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The “New Age” of Shock Collars: Are Static Correction Collars Safe?

Recently I received an email touting “research” proclaiming that most people that try static collars are happy with the results. The press release was sent by PetPR.com on behalf of Radio Systems® Corporation (RSC), the maker of PetSafe®,Invisible Fence® and SportDOG

According to the press release from PetPR.com, “The survey of more than 1,000 pet owners reveals 86 percent of pet owners who use static stimulation collars have used them for a pet life-saving purpose including safely keeping their pet in the yard.”

For those of you not hip to the marketing ploy, this is just a clever way to describe shock collars and mats, including invisible fencing.

This is the PetSafe Bark Control Pet Training System sold at Petco.com

This is the PetSafe Bark Control Pet Training System sold at Petco.com. For those too lazy to train their dogs in less harsh ways.

Personally, I despise these things. Do you really find it acceptable to shock your dog or cat to control them? Would you do that to your child? When why do it to your companion animal? But the industry claims it has “changed” and is now a safe alternative.

So I went looking for said research at the Partnership for Electronic Training Technology (PETT) website, as suggested in the press release.

Under the research tab, they state that, “In June 2012, a review of the historic studies conducted by the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) concluded that there was insufficient scientific evidence to indicate any damaging effects of electronic collars on the welfare of dogs.” In other words, they can’t prove it DOES affect dogs, but they also can’t prove that it DOESN’T.

Well, I can. I once tried to rehome a dog. I got a call a few weeks later asking me to come get the dog because things weren’t working out. When I arrived at the home, I found a terrified dog contained in a yard by an invisible fence. It was heartbreaking to see. I tore the collar off and the dog RAN to my car.

High Tech Bark Terminator 3 Bark Control Dog Collar from Petsmart.com. If it's so safe, why is the name so menacing?

High Tech Bark Terminator 3 Bark Control Dog Collar sold at Petsmart.com. If it’s so safe, why is the name so menacing?

Anyway, back to the research. DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom, in 2010, paid the University of Lincoln almost £70,000 to determine the impact of shock collars in training on dogs as opposed to dogs trained without shock collars. UK readers, here’s your tax dollars at work!

Dogs who were in need of training were placed in either a group with a trainer who doesn’t use shock collars and didn’t during the study, a group with a trainer who does use shock collars but didn’t during this study, or a group with a trainer that uses shock collars and did during the study.

Results?

  • The dogs who were not shocked spent less time tense during training sessions.
  • The dogs who were shocked “may have” yelped more and panted more, but the researchers didn’t find that significant.
  • The owners were all equally satisfied with the training received, regardless of method used.
  • During a follow-up visit, the dogs in the shock collar group had higher salivary cortisol levels, which, “may be related to anticipation of events based on previous experiences,” or, in other words, they were scared.

So PETT claims this shows shock collars work just as well as training without shock collars. Which leads me to ask, if they work no better, why would you waste your money on one? 

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About rumpydog

I am a malamute that was rescued by her. I live with June Buggie the cat. I blog about animal welfare and responsible care of companion animals at rumpydog.com. You can follow me on Twitter - @RumpyDog. And don't forget to LIKE my Facebook page! Thanks!

Discussion

36 thoughts on “The “New Age” of Shock Collars: Are Static Correction Collars Safe?

  1. Not a fan of them but very popular in my neighborhood.

    Posted by katecrimmins | November 22, 2014, 8:56 AM
  2. That’s a really good question, I agree. But no matter what name they will get, I don’t use such collars.

    Posted by easyweimaraner | November 22, 2014, 9:04 AM
  3. Personally, I find these devices appalling! People should be taking the time to train their dogs properly and humanely. As for the invisible fencing: I know many dogs who have escaped anyway and it must have hurt them. 😦 Our backyard is enclosed by a 6 foot wooden fence and the dogs are secure, without pain. I wish people would choose this option, instead.

    Posted by Debbie D. | November 22, 2014, 1:03 PM
    • Something enticing for a dog, like a squirrel or another dog, would make it worth it to be shocked. But it wouldn’t necessarily be worth it to go back inside the fencing.

