Free Coalition website is full of excellent information for you to review and share with others as you help spread the word about the importance of educating people about the use of shock. This material is freely available to you for when you need to speak to clients and others about the reasons for selecting positive reinforcement training as opposed to using aversives.

A special thank you to Susan Nilson, the BARKS from the Guild editor-in-chief, for her contributions to this article.

References

American Animal Hospital Association. (2019). AAHA behavior guidelines offer solutions to managing behavior problems with your pet. Available at: http://bit.ly/AAHABhx2015

Anderson, E. (2012). What is Shock Training? – Is It Really Just A Tap? Shock Collar Training Explained. Available at:   http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Anderson-WhatIsShock

Blackwell, E.J., Bolster, C., Richards, G., Loftus, B.A., & Casey, R.A. (2012). The use of electronic collars for training domestic dogs: estimated prevalence, reasons and risk factors for use, and owner perceived success as compared to other training methods. BMC Veterinary Research (8) 93. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Blackwell-BMCVR-2012

Brewer, P. (2019). Do let the dogs out: Huge fines for pet confinement part of ACT animal welfare overhaul. Available at: http://bit.ly/2Wx0Qu8

British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (2019). Position Statement on Animal Training. Available at: http://bit.ly/2XEb8W2

British Small Animal Veterinary Association. (2019). Position Statement on Aversive Training Methods. Available at: http://bit.ly/2F0HdAa

British Veterinary Association. (2018). Aversive training devices for dogs. Available at: http://bit.ly/2XByUlv

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. (2015). Humane Training Methods for Dogs – Position Statement. Available at: http://bit.ly/2KHCcQr

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. (2010). Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs: Project Code AW1402. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-DEFRA-AW1402-2013

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. (2011). Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids, specifically remote static pulse systems, on the welfare of domestic dogs; field study of dogs in training: Project Code AW1402a. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-DEFRA-AW1402a-2013

European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology. (2017). ESVCE Position Statement: Electronic Training Devices. Available at:  http://bit.ly/SHOCK-ESVE_Pos

Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J., & Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2004). Dog training methods—their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Animal Welfare (13) 63–69. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Hiby-AnimWelfare-2004

New Zealand Veterinary Association. (2018). Use of behaviour modifying collars on dogs. Available at: http://bit.ly/2F1z6Dj

Pet Professional Guild. (2012). Guiding Principles. Available at: http://bit.ly/PPG-GuidingPrinciples

Polsky, R. (2000). Can Aggression in Dogs Be Elicited Through the Use of Electronic Pet Containment Systems? Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 3 (4) 345‐357. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Polsky-JAAWS-Aggx-2000

Sandgrain Films. (2017). Shock Collar [Video File]. Available at: http://vimeo.com/235106629

Schalke, E., Stichnoth, J., & Jones‐Baade, R. (2005). Stress symptoms caused by the use of electric training collars on dogs (Canis familiaris) in everyday life situations. Current Issues and Research in Veterinary Behavioral Medicine. 5th International Veterinary Behavior Meeting. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 139‐145.

Schalke, E., Stichnoth, J., Ott, S., & Jones‐Baade, R. (2007). Clinical signs caused by the use of electric training collars on dogs in everyday life situations. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 105 (4) 369‐380. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Schalke-AABS-JUL2007

Schilder, M., & van der Borg, J. (2004). Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects. Applied Animal Behaviour Science (85) 319–334. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Schilder-AABS-MAR2004

Shock‐Free Coalition. (2019). Myths and Misconceptions. Available at:  https://www.shockfree.org/Education/Myths-and-Misconceptions

The Kennel Club. (2018). The Kennel Club and Scottish Kennel Club Welcomes the Scottish Government’s Effective Ban on Shock Training Devices. Available at: http://bit.ly/31r1Zm7

Tudge, N.J, & Nilson, S.J. (2016). The Use of Shock in Animal Training. Available at: https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

