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13 August 2021

How to use shock collars?

Shock collars are the new thing in dog care. But do you know how to use shock collar? It’s your way the right way? Let’s find out.

To understand how to use shock collar on your dog, the first thing a dog guardian must understand is what is a shock collar and it be beneficial to the dog training process?

Dog shock collar belongs to a family of training collars. They are also known as remote training collars, e-collars or electronic collars. The purpose of the dog shock collar is to deliver an electrical stimulation of a preset duration and intensity to the dog’s neck. 

Shock collars have also been applied to other places on a dog’s body like the genitalia or tummy depending on the training effect the trainer is trying to achieve. The electrical simulation is delivered via an electronic device (two metal chips) which is remote controlled and is incorporated into the collar of the dog.

Recently new shock collars have come up which contain vibrational or tone settings. The settings can be used either as an alternative option to the shock or in conjunction with the shock. Some dog collars also come with mapping capabilities as well as GPS to locate the dog in case he or she goes missing.

Let’s understand the history of shock collars


Shock collars originated in the late 1960s. They were primarily used to train hunting dogs. The early collars were very high powered. They were remote controlled and the jolt could be sent up to a long distance. That was an aggressive dog training era. Dogs were mostly used as a means to an end. The modern versions of the shock collars are generally set up to deliver very low levels of shock.

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How to use shock collars?


How to use shock collars?


Any item that is used in dog training can have both positive or negative effects. However, the kind of effect the training method will have on the dog depends on the way the method is used.

You want your dog to be obedient. You don’t want to bribe your dog with treats every time you want him or her to do something. You want a dog who listens to you but still has a strong and meaningful relationship with you. One primary thing to remember here is that every relationship is a two way street. You must recognize and acknowledge your dog's rights, preferences as well as his or her feelings. Keeping this in mind is imperative in understanding the correct procedure of how to use shock collars.

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How to use shock collars? The correct method


In order to understand how to use shock collars, you first need to understand how shock collars work.

As I mentioned before, the use of shock collars it started in the 1960s to specifically train hunting dogs.

Nowadays, they are being used to curb a variety of negative dog behaviors like excessive barking to aggression towards food. Some people also use shock collars to keep their dogs within the property line in case they have an invisible fence around their house.

The use of shock collar as a dog training method is not with an intention of dole out punishment to dog, but more to deter the dog from engaging in unsafe or negative behavior.

The theory behind the use of shock collars is that the dog will learn to associate the negative experience with the unwanted behavior on receiving the slight jolt would stop the dog from engaging in the unwanted behavior. Over time, the dog will learn to associate the jolt with the unwanted behavior and therefore not engage with the wanted behavior at all.

If the shock collars are used at the lowest level possible, it is safe and it won’t cause any long-lasting damage to the dog.

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The next part in how to use shock collars is to understand the levels of stimulation which can be used to reprimand unwanted behavior. A lot of collars use the beep or vibration method as a prior warning before delivering the actual shock.

If your dog is engaging in an unwanted behavior, say NO. Along with the NO command, deliver a vibrational jolt to the dog. Vibration won’t hurt your dog but it will snap him out of the unwanted behavior. As I mentioned before, over time the dog will learn to associate the vibration with a negative behavior and stop exhibiting the negative behavior altogether.

However, if the vibration or the NO methods don’t work on your dog and your dog is still actively engaging in the unwanted behavior, only then should you proceed to using the shock. Use the shock collar at its lowest intensity. This is enough to get your dog behaving better or in the right manner again.

One thing you need to understand that it is to an extent unethical and immoral to use devices which might be inhumane. Has anyone ever used a shock collar on their kids to get their kids behaving better?

These methods will not be recommended by any reputable organization or certification body. One more thing you need to keep in mind before you start training your dog is that dogs respond the best towards positive reinforcement training. Shock collars, e-collars or pet reinforcement collars are designed to cause pain to the dog.

If despite of all this, you still decide to go for a shock collar, then here are few pointers of advice regarding how to use shock collars in the right manner.


If possible, go for the vibration collars, the ultrasonic collars or the spray collars. The purpose of using any and every collar is to distract your dog from the misdemeanor he or she is engaging in. This can be achieved by using any of the above mentioned collars. You don’t need to go to the extremes of using a shock collar on your dog.

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Shock collars have shown to cause more dog aggression problems than reduce it.


The first and only important point about how to use shock collars on your dog is to use it on the lowest setting possible. Before you administer the shock to your dog, use it on yourself to get a feel of how your dog would feel when the same shock touches your dog. Thus will help you set the right shock or vibration for your pup.

Once you use it on your dog, watch him or her very closely for any signs of distress. If your dog seems to otherwise be okay, stops the unwanted behavior and does not seem scared, then you may use the shock collar sometimes during training. However, if you notice that your dog yelps on administration of the jolt, becomes very fearful with ears back, a non wagging tail, scared eyes, you either do not use or reduce the intensity of the shock on the shock collar.

