Using Shock Collars for Dog Training – Is It Ok?


There is a trainer I know who posts a lot of short videos of her own dogs and dogs owned by clients of her board-and-train business. The dogs always look very well behaved and lots of people leave complimentary comments on these posts.

I’ve never seen a comment mentioning the shock collars that every one of the dogs wears. (Or the shock collar combined with a choke chain or pinch collar. Always the shock collar, and often the second pain-inducing collar, too.)

Again, judging by the comments, no one seems to be bothered by the subtle signs of stress and anxiety the dogs in training display. If the dog is “behaving,” the trainer never raises her voice, and the dog’s tail wags at some point, it all looks good to most people (apparently).

Now, it could be that some people DO comment or ask questions about the collars and the trainer deletes them. I would put money on a different possibility, though; I’m pretty sure that this trainer so thoroughly believes in and relies upon the collars that if someone DID comment, she would strongly defend their use.

Quick-fix methods can be seductive, but…

In general, I try to keep WDJ as free as possible from negative appraisals of training techniques and gear that we don’t support. I’d rather that we talk about the many reasons we advocate for the techniques and gear that we love. But I worry sometimes that many people can’t tell the difference between what we would call dog-friendly training and training that’s focused on quick, telegenic results.

I know that quick-fix methods are seductive: “I sent her an unmanageable dog who barked at the door, jumped on everyone, and couldn’t be walked on leash, and two weeks later, now look at him! He’s calm and I can walk him without being dragged down the street!”

But my question is, at what cost? What was that dog’s total experience? A dramatic transformation does not happen that quickly without a certain amount of pain and discomfort and lack of initial comprehension.

Note that I’m not talking about the use of a shock collar to deal with a specific behavior that the owner or training has been unable to stop in any other way, something that may well shorten the life of the dog if the behavior is unchecked, such as taking off after animals (not responding to a recall cue off-leash) or failing to respond to a “leave it” cue in rattlesnake country. That’s a separate debate we could have. But what I’m talking about here is the use of a shock collar to teach dogs to perform every sort of sit, down, stay, come, go to your bed, every-day type of behaviors – the same behaviors we can teach 8-week-old puppies to do on cue with a handful of cookies.

Now, I have to add that this trainer is skilled and experienced. I don’t see the kind of obvious fear that an unskilled force-based trainer induces in his clients’ dogs – the videos posted on social media don’t show dogs who are overtly cringing or flinching. They do show dogs who display more subtle signs of stress: licking their lips, ears back, tucked tails, yawning. In a few videos, it takes a sharp eye, but you can see the reaction a few dogs make when they have hesitated to perform the requested behavior and are being shocked:  a long blink or a momentary grimace before they perform the behavior they have been asked for. You can see it, but only if you know what to look for.

I bet her clients are genuinely happy with the results – pleased to discover that their dogs are capable of being calm and compliant and have learned a few behaviors on cue.

Dangers of using shock collars

There is no denying that in the hands of an experienced trainer – an even-tempered person with superior skills at observing body language and good timing – collars that shock or apply painful pressure to the dog’s neck can teach a dog to perform certain behaviors (in order not to suffer a painful consequence) in fairly short order, and without the appearance of violence. But this sort of training is anathema to me, and to most “positive only” trainers, for many reasons. Here are just a few:

  • Training methods that use pain can emotionally scar some dogs. Dogs may learn to perform certain behaviors in order to avoid pain, but many lose trust and interest in having a loving relationship with humans.
  • There are certain dogs who respond to pain with aggression. You can’t always predict which dogs this will be, but the odds are higher with dogs who are fearful and those who possess more than the average amount of self-preservation instincts. I would argue that from their point of view this constitutes simple self-defense. But the pain-based trainer will respond to the dog’s aggression with greater and greater pain, because if the dog’s aggression successfully (from the dog’s view) ends the training session, the trainer will fail, so the trainer will feel compelled to increase the pain until the dog “submits.” Unfortunately, if the dog’s aggression escalates enough, at some point the trainer is likely to inform the owner that the dog is dangerous and defective and the dog usually ends up dead – euthanized for behavior that was introduced in response to the training method.
  • While the trainer might have good timing, observation skills, and judgment, few owners do. When the dog is sent home with his new shock collar and the remote control is now in the hands of his much-less experienced owner, it’s inevitable that the collar will be activated at inappropriate times: when the dog tried to do the wanted behavior but the owner didn’t recognize it as such, after the dog had stopped doing the unwanted behavior but the owner’s timing was delayed, when the owner is angry at the dog for perceived misbehavior, and so on. As the “corrections” make less and less sense to the dog, and he fails to clearly see what behaviors work to stop the pain and which don’t, his “training” will deteriorate – and so will the relationship between the dog and his owner.

In my view, the introduction of a button that is pressed to cause discomfort that will increase compliance from another living being – just this, alone – would indicate to me that the button-presser should spend his or her time with a stuffed or electronic toy dog rather than a thinking, feeling being of another species.

Again, I don’t like to discuss training methods that we would never promote, but I’m not sure that novice dog people are ever told about the potential for harm that quick-fix tools like shock collars can cause. And when a dog owner with an unruly dog sees the “before and after” videos, many happily sign on, without being informed about the potential for fallout. They probably haven’t been told up front that the dog’s seeming calmness and compliance comes with a remote control – one that they will have to learn to utilize in order to maintain those behaviors. Were they asked if they are willing to continue to hurt their dogs into the indefinite future? Or have their dogs learn to associate them with the pain?

The goal of the kind of dog training we describe in WDJ – dog-friendly training, positive-reinforcement-based training, fear-free training, call it whatever you want – is to cultivate communication with and cooperation from our dogs, not just assert control through superior strength or power. Communication and cooperation with other beings is most soundly built on a foundation of mutual comprehension – and this takes a little bit of time! But if the process of learning about each other is rewarding and enjoyable for both parties (canine and human), the bond between them will be strong, even if communication breaks down at times.

Let’s talk about it

*Please note that this place on the WDJ website – the blog spot – is where my personal thoughts are posted. The word “blog” is short for “web log”; it came into being to describe the sort of sites that were devoted to journaling and other personal posts. This isn’t an “article” about the evils of shock collars; it’s where I am trying to work out my personal discomfort with both the use of the tools and the general public’s seeming inability to detect or understand the potential for quite serious fallout from their use and misuse.

Trainers: Do you have personal experience with using shock collars for training garden-variety behaviors? (Let’s confine the discussion to this.) Do you have experience working with dogs who were shocked by different trainers or owners before you were consulted? If so, what can you tell us about these experiences?

Owners: Have you paid someone to train your dog with one of these devices? Were you told up-front that a shock collar would be used on your dog? What has your experience been? Has your dog seemed different in any way?


    • If I ever had a dog that ‘needed’ any device to administer an electric impulse to its skin. I would have that poor dog put out of its misery.
      PS Electric shock collars do NOT train — they are used to control. There are other more humans ways to control a dog.
      If you dogs has a behaviour problems caused by traumatic brain injury, either help it with medications or help it out of its misery.
      I am very glad to live in an enlighten State in an enlightened County that bans these things

    • I worked for a trainer who used shock (or “stim”) on a R- /P+ basis. She really didn’t understand the tool she used or how operant conditioning works, and couldn’t recognize even obvious displaced behavior from the dogs. In her mind, the dogs enjoyed the challenge of turning off the collar. She felt she was saving lives by training dogs and fixing behavioral problems. And she made big money doing this, her clients love her and are willing to spend thousands of dollars on it. I quit after 3 weeks, it was too sad.

      I think a lot of shock collar trainers have the attitude of “the end justifies the means.” From what I’ve seen, a lot of that is tempered with a lack of understanding or a want of lack of understandung of basic behavior and learning theory. It’s harder to justify the means when you can see all the stress and anxiety it causes the dog.

    • I once had a self proclaimed “expert trainer” suggest to put a prong or shock collar on my dog, I suggested he would have 5 seconds to run or I would be going to jail and his widow would be going to identify his remains

  1. I’m an owner. We sent our dog to a trainer for e-collar conditioning and behavioral training. I’m hesitant to reply with any greater detail until I understand your use of the term “shock collar,” as opposed to an e-collar because the two are very different things.

    • You are correct, Lauren. Shock collars and e-collars are completely different things. E-collars are typically given out by a veterinarian to keep a dog from biting, licking, chewing at areas on the body that need to heal. Shock collars (often renamed a host of other “softer” names to make them sound less invasive (e-collar, stim unit, stim collar) but are, in fact, all still shock collars if they emit an electrical static shock to the dog.

      • SI have a bachelor’s degree in animal science and behavior and your pure positive bullshit does not work I’m gonna hand you my Belgium🇧🇪 and you use all your freaking hot dogs and your gentle leaders be my guest and try to get that dog to even come near you without ripping your juggler out..

        Just saying good luck I got 2 of those I have a lab who is a service dog but who also does protection and bite work and will bite the shit out of you too and I use E collar on every single one of my dogs my client’s dogs I have been in business for over 30 years and I have never had any problems when you know how to iutilize what’s called an E color not a shock color so that tells me you have no education in an E collar category you need to come to my class and learn about it and stop writing bullshit articles like this that are not factual…

    • There are collars that emit a static shock and newer collars that emit electrical impulses directly to nerves/muscles. This type of electrical stimulation is used therapeutically by physical therapists, chiropractors, etc. This has become a selling point for the collars—because it’s used for healing, it can’t be bad.

      But if you’re using it to punish or negatively reinforce behavior and you get the desired behavioral change, by definition the electrical stimulus is aversive. It is something that causes the dog enough discomfort (pain and/or fear) that it is willing to alter its behavior to end or avoid the electrical impulses.

      If you’ve ever used a TENS unit (sane technology), you know that it will cause painful stinging and very uncomfortable muscle contractions at a high level of stimulation. This is what the collars do to the dog’s neck

      • “If you’ve ever used a TENS unit (sane technology), you know that it will cause painful stinging and very uncomfortable muscle contractions at a high level of stimulation.”

        I have used a TENS unit and they can be quite uncomfortable. I can’t imagine getting the shock (and yes, it is a shock) they create unexpectedly.

        I’m disgusted by people who try to use deceptive terms and justifications for using this clearly aversive method.

    • E-collars work as a form of negative reinforcement, so it means that a behavior is strengthened by removing a negative outcome. Even a vibration can cause a stress response and cause shock to a dog. It’s a tool used by trainers who haven’t studied modern Canine Science and haven’t got the skills to train dogs using their brain and natural behaviours. Equipment should never replace training and more often than not, quick fixes like this are detrimental to the dog and cause long term damage.

      • I am in need of some advice. I have a 7 month old, high drive, large mut whonis the sweetest thing and I have managed to train her with all the basics (i.e. sit, stay, lay down, leave it, come, etc). She is a first time listener when she is in home, in her element. However, we own a farm and she has an affinity for the geese and chickens. We’ve had her since 8 weeks old and it’s something that we’re still struggling with. She takes after them, chasing until she gets to them, at which point she will kill. She’s gotten to one and killed it. I’ve tried clicker, 30 ft long leads (this is currently what I have her on with me when we’re outside…. I can’t take more chances), regular leash, cooked meat as a distracting treat, you name it! She WON’T LISTEN, tunnel vision. I don’t see the point in muzzling her while off leash as this doesn’t help with the chasing aspect of it. Our yard is not fenced and juts up to a 4 lane highway, I fear that one day she will chase after a chicken and go right into harm’s way. I would hate to have to keep her on leash her whole life.

        Without judgement, I would love some advice on a training method that may work for this specific behavior.

        • I have free range birds too..all of my dogs are “prey driven” dogs..and I am not saying given a chance to go after neighbours chickens ( if left to their own devices, which they are not of course) but with our birds, they know they are “off limits”, I did this humanely, every single day from a puppy, they were on leash and did “chicken chores” with me. They came out to feed and put them away last thing at night. They were allowed to look but not touch, I had them tethered around my birds while I was there. If they responded negatively towards the birds, they were told to “leave it”..stern voice..I did this until I thought they were ready to be “off leash” around them. this has worked for all of my dogs over the years. Would I leave me dogs alone with my birds? no, they are still dogs/animals and birds move quickly..but my dogs are off leash with me and my birds now trust my there is no excited flapping.