Tudge, N.J, Nilson, S.J., Millikan, D.A., & Stapleton‐Frappell, L.A. (2019). Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the Bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People. (n.p.): DogNostics Career Center Publishing – https://petindustryregulation.com/

Yin, S. (2011). Are Electronic Shock Collars Painful – A New Study Reveals Some Answers. Available at: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-Yin-Pain-2011

Yin, S. (2012). How Technology from 30 Years Ago is Helping Military Dogs Perform Better Now. Available at: http://bit.ly/POS-REI-SpyCats

Resources

American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) 2015 Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines: http://bit.ly/AAHABhx2015

European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology ‐ Position Statement on Electronic Training Devices: http://bit.ly/SHOCK-ESVE_Pos

Pet Professional Guild ‐ Rattlesnake Avoidance Training Using Force‐Free Methods [Webinar]: https://petprofessionalguild.com/event-1913569

Pet Professional Guild ‐ Member Search: http://bit.ly/PPG-Find-A-Prof

Pet Professional Guild ‐ Position on Shock Training: https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

Shock‐Free Coalition: https://www.shockfree.org/

Shock‐Free Coalition Pledge: https://www.shockfree.org/Pledge

Other Related Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com )

Hanson, D. (2004-2018). The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars, Available at: http://bit.ly/ShockCollars

Hanson, D.  (2018) Helping Your Dog Thrive with Brambell’s Five Freedoms, Available at: Brambell’s Five Freedoms

Hanson, D. (2018, 2019). Things I Wish I Had Known…, Available at: http://bit.ly/ThingsIWishIHadKnown

Hanson, D. (2006). Green Acres’ First Statement on Being A Pet Friendly-Facility, Available at: http://bit.ly/GAKS1stPetFriendly

Hanson, D. (2006). Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care, Available at: http://bit.ly/GAKS_Pet-Friendly

Hanson, D. (2018). The Shock-Free Coalition: What’s Next?, Don Hanson explains how to keep the momentum going once you have signed the Shock-Free Pledge, http://bit.ly/BARKS-ShockFreeMAR2018

Hanson, D.  (2018) Celebrating the 1st Year of the Shock-Free Coalition – +R Rocks, Available at: http://bit.ly/Shock-FreeRocks

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( http://www.woofmeowshow.com )

Podcast – What’s Shocking About Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Traininghttp://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatShock-27JUL19

Podcast – The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarshttp://bit.ly/ShockPodcast

Podcast – The Woof Meow Show: The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudgehttp://bit.ly/PodCastShockFree-NikiTudge-2017

©27-Jul-19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Electric Shock Collars: Unreasonable Expectations and Misleading Advertising

< Updated 18MAR19 >

< An abbreviated version of this article entitled Unreasonable Expectations and Misleading Advertising was originally published in the June 2018 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< a short link to this article – http://bit.ly/ShockCollarExpectationsDeception >

When we bring a new dog into our home, things do not always work out the way we want. I find that there are two common reasons this occurs; we have unreasonable expectations, or we have been misled.

Unreasonable Expectations

We often create unreasonable expectations for a new dog in our life based on memories of previous dogs. Perhaps we remember the dog we had as a child. You know, the dog mom raised. If you asked your mom her true feelings about that dog, she might not recall raising him as being “easy peasy.”

Alternatively, perhaps our expectations are based on the last memories we have of a dog; the one who was sixteen and slept most of the time. While it is nice to remember the best of times, it can be helpful to recall that the sleepy sixteen-year-old was a hellion at 16 months of age.

For some reason many people expect a dog to live in our world with little or no training, or to master everything they need to know in just a few weeks. Patience seems to be a virtue sorely lacking in this day and age and one that every dog deserves.

Sometimes it is not us that creates unreasonable expectations but others with something to gain.

Misleading Advertising

Those trying to sell us a dog sometimes may portray a dog more favorably to make a sale. I have had more than one client tell me that their breeder said: “This breed is always calm and easy to train.” I have had clients who have adopted a shelter or rescue dog state “The people at the rescue said she knows how to sit and heel. She doesn’t do any of that!