If you have a smart pup, he or she will understand the cues in 2 to 3 shocks itself. Do not use the shock collar like a clicker. Shock collars are not meant to be used every time the dog does something you don’t want. Always go with the vibration or beep first. If these methods don’t work, only then proceed to administering shock.

I understand the need of pet parents to have a well-behaved dog. However, the technique which is used by the shock collars is punishment. Punishment does not teach a dog anything new. When pet parents look for how to use shock collar on dogs, it means that they are looking to an end to the problematic behavior like excessive barking, puppy biting, leash pulling, cases of separation anxiety etc. However, what they don’t take into consideration is the fallout. The fallout includes behavioral, medical, emotional problems. Punishment only causes more fear, anxiety and stress in your dog. It does not tell your dog the correct behavior to display.

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The best way to help your dog is to understand the reason behind the behavior you wish to correct. If your dog lunges at other dogs or people, try to figure out why this behavior is occurring? Is it that your dog wants to go and play with the other dog? Is your dog fearful of that other person or the dog and is behaving this way because he or she is terrified?

Another issue with incorrect training methods is that when dog trainers use shock collars without knowing how to use shock collars on dogs in the right manner. Yes, shock collars do have the shock administering capability. However, you do not have to use the shock part of the shock collar. 

Most collars nowadays come equipped with vibration and beeps. You can use the beep to direct your dog’s attention away from the misdemeanor. You can also use vibration features which are present in the collar. These two methods will also work to help train your dog. Therefore, try to use the shock part of the shock collar as little as possible. If possible try to not use the shock part of the shock collar at all.

Suppose your dog gets along with the trainer very well. The trainer brings a shock collar to use on your dog. In the first training session, the dog gets shocked for displaying incorrect behavior. When the time for the next training session comes, the dog has already got psychologically imprinted with the fact that this trainer will cause him pain. Therefore, when the trainer or the person who is training the dog comes in, the dog will be fearful of that person and may even try to display aggressiveness.

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A study was done in the year 2003 to understand the effects of shock collar on the short and long-term behaviour of dogs. In this study, 32 German Shepherd dogs were enrolled. Half the dog population was administered shocks in the recent past during the training sessions. The other half of the population were given similar training without the shocks. When they analyzed the behavior of the two groups of dogs during the free walking session, they observed that the dogs who were given shocks showed more stress related behavior and distressed body language compared to the ones who were not administered shocks.

Similar results were observed when the dogs were taken for obedience training and main work (exercises which are conducted with would-be criminals to train police dogs).

The differences between the two dog groups continued to exist despite the fact that the dogs who were not administered shocks were also trained in a harsh manner.

Being harshly trained is a stressful experience for the dog. However, when shock collars are combined with the training, the training is not only stressful but also very painful for the dog.

When the researchers studied the long-term behavior of the dogs, they observed that dogs who received shocks showed a programming in their brain which led them to believe that the presence of the guardian means reception of shocks.

The use of shock collars and invisible fences is already banned in several countries. Even if it is not banned in your country, it is better and safer for your dog if you choose to not go down this path of dog training.

Personal experience and opinion on shock collars


I understand that some people see dogs as their kids, others don’t. Some will say a dog should not be treated as a human at all. However, from my personal experience of being a foster mom to 15 dogs and also from living in a country where dogs are found more on streets than in homes, I can assure you that all dogs want is love and affection, not torture with such collars. I can never even imagine buying a shock collar, much less using it on my boy. Delta is my son, no matter what other dog behaviorists say.

Conclusion


Now that you are aware of the studies which have been done pertaining to how to use shock collars and the effect of shock collars on dogs, I am pretty sure you would not be inclined towards using the shock collar on your dog.

Some dogs will be hard to train, but do not sacrifice your relationship without your dog just because you have bought a shock collar and now must use it. If you are a concerned guardian who wants to understand how to use shock collars in the right manner, check the shock levels by putting it against your own wrist and adjust the levels accordingly before you use it on your dog.

However, there are many means to achieve it and shock collars is only one of them. Therefore, I would suggest that you try to stay away from shock collars as much as possible.

Frequently asked questions:


What are the different types of shock collars for dogs?
There are three types of shock collars for dogs:
  • Underground fence shock collars
  • Remote training collars
  • Anti bark shock collars

Do shock collars hurt dogs?
The electrostatic shock can cause emotional and physical trauma to the dog. It can also cause phobias, stress and unhealthy increase in the heart rates and skin burns. 

Do shock collars work for barking? 
Yes, there are e-collars or shock collars which are responsible for curbing excessive barking behavior in dogs. These collars are programmed to shock the dog when the barking goes beyond a certain number of times. 

Are shock collars considered animal abuse?
Unfortunately, shock collars are more often misused than used properly. It creates fear, anxiety and aggression in the dog. When the collar is used, it only suppresses your dog's actions. it does not teach your dog what behavior is expected of him. Therefore, if used incorrectly it does cause animal abuse. 

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