    • Lauren, for a true breakdown, Leerburg has some interviews/discussions on YouTube. Basically, an e-collar is still technically a shock collar. But that’s like saying the giant bricks people used to carry as a brief case is a cell phone. The good modern e-collar has levels so low that humans and many dogs don’t even feel them, and a wide range of levels so that they can be fine tuned to each dog. Most good e-collar training uses these extremely low levels and dogs are *taught* that it means something, it’s not a random painful thing that is just blasted on your dog.
      If your dog is happy and healthy and you find yourself using that button less and less (the goal is to not need to push it) then trust yourself and your dog.

    • There are multiple levels and many types of stimulus on an e-collar/shock collars. Some vibrate, some beep, and some give an electrical stimulus that if turned up to “high” can feel like an electrical shock. Some lower levels can barely be felt. There are also people that know how to use these collars and those that don’t.

      I find it interesting that this blog was introduced as wanting to hear other opinions (maybe the positive part?) of the use of e-collars. Even though the author stated she herself didn’t believe in the use of them, I still thought there may be some interesting/polite input. But, after reading these posts, most people are pretty quick to condemn “anyone” that ever used an e-collar! I sure don’t feel like “jumping in” with my e-collar training opinions.

    • Agree. I’ve used TENS devices before on areas that needed recovery, back and leg muscles. Now common sense will tell you setting the device to the upper levels will absolutely produce a painful effect on the body. But that pain is just nerve sensation impulses. It is painful though. Using the device on the lower levels produces sensations like tingling, tickling, and uncomfortable sensations that could border on pain feelings. But regardless, it works on healing that specific area.

      An e collar in the hands of someone not educated on it could create painful sensations for a dog just like the upper levels on a TENS device. Lower levels on an e collar produce a very mild sensation when tried on yourself. I’ve used it to the point where I started to feel what I’d call too much pain. Just like the TENS unit. It’s the same idea. In fact using an e collar on the lowest level that the dog will feel will produce a safe conditioning effect. Again however, it has to be used in the right circumstances, the right time, and with clear cut vocal commands. The device simply reinforces what is being trained. The collar is not meant to be the main device for “punishment” or create a feeling with the dog that it’s primarily for the sake of punishment and not education training for the dog. I believe the collar is not right for every dog and every situation. More aggressive and uncontrollable dogs especially in situations that endanger themselves or their handlers could benefit from this. Simply as a means to refocus and regain control of the situation. And the word control is not negative when considering the chance of leaving the dog as is and using “traditional” methods that show no progress and improvement while the dog continues to lunge, react and is aggressive and predatory outside when encountering squirrels or something.

      • One other thing I just want to address. We hear it over and over, that the “pressure” is like a Tens and having tried it on ourselves we know what it feels like. The problem with this analogy, is, we are not dogs? we do know that dogs are very stoic and do not show pain like humans do, so are you being deceived into thinking that the dog only feels a little ‘tingle”? Most people put he collar on their forearm. this is nothing like a neck with all the nerves and other anatomy of the dog depending on where it is put. I suggest you put the collar around your neck tight, then turn it up to a “working” level. What is that? all depends on how each dog can tolerate it..see how high you can turn your dial before you cannot take it anymore. Also, just another thought here, Tens machines are not strapped around the from or rarely on your neck at all, because of large blood vessels ( major) and your C spine..

    • They are the same is like saying “Choke” chain vs “Check” chain. It is an e collar that is used to control dog’s behaviours. The dogs are given a “shock” or “stim” if you would prefer, it is just different words for the same thing.

  2. I would never use one of those horrible devices on my dog and here’s why – I had an acquaintance who, as a joke, put her dog’s shock collar on. The ensuing shock knocked her on her butt. Not something I would ever think about doing to my dog!

  3. I have never used a shock collar on any of my dogs. I have used in a beeping bark collar briefly on one dog. We only used it for a few days and then we took the battery out. It’s association still kept my dog’s bark level down.

    I do not believe in negative training. To me if a dog is being sent home with a shock collar, there should be a requirement that the owner has to put the same collar on their neck and be shocked. Possibly to even work for a whole day and be corrected for different things.

    I do understand though where a shock collar would come in handy for the recall. A friend of mine lives in a cul-de-sac right off is very busy street and her dog occasionally gets out and runs straight for the street. I can see how a shock collar would help get her dog’s attention.

    • There is room for subtlety in this part of the discussion, but in general I would tend to look at things like this as follows: Why would I punish a dog for my failure to train it properly, or for my failure to keep it safe while training is in process? Maybe I deserve the collar, and the dog the button.

      And practically speaking, keeping the batteries charged and the transmitter turned on and in the right hands to do the stopping is likely to fail. If I can go to that much fuss, I can more kindly and easily clip on a leash or long line before opening a door for gate. If the dog is just escaping, the squeal of tires will (probably, hopefully) be heard before the button sitting on the “where did my husband put that damn thing this time?” is located and activated. And there’s still no guarantee it’ll stop the dog. Many bolt faster when surprised by the nip at their necks.

      Ask a municipal shelter worker. Lots of strays come in wearing shock collars.

    • KimberlyO, I have used electronic collars for 15 years and probably not recommend an e-collar for your neighbor’s dog. The reason being that they probably wouldn’t pay any more attention to proper use of the collar than they do keeping the dog on their property.
      A second fence, a baby gate at the door, a double gate if they leave a front gate ajar…these would be much better. If a dog hasn’t had tons if practice for a good long time with a skilled E collar user, giving the dog a correction at the wrong time or level could cause the dog to run even faster in the direction it’s going to get away from the discomfort. Some dogs will just ignore the stimulation and go chase whatever it is they are after.
      I always recommend preventative measures and lots if recall practice, boundary training, waiting at doors etc over an e-collar and only train a dog for an e-collar if I think the owner is responsible enough to use it properly and practice sufficiently.

      • Lauren, for a true breakdown, Leerburg has some interviews/discussions on YouTube. Basically, an e-collar is still technically a shock collar. But that’s like saying the giant bricks people used to carry as a brief case is a cell phone. The good modern e-collar has levels so low that humans and many dogs don’t even feel them, and a wide range of levels so that they can be fine tuned to each dog. Most good e-collar training uses these extremely low levels and dogs are *taught* that it means something, it’s not a random painful thing that is just blasted on your dog.
        If your dog is happy and healthy and you find yourself using that button less and less (the goal is to not need to push it) then trust yourself and your dog.

  4. I have an uber reactive 82 lb Black German Shepherd who, unbeknownst to me when I bought her, has a HEAVY working line pedigree. She’s my first GSD and I didn’t “know better” when I bought her. ALWAYS check that pedigree! My girl got between me and anyone else at 12 weeks old and would growl. Cute then…now, not so much. BUT, I trained her with the help of a trainer who trained me. That’s what ultimately works. It creates a bond between you and your dog. Having someone else train a dog doesn’t give you that bond that training together does. My dog is still reactive in certain situations, but I have also learned her triggers and her “tells”. She just turned 4 and I can’t imagine my life without her. I opted NOT to train her with fear. A fearful dog can be a very dangerous dog. We were in obedience classes for 4 months and practiced daily. I feel like if you’re not willing to invest the time, you should get a cat or a pet rock. I was fortunate enough to find a trainer that trained until he was comfortable that we had control of our dogs and knew what to do. I live alone so having a dog that looks and sounds like she’d take your throat out isn’t a bad thing. She did get out of the door once when I was talking to someone in the front yard and charged the man and his older, overweight Black GSD. However, as fierce as she looked and sounded, she didn’t touch either one of them and I wrangled her back into the house (she wears a collar now when I’m home JUST in case) and when we got inside she was fully aware that she did something that was undesirable to me. She’s never known a harsh word or a hard hand. She was trained with food and praise and even at 4 years old, we still run drills for about 5 minutes every day. Heel, sit, down, come…its a game for her and she gets a little pinch of a yummy treat and lots of “good girl” from me. I personally don’t believe instilling fear in a dog is a good method of training. It may “work” for some people, but to what end? I don’t have a nervous dog or a dog that fears every time we put on her collar or harness to go for a walk. If I see something that I know will trigger her, we move an appropriate distance away and when she doesn’t react, she hears “good girl!!” Surprising what a little love will do.

    • Thank you for sharing your story!
      We adopted a (somewhat) reactive GSD&Husky mix from a shelter a year ago and still going through some tough time trying to get her not to react as much.
      She is our world. She is the sweetest. We work with her for whatever her past we did not know and try to keep her as calm and safe as possible. We live in an apartment and there are dogs everywhere. She growls and lounges at them sometimes even if they are across the street. We are in the process of working to get her attention when other dogs are near. It is hard. It works sometimes. But I will never add more fear to hear by using a shock collar. I see the progress. It is slow, but every day and every situation is different and I am just so proud of her.

    • This reply is such a pleasure to read, I was reading an article recently that in the fifties experts were given the task of placing Dog breeds in categories. The experts placed the German Shepherd Dog in the fearful group, Germany rejuvenated the decision stating that nothing coming from Germany is fearful. Having Herman Shepherds for many years including a working line, I definately would agree they are are very sensitive breed.

  5. As for working with dogs that have been trained with a shock collar, yes, sadly I have worked with many. Most are fearful and shut down, afraid to do *anything*. Doing nothing may look like the dog is behaving, but it’s not. The dog does nothing because doing *something* might get them shocked.

    If a professional dog trainer needs a shock collar to teach sit, down, stay, come, and go to your bed then they were probably fired from their burger flipping job.

  6. Thanks for posting such a well-written analysis of how the use of quick-fix shock collars is devoid of the relationship-buidling aspect that makes training a dog so meaningful. There are many force-free methods for teaching a dog not to jump and bark that also build their confidence about how to behave around humans that it’s hard for me to imagine why anyone would use aversive methods at all. The use of force and pain is never necessary in dog training, and the general public just has no clue that shock collars are archaic and cruel. In my opinion, if a person cannot take the time to train their own dog, then maybe they should get a pet who requires less attention! In Switzerland, people have to take a compulsory training course before getting a dog to learn about their care and training, and I think this is necessary in the US considering how many dogs get abandoned at shelters when people realize how much of a commitment having one entails.

  7. I have not used and would never use a shock collar for training. I was surprised to learn that my sister and Brother-in-law did when she got their first dog (to train basic commands as a puppy).

    Their dog still displays classic perpetual anxiety and her symptoms are severe (jumps back to heed a command, tail tucked, yawns, licks lips, separation anxiety, submits on her back almost immediately when she comes near a human, and is fearful of dogs she doesn’t know- literally scrambling under something to get away if the dog wishes to play or even sniff). She does listen to any human, though, as you said. Unfortunately, they just tell strangers she is a „big baby“ and sing her praises to everyone for being „well-behaved“.

    There is a reason why shock collars and fences (for training and otherwise) are illegal in most European countries.

    I admit I was given advice after I rescued an adult dog who pulled at the start of pur walks to get a pinch collar. I did but after a short time I decided put it on to understand the experience and I felt like I was choking -even though only briefly if done with a quick release afterwards as intended. That was the end for us. I felt horrible knowing that I was not simply giving a poke to get her attention but literally constraining her breathing for a short time. Fortunately, I turned back to positive training techniques like those you promote and I did with my first puppy. It worked well. Soon thereafter I learned of your magazine and was forever grateful.

    Until we learn otherwise, we are owners sometimes take bad advice based on others‘ experiences. So, thanks for all you do to educate us. I wish we would ban their use in the US but I doubt that will happen.

  8. Isn’t it amazing how people love to call shock collars by some other name — ecollar, stim collar, remote trainer, etc.
    I have worked with many dogs that had been previously been trained with a shock collar. The fallout I see most often is fear and unintentional associations that often manifest in shows of aggression. I recently worked with a dog that had associated the discomfort of the shock with a neighbor and the previously friendly, boisterous dog began to aggress towards the neighbor. I am strongly against them.