Publishers like book titles that sell books. A title like “Seven Days to the Perfect Dog” may sell books, but it is blatantly deceptive and plays right into people’s unrealistic expectations.

Advertising that any dog can be reliable off-leash anytime and anywhere also seems to be in vogue. Those in pursuit of the dream of complete control over their dog and a life off-leash may turn a blind eye to the tools and methods that will be used because they want that perfect dog so badly. Other times they wish the best for their dog, and someone takes advantage of their naiveté.

I recently had a client with a puppy that had been convinced that an underground fence system would keep her dog safely in her yard. When I explained that these “fences” worked by giving the dog an electric shock, she was aghast. Unfortunately, that piece of information had never been disclosed by the salesperson. Instead, she had been told that the dog would only feel a “vibration,” “tap,” or “stim;” nice sounding slang for “electric shock.

Often those recommending shock collars insist that they cause no pain or discomfort. When they claim that a shock collar does not “hurt” the dog, they are either demonstrating their ignorance of the basic principles of operant conditioning or are intentionally being deceptive. In my opinion, an individual that does not thoroughly understand how dogs learn or are misleading about the products and methods they use and sell, should not be training dogs or offering advice on that subject.

As I have noted in previous columns, experts in animal behavior such as The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have explicit principles and guidelines that state that aversives such as shock, choke, and prong collars, as well as other devices designed to cause pain, MUST NEVER BE USED. They have taken this position because these devices frequently cause aggression and other behavior problems and are NEVER necessary.

Why anyone would recommend pain to train a dog makes no logical sense.  Please, be realistic in what you expect of your dog, be wary of things that sound too good to be true, ask lots of questions, and most importantly, be kind. If you need help, seek advice from a pet care professional that is committed to No Pain, No Force, and No Fear. Your dog will thank you.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog
( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com )

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationship – WWM-SEP2018 – http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 1 – WWM-JAN2019 http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 2 – WWM-FEB2019 –  http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-2

Is Your Dog Your Best Friend or a Family Member? – WWM-OCT2017 –   http://bit.ly/BestFriendsAndShock

What Is Dog Training?http://bit.ly/WhatIsDogTraining

Reward Based Training versus Aversiveshttp://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive

Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too! – from the May 2017 issue of the Pet Professional Guild journal, BARKS from the Guildhttp://bit.ly/ThanksPPG-Gus

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show
( http://www.woofmeowshow.com )

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars

The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudge

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The Pet Professional Guild and Force-Free Pet Care with Niki Tudge

Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – Dr. Dave Cloutier – Veazie Veterinary Clinic

Other Publications & Blogs

BARKS from the Guild – May 2017 – Thank You, PPG, and Gus Too! https://issuu.com/petprofessionalguild/docs/bftg_may_2017_online_edition_opt/58

BARKS blog – Choke Collar Pathologyhttp://ppgworldservices.com/2017/06/13/choke-collar-pathology/

 Videos

Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats (The entire film)    https://vimeo.com/230807934

Malignant Behavior: The Cesar Millan Effect (from Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats ) https://vimeo.com/243498663?fbclid=IwAR3RYOlIP7LeePV0B8ZaHhed5pPDYZbPu8KQbXNxfzOodWCRKspgcSQrwnc

Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats – The Mind of Cesar Millanhttps://vimeo.com/236013182

 

Position Statements

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB)

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior AVSAB Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animalshttps://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Dominance_Position_Statement_download-10-3-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior AVSAB Position Statement on The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf

Green Acres Kennel Shop

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://bit.ly/GAKS_Pet-Friendly

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://bit.ly/GAKS-Pos-NoPain-NoForceNoFear

 Pet Professional Guild (PPG)

Pet Professional Guild – Guiding Principleshttp://www.bit.ly/2mUCTqN

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Choke and Prong Collars – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/chokeandprongcollarpositionstatement

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Pet Correction Devices – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Equipment-Used-for-the-Management-Training-and-Care-of-Pets

Pet Professional Guild – Position Statement – The Use of Shock in Animal Training – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars

 

Books

Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, Linda P. Case, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018read a review at http://bit.ly/BkRvw-Case-DogSmart

Don’t Shoot the Dog – The New Art of Teaching and Training (2ndedition), Karen Pryor, Bantam Books, 1999.

