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E-collars: Training Tool or Torture Device?

Written by Alisa Mullins | July 5, 2013

In recent years, numerous adults have been arrested and/or convicted on criminal charges after using shock collars on children. Yet, somehow, it remains legal to use these barbaric devices on dogs. U.S. policy outlaws the use of torture, even on our most dangerous enemies—so why would we inflict it on our furry best friends?

Shock Collars Hurt, Don’t Work

People who have actually tried shock collars on themselves describe the pain as like “being stabbed in the neck” and “a sharp pain, like being stuck with a hot needle.”

mahalie | cc by 2.0

They hurt dogs just as much. One study conducted on German shepherds found that many of them reacted to shocks with “high pitched yelps, barks and squeals.” Indications of stress continued long after the shocks were administered, and some dogs became fearful of merely the presence of their handlers.

Other recent research revealed that shock collars cause a significant increase in tense behavior and signs of stress while not proving any more effective than positive reinforcement at teaching dogs to stop chasing and to come, even though this is what so-called “e-collars” are specifically marketed for.

What the Experts Say

Not surprisingly, shock collars are beginning to be banned in some places, such as Ireland and some parts of Australia, because of cruelty concerns. Well-respected animal behaviorist Karen Overall also opposes their use, stating in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, “Such tools ‘work’ by engendering fear, pain, and distrust, and in doing so they cause long-term damage ….” Victoria Stilwell, the host of Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog and the author of the new book Train Your Dog Positively, concurs, saying, “If I, say, put a shock collar on a child, people would look at me with horror. But dogs feel pain just as we do and have the same emotions we do. I think it’s equally as abusive to use shock collars on dogs.”

The Humane Way to Train

Dogs do what comes naturally to them, and they don’t deserve to be punished for not always understanding human culture and expectations. It’s our job to help them understand what we want in a clear and compassionate manner, not torture them like enemy combatants. The key is using positive training methods, as famed dog trainer Tamar Geller explains in this PETA exclusive video:

To learn more about training dogs humanely, check out Tamar’s entire series of videos

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  • Jackie says:

    I recall there being a video where the guys from Jackass were shocking each other with those electric collars, it shows how much they really hurt!

  • Missgia says:

    Funny that groupon is currently selling a shock collar as a deal. Only they provide some false advertising and say it is a static collar. Disgusting! They even go so far as to suggest it is a great tool for stubborn dogs!