  9. I agree with you about the dangers of shock collars, but there are some extreme cases where they may be a last resort when it comes to keeping the dog and others safe. We had exhausted every training method and diligently worked with three trainers and still we had a rescue with severe fear aggression, while an absolute dream dog with us and small children, he would rage and attack other dogs and men. Finally, after a dog attack, we were faced with the real possibility that we had to do the responsible thing and put him down. It was heartbreaking. But then we found a compassionate trainer that suggested we allow him to train him for three weeks with a shock collar. His training sessions were filmed and we watched an amazing transformation. I truly believed that our dog learned that so long as he was with us/the trainer and following recall, sit, down commands, he was safe. In other words, while engaged with us, there was no need to attack. Our dogs entire demeanor has shifted and while he’s not perfect and we still must be responsible and diligent, we can recall him if he chases and put him in a calm sit/down when we encounter another dog. Prior to this he would blow up into a full blown and uncontrollable rage. I don’t “like” shock collars and hope to never have to use one again, but this was truly matter of life and death for this dog (and the safety of others) and I would hate to think what would have had to happen had we not tried this one last thing.

    • Many thanks for sharing your story. I was headed to put my dog down. I’ve had him since a pup for 7 years. I lived alone until I married last year. My husband has 2 dogs and 3 teenagers. My dog has not adjusted at all. He bit my oldest step daughter. A slight nip but a completely unexpected behavior. Then because he has keen interest to dominate the other male dog my husband moved separate them and yanked my dog when he failed to listen. My dog reacted and bit him. He needed 5 stitches. Months later we are exhausted and at wits end. Much attention was given to keeping the dogs separated, and keeping my dog under close supervision as the kids enter and leave the house. All 3 dogs bark when anyone enters or leaves. My dog is the most aggressive and jumps. He displayed none of these behavior prior to the drastic changes in our environment and we have taken this into account. I can’t allow him to harm another person, and I don’t profess to be a dog whisper. The shock collar will be our last attempt before he is put down. This was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.

  10. At the risk of getting attacked for my opinion, I use an e-collar and I have for years on all of my dogs. If you use it properly you are not “shocking” or “punishing” the dog. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I used the stimulation mode. I use the vibrate mode and the tone signal. You need to understand that in many cases, with hunting dogs, their life depends on being trained efficiently enough to leave a bird and come back upon command. This is what retrievers were born to do, retrieve. And for them to be in the moment, it’s often hard for them to switch gears and turn off the adrenaline rush and leave the bird without a reminder of what their job is. In a field with humans and guns, it is much more important they obey then if you are at a park. So I believe you have to consider the application. I read the article and understood it to be in reference to simple, everyday obedience training. In which case, no, you should not shock your dog for not sitting! I do, however, have the e-collar on my dog at all times. And I would be happy to show you a video of how excited they are in the morning to put the collars on because they know we are going to go something fun. (In this case it is just them going to work with me – but still fun for them). They are not cowering or stressed.

    • I am in total agreement with you! I also have hunting dogs and my dogs are excited when their e-collars come out. We use them daily on our field runs and when training. I look at them as an extension of the leash and their safety.

      • I am perpetually worried as to WHY people want to make a dog go out ‘hunting”.
        On the other hand people who get their jollies by killing other animals probably do not really consider their dogs’ feelings at all — just so long as they behave like as well adjusted robot and do as asked.

        • You don’t “make” a dog bred to hunt go out hunting-it’s what they are hardwired to do! They follow their instincts, doing what dogs have traditionally done for their humans for very long time. Shock collars are commonly used as training tools in the hunting world.Like any tool, they can be misused. Like others have said, dogs are thrilled to be outfitted in what they consider their adventure gear, they are not fearful.

    • Put a shock collar on yourself, wife (husband) and kids and see how everyone likes it. If you use one, then YOU don’t know how to train. Remember: mankind is king of beasts, his brutality exceeds theirs.

  11. Thanks for your post. I have never used these collars. Would I? The key words to me are absolute last resort in a life or death situation. I feel fortunate that so far, I haven’t come to this situation.

    • But, Sandi, If you are still putting the e-collar of your dog, you are still maintaining behaviours through ‘threat’ of pain. aka punishing.
      That is NOT training, any more than an electric fence is training stock to stay in their paddock. You are using management.

    • OK – THAT reference is ridiculous! Not everyone can afford to build a wooden fence nor to use the now synthetic fences! For crying out loud, horses, and livestock arent going to stay in a pasture with no boundaries and those boundaries have to be firm enough to keep them there! And no, have never used any type of e-collar on my dogs.

    • The major difference is that in the electric horse fence, the animal gets the shock only when they touch the fence. They learn quickly not to touch the fence. A shock collar provides the choice to the neck and they may or may not know why it went off. We had an invisible fence, much against my wishes. My dog knew that when he was wearing his collar, he would get shocked at the boundaries. But take the collar off and he could go wherever he wanted. In my opinion, he was not trained to stay in the yard, he was trained to avoid a shock, not the same thing.

  12. Thank you for writing this article. You mention that you try not to write about training techniques and gear that you don’t support, but i think it’s important to explain why these things are not OK, so please keep it up! Especially when aversive techniques are so widely used. Sometimes people just don’t know better, including me 10 years ago when I first got my dog. Now that I know about positive reinforcement training and the downfalls of aversive techniques, I’m so ashamed of how I trained my dog. But without knowing why something is wrong, it can be hard to convince people to change, especially when the alternative may take a lot more time and effort.

  13. Good article. A lot of the folks who oppose shock collars are inexperienced. They have never had a dog that needed one. I say “needed” in the sense of keeping the dog safe. A prompt recall can save a dog’s life. They should be used sparingly and with instruction. Never for house manners!

  14. I have the same experience as Sandi – I’ve been successfully using the collar on my rescue dog that has a very strong hunting instinct and prey drive. He’s a very happy and healthy dog who has great recall when he’s not in the thrill of the hunt. The collar acts as a reminder to pay attention to me – it breaks the spell – and he comes trotting back no worse for wear. It allows him freedom off leash (in safe places) to run and play so he’s a very fit and fulfilled guy. I’m having to use it less and less often because now he knows that if he doesn’t come after I call him twice that he’s going to get a reminder. He’s a scrappy little dog and isn’t bothered by it. So it just depends on the dog and its temperament and how you use the collar. I would never use it on my other dog who’s very sensitive (she also isn’t a hunter), or on my previous border collies who would have completely shut down emotionally. And I’m the nicest dog person you could ever meet, with happy dogs :))

    • I have had success with the collar as well for the same reason Shelagh explains. My first Brittany did not have the strong hunting drive that my current one has. The collar breaks the spell/the chase. I live in a mountain area and this has worked well for me. I went to a trainer for proper use of the tool and use it when not in the neighbor of off leash areas I go to. Lots of wildlife around and I want to keep my dog and the critters safe. The setting is always relatively low but he gets the message and returns to me. He is also a therapy dog at the local elementary school (prior to COVID) and so sweet.

  15. My Aussie Doodle was a terror until he had in board training at the age of 10 months. I too never liked the thought of shock collars but when I saw the outcome it was amazing. At Vinny’s graduation from training they taught us how to use the collar (which also has a vibration feature) and had us test it on ourselves. We went over 20 on our palms (this device goes to 100) before we stopped and probably could have gone higher but we knew Vinny was trained on the level 8 and that is were we keep it. A few times went as high as a 12 only because he was excited and very distracted while chasing a squirrel. He seems to dislike the vibration feature more than the mild shock. We rarely use the device anymore and need only to have the control in our hand for him to behave and that is also a rarity. He is a happy but still mischievous ( in a fun way) but well behaved boy (1 1/2 yoa) now. I am a true believer as long as this device is used correctly and not to used to hurt the dog.

  16. Thank you for your reasoned thoughts on this. As a trainer, I have indeed encountered your observations about dogs trained to perform behaviors with shock collars that really are equally well trained (in terms of getting the performance of the behavior) but force- and pain-free methods. Of course there have been dogs who are overtly stressed, but there are also dogs that exhibit more subtle signs, especially if they were trained skillfully. One of the biggest challenges I find is helping these dogs learn how to learn again, especially for complex behaviors. Typically shock teaches a bit by process of elimination, by punishing wrong choices in hopes of making the correct choice clear. Personally I find being very specific about WHAT exactly the correct choice is. communicating that effectively, and reinforcing it to the exclusion of alternatives is a faster option (and of course less risk of fall out). It can be difficult to get dogs trained on ecollars for simple behaviors to offer up or exhibit novel behaviors we try to train because they seem to hesitate that and stress that they risk being wrong, and being wrong hurts in their experience. Knowing the debilitating effects of chronic, low-grade stress in humans (not to mention high-grade!), I am convinced any perceived trade-offs in speed of acquisition or reliability are not worth the costs. As a breeder of gun dogs, I can also say my European husband notices significant costs in ecollar trained behaviors where they are not needed. An example is pointing dogs. Pointing is in large part an instinctual behavior pattern based in genetics. We can actually observe this behavior being seemingly disturbed when we ecollars are used to train steadiness in the face of flushing birds or gunfire. Dogs lose focus on the bird and a pointing stand to opt for warily eyeballing the trainer and in worst cases cowering (which seems to me to have contributed to the myth in the USA that pointing dogs shouldn’t be taught to sit!). While there may be a role for life safety issues for skillful ecollar use, it seems to me that concern and caution is well-warranted for the vast majority of training. With recent studies demonstrating that shock in particular can cause inheritance of debilitatingly maladaptive traits such as fear in a single generation (Dias and Ressler 2013), it seems to me increasingly clear shock has limited to no use or place in 99% of training from a risk-benefit or canine welfare analysis.

  17. I’m old. When I trained my first dog in a community class, we all learned to pop our choke collars.
    My third dog was fear aggressive- a cupcake with friends & family, a terror with strangers/strange dogs. I took him to dog school ( 6 classes at once on a big parking lot) every Saturday for 10 years. Sad to say, back then we were instructed to get pinch collars for our reactive dogs.
    My dog was perfect at off leash work, until he saw a dog he didn’t know, even 100′ away. He would try to take off & attack.
    My dog was also incredibly reactive if he saw another dog when inside the car. The teacher wanted to try a shock collar on him, in the car. I didn’t know better. She had the collar turned all the way up, and my dog didn’t even notice.
    After this dog passed, I volunteered at SPCA for a few years. Jean Donaldson’s Academy for dog trainers was based there. I learned so much, & would never again use any kind of pain inflicting collar.

  18. We did use one at our house due to an upsetting situation. We brought in a new puppy and our older, very sweet dog started attacking him. We had to separate the dogs and it looked like we might have to get rid of our puppy. We brought in a trainer who trains therapy dogs, and dogs for victims/ptsd. It was a very professional group that worked with my older dog. He did use an ecollar very gently on my older dog, who caught on very quickly. He then put it in our hands. When he went to attack our puppy, we used the ecollar. It took two times and it never happened again. Now, three years later, they are great pals and we can live peacefully together. They don’t like to be apart. I think that sometimes there are very extreme behavioral issues with dogs that it can help with. I have known owners to give their dogs away or put them down because of issues. For us, it offered us the ability to keep our puppy and for that i am grateful. i think in the wrong hands it is not good. We had a professional trainer, and used it a few times to correct a bad behavior that fortunately helped our family.

  19. On most of my dogs, I have not used the e/shock collar. However, there is one dog that brought me to my knees–not listening, lunging at other dogs, not coming when called, etc. I tried every trick and every class available in our area, not to mention the fact that I have trained many dogs myself and competed in AKC Obedience trials over the years. This one dog, however, seemed to be truly untrainable, and so when he was about 18 months old, I finally resorted to attending two private sessions with a professional e-collar trainer. At the beginning of the first session, before the collar was on, the trainer watched in horror as my dog lurch and pull me to the ground. She told me that if we didn’t get him under control someone could be very seriously injured. After the first session we had what amounted to a “brand new” dog. The second session was for tweaking, and now he’s a pleasure to live with. Certainly, most dogs don’t need this method. However, when it comes to the people’s safely and the future of the dog, this type of training is a godsend!