The Culture Clash, Jean Donaldson, James & Kenneth Publishers, 2005.

The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller, Howell Book House, 2001.

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonam.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. He is committed to pet care and pet training that is free of pain, force, and fear. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©18MAR19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

Shared Article – Why We Don’t Recommend Electric Fences from The Whole Dog Journal

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of The Whole Dog Journal and is regularly re-released because its message is so important. It discusses underground fence systems that use an electric shock to your dog’s neck to hopefully keep them in the yard without the common side effects of aggression and anxiety. Learn why you never want to use one of these systems.  < Click to Read >

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog

( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com )

 

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarshttp://bit.ly/ShockCollars

Is Your Dog Your Best Friend or a Family Member? – WWM-OCT2017 –   http://bit.ly/BestFriendsAndShock

Shock-Free Maine Coalition Ad in November 2017 Downeast Dog Newshttp://bit.ly/Shock-FreeME-Ad-NOV18DEDN

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show

( http://www.woofmeowshow.com )

Podcast – The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarshttp://bit.ly/ShockPodcast

Podcast – The Woof Meow Show: The Pet Professional Guild and the Shock-Free Coalition with Niki Tudgehttp://bit.ly/PodCastShockFree-NikiTudge-2017

Web Sites & Facebook Pages

The Shock-Free Coalitionhttps://www.shockfree.org/

The Shock-Free Coalition on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/shockfreecoalition/

The Shock-Free Coalition/Maine Chapterhttps://www.shockfree.org/Chapters/Maine

The Shock-Free Coalition/Maine Chapter on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ShockFreeCoalitionMaine/

Articles on the Shock-Free Coalition Website

What Is Shock Training? Is It Really Just A Tap? Shock Collar Training Explained by Eileen Anderson of eileenanddogshttps://www.shockfree.org/Education/What-is-Shock-Training

Electronic Fences – What You need to Knowby Eileen Anderson of eileenanddogshttps://www.shockfree.org/Education/Electronic-Fences

Are Electronic Shock Collars Painful – A New Study Reveals Some Answers by Sophia Yin, DVM, MShttps://www.shockfree.org/Education/Electronic-Shock-Collars

Myths and Misconceptionshttps://www.shockfree.org/Education/Myths-and-Misconceptions

Trade in Your Shock Collar – The Pet Professional Guild and Project Tradehttps://www.shockfree.org/Education/Trade-Your-Shock

The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) Position on Shock Traininghttps://www.shockfree.org/About/Position-on-Shock-Training

What the Experts Say About Shockhttps://www.shockfree.org/About/What-Experts-Say

Why Professionals Should Not Use Shockhttps://www.shockfree.org/About/Professionals-Shock-Has-No-Place

Why Pet Owners Should Not Use Shockhttps://www.shockfree.org/About/Pet-Owners-Shock-Has-No-Place

Is Your Dog Your Best Friend or a Family Member?

If Yes, Then Please Join Me and Take the Pledge

< A version of this article was published in the October 2017 issue of Downeast Dog News>

Dogs were first referred to as “Man’s best friend” in 1789 by Frederick, King of Prussia. Today it is not uncommon for a person to say that they consider their dog to not only be their friend but to be a member of their family. That is how I view both my dog and cats. In spite of this apparent devotion to dogs, there are still too many people in this country that routinely use electronic shock collars to subject their dogs to shock on a regular basis, all in the name of training and containment.

