Electronic training devices such as electronic fences and anti-barking
collars rely on painful punishment and negative reinforcement, causing
dogs to live in fear of being electrocuted for normal behaviors like
crossing invisible lines, barking, and jumping onto surfaces within
their own homes. Positive training methods, in which dogs are rewarded
for what they do right, are kinder and more effective.
Dogs wearing shock collars can suffer from physical pain and
injury (ranging from burns to cardiac fibrillation) and psychological
stress, including severe anxiety and displaced aggression. Individual
animals vary in their temperaments and pain thresholds; a shock that
seems mild to one dog may be severe to another. The anxiety and
confusion caused by repeated shocks can lead to changes in the heart and
respiration rate or gastrointestinal disorders. Electronic collars can
also malfunction, either administering nonstop shocks or delivering no
shocks at all.
Dogs whose yards are surrounded by electronic fences may develop
fear or aggression aimed at what they believe is the source of the shock
(kids riding by on bikes, the mail carrier, the dog next door, etc.).
Dogs have been known to run through electronic barriers when frightened
by fireworks or chasing a squirrel and then be too scared to cross back
through the barrier.
Electronic fences may actually encourage animals to try
to escape. Since dogs only suffer painful shocks in the yard, they may
associate the shock with the yard itself—once they get out of the yard,
the pain goes away. The fact that the pain returns when they try to
reenter the yard can cause dogs to believe that they are being punished
for returning home.
Even when animals are confined within certain boundaries of an
electronic fence, they are still in danger of attacks by roaming dogs,
cruel humans, or other animals, who can freely enter the property.
Electronic fences are a dog thief’s dream come true!
The most effective way to keep your dog safely confined to your
property is to keep him or her inside the house when you aren’t home and
allow him or her outside only under close supervision on a leash or in a
securely fenced enclosure.
Some Fencing Guidelines
If you cannot afford a fence, have a yard that would be difficult
to fence, or live in a condominium or townhouse where fences are not
allowed, consider letting your dog out only on a leash and taking him or
her to a fenced dog park or to a friend’s fenced yard for play and
exercise. You may also want to consult a certified dog behaviorist about
teaching your dog to stay within boundaries through the use of positive
Dogs bark for a variety of reasons but mainly because of boredom,
distress, separation anxiety, and defense of their territory. Young
dogs, small or active breeds, and dogs who are chained up or left
outside most of the time are more likely to bark. For humane and safety
reasons, as well as to maintain good relations with your neighbors, it
is best to keep your dog indoors when you are not at home. Dogs are less
likely to bark indoors, and any barking that they do indoors is less
likely to be loud enough to disturb the neighbors.
Tips to Prevent Boredom-Related Barking
Tips to Prevent Excessive Barking at Strangers or Noises
A humane dog trainer or certified behaviorist will be able to
provide more tips on desensitizing your dog to frightening sounds. If
your dog’s situation is severe, the behaviorist may suggest that you
consider consulting your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications
that can help calm your dog.
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