    • Yes! This! We have an 18 month old bloodhound who became extremely reactive. We did many trainers. NOTHING WORKED! He is almost 6 feet tall on his hind legs and lunged over a fence and bit a man full on on his shoulder. The man was there trying to pet our other dog with my Dad on the outside of the fence. The man had no time to react. After ha sank in all 4 canines and almost climbed over the fence while holding on to the guy. I made it out side to grab him. He bolted past me into the house and ran to the front door, our storm door has a lever type handle on it and he knows how to open it. He was trying to open the door to get outside to the man to attack him again. Thank God the storm door was locked. After that we found a reputable trainer in our area that boarded and trained him for three weeks and have also been working with us on how to use his ecollar in high value reactive situations. Yes I’ve tried it on myself up to level 50. It doesn’t shock, per say. But it is almost like pins and needles. Gets you attention and brings him out of his attack mode. He works on a level 7. Twice I’ve turned it up to 14. Never had it again. Now just use vibration or the tone and he stops immediately. This tool has save him and kept us from having to worry so much about him harming people or other dogs. I know eventuallwe may not even need it but I’ll keep it on him for the just incase situation that could mean he’d hurt someone bad enough to be euthanized. He has now learned after being trained properly bya good trainer to be confident and comfortable in situations that use to scare him and elicit his fear based aggressive behavior. They only corrected with the collar if the commands of leave it etc weren’t able to break his spellso to speak. He’d literally be so hyper focused on attacking we couldn’t break it with commands. Walking away etc. He’d find a window another door anything to go back after what set him off! It was scary and training with this tool has saved his life.

  20. Thank you for writing about this! I have known several people who have sent their dogs away to board and train programs, some of them using e-collars, and I have always had misgivings about these programs, particularly with the send away and electronic collar aspects of them. In my work training my own dogs, I’ve had as much or more to learn as my dogs. I think of training as teaching and learning for dogs and people, and relationship building along the way. If my dog has two weeks of training and I have 1/2 hour follow up to learn what happened, there’s a disconnect there.
    Some questions:
    1. Are e-collars and shock collars the same thing?
    2. People have told me they have used the e-collar on their own arms and it felt painless. Is this “painless” experience what’s actually happening to their dog during board and train?
    Thanks again.

  21. I know a woman that owns a chocolate lab, mine is a cream. Both are pedigrees. However she uses a prong collar and a shock collar. I do not believe in using anything but a collar and some treats. Her dog just lets out a scream when she presses that button on the shock collar and I noticed the change in him no happy go lucky like he use to be before those two collars. She has been using these 2 collars for 3 yrs now. My lab is 18 months younger than her dog, she walks this dog each day for 8 or more miles with those collars. I have shown her that lab are smart they do not need a shock collar or prong together it makes me so angry why people cannot take the time and train their dog. She cannot believe my dog is well behaved.

    • I have had a rescue lab mix from 8 weeks old (he’s now 6 years old). I took him to several obedience classes and he learned sit, stay, etc. But, for walking he would pull me down the street and once pulled me prone on the ground. One trainer suggested the prong collar. We do fine now. He only wears it for walks and sits enthusiastically to put it on. He also was very aggressive (insane) at the door. I hired a private click trainer. He would go to his mat and stay UNLESS someone came to the door. I just lock him in my bedroom now if someone comes over. He is fine within two minutes but he is big and barking and it scares people so I just remove him.

      • I understand the “remove” him from the situation BUT the removing does NOT socialize the dog with other people. I did that exact thing with a chocolate lab mix rescue & by doing that and not teaching her that other people are good – she spent time in my room on her bed – way too much time by herself. She never got to be around other people – just shut in her room. She was 13 when I had her put to sleep – and I still feel so guilty that I didnt do right by her. Believe me I’m not advocating either a prong collar or e-collar at all, but I do believe a good trainer using positive reinforcement, working WITH you – could change the whole picture.

  22. My boy died in January. He was almost 10. Got him when he was only 10 weeks old and started him with puppy training and using e-collar training. He was great with the collar. Always excited when I would get his collar out. Never had to put the collar on a higher setting number than 10, out of the 220 settings that were on the unit. All the people in our training classes swear by these collars as I do. Best friend trained hers that way and we both get and got many praises on how our dogs behaved. By the way, they did not always have their e-collars on all the time after they were trained. If a person is trained properly with the collar, there is no reason to have a sad dog! Or even train a dog which everyone should do!

  23. A lovely lab at our marina started humping my Akita/German Shepherd youngster. After watching the lab turn into a cringing mess as his owner increased the shock level to finally make the dog stop, I swore I’d never ever use a shock collar. Then I watched my lovely Shepkita kill a fawn. He’s 100+ pounds of muscle; I am no match in strength. I’m grateful we live where I can walk him off-leash in private field and forest. (He is excellent on-leash in urban environments.) My husband decided an e-collar might help us train him not to chase/kill deer. Chosen collar beeps, vibrates or shocks at selected strength. Husband tested the charge sensation settings on himself. One very light shock and “STOP” was all it took. With no further shocks, pup’s learned to STOP or WAIT on voice command. Beep is occasionally required if prey is in sight. He watches deer. Squirrels and rabbits are still fun to chase tho’ they cannot be caught: they have trees and brambles. Pup is a happy lovely friendly waaaaay too smart 3 yr old. Is the e-collar just our remote clicker?

    • Krol, No! The remote collar reminds him to behave or there are unpleasant consequences if he doesn’t.
      A clicker tells the dog it has done something you like and it is going to get a reward.
      At least that is how it is normally…

  24. While we agree with not using shock collars for obedience training, we have used perimeter containment collars with 3 of our former dogs with great success with no apparent behavioral issues. We have a very large yard which would be cost prohibitive to hard fence. We are about to upgrade our containment system to the Invisible Fence for use with our 2 new Labradoodles. These are big dogs which need a lot of exercise. We feel that it is more humane to use these collars rather than keep them on a short leash all their lives. The fact is, once our other dogs got use to the boundary, we turned off the shock anyway and the dogs never left the yard. With the new Invisible Fence system, we will have the option for a “tone only” correction as well.

    • I use this containment system as well, and it works great with tone only. Took a very short time for our dogs (mini poodle and mini poodle mix) to understand the tone alone means stop. We also have a large yard and want our dogs to be able to run freely within the boundaries. We are always outside with our dogs, we don’t just let them out, but even with that they would ignore recall cues if they spotted something they wanted to chase and would leave the yard, which puts all dogs at risk from cars of course. Our area also has coyotes. I would prefer a fully fenced yard, because it keeps other dogs from entering the yard, (another reason they don’t go out alone) and it will be a very large future investment someday. Shock collars for training are a different kind of thing, as the shock would become associated with the owner, and I don’t want that type of relationship with my dogs. That being said, while stubborn at times, my dogs have learned what is acceptable behavior without too much difficulty. Maybe some dogs are stubborn enough to get themselves killed.

  25. This is one of the worst articles that I have ever read by the whole dog journal. It appears to have been written by someone who clearly does not understand the proper use of an ecollar. Ecollars are not used to intimidate or hurt a dog when used properly. Granted, the average person should not use one unless under the guidance of a good trainer. There are plenty of dogs out there that do great with theses collars when used properly. There are also dogs out there that should never use one. Good trainers know the difference. I’d like to see an article by someone who clearly knows the use of this tool. As for negative reinforcement, you do know that merely withholding a treat or food from a dog when training is also a form of negative reinforcement.

    • I agree. The article seems to be written by someone that does not have a clear understanding of the ecollar. It is not used to train any command. It is used to catch the dogs attention, in order to follow a command that the dog already knows. Preferably used for critical situations like recall, when lack of response could be detrimental. It IS NOT a punishment device. More like a tap on the shoulder, or “hey, pay attention”. Timing is critical. Used only when you can see the dog and you know the dog heard a known command. Last, there are 125 (give or take) settings on good collars. Typically, you should be able to work in 8-15 range, even with a thick coated dog. Try it on yourself, before you judge. I’ve never used a setting on my dog that I didn’t first try on myself.

      • For those posting that the shock collars only “get a dogs attention” or “don’t bother my dog at an 8 because I tried it on myself and it didn;t hurt”…humans and dogs process
        differently what their perceived “pain” and “feelings” mean. A human can not define pain or a feeling for a dog because it is not experienced the same. A shock or vibration may not be “painful” for a human, but it is unpleasant or worse, painful, to the dog. If the shock or vibration didn’t cause some sort of discomfort, then it would never get your dog’s
        attention or work. Plus, the problem is that when you shock yourself, you
        have control over when the shock happens and at what level. Take that power away from a human and the feeling towards the shock can be very different. The dog does not know when the shock is coming (it is unexpected) and has no choice or power over it. The unexpected shock can cause fear in dogs. Discomfort and pain cause anxiety in dogs. Anxiety and fear are not healthy mindsets for dogs. The bottom line is that shock collars are punishers and they carry dangerous fallout for dogs because they have deliver some sort of threat, pain or irritation to be effective.

    • IS there ever a ‘proper use’ for an ‘e-collar?
      And Michele ‘withholding a treat’ is not negative reinforcement.
      Using electric shocks so the dog can avoid them by behaving the way the humans want it to is negative reinforcement. Correctly described as ‘removal of an aversive’.
      If your dog is totally expecting a reward and it fails to get it, it is more correctly described as negative punishment.
      Negative is something taken away. Positive is something added.
      Positive reward — you give the subject something it likes/wants/needs. eg a treat, a game.
      Positive punishment — you add something the dogs wants to avoid. eg being yanked on a collar, being zapped by an electric stimulus
      Negative reward — you take away something the dog wants to avoid or is unpleasant. eg you loosen the prong collar, use turn of the electric current.
      Negative punishment — you take away something the dog likes/wants /needs. eg usually something like going in to the cate/ being sent of of the room.

    • Michele and Jenny, you are both off the mark. The terms “positive reinforcement” and “negative reinforcement” have specific scientific meanings when used by knowledgeable trainers. They refer to one of the four quadrants of operant conditioning. The order of how a trainer who follows LIMA (Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive) would employ them are: R+ or positive reinforcement; P- or negative punishment; R- or negative reinforcement; and P+ or positive punishment.

      Jenny, you’re correct about the use of positive and negative (either adding or removing something. But “reward” is not a term that is used. It is either “reinforcement” if you want the subject to DO the target behavior, or “punishment” if you want the subject to STOP the target behavior.

  26. The only time any of my dogs were trained with a shock collar was for Rattlesnake avoidance. Living in Arizona, this is a very large concern, especially when I have had them in my dog yard, I researched trainers to see which one best fit my +R training philosophy. I saw no difference in my dogs after the training session. Although my one dog needs to go back for refresher training because his prey drive over shadows his fear of discomfort.

  27. An aside note: Autistic children will often bang their head on the floor, even concrete and they do it with force. Detached retinas often occur. The only proven method of stopping this behaviour was shock. The ignorant do-gooders got wind of it and managed to get it outlawed. The operation was done by trained professionals. The last time I checked (35 years ago) they were making the children wear helmets . The professional were using B.F. Skinner’s positive & negative reinforcement and that worked! I am a 93 year old retired psychology professor.

    • Umm. Gordon. Did you ever get to know these kids later???
      I was a head banger as a child, IF anyone had zapped me for that I would probably have gone totally berserk.
      Did you ever try to discover what it was that was CAUSING the head banging??
      It is not fun as a child to feel totally isolated and constantly criticised.

  28. I’ve been training professionally for 22 years. I’m greatly saddened by the numerous “trainers” in my area using shock collars. From my observations, people want their puppies and adolescent dogs to act like well trained adult dogs. Many don’t want to spend the time and energy to train them so off they go to board/train shock collar people. I absolutely see the subtle signs of stress on the videos. I can’t even watch them.

  29. I would never use them for training, but I do use (rarely) on 1 high prey dog (in a 3 dog pack) when off leash hiking in the spring, due to the newborn fawns being very vulnerable. My dog has a great recall almost all of the time, and I carry high value treats when hiking and training. However, I know he might find the temptation of a fawn irresistible, and an attack on one would be lethal. The collar has tone and shock, and he responds well to the tone. I can’t recall the last time I used the shock, but it was likely at least 2 years ago.
    My guys all have the rattlesnake vaccine, but with this current crew we haven’t yet seen a snake. However, decades ago one of my dogs was struck by a rattler, and required immediate veterinary care.