When a dog receives an electric shock from a shock collar, the shock is meant to be sufficiently aversive to change the dog’s behavior. An aversive typically causes either physical or emotional pain or both. If the dog does not find the shock aversive, the shock will not stop the behavior. That is basic psychology. Rewarding a dog for a behavior causes that behavior to increase, and punishing a dog or adding an aversive, causes a behavior to decrease. Those that insist the shock does not hurt the dog and that it is merely a “stim” or “tickle” are either misleading people or do not understand the fundamentals of psychology and learning theory.

What makes the use of electric shock on animals even more distressing than the fact that we are intentionally hurting our pets, is that science has demonstrated that the use of punishment is unnecessary to train or manage a pet. In fact, we know with certainty, that the use of shock and other aversives can be extremely detrimental. The use of aversives can damage the bond we have with our pet, impair our pet’s ability to learn, and often cause fear and aggression. Considering that shock is unnecessary, its use amounts to nothing less than abuse. So I ask, why would anyone intentionally abuse their best friend or a family member?

Since its beginnings in 2012, The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) has advocated against the use of aversives in the training and management of pets. In 2015, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), an accreditation body for veterinary practices and hospitals, issued their Behavior Management Guidelines. The guidelines clearly state: “Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior.” [Emphasis added]. The experts on our pets health, behavior, and training agree; shock should NEVER be used.

Whether the use of electric shock is intentional, due to casual disregard because “it is just a dog,” or due to ignorance, I and many others believe it is time for this inhumane treatment of our best friends and family members to stop. On September 25th the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) launched the Shock-Free Coalition ( http://www.shockfree.org ) “…an initiative that aims to build an international movement committed to eliminating shock devices once and for all in the care, training and management of pets.” This noble cause is long overdue and one that I support without hesitation. I hope that you will join me in this movement to educate and advocate for the abolishment of the use of shock devices for the management and training of our best friends and family members. Please take the first step, and join me by taking the pledge at http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Sign-The-Pledge.

What else can you do to support the Shock-Free Coalition?

  • Dog Parents – Ask any and every pet care provider that participates in the care of your dog (animal shelters, boarding kennels, breeders, daycares, dog walkers, groomers, humane societies, pet related periodicals, pet sitters, places you buy pet food and supplies, rescues. Veterinarians, ) if they are aware of the Shock-Free Coalition and if they have taken the pledge. Encourage them to do so. If they chose not to take the pledge, ask them why. Suggest that they do some research and reconsider. You might even provide them with a copy of this column. If they are still unwilling to take the pledge, remember, you can choose who gets your pet related business. Sometimes money speaks louder than words.
  • Pet Care Professionals – Take the pledge and make your support known to your employees, customers, and clients. Tell them about the pledge and ask them to take it as well. Show your support for the Shock-Free Coalition with signs in your facility, articles in your newsletter, information on your website, and with posts on social media. I know that pet parents care about this issue and they want to know that you care too!
  • Dog Parents and Pet Care Professionals in Maine – It is my goal to place an ad in the November issue of Down East Dog News listing everyone one in the state of Maine who has taken the pledge. We need to show that those that still recommend and sell shock collars are a minority. We need to show them that we want to stop the unnecessary abuse of our pets. To make that ad happen, I need your help and some donations. Learn how to add your name to the list for the November ad and to make a donation at http://bit.ly/Shock-FreeME

To learn more about the problems with shock collars, visit these resources:

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarhttp://bit.ly/ShockCollars

PPG Shock-Free Coalitionhttp://www.shockfree.org

Shock-Free Maine Information and Donation pagehttp://bit.ly/Shock-FreeME

PPG Guiding Principles – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PPGs-Guiding-Principles

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2006/02/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-statement-on-pet-friendly-force-free-pet-care/

AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – https://www.aaha.org/professional/resources/behavior_management_guidelines.aspx

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. He is committed to pet care and pet training that is free of pain, force, and fear. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©1OCT17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

PRESS RELEASE – Green Acres Kennel Shop Joins the Shock-Free Coalition

For Immediate Release

Monday, September 25, 2017

Contact:  Don Hanson
Green Acres Kennel Shop
945-6841

[Bangor] – Green Acres Kennel Shop is honored to be part of the Shock-Free Coalition, a global initiative launched today, by the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). The PPS is an international membership association for animal behavior and training professionals. The Shock-Free Coalition aims to end the practice of using electric shock to train and care for pets.

