Pet Owners Remain Divided on Shock Collars: Where Do You Stand?

They have many names: shock collars, electronic collars, e-collars, zap collars and training collars. Yet, the purpose is the same for all of them, to make your mischievous pooch a well-behaved gentleman. Generally speaking, the collars all work the same way; they are placed around the necks of a pooch and it sends an unpleasant stimulation to the "scruff" section of the collar when it misbehaves. The stimulation methods (static charge, liquid spray or vibration) are all different depending on the make and model a dog owner chooses.

Currently, there is a great division on the use of shock collars on our pets. On one hand, licensed and respected dog trainers/breeders have been using high-end shock collars on their dogs for decades with positive results. However, many animal rights groups and activists have spoken out against the use of them. In fact, the controversy has actually led to countries, territories and states considering outlawing them. Most recently, Quebec prohibited the sale of prong and shock collars in 2013.

Just like spanking children, there are opponents and advocates for shock collars. Ever since the collars were released to the public in the late 1960s, there has been debate on using them when training canines. By doing a quick search on the Internet, you can find hundreds of people who say that the usage of these collars are inhumane, yet every year more and more pet owners invest in the leading shock collars to train their dogs.

Why It Works For Troublesome Dogs

Depending on the size and temperament of your pooch, you are likely to find a collar that is perfect for training your dog. However, many pet owners don't understand why shock collars are so effective. In fact, many dog owners don't fully understand the multiple uses that shock collars have for pups.

One of the most popular uses for dogs is to curb bad habit barking. In a perfect world, a dog will only bark when it's extremely happy, is warning of a predator or is protecting its family. Unfortunately, many dogs bark incessantly for no reason, which can be a hard problem to fix.

Electronic bark collars come with a built-in bark limiter, which gives dogs a stimulating, buzz when their voices go above a set decibel level. Yet, even collars that don't have a bark limiter can be used to silence loud pups. Most e-collars use a remote so that owners can press a stimulation button to get their dog's attention. According to shock collar manufacturers, the stimulation can be set from a vibrating buzz to a static shock on high-end models. Eventually, dogs associate their bad behavior with an unpleasant stimulation.

Studies Aim to Shun Shock Collars

Recently, a study from the University of Lincoln in England stirred the pot further on the debate over shock collars. According to their research, the use in their study found that dogs had become more distressed when the stimulation settings were used, most notably in high settings.

This has added to the controversy surrounding shock collars. The university's published reports state that the researchers used less than 100 dogs in the study to try and train them to stop chasing sheep. The dogs that used the collars showed more signs of tension, yawned more and spent less time engaged in environmental interactions with the trainers.

The University of Lincoln's recent research is the latest study regarding e-collar training, but a spokesperson for the college admits that there has not been a great deal of research done on the collars outside of this study.

"Limited studies have been conducted on the use of e-collars in the pet population. Academics at the University of Lincoln investigated the performance and welfare consequences of training dogs in the field with manually operated electronic devices (shock collars)," says Marie Daniels, a spokesperson for the University.

The findings from this English study showed that the other training methods might be better than shock collars; however, it hasn't stopped dog trainers from using the products in the slightest bit. In the U.K. alone, there are more than 300,000 dog owners who use the collars, many of whom with positive results.

It seems that the history of dog collars includes minor incidences and small studies that have had a negative impact on the popularity of the training tools. Yet, there will always be dedicated hunters, outdoorsmen and dog trainers who swear by shock collars. Harley Jackson, a bird hunter, has used shock collars for nearly 20 years with great results.

"I have used almost every e-collar available to mankind," says Jackson. "It makes my job of handling experienced, older dogs to training puppies so much easier and pleasant. These collars are crucial tools of my trade and I rely on them almost every day of the year."

So, it seems that if you really want to get a grasp on whether shock collar training works, then you need to test one out for yourself.

If you're looking for the right shock collar for your dog, be sure to ask the pet experts at by calling 800-957-5753. The animal lovers are more than happy to answer any questions about any of the pet products that we carry in our catalogue.

By Sean Bowes
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