  30. Never acceptable for any obedience training. I did use one to stop my very athletic rescued Doberman from jumping the fence many years ago. It was a hard decision but it was a safety issue. Other than something like that, they are unacceptable.
    If I used one on my current dogs, both with varying degrees of anxiety, I would destroy them.
    I recently found a young little pit mix running loose in the woods. She had one on. I was not pleased to see it but nothing I could do. However, when I had leashed her and was trying to decide what to do with her, she shrieked. I realized the owner must be near and had zapped her. So, I took it off and threw it into some bushes. Owner came, nice lady. I said nothing about the collar. She noticed it was “missing”. I had the opportunity to explain how they created behavior issues, etc. she listened, hopefully it helped and she did not buy another. I ended up picking it up and bringing it home to dispose of. Not nice maybe, but maybe it helped her understand how they can create more problems than you originally had.

  31. It is never acceptable to inflict pain on your dog. It is never acceptable to let others inflict pain on your dog.
    If you let a trainer do that, shame on you! The animal might learn something but will loose trust on you.
    A good trainer can teach with pain. The method of teaching with pain is antiquated and frankly does more harm than good!!!!

  32. Hi, I was not going to respond to this article only because of those who are not hunting enthusiasts.
    The people here that do not understand the proper use of an E-collar almost make it a political correctness attitude.
    Gun dogs are and essential part of our society and need a little extra vibe to help them sometimes.
    I agree with Sandy and Lauri, safety and training gun dogs has to be precise. I never had to use it for basic commands and once my dogs had the hunt down, I didn’t need the vibe any longer, only for tracking purposes.
    Lets face it there are coyotes, wolves, mountain lions and such of witch you need to know where your buddy is at all times.
    So for all you haters out there that prefer not to use the E for basic commands, bravo. I wish you all the park walking in the world.
    Oh, let me not forget about the rattle snakes. My dogs were trained in live rattlesnake avoidance and if you care to do it without an E, more power to you, but don’t criticize those of us that choose to go that route, because I guarantee, you would not like the photos of dogs that have been bitten my rattlers.
    So, if you don’t know how to properly use an E, I recommend not using it, but don’t judge the rest of use that go beyond the outdoor norm.
    I’m not even going to get into hunting feral pigs with dogs.
    It’s so nice to be able to voice an opinion without haters chasing you down.

    • Exactly! My dogs are both obedience trained dogs who have titled in both Obedience and Rally disciplines. When we go out to explore (off-lead) the areas around us in North Western Nevada, I equip them with an e-collar. In 4 years, I have only had to use the shock feature once, when my female Golden Retriever encountered a rattlesnake. While she has been “rattlesnake-aversion trained,” the correction may have saved her life. I have NEVER used an e-collar for regular obedience training. I have found that there are much more compassionate and effective methods. That said, I choose to cause a moment of discomfort to my dogs than to have them chase a rabbit in front of a logging truck, or get bitten by a rattlesnake.

  33. Hi, I was not going to respond to this article only because of those who are not hunting enthusiasts.
    The people here that do not understand the proper use of an E-collar, almost make it a political correctness attitude.
    Gun dogs are a essential part of our society and need a little extra vibe to help them sometimes.
    I agree with Sandy and Lauri, safety and training gun dogs has to be precise. I never had to use it for basic commands and once my dogs had the hunt down, I didn’t need the vibe any longer, only for tracking purposes.
    Lets face it there are coyotes, wolves, mountain lions and such, of witch you need to know where your buddy is at all times.
    So for all you haters out there who prefer not to use the E for basic commands, bravo. I wish you all the park walking in the world.
    Oh, let me not forget about the rattle snakes. My dogs were trained in live rattlesnake avoidance and if you care to do it without an E, more power to you, but don’t criticize those of us that choose to go that route, because I guarantee, you would not like the photos of dogs that have been bitten my rattlers.
    So, if you don’t know how to properly use an E, I recommend not using it, but don’t judge the rest of use that go beyond the outdoor norm.
    I’m not even going to get into hunting feral pigs with dogs.
    It’s so nice to be able to voice an opinion without haters chasing you down.

  34. We have been trainers for 35+ years. We do not use harsh devices in our training nor are we treat based trainers. We believe in relationship training using a wide (1-2″ ) collar which is the gentlest you can use and a regular flat lead. We don’t believe in relying on anything but you – your touch, tones, love, emotions, body language etc. You might guess we aren’t big fans of choking, pinching, hanging or shocking animals to gain compliance. I have been brought to tears witnessing what happens to dog who received shocks. One Golden refused to leave the 2nd floor of the house for a week because the ‘invisible fence’ person didn’t know what they were doing. One pup we trained after the shock collar trainer had the dog would have projectile diarrhea upon seeing the collar head his way. It’s just insane. I can’t help but get angry at the people who promote such a terrible way to train as harmless. If you know anything about training a dog then why do you need anything but you and the dog? Even trainers who go overboard with treats frustrate me but for a whole other reason. I have seen dogs removed from their homes because the treat training basically got out of control and now the dog was lunging at their people’s hand aggressively for more food. Not so good for the elderly couple and their very assertive Malamute. Or the very nice lady whose 4 month old puppy is growling at her whenever he doesn’t want to do something and now she is afraid of him. All because her prior trainer just kept tossing food in his direction as a deterrent, but did nothing to teach him manners. Now the pup thinks ‘growl and I get a treat’. Anything that swings the pendulum too far in any direction isn’t balanced. Of course now even that word has been ruined by trainers who think being harsh is just fine so long as you give them lots of treats too. Where’s the skill? Where’s the understanding of dogs? Where is the middle ground? How about teaching people to read their dogs, to understand their dogonality, to know what an eye blink means, a heavy sigh, an ear flick…it all has meaning. People need to learn to speak dog and practice it everyday. That creates a relationship built on love, trust and respect. You don’t build trust with pain or fear, and it can be tough to foster respect without rule and boundaries. Rarely do we have to worry about the love part – thats easy.

  35. I would just like to mention that most collars have a vibrate and tone function. You do Not have to use the “Shock” function. I use the tone function. I can’t tell you how many times I have to explain this to other owner/handlers.

  36. It is not uncommon foe Electronic Collars, or E-Collars, to be referred to as ‘Shock’ collars, however this is not an accurate description of the way these products function. The term “shock collar biases the public and is continually propagandized by people like yourself. E-Collars use electronic stimulation (ES) and NOT electric shock. Electric shock occurs when a living being is grounded and a live electrical current is applied to them. The ES delivered by modern E-Collars is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). TENS has no injurious effects and is often used to manage chronic pain in humans. If used correctly only low level settings are used on dogs, however regardless of the setting, ES does not hurt the dog in any way. It feels more like an itch. E-Collars were first developed in the 1970’s and at that time they did deliver electric shock. However, this is not a term which is appropriate to associate with modern E-Collars which have evolved as training techniques have as well.

    E-Collars can do much more than just provide ES. The anti E-Collar propaganda that you spread is inaccurate and of your opinion only (e.g. Not based on anything that is real).

    In terms of the other things that E-Collars do, they:
    * allow you to speak to your dog anywhere up to miles away
    * allow you to use a tone or a vibration to get the dog’s attention instead of ES
    * allow you to track the geographic location of the dog up to dozens of miles away and show that to you on a unit that looks like an iPhone that the owner carries
    * allow you to turn lights on the collar on remotely to make the dog more visible
    * provide the ability to draw an enclosure around any geographic area and have it work like a hidden fence

    At their core, E-Collars are communications devices. Most commonly they are used at low levels to provide information to the dog. It helps them to understand expectation, where we need them to be, and what we want them to avoid doing – all at a distance.

    The E-Collar provides an opportunity to teach a dog reliable off leash behavior. For dogs who are already reliable off leash, they provide a safety net for that unusual situation which always arises. A well trained dog equipped with a tool that allows us to communicate with them at a distance has a lot of value both for us and our dogs.

    • One exception to this rule is electric collars associated with canine invisible boundaries. These are not illegal provided the canine invisible boundary is used to confine dogs, but only used inside a fence through which dogs cannot pass and that is not less than 1.5 metres high.Jun 24, 2016

      Is the use of electronic dog collars legal? – RSPCA Australia …

  37. I got a shock collar to use on my Sheltie, a very gentle soul. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes the first time I shocked him. He was confused and puzzled and hurt.

    I took it off of him immediately and tried it on myself. It was SO painful. It was awful! I never used it again. I would never subject any of my dogs to it ever again. I consider it cruel.

    I know there’s supposedly positive things about them, but animals don’t belong to us. I think these type of punishing tools reflect the cavalier attitude of humans towards other species on the planet. We don’t ‘own’ them.

    • Cheri, if you felt pain at the lowest level then what you had was a cheap piece of crap and many trainers who use ecollars would still call that s shock collar. A good quality modern ecollar goes to levels so low that we can’t even feel it, and when we do begin to feel it, it feels like tingle, *not* a huge painful shock.
      Shelties are very soft dogs and in general I would not recommend an ecollar unless trained by a professional.

      • When you explain all the subtle differences and place the collar on your dog, do they really have the understanding that the collar is for their own good, and not aversive? I find it difficult that the dog would ever be able to understand why you must frighten/ alarm it to get the dog to ‘behave.’ When you understand that dogs do not actually misbehave, that what they do is fail to meet our expectations, then understand that because dogs are a long term commitment, they do nit need to be trained on days, you may become a little more patient and understanding and adjust your training method.

  38. If you train your dog right with the e collar it works, and no reason to go up on numbers. I used it at 15 on me and finally felt on my hand, and it was a little tingle . And training numbers on the dogs is very low. I am sure if it hurt my dog , he would of yelped instead of looking around like what was that ? I would never use it for negative reinforcement.

  39. Your argument has so many holes I’m not sure where to begin. First you start each argument with an assumption. Second, you speak from a condescending presumption that your better. I noticed that you deal with horses as well. It has been proven that horses are more receptive, intelligent, and empathetic than dogs are. From this point I question your use of electric fences. They emit a higher charge than an e-collar. Are these horses scarred for life? Are you a bed horse owner for putting them in a field with an electric fence? Third, you go to great lengths to point out how horrible e-collar training of a dog is, but you offer absolutely no alternative. Lip service of “positive” training does not answer a single question that you yourself raised. How do you stop an unwanted behavior? I can get a dog to sit with treats. I can get a dog to lay down, roll over, and a lot more, but enlightened me on how to stop the dog from bolting through the door. How to keep it from jumping on someone, or from chewing my shoes? Lastly, every creature learns from pain avoidance. Humans are no exception. Total positive training results in participation trophy type kids. Total negative bares scared withdrawn kids. Same holds for other animals that are not self aware like dogs. The trick, as all developmental psychologists will attest is a well prescribed blend of the two. You say that you’re just journaling to figure all of this out. I applaud you for an actual request to learn. My only concern was the tenor of your writing seemed as if you’ve already had your mind made up. I’d suggest sitting down with said trainer and air your concerns and questions and let her explain her thoughts.

    • Ric there is punishment that works without being abusive.
      On the other hand I try to NEVER use punishment when ‘training’, though I do use it for management.
      Dog are annoying the cat — dogs go outside.
      Dogs are fighting — they get separated.
      Dogs barking at the fence — -dogs get crated (without a biscuit to reward then for going in 🙂
      Time out works very well for tired, cranky or frustrated animals. This rime out is usually pretty fogs for tired cranky and frustrated Trainers, too 🙂
      Same with children.