Green Acres Kennel Shop first warned our clients of the dangers of the use of shock collars in an article in our newsletter in May of 2004. Although we have never used shock collars at Green Acres, we officially adopted and announced our Pet-Friendly Policy in the spring of 2006 when we learned of other kennels and daycare’s using these devices on their client’s dogs. Eventually we also added our position statement on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs

I am astounded and disappointed that it is still legal in many countries, including the USA, for pet owners to deliver an electric shock to a collar worn by their cat or dog via the simple press of a button from a remote control. Countless studies, conducted by veterinary scientists and canine behavior specialists, indicate that using pain and fear to train animals can cause physical injury, as well as a host of psychological issues that may include their becoming fearful of other animals and people — and potentially aggression. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) explicitly states that shock collars nor any other aversive should be used to train or manage animals in their Behavior Management Guidelines of 2015.

Anyone who loves animals and wishes to share their support for this initiative may do so by taking the pledge by clicking on the graphic to the left or the following link www.shockfree.org. You may also learn more at the Shock-Free Coalition website.

 

An article by Green Acres Kennel Shop owner, Don Hanson, The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars, can be found on his blog at http://bit.ly/ShockCollars If you wish to participate in a Maine based shock-free coalition, you may learn more by clicking on the graphic to the right or on the following link http://bit.ly/Shock-FreeME.

 

 


In business since 1965, Green Acres Kennel Shop, located at 1653 Union Street, is committed to pet-friendly, force-free pet care. We offer boarding, daycare, and grooming for dogs, as well as pet behavior consultations and group and private dog training classes. Voted Best Kennel every year since 2002, Best Pet Store every year since 2007, Best Dog Trainer every year since 2011, and Best Pet Groomer every year since 2013, the Green Acres retail store offers a wide variety of wholesome pet foods, treats, and quality supplies. In December of 2016, we were recognized by Best Businesses of America as one of the Top 15 Kennels and Top 40 Dog Trainers in New England. We are a proud member of The Pet Professional Guild. For more information, please call 945-6841 or visit www.greenacreskennel.com.

 

Dog Training – Reward Based Training versus Aversives

 

< Updated 5FEB19 >

< A short link to this page – http://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive >

Dog training has changed dramatically in the past 30 years. While the use of aversive techniques such as choke and prong collar corrections, shock collars, alpha wolf rollovers, dominance downs, and other methods based on positive punishment and negative reinforcement were the predominant form of dog training many years ago, these methods are now considered to be both unnecessary but also counter-productive and detrimental. Many consider them to be inhumane. Dog training should be fun and that means it is pain-free, force-free, and fear-free. Dog training should be fun for both you and your dog.

Aversives and the use of force cause fear and pain, which can be physical or emotional in nature. That in turn, impairs our dog’s ability to learn, damages the bond and trust between our dog and us, and has been found to cause behavioral problems such as aggression, anxiety, and extreme stress.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), and the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) recommend that aversives NEVER be used.

In their Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines the AAHA said this about aversives:

This Task Force opposes training methods that use aversive techniques. Aversive training has been associated with detrimental effects on the human–animal bond, problem solving ability, and the physical and behavioral health of the patient. It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous.

Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior.” [Emphasis added]

FMI – AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelineshttps://www.aaha.org/professional/resources/behavior_management_guidelines.aspx

For more on this topic, and for links to the actual position statements and references, check out the Recommended Resources section below.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationship – WWM-SEP2018 http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 1 – WWM-JAN2019http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 2 – WWM-FEB2019 –  http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-2

Dog Training – How science and reward-based training have pulled dog training out of the dark ages – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/21/dog-training-how-science-and-reward-based-training-have-pulled-dog-training-out-of-the-dark-ages/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2006/02/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-statement-on-pet-friendly-force-free-pet-care/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2010/07/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs/

Pet Behavior and Wellness – Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellnesshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/28/pet-behavior-and-wellness-pet-behavior-as-an-essential-component-to-holistic-wellness/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy – Part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/04/02/yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-green-acres-kennel-shops-pet-friendly-philosophy-part-1/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The PPG – Part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/05/02/selecting-a-pet-care-provider-yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-the-ppg-part-2/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – A Veterinary Perspective – Part 3http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/30/selecting-a-pet-care-provider-yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-a-veterinary-perspective-part-3/

Shared Blog Post – The Double Advantage of Reward-Based Traininghttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/08/05/shared-blog-post-the-double-advantage-of-reward-based-training/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The Pet Professional Guild and Force-Free Pet Care with Niki Tudge

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Fear-Free Veterinary Visits with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic

Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – Dr. Dave Cloutier – Veazie Veterinary Clinic

Other Articles and Blogs

Choke Collar Pathology – an excellent blog post from dog trainer Daniel Antolec on the dangers of using a choke collar on a dog. – http://ppgworldservices.com/2017/06/13/choke-collar-pathology/

Web Sites

Position Statements on Animal Behavior, Training, and Care

2015 American Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelineshttps://www.aaha.org/professional/resources/behavior_management_guidelines.aspx

The Guiding Principles of the Pet Professional Guildhttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PPGs-Guiding-Principles

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Pet Correction Deviceshttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Equipment-Used-for-the-Management-Training-and-Care-of-Pets

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Choke and Prong Collarshttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/chokeandprongcollarpositionstatement/

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Shock In Animal Traininghttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars/

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Animal Traininghttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/DominanceTheoryPositionStatement/

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on Puppy Socializationhttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PuppySocializationPositionStatement/

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Dominance_Position_Statement_download-10-3-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on Puppy Socialization https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Puppy_Socialization_Position_Statement_Download_-_10-3-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on Positive Veterinary Carehttps://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Positive-Veterinary-Care-Position-Statement-download.pdf

 

Professional Pet Care Associations

The Pet Professional Guildhttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/

The Pet Professional Accreditation Boardhttp://www.credentialingboard.com/

 

©5FEB19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Ouch! The Shocking Truth About Electronic Collars

Originally published in
Green Acres Kennel Shop Paw Prints – May 2004

In my opinion it is NEVER appropriate to use electric shock to train a dog or any other living thing. There are far better ways to train, with far fewer serious side effects. However, since there are people advocating the use of shock collars, without fully understanding their dangerous side-effects, or perhaps not caring about the physical and emotional pain they inflict on dogs, I feel compelled to explain why they should be relegated to the dust bins of history along with other instruments of torture, such as the rack and thumb screws.

There are three basic types of shock collars; underground fence collars which automatically administer a shock as the dog crosses a line in the yard, bark collars which automatically trigger when the dog barks, and remotely activated collars where a person presses a button on a transmitter in order to shock the dog. In all cases the dog wears a collar which contains a box with two electrodes that press against the neck. When the collar is triggered, the dog is shocked by the two electrodes. Some who use shock collars for training dogs for competition will even place a second collar around the dog’s waist so the electrodes shock the genitals. This is allegedly necessary because a shock around the neck is not enough.

From the perspective of operant conditioning, these collars are usually used as a form of positive punishment (the dog is shocked for doing something the person does not want), but may also be used for negative reinforcement (the dog is continuously shocked until the dog does what the person wants). The latter is especially cruel and counterproductive.

While the manufacturers and advocates of shock collars may tell you that the shock is nothing more than a tingle, we know from the science of operant conditioning that the aversive stimulus or shock must be sufficiently aversive or painful in order to work. I have seen dogs with severe burns on their necks caused by these collars, in which case the pain lasts long after the shock.

