Debunking The Six Most Common Myths About Shock Collars

Shocked about shock collars? We don’t blame you. Like the stuff of legends, it is often shrouded in myth and controversy. Let’s go myth-busting as we uncover the truth about shock collars.

When your dog starts to behave badly, trying to change that behavior can be very stressful. This is especially true when the change in behavior is sudden; your once docile, well-behaved dog is now a barking menace that keeps you up at night and bothers the neighbors while you’re away at work. It’s not a pretty picture.

As you try to look for a solution to the problem, you realize that having a dog is not easy. You probably knew this from the very moment you lovingly held your dog in your arms however when faced with the problem of negative behavior, you will really start to feel the burden of being a pet parent. Almost exactly like how it feels when you adolescent child starts to act up. Where did all that peaceful time go?

However, because of your love for your family, you don’t give up that easily. As we’re all human, the thought of letting go of our badly-behaving dog has probably crossed your mind from time to time but at the same time you admonish yourself for thinking such a horrible thought.

So you go online, you Google the problem and you start to browse through dog training products. Chances are, one of the most common dog training tools for at-home dog training are bark collars. Usually known as shock collars, they’re also called remote training collars or e-collars (electronic collars). We can see you now. In front of your computer, looking for opinions and reviews about using shock collars, eyebrows furrowed, a confused expression on your face, “What in the world…” you might be thinking. *drum roll please* Welcome to the world of shock collars! Where you can find mixed opinions and all types of reviews that will leave your head spinning!

No, really. We’re not trying to make light of this. All we’re saying is that sometimes, looking up the truth about shock collars is confusing.

Here we list down the six most common myths you’ve probably read about using shock collars for trained dogs.

Myth No 1.

Shock collars are used as a torture device.

Now we’ve already covered this in a previous blog post but, still, this is probably a statement you’ve seen several times. So let’s talk about it a little bit.

The shock collar triggers an electric shock via a remote control. Former shock collar models only featured a fixed shock level. This did not go well for dogs since different dogs had different responses to the electric shock. Some dogs were in severe, physical pain due the shock administered to their bodies – hence the term “torture device”.

FACT: The shock collar was originally developed in the ‘60s for the purpose of aversive training for hunting dogs. “Torture device” sounds too exaggerated. That kind of gives us visions of a mad scientist inventing the shock collar in his tower of doom to torture dogs everywhere! *cue thunder and lightning*. Uh, no. Although it fits within “negative reinforcement” category for correcting bad behavior, it is nowhere near created for the purpose of torturing dogs.

In any case, current models of shock collars feature different shock levels and training modes where you can first test the collar on yourself (against the palm of your hand or any part of your skin) before you put it around your dog’s neck. This way, you can determine the most comfortable level for your dog. It should just feel like an uncomfortable twinge and in no way should your dog be whimpering in pain.

Myth No. 2

Since shock collars are used for negative reinforcement, it’s never going to work.

First, we acknowledge that, YES, shock collars are used as negative reinforcement. It was originally developed as such – for aversive training. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work.

FACT: Negative reinforcement comes in varied forms. In the context of dog training, isn’t tugging your dog’s collar or pulling your dog’s leash a little harder than usual considered negative reinforcement? When you shout at your dog when he barks, isn’t that negative reinforcement? Yanking, pulling, tugging, yelling, shouting, even throwing the nearest shoe you can find at your dog when he’s behaving badly – aren’t all those variations of negative reinforcement? The answer is yes. And do they always work? Not all the time but there are times that yes, they do work.

So, going back to shock collars, let’s just say that this is no different than yanking your dog’s leash when he begins to bark aggressively at the mailman however, when used properly, the shock collar will most likely produce better results as opposed to yanking your dog’s leash.

Whether you are using positive or negative reinforcement methods, there is really no clear indication that one method doesn’t work and the other does. We’re just going to say that proper use, proper knowledge and proper application of the shock collar will give you the results that you need.

Myth No. 3

Training hunting dogs without shock collars is impossible.

There is a general impression that hunting dogs must be trained with shock collars otherwise they can’t be trained at all. That’s completely false.

FACT: If you can’t train a hunting dog without a shock collar, you shouldn’t be training your hunting dog at all. Hunting dogs have been bred, born, raised and trained for hundreds of years; did they need a shock collar back then? No.

Shock collars can prove to be formidable training tool for hunting dogs. Indeed it is commonly used by pros and amateurs alike however training a hunting dog without a shock collar is possible. Why shouldn’t it be?

Myth No. 4

Shock Collars are for lazy dog owners.

Dog owners who proudly use shock collars, let me hear you say “Heeeyyy!” Really, let’s all come together to bust this particular myth.

FACT: We’re not lazy; we’re just looking for the best and quickest possible solution for training our dogs. And it’s not just us. Several rescue organizations, police departments, professional dog trainers, competition trainers and search and rescue workers use shock collars. We don’t think you can call the men and women in these various fields “lazy”.

Shock collar users will always have reason to purchase and use shock collars. These reasons are yours and yours alone. But we will definitely say that shock collars are not a shortcut, nor are they for the lazy. In fact, it takes a tremendous amount of time and research to know how to properly and effectively use a shock collar.

On that note, we will say that if you’re looking at shock collars as a “quick fix” to your dog’s problem, then you will be disappointed. Training your dog to adhere to certain rules and behaviors takes time, patience and effort whether you’re using shock collars or other training methods.

Myth No. 5

Shock collars can psychologically harm dogs.

Fear is a very strong emotion. Being trusting and loyal, dogs can easily learn to fear humans or other associate certain objects with fear. But we can definitely tell you that this is not the purpose of the shock collar.

FACT: Just as shock collars are not designed to torture dogs, these are also not devices to instill fear in them. Although they will learn that to avoid the electronic shock, they need to perform the expected behavior, it’s then good to know that most shock collar models feature a vibration or tone mode that comes before the actual shock. When used properly, a dog trained with shock collars may eventually no longer need an actual shock, the vibration or tone will be enough for them to perform the expected behavior.

The point is never to instill fear in dogs. It is dangerous. A dog that fears its master can be unpredictable. The point for using shock collars then is simple – to correct your dog’s behavior and once this is achieved, you may completely stop using the shock collar.

Myth No.  6

If I use a shock collar to train my dog, our close relationship will be ruined.

Let’s get straight to business.

FACT: NO. A big no! We will say it again and again; when used properly, training your dog with a dog training collar can be a genuine bonding experience for you and your dog. Any training session using any method always helps you grow your bond with your dog. Plain and simple.

Now that you’ve uncovered fact from fiction, we just want to say that the most important thing here to consider is your dog. We value the relationship you have with your dog. This is what we are all about. What does your dog need? What kinds of training tools are good for him? Does he need professional help or can I do this myself? These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself before you choose a shock collar. But we hope that after reading this blog, you are now armed with all the information that you need.

Take it easy, pet parent. Everyone goes through tough times with pets. Don’t be too hard on yourself. As long as you are determined to fix the problem the safe and humane way, you’re on the right path.

We sincerely hope you enjoyed myth-busting with us today!