      • Mz Haskins, I think we may have a nomenclature issue at hand. The counter to your opening is that there is abuse that can be effective without being punishment as well. You stated that you “try to never use punishment while training”, but you will use it for “management”. Here we have a game of semantics. In behavior science confusion is eased by having two types of rewards, positive and negative. EVERY action/behavior merits a reward, albeit positive or negative. There is no punishment in behavior modification. A+B=C simple and linear, just like a dog’s brain is wired. When we anthropomorphize the dog, we muddy up the conversation. This debate on shock collar training is a victim of said muddy conversation. And sadly, the hostility and vitriol that ensues generally makes both side avoid the conversation all together or worse only speaking with those that agree with whichever side they find themselves on (oddly this is an example of negative reward). Before I go any further, I’d be remiss not to clearly state that I 100% agree with your statement that some either through frustration at best and sadism at worse take negative rewards past the stage of punishment into abuse. And both sides should spend their efforts in banishing these people from not just dog training, but from ownership at all. The shock collar or e-collar is used simply as a negative reward. It is subjective to each animal based on its tolerance. A level 10 stimulus for one dog may be a 100 for another, and a 1 for yet another. Likewise, the animal is in control of said reward with a compliant behavior that has been rewarded several times prior to the introduction of any remote work or negative reward system. Bottom line I assume we ALL want the same end result, a well behaved loyal companion that we trust will do the right thing when needed. And science has proven that a blend of both positive and negative reward systems are the most effective. So my suggestion is live and let live. Do not attack a trainer for using scientifically proven methods. Do not assume that a dog with an e-collar is riding the lightning all the time. Do not assume a dog with a pinch collar that is in a good heal position is in worse shape than a dog that is choking itself pulling on a buckle collar. My normal is not your normal, but it doesn’t make it any less normal for me. I promise not to impose my training methods on you as long as you don’t try to dictate yours onto me. In the end feel free to walk away THINKING to yourself, “What an idiot! I could do so much better.” And I may do the same, but let’s both choose to celebrate each other’s victories and know we both are working on those loses as learning opportunities.

        • Ric, you make claims about “behavior science” but what you write reveals that you are not clear about what the science is. Training mostly falls under the umbrella of learning theory. “Negative reward” is not a term employed by behaviorists or psychologists. Review BF Skinner and his 4 quadrants of operant conditioning. Positive & negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment. Of course punishment exists in training.

          You also throw in A+B=C. ABC is also a term Skinner coined. It stands for Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence. Every behavior has a consequence – not a positive or negative reward. Sadly the example you cite of negative reward is simply nonsense – it literally has no meaning.

          I don’t know if you are simply a misinformed dog owner or a negligent and unqualified trainer. No professional trainer should have to ask how to use R+ (positive reinforcement) to keep a dog from dashing out of a door or jumping up on a person. Those are among the simplest things to accomplish.

          You’re going to ask “how?” Train the dog with R+ to sit as you approach within 3 feet of the door. But really train it. Don’t just do a few reps and expect success. I’ll do 5 reps, stop along with the dog 3′ from the door and treat him upon sitting. I go no further until I have 5 consecutive successes. Then with the dog in sit position I’ll reach for the doorknob and (depending upon the dog’s reaction) I’ll just touch it and treat or I’ll turn it and treat. then we walk away and repeat 5 times. Then I work up to opening the door a couple of inches (or a bit more – again all depending upon the dog’s ability to stay seated). If the dog dashes to the door, I’ll quickly shut it. (That’s an example of negative punishment. I took away his access to the outside. ) Usually, in short order, the dog is sitting nicely while I open the door all the way and walking outside by myself. Of course, it doesn’t always happen that I can do that the first time working on that task. But that’s OK. My job is to train the dog. I don’t mind earning my money.

          There is zero excuse for inflicting pain or any uncomfortable physical consequence to a dog for not being able to instantly accomplish a task. We’ve stopped using corporal punishment in our schools for humans, it’s time we did the same for our animal companions.

          • Scott,
            You’re quite adept at Wikipedia and or quite full of yourself, or just overwhelmed with the idea that you can over explain a simple example. Your methodology in fact described Skinnerian theory as I eluded to. Not wanting to take away from your obvious expository writing class, I appreciate your attempt at passive aggressive correction. Either way your description has several flaws in your attempt at virtue signaling positive only training. Simply shutting the door in the dogs face is in fact negative reinforcement. So that is balanced training. As for your quip on corporal punishment, look where that has gotten us. Your participation trophy utopia has failed in nearly every aspect. Yes, we no longer use corporal punishment in schools, basically because the few abusers of it ruined its efficacy. However, the pendulum swinging to your side has had many more dire effects. Again demonstrating the need for balance. A properly fitted good shock collar can offer a milder stimulus than the erroneously used choker chains. For a person that cries for humane treatment, I’d assume the least painful correction would be desired.

    • What you got was a cheap piece of crap that is in no way the same as a good quality ecollar. The whole point of modern ecollars is that the levels go so low that we don’t even feel it and the dog barely feels it (it feels like a tickle or a tingle once you do start to feel it).

    • If the unit you bought didn’t have multi levels and choices then it was a very inexpensive unit. Look into Garman or Dogtra units.. A bit more money but well worth the money, and Look into a professional dog trainer who will show you how to properly use that unit. Yes it will cost you a few bucks but you will be pleased with the results.

  40. A very biased report. The author forgot to mention the there are several levels of the electric shock normally up to 7 or 8 levels. She also totally did not mention that a good training collar has 2 more options also with many different levels: the vibrate mode and the acoustic mode to get the dogs attention. Bad biased reporting.

    • I see your point. BUT I think the gist was not “Do you approve of electrically operated devices?” but “Do you agree that causing pain in training dogs is effective?”
      Obviously a device that communicates with a distant or deaf dog is not abusive.
      What worries us is the using a a device that causes a dog enough pain to make it stop doing whatever it was doing, in the name of ‘training’.
      Now I also have to sadly admit that there are very very many incompetent trainers who THINK they are good because they do not use pain or violence or coercion, when if fact they are merely incompetent.
      But better an incompetent trainer who does no harm, than an incompetent trainer who turns dogs into mental disaster.

      • PS. I sept two miserable years with a Latin Teacher who believed in Corporal punishment ;-(
        Since I was not gifted at Latin I decided to give up. If I never did anything at all, I couldn’t be punished for getting it wrong. A detention was better than being rapped over the knuckles with the sharp side of a ruler for making a mistake in the exercises.
        So how many of you E-collar users are just like my incompetent Latin teach? Incompetent at training so resort to brute force??

        • SHOCK COLLARS are not used for Corporal Punishment unless it is abused. Brute Force is not the end result if you understand the process. Have an open mind ask a local e-collar trainer if you can sit in an a training or if they can demonstrate proper use. I have been able to teach many people just by demonstrating on them how it works.
          THANK YOU

  41. Put a shock collar on yourself, wife (husband) and kids and see how everyone likes it. If you use one, then YOU don’t know how to train. Remember: mankind is king of beasts, his brutality exceeds theirs.

  42. Now here’s a thought, and a very pretty thought.
    When I’ve run classes for pet dog owners, I find it very very difficult to get through to some of the owners. You can patiently show them again “how to do it’ but there are always some who just don’t seem to get it.
    Would you then get these people to wear a device so that you can give them a non-lethal electric shock whenever you see them making a mistake?
    Would it turn them into better trainers for their dogs? Do you think it would make these people happier?
    Can you think of a better way to ‘train these stubborn people?

    • Trainers are no different. once they reject a process most refuse to learn more and move further. The object of the shock collar is to teach the dog to respond to the sound. The shock is used to teach what the sound means. Most dogs will rarely need the shock after training. Its a learning process and heavy SHOCK is not needed if you understand the process.
      Thank you

  43. I can only speak to my experience with my rescued Irish Terrier boy. ITs are generally willful and loving, aggressive toward other dogs and small mammals. I’ve had five, two rescues. My boy had been “trained” with a shock collar and had lived in several homes before mine because of his willfulness, which is a breed trait. It took years for me to be able to touch his head and neck, and the click of his vest harness can still drive him into a spinning frenzy.

  44. I see an ecollar as a long leash more than any thing. It is not to be used to train but reinforce and already learned behavior. I teach my dogs to come to and go away from me and stand still all on leash and then overlay a collar stim that most people can’t feel. This allows me to have my dog be more freedom off leash with knowing I have control. Yes an e collar in the wrong hands is a horrible thing, but I have been training dogs for over 30 years and in the past 10 with all of this postive training, I have seen more fear biters and malajusted dogs because the dogs have no leader and they themselves are not strong enough to lead. Yes I do positive reinforcement to teach my dogs but there has to be consquences when a dog does not respond to commands because it could mean their life in a bad situation. I think it is cruel for people to get a sporting dog or a working dog and keep it in house or in a small yard on a leash all of the time, that is not what dogs were made to do. They were created to work for and with us. If you want a dog to stay on a 6 ft leash it whole life get a dog suited for that like a shih-tzu or a frenchie but don’t get a Weimaraner or a German Shepherd they just won’t be happy living that life. Don’t go and get a dog because you like the looks and then find out you don’t have enough energy yourself to train and exercise it. People are the ones who are letting dogs down by not be able to give them what they need and not wanting to take the time to learn what they need, People want what they want when they want it and if it doesn’t behave perfectly to fit in their lives they look for an easy fix and an e collar is not an easy fix if used correctly but it is a consistant means of communication with your dog that most people can not do with food, especially if your dog is off leash.
    Used incorrectly any training devise is a bad thing. I have seen people with dog aggressive dogs feed their dog everytime the dog looks at another dog. With bad timing this is just teach that dog to fixate on other dogs not leave them. I think one of the most dagerous things is someone using an e collar on aggressive or maladjusted dog that should only be done but highly trained dog trainers. And even most people that think they are trained are truly not that train to deal with such a dog.

    • How do you teach a child to understand the difference between COLD and HOT water? You gently increase the heat of the water over a period on time to help that child LEARN.
      Using Shock Is no different. You Start with a Mild Shock that is so low you might feel nothing more then a slight quick Static shock paired with the sound.
      Then you increase the level til you get a stress free response like a turn of the neck – “Oh what was that” response Then you use that level for a few days til the pet understand that if the beep starts that Shock response will follow. EVERY ACTION HAS AN REACTION.. Respectfully How Did You train you child?? and to Say “How could anyone tolerate this for their baby!” REALLY “BABY” MY Dogs are naturally instinctive animals. Animals that are unpredictable. EVEN with the best Training. Positive Responses are important, But there are times even a “BABY” needs a Negative experience to learn what not to do.

  45. More Research is needed to understand what your talking about. A proper “SHOCK” Collar should not be stronger then a good TENS Unit.
    With Respect. Unless you UNDERSTAND The Proper application for E-Collars or Shock Collars You should not be commenting on this issue.
    I am a successful 20+ year trainer for Electronic Dog Fences.. I am also a Trained Obedience Trainer
    If you want to learn more about this Let Me know I would like to have a respectful conversation.
    I will not discuss this option with someone with a closed angry attitude so don’t waste your time responding

  46. I had a very bad experience with a shock collar and an invisible fence. We had decided to put in an invisible fence for Everest, our Bernese Mountain dog. All my neighbors had them on their properties for their dogs and claimed it worked well. Most had golden retrievers.
    Anyway, we along with a professional trainer trained Everest with a shock collar and the invisible fence. The only good thing I can say is that he stayed within our property lines. Heres the (very) bad part: Everest developed severe territorial aggression – meaning that if you walked by on our sidewalk (out of bounds of the invisible fence) he’d just sit and watch you. The moment you stepped one inch onto our property, you were toast. He attacked number of people. It was a miracle we weren’t sued. If we had visitors, we had to use a powerful tranquilizer on him along with keeping him physically away from anyone visiting. We tried years to undo the damage to him with countless visits with canine behavioral therapists. After two years of this (and countless sleepless nights wondering when – not if – a lawsuit would come our way along with the possibility of euthanasia) we re-homed him with my father-in-law who had just retired (and whom Everest absolutely adored). It was a match made in heaven and an answer to our prayers. My father-in-law got a faithful companion who never left his side and Everest lived his life unencumbered by the constraints (translation: horror) of our electric fence. (They lived a few miles from us and we saw him frequently). Here’s the interesting part: Everest never bit again because he had no such association with a shock on the perimeter on my father-in-law’s property. He became a wonderful, sweet-tempered pet.

    Since Everest, I’ve had numerous other dogs including a Newfoundland. I would never, ever use anything like a shock collar again for any reason. Whatever it did to Everest’s mind, I would not inflict that type of emotional pain again on another dog.