It is important to remember that along with the physical pain of every shock is the emotional pain and anxiety that comes with it. Imagine your high school algebra teacher shocking you every time you answered a question incorrectly. Would you become anxious? Would you become so anxious you would stop learning? Anxiety never helps learning in any species.

The anxiety and pain the dog feels are often associated with whatever the dog was focusing on at that instant. The use of positive punishment in the form of choke collars, prong collar and shock collars can cause aggression. Both cases below are descriptions of how using the shock collar caused aggression. These people sought me out for advice, after the aggression developed.

Case #1

A happy, gregarious dog loved every person he saw. His guardian was concerned about him leaving the yard because he frequently went to visit the neighbor. They installed an underground fence system that would shock the dog several feet before he was outside of his yard. They trained the dog to the system per the manufacturer’s instructions. A few weeks after the system was installed the dog saw the neighbor out in the yard. Since the dog had always liked the 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 friendly dog always getting shocked as he ran towards the neighbor. Then one day the neighbor knocked on the front door. The dog saw the neighbor and he was afraid he would again be shocked so he bit the neighbor in the leg, before the neighbor could cause him pain.

Why did this bite occur? Because the dog associated the pain and anxiety of the shock with what it was focusing on at the time the shock occurred, the neighbor. To the dog the neighbor was the predictor of the shock, and the dog took action in an attempt to prevent the shock. Is this a one of a kind incident? Far from it. I have training colleagues throughout the country that could tell you of similar incidents. This incident could have been prevented with the installation of a good, old fashioned fence or providing the dog with supervision when leaving him in an unfenced yard. We would not leave a 4 year old child alone in an unfenced yard, why leave a dog?

Case #2

A young dog drags its guardians around on leash, especially when it sees another dog. The dog is curious and friendly and wants to meet the other dogs. The guardians are older, the dog is big and they do not enjoy being dragged around every time the dog sees another dog. They have made no attempt to train the dog, but are frustrated. They go to a pet store where some kid, who knows nothing about canine behavior, sells them a remote shock collar. They are instructed to shock the dog whenever he pulls on leash. On their next walk the dog does as he always does, he sees another dog and lunges forward, fixated on the dog he wants to greet when ZAP! He yelps, not sure why he has suffered this pain. The next time he sees a dog on a walk he immediately becomes anxious, remembering the pain he felt the last time he saw a dog. As the dog approaches he lunges but this time he also growls and shows his teeth. He is very afraid but is trying to look fierce to scare the dog away before it hurts him again when ZAP! These guardians have not trained their dog to stop pulling; all they have done is made a good dog, dog aggressive. If these people would have enrolled their dog in a training class they could have taught their dog to walk nicely without ever causing him any pain or fear.

Proponents of shock collars insist they are necessary because harsh punishment is the only way a dog can be trained. To me this says more about their lack of ability as a trainer than anything else.

One of the typical examples they use is training a dog to stay away from rattlesnakes. They insist the only way you can teach a dog to stay away from snakes is by shocking them whenever they approach a snake. Now from the examples above, it should be clear that shocking a dog when they see a snake is just as likely to teach the dog to attack it as it is to stay away.

When they bring up this example I like to ask how they would teach a 4 year old child to stay away from rattlesnakes. After lots of mumbling and posturing they agree that the intelligent and responsible thing to do would be to hold on to the child’s hand and keep them close when in snake country. I then ask if they think it would be appropriate to put a shock collar on a 4 year old child to keep them in the yard. Even they know that if they tried to use a shock collar on a child they would end up having the child taken away and they would spend a lengthy stay in a penal facility.

While I am the first to caution people about treating their dog as if it were a child, I do think we should treat children and pets with the same respect and compassion. There is NEVER a need to teach or train with techniques and devices that are designed to cause physical and/or emotional pain.

 

©1MAY04, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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