  47. The “shock collar” brand pictured to my knowledge is not a real shock. It is similar to the little wires my chiropractor
    has used on me and all it does is make the muscle twitch. It is very good at getting your dogs attention and does not
    work on all dogs due to it’s gentleness. I had one for one of my dogs and i had a professional trainer train him on it
    and show me how to use it properly. Proper use is very important. My trainer is against using true shock collars. That is why she recommended the brand name pictured in this article.
    Perhaps they do make real shock collars. I have not used one in years but the one i had was not a true shock collar but for muscle stimulation. If you have any concerns try it on yourself. That will answer your question.

  48. there is absolutely a need and appropriate use for e-collars. But that is not to train/sharpen obedience exercises. I know many top trainers use them for such a purpose but personally I’d rather have a slightly sloppy performance and a happy dog.
    Case for e-collars: aggressive or out-of-control dogs. Have a friend who currently has an iffy shepherd. This person should NOT have a large breed of any kind but, well, those puppies in the stall in her friend’s barn were just SO cute! This friend is of the ‘kill ’em with kindness’ mentality – ‘he really doesn’t mean it’, ‘he’s really sweet with my kids and folks who come to the house (doubt that)’. Sorry, lots of damage can be done by ‘he really doesn’t mean it so maybe if I feed him a cookie he won’t throw his 100+ pounds at me with a bite’. Keep in mind that he was barely over 6 months old at the time. At our first meeting this dog was on lead with the owner and lunged for my husband, grabbing his jacket (fortunately it was a heavy one and the bite did no damage). The owner was ‘surprised’ that he would react that way, giggled a little and remarked that the dog is ‘so protective of me’. An e-collar would go far toward improving his attitude in this situation as he would teach himself which behaviors are unacceptable. The owner would use it remotely so when the dog begins to launch into an off behavior – charging the fence – simply tap the collar which breaks his train of thought and also lets him know that behavior is unacceptable. The beauty is that he’s taught himself through repeated ‘hits’ when off behaviors occur what is unacceptable and those corrections are not associated with the owner or any person. I don’t know honestly how ‘off’ this dog is mentally but suspect much of the aberrant behavior is actually caused/supported by the owner. They had another from this same farm/puppy producer, but that one was sweet just really neurotic and eventually lost at 2 to uncontrollable seizures. Eventually I’d likely back off of the shock to just vibration (hey, a shock’s coming if you don’t stop what you’re doing) and once that was ingrained, back off again to just the tone. Unless the dog is incredibly stupid he should be well on the way to offering the correct response and gradually fading the behavior entirely. If he’s truly that stupid he is unpredictable and unsafe to be around so should be humanely put down.

    the down side is that anyone with the money can buy an e-collar and use it incorrectly. Have also witnessed horrid cases of misuse. Neighbor’s dog came over to my house (he is always welcome here) and they had an e-collar on him. I walked him down the road toward home and the owner began hitting the collar to ‘teach him not to run off’. No, you’re teaching him not to come home! They just didn’t get it.

    as for invisible fences, I’ve hit and killed two dogs at night who were wearing invisible fence collars and had simply run thru the fence chasing something or other. It was dark and I never saw them til I felt the thud. INVISIBLE FENCES DON’T WORK, but the salespeople can do one heck of a selling job! the down side of course is that once your dog runs thru the fence he can’t come back home. Nor can he get away from a stray who happens into his yard for an attack. too many negatives to even consider using one. I can’t believe folks are gullible enough to believe they work.

  49. I recently rescued a Weimaraner that was shocked collar trained. He was given up because he pottied in the house. However, they never had him neutered or had ever taken him to a vet. The rescue had him neutered and I have not had any problems with him at all, adopted him in Feb of 2020. I am thankful to have him away from the formers as this poor dog was afraid to even be a dog! He was afraid to relieve himself, even outside and he was afraid to bark! I believe they abused the collar by setting at a higher level than should have been. When he started barking after I had him a month or so, he would gag and do some really strang things with his mouth and tongue. He is getting better and only swallows oddly when he barks now.

  50. I’ve trained my dog to react to the beep on his ecollar. He was only shocked once – on a very low setting – (I’ve even shocked myself on the same level to make sure it was effective and tolerable) and it worked. I literally haven’t had to shock him again. He responds to the beep which is what we need when he wanders on our trail hikes. Shock/ecollars need educated owners behind the button.

  51. We thought that it’s just a gentle stimulation like the trainer told us. The trainer demonstrated it on our hands in test mode and it just vibrates so we thought it was fine. We let them train our dog for 1 hr at 12-13 setting. we came home happy with the e collar and thought let’s see how it feels if We set it at 5 which is pretty low. It felt like a sting. A sharp sting at just 5 setting and we saw trainer use up to 12 with our dog. We couldn’t believe we let them hurt our dog based on a lie thatIt doesn’t hurt and just vibrates. We returned it. The dog can’t tell you it hurts. Put it on your neck and press the button and you will know how much it hurts. No it doesn’t build relationship. It will make dog confused as to why their fav person in the world want to hurt them.

  52. I work for a pet store chain that sells these…my concern is that pet owners buy and use these tools without any understanding of how to train with them. They want something that will quickly fix a problem behavior – I’ve been told countless times “I don’t have time to train my dog, I need x to stop right now.” They use them to punish their dog, period.

    While I can understand the argument to use an e-collar in the hands of a professional trainer to prevent life-or-death behavior, I would love to see them banned from public sales. They are too powerful to be used without education about classical and operant conditioning. They are tools of very last resort for exceptional cases and only after R+ training and environment management have not changed the behavior.

    For scientific evidence against using these devices read:

  53. Yes, I did have a trainer did a demo on my dog using an electric shock collars. I see it follow very well, however, in return my dog and I did not have the same attachment and emotional bonding . I also bought an electric collar and trained my dog for a week. What I can say about using an electric collar on my dog, it does give it a faster response on training and to expected the dog to respond to the way you wanted. However, I do fell, it is like watching your child getting bully and beating up for so long, until the child break down and follow what the bully wants. I can see the scared in my dog eyes and through his response. By using the electric collar technique, it doesn’t help dog owner like me to understand my dog or my dog to understand me, there is no friendship and trust bonding. But, in facts, what I have experienced, my dog discipline become scar like routines for my dog, he remembered what he must perform correctly, so he wouldn’t be hurt by me using the electric collar. The pain and scared build up in his memories. This type of technique, really takes away how dog lover like me can grow and understanding my dog . My dog is doing really well without using the electric collar now. It takes a little more time but it learns to bond, love and understanding me, as much as I’ve learned to loved and understanding my dog.

  54. I keep seeing the word “pain” in almost every comment against e-collars. I guarantee absolutely none of these people have ever used one on themselves. They range from 1-100. I’ve used it on my hand up to 50 before feeling any actual pain besides just a tingling. Anything below 20 is just a slight tingle. It doesn’t cause pain unless turned up very high(which should never have to be used unless an emergency) It’s a way of physically communicating with dogs from a distance. I use mine on 8-10 with my dogs. A lot of people misuse these collars and it gives them a bad wrap. They should not be used for fear only a way of communicating with your dog I just used them for recall purposes only and now rarely even use them only when I really have to. When my dog bolted after a deer it took almost 70 for him to even feel it. Sometimes sound commands just don’t work when a dog is distracted by something. It’s just another way of communicating with them that is better than verbal commands at a distance.

    • I did not actually use it on myself but my parents keep one on my puppy and I once told them to feel it at half of what was on the dog so about 15(that’s actually less than half) and they flinched away and even though they tried to convince me it didn’t hurt it definitely looked like it did. Also, the difference between when he’s wearing it and when he’s not is visible. When it’s off he’s perfect and calm but when it’s on he’s crazy and anxious.

  55. I do not want to be argumentative. Just some food for thought. Most people think it is ok to discipline their children with a spanking or some other type of uncomfortable thing like time out in a chair in the corner. Why is discipline for a dog wrong if done correctly? I don’t think that yo u should only use negative reinforcement, but positive and negative together. Please comment I don’t understand..

  56. Rattlesnake aversion training is done with a shock collar…we had dogs that went through this and yes they alerted to rattlers but stayed far away. Until our border collie: when he went into the training he loved all the people there, wagging his tail happily. When he was through with the training he was a different dog —- he’d been betrayed by all those nice people..they hurt him! He was never the same dog and his attitude towards most men was always one of suspicion . I will never take a dog to that type of training again.

  57. I work at a veterinary clinic and we occasionally have a dog come in wearing an electronic collar. It’s horrible to see a dog get beeped/shocked (whatever) for doing something that the owner perceives as wrong. The dog is simply nervous or frightened. We always ask the owner to remove the collar and they always seem annoyed. Like we couldn’t possibly handle their dog w/o it. LOL

  58. I so appreciate your response. It’s not judgmental or attacking and allows for a huge range of situations. The people on this thread, or any thread, who throw out judgment when another person expresses an opinion they don’t like is not discussion or a conversation. there are few situations in life that have one very clear answer. Aware of someone will judge me, I tried the traditional training methods around positive reinforcement. It worked in the very beginning and even though I was committed, it didn’t stick in real life situations. Our pup started escaping from our deer fence even after several reinforcements and could have been shot by a farmer, jumped on neighbor kids or eaten neighbors’ chickens. Based on several referrals, I paid a lot of money for a training program based on e-collar technology. It’s not perfect but it has made a significant positive impact.

  59. Nothing beats taking the time opposed to quick fixes to get your dog to understand reasonable behavior. I grew up with a dog. We took the time to make sure her behavior was not unreasonable and we always had her on a lease when we went for walks. Did we always get it right, no, but by keeping her on a lease it meant that the odd time she wanted to dash off we were able to control that situation. I now live by the beach and have seen numerous dog owners used E-collars. They don’t have them on a lease, they let them run wild, which dogs thoroughly enjoying doing in open spaces. But get to far away or they don’t respond to a command and they’re zapped. It’s obviously uncomfortable for dog. It’s not “training” the dog, it’s control by fear. My personal opinion is take the time to make the dog understand reasonable behavior, keep it on a lease outdoors if there are other people or dogs around. “Training” your dog to have good behavior is a good approach, but please don’t turn him or her into a circus dog that will perform to commands.

  60. Hi folks
    I have a Siberian Husky – 1.5 years old and about 80 lbs. I live out in the country and most of my neighbors are at least half a mile away; the exception is my brothers house which is only a couple of hundred yards away. Unfortunately, my dog has a habit of going over to my brother’s house an bringing back just about anything that isn’t tied down. This is a considerable frustration to the folks at my brother’s house. So, I think that I am looking for an e-collar that would allow the dog to ramble around but send him a significant message when he starts getting in the vicinity of my brother’s house. Your thoughts and suggestions are most welcome.

  61. Why are you using a photo from a company that doesn’t make electric shocking training collars? Dogtras stim and vibrate, they do not have electric shocks on their training collars. You’re bashing a company that doesn’t fit your narrative.

  62. I go running with my 9 month old puppy on the beach, where in the excitement of seeing birds and given lots of noise, he sometimes can’t hear me. We sometime go off leash and sometimes on the long lead. When we do recall, I call for him. But if he can’t or doesn’t want to hear me, the long lead serves as the mechanism for him to stop running away, uncontrollably. I’m not pulling on the leash, but like all leash and harnesses, there’s slight pressure on his chest, which tells him to stop. I’ve been debating whether to use a friend’s “vibration only” collar to supplement this. I’m not at all interested in a shock collar. But, I’m not clear why a tone or vibration only (again, no shock) is any different than calling out to him, in order to redirect his attention. I don’t believe any of us would be averse to a tap on the shoulder to call for attention. Am I correct that a vibration is the same as a tap on the shoulder? I tried the collar and it really is just a vibration.

  63. Max was great as a puppy and learned quickly.- all positive force free. He’s now 5. He guarded things but I taught him to drop and trade. At 16 months he had to spend the night at the ER vet and came home changed. He was attacked, while he was on leash by a dog who cornered him. It changed him drastically. He gradually became more leash reactive, and anxious. He is good with people, and loves my grandkids and anyone who comes over, but dog reactive while on leash. He can play with other dogs off leash if I’m not around for him to guard. He started guarding me and developed triggers – such as anyone coming up behind me, or being startled in any way. He would snarl at a person then. I’ve worked with him for 4 years with several different trainers with positive methods. He’s much better but not predictable. I’m 71 and have a balance issue from a concussion several years ago. I’m at the point of deciding if I need to. Re home if that is even possible. I’ve worked so hard with him.
    I heard about a trainer who is a balanced trainer. I haven’t met her but several friends had great success with her a board and train. He is well trained with basic obedience, tricks, and we practice almost daily. What I want is to be able to walk him and not fear being pulled down and injured. She said she takes a long time to build a relationship with the dog and trained with rewards, and praise. She may use an Ecollar toward the end. She said it is a vibrating collar not a shock collar. Would this be something that might help me keep my dog. I adore him and 98% of the time he’s wonderful, but I need to be able to walk him and not worry about falling or someone getting hurt. I need opinions please. I have had many dogs and always used positive training, but I’m so distraught about him. Thank you for taking the time to answer me.

  64. Wow. I would think that our current political and pandemic environment would teach us all to look carefully at our own assumptions. I’ve only been researching this topic for a few days which has included going to a facility that uses the advanced versions of these devices and having them try it on me. For me, the “tap on the shoulder” comparison that some people mention seems much more accurate that anything remotely like “shock, pain, and negative punishment” that many others associate the devices with. It easy to overlook new technology, and to associate stimulation with pain. It’s more difficult to have an open mind and I find it fascinating how people spout off on things they have not carefully researched–the author included. I am not taking a stand either way just yet, and just trying to gather information. Comments based on assumptions, not facts, are detrimental and distracting to those of us trying to understand how these tools can be used. I’m grateful to those who provided logic and research-based replies in this string.

  65. My parents have a ‘Muscle Stimulant’ collar on my one-year-old puppy and the way they explain it to me is stupid.
    Them: It’s not a shock collar, it doesn’t hurt him, it just stimulates his muscles.
    Me: What does it stimulate his muscles with?
    Them: Well, electricity.
    Me: So it’s shocking him and forcing his muscles to contract.
    Them: No! It’s stimulating his muscles.
    Me: Okay, fine, but why do you say it doesn’t hurt him? He cries/screams half the time when you shock him.
    Them: No, he’s just crying. It doesn’t hurt him.
    Me: Whatever you have it on, turn it down by half and shock yourself and see how it feels.
    Them: Sure!
    Then they turn it down by half and touch it and immediately pull their hand away and are like “That was fine! It doesn’t hurt” even though it clearly hurt them. Besides, it would have been even worse if it was on their neck and they still refuse to believe it? Whenever it’s on, the puppy lunges at the remote, nips and bites everyone, jumps, barks, runs away, everything. But as soon as it’s off he’s the perfect little puppy happy to nap on top of me for an hour. How do they not recognize that?

  66. I tried using a shock collar with one of my two dogs to stop her barking; however, had to remove it when my other dog noticed that she experienced a shock he or she barked. So, he would bark and then look at her and seemed to enjoy seeing the result. Not cool.

  67. I whole heatedly agree that an e collar should not be used to teach behaviors. Teaching a behavior should be entirely positive for the dog. However, what I think people miss the mark on is that there’s nothing wrong with using tools to aid training when needed. Treats and clickers allow positive reinforcement to be concise and clear, similarly an e collar can be used to make a correction clear and concise, especially in situations where the dog is in a dangerous situation. When used as negative reinforcement it should not be aversive or cause pain, which is how it should be introduced. Negative reinforcement should be removing an annoyance, dog whistles work the same way except with tone. If someone is constantly applying the stimulus and the dog is clearly showing signs of pain, fear, stress, then that is abusive. Also, it should be paired with cues that the dog has already learned, because the tools do not train a dog it’s the owner who trains a dog.

    As a side note, as an owner of a reactive dog who has benefited immensly from being open to tools, I’m really tired of trainers being so judgy of each other and of owners who use a different method. I understand wanting to call out abuse, but if a dog appears to be happy, having fun, and not changing personality with the training it’s probably not abusive. Not when there are trainers who will literally hit dogs or shock them into submission, because they think you have to dominate your dog. Over analysing Instagram photos and videos doesn’t help anyone, especially when you don’t know those dogs personally or haven’t worked with them. Dogs can have different stress indicators. For example my dog puts his ears back when he’s relaxed and it can almost look like pinning his ears at times. He’s always been like that even when I did the purely positive training, but now that I walk him in a collar with an e collar also around his neck, I can tell I get judged on walks. Even though he would have looked the same in a harness. I definitely got judgy looks from people when I was using the prong collar for training, which is no longer needed for my dog, even though he’d be calmly walking beside me.

  68. I find this discussion and your thoughts very insightful and i really appreciate a candid and honest opinion. So thank you. I have 2 dogs. My dog Ryder is 2 1/2. He is a rescue and is incredibly sweet, loyal and although incredibly high energy and very prey driven, manages to trust me despite a less than ideal background. Although I don’t know his breed with certainty, I usually think of him as a Lab/Pitbull. Here’s the point, I paid a lot of money to have him trained at a very skilled and highly successful trainer. All treat, positive reinforcement and absolutely lovely to work with. I was also delighted with the results. Yet, Ryder’s ongoing excited jumping around small children (even after showing control in many challenging situations), led me to be concerned. I used a collar with the vibrate and beep settings only and had good results. And I, in 2 instances used the shock setting. Is this included in the idea of abuse? Those 2 scenarios were not reacted by Ryder with pain. He didn’t yelp, cry or bark. I had the setting very low and tested it on myself first. This is an honest question. Is there any appropriate use for a shock collar? I feel like i am experienced as a dog owner, but have seen so much conflicting ideas (and of course, advertising), but don’t know if it’s a preference or rather something that really could cause mental harm. I understand the difference between the fear based training methods, and positive reinforcement…. I just am honestly wondering. I hope I won’t be judged too harshly for using the shock setting. Thanks.

  69. This isn’t a shock collar. This is an e-collar. It doesn’t provide direct voltage like previous collars a decade ago. Secondly, e-collars are great to use as a tool for training and cover all four quadrants of learning. Thirdly, e-collars need to be weened just like any training tool. Lastly, if you’re not a balance trainer, you’re not doing it right.

  70. Life is full of compromise. I doubt many enjoy applying the stim to their dog, but there are cases where it is the far lesser of two evils.

    Take a case where a dog pulls on the leash so hard he can only be walked by one member of the family and even that person is stressed and unhappy doing it. E collar training, provided under expert guidance fixes the problem ina single session. A follow up session enhances recall significantly, and shortly after every member of the family can walk him and want to. 10 years later, that dog is walked multiple times daily rarely on a leash.

    Was that dogs life worse for the collar? That family?

    What about the reactive dog that attacks a small child? Would it have been bad for an e collar to be used to curb that dogs behaviour before it escalated and harmed them? That dog would likely be destroyed and the child’s life affected forever. Still certain e collars are evil? Maybe they have been used in evil ways, but maybe, just maybe, there are also specific use cases where they can be good.

    As Emily commented above, there is so much misinformarion and judgement out there, it’s more likely to get bad advice than ever before.

  71. I unfortunately lost out on a hefty “consultation” fee for someone touting to be a “trainer” and suggesting I start my 5 month old puppy out on an e-collar. My puppy knows his basics already but I was having trouble with resource guarding over high value chew toys. A reputable dog trainer and behavior specialist would NEVER recommend a negative reinforcement technique to handle aggression or body handling issues ESPECIALLY in a young puppy. RUN FROM THOSE SO CALLED TRAINERS.

  72. I have had two experiences: I tried an electronic fence. 2 of my dogs, no problem. The third dog after the training never went more than 2-3 feet off the back patio because he was afraid. Even when he stopped wearing the collar and the fence was turned off. BTW, he was only shocked once during training and never after. It made me so sad. Luckily, I moved about a year later and he happily bounded around the new yard.

    My second experience was with a trainer. 20 years after the first experience and now with different dogs. When I got to the first appt and saw the demo with his dog and saw the dog was wearing a shock collar, I thanked him for his time and said it wasn’t for me or my dogs. He was very polite and said he respected that I knew upfront what I wanted and we parted ways. I hired a positive reinforcement trainer who was able to help me train the dogs on the basics and I’m glad I did.

  73. I am a professional positive trainer. I have had many dogs come to me to be fixed, due to what the “prior professional trainer” did with a shock collar, prong collar of just hanging the dog by the leash. It really bothers me to see so much abuse. A lot of it is done to dogs under 6 months old! It is harder to fix the broken behavior that pain has caused, than to train it right. Yes, it takes time and patience to be a good positive trainer. We do have some quick methods and most are using high value rewards, body language understanding and good signals from the trainer. Most importantly is training the owner of the dog.

  74. When will people stop attempting to be an authority on subjects that they demonstrate no in depth knowledge of? ‘Shock collar’ was never the formal term for electronic collars & is used to illicit emotion.
    Ecollars are much much more than punishment.
    There is a body of literature showing efficacy without fallout (that is completely omitted from position statements).
    And trainers experienced in these tools are producing confident dogs with thrilled owners.
    This article is discussing misuse & compulsive use.
    Not understanding how a tool is used correctly is not an argument against it.

  75. People love a quick-fix, even though in the long term it makes things worse. Maybe, just maybe, if I lived in a country where prong and ecollars were legal, I’d be more accepting if they were genuinely used as a training tool. ie used to teach and proof a behaviour then ditched but they aren’t, the poor dogs have them used for life in the majority of cases. As for the “I tried it and it didn’t hurt” argument you knew what it was and when it was coming, dogs don’t. Say I wired up your bed and zapped you randomly, how long do you think it would take before you had a problem sleeping? What is the betting you had nightmares because of high levels of cortisol?

    In countries where such aversives are banned people train service dogs, compete in IGP and bite work, work gun dogs etc. And countries with high animal welfare laws also have fewer dogs homeless and in shelters without huge numbers being euthanised.

  76. I used one. my dog was not food driven for training at all, not even in class. no treats, no franks, no chicken, no burger, no cheese, nor clicker driven. nor toy driven. Nothing would make him stop trying to run into the street when on walks, under cars, etc, when leashed, which is much more hazardous. I used the tool at the absolute lowest level, much lower than the TENS machine I’ve used on myself for years. Just as if i was tapping the back of his neck. He never feared it, actually couldn’t care less about wearing it. I would never have used it at a higher level and I would always verbally call him to stop before using the tool. It took about a week of using voice commands and the collar, to only respond to voice. He was a stray who had been running the streets when I adopted him.

  77. Ok! To the trainers who do not support e-collars please give me your advice. I have a 7 month old Brittany. Since 6 weeks I have noticed aggressive behaviors. He full on attacks us , frequently. Draws blood, growls, lunges and jumps and bites without stopping. Not nipping. Not for attention. Beserk. He also snaps whenever he wants to- form attention or reaching for collar, or playing with a toy (these bites are of a different quality and more bad manners). I have worked with three different trainers constantly since 6 weeks… not one has given me any real tools for this other than resting him a lot in crate and watching for overstimulation… which does help, until it doesn’t. Every time i search for trainers who specialize in aggression every single one used e-collar and says it’s the most humane. They also board to train. This is at least 6-10 of the trainers I’ve found in multiple states that say specialize in aggression. I have avoid this, first because it first appalled me and I wouldn’t think of it, then because he seems to go harder with any adverse stimulation (just a finger held up saying “no” was the first thing he reacted to.) so worried it will be counter productive. we haven’t done it yet but I am seriously at the end of my rope. I grew up with a dog trainer. I have never been fearful nor have a problem setting boundaries of coddling… but so far I have all these mixed messages where I don’t want to “damage the relationship” with any of the strong corrections but no one in positive reinforcement has given me ANY REAL TOOLS to tell him this biting isn’t ok!! Now we are entering adolescence and have been attacked multiple times a day this week- (and it often happens when we are exercising him so not pent up energy. ) I also have a young child who has been bit multiple times… so what would you do in this situation?