      Posted by rumpydog | November 22, 2014, 2:01 PM
      • Yes, and then what happens to the poor dog? Wanders into the street, gets attacked; any number of nasty scenarios. Those collars are animal abuse, IMO and should be banned!

        Posted by Debbie D. | November 22, 2014, 3:14 PM
      • It also doesnt stop other animals, like loose aggressive dogs, from coming on your property. Get a real fence or use a leash, just forget the invisible fence and shock collar.

        Posted by Malawoo | November 22, 2014, 4:38 PM
  4. Horrid horrid awful things!

    Posted by bumpyroadtobubba | November 22, 2014, 2:28 PM
  5. I would never put them on my dogs!
    There are other ways of keeping them save… go to training school for once… but I bet people who use them are just too lazy or simply do not care

    Posted by agatapokutycka | November 22, 2014, 3:58 PM
  6. I’ve used them, but it has to be done carefully or you end up with a traumatized dog. We had an invisible fence as due to terrain and zoning issues, a regular fence could not be put up. We spent several weeks getting the dogs acclimated and they learned quickly how far they could go and no farther. The beagle in particular had it down to just inches. The fence people put up flags and the dogs learned to not go farther than that. We took down the flags slowly and eventually (after a month) altogether. When we moved, we put in another invisible fence and they remembered the lessons and it was only a few weeks before we slowly transitioned the flags out.

    Our neighbor did the fence himself and did not take time to acclimate the dog. He ended up with a terrified dog who wouldn’t go outside. We tried nicely to explain what he should have done but he didn’t care enough. He’d rather the dog run loose, which is what it does. It’s a sweet beagle, but someday it won’t come home and they won’t know where it got killed.

    We also used a shock collar with a remote on the miniature pinscher. When he was new to us (probably several years old, but the vet wasn’t sure), he would fly out the door anytime it opened and bite whoever was there. We used the collar to break him of that plus his incessant barking.

    I’m simply presenting another side to the issue. They have their place and use, but it takes time and effort. You can’t just throw it on a dog and use it.

    Jen – you made the comment about something enticing won’t stop it from getting shocked. That wasn’t our experience, even for the beagle which is very prey driven. Only once did a dog punch through and that was when the Vizsla was running wildly around and ran out into the street (right in front of me no less). I gasped, but before I could tell him no, he ran back in, got shocked and then wouldn’t get off the porch for a few days. We used treats and a leash and he got over it, but I wasn’t happy.

    That was once in five years. Gates get left open by accident on fences and dogs get out, so no matter what you do, it’s not foolproof. We had that happen here recently (our latest yard came fenced) when an appraiser left a far gate open and we didn’t see it from the deck. The beagle got out and thankfully went right up to our neighbor. Her worry was that it was our beagle and not the one behind us! I’m glad he went to her and not out wandering.

    I know we don’t know each other overly well, but you’ve always been respectful to your readers and I trust you will be the same to a differing viewpoint.

    Nancy

    Posted by dogear6 | November 22, 2014, 4:58 PM
    • P.S. Feel free to delete this if it sets off a firestorm. That is not my intention nor is it appropriate for your blog. You’ve presented an articulate argument and it has really good points, which I do not want to take away from.

      Posted by dogear6 | November 22, 2014, 4:59 PM
    • I am not a fan of shock collars or invisible fencing, BUT, I think what you describe is not cruel. It is reasonable training and you sound like a reasonable person. However, I grew up in the country around electric fences and our horses and dogs were not traumatized. And like all the other critters I got shocked more than once in my years. Having had the snot shocked out of me many times, while it is not fun, it is also not excruciating.

      Posted by anotherboomerblog | November 22, 2014, 8:41 PM
      • Thanks for the comment about being a reasonable person. We did invest in the training sessions by the guys who put the fence in and they were really attuned to how each type of dog would react. But we did take a lot of time and effort to teach the dogs. They didn’t run loose out there for a long time after we put the fence in until we knew they wouldn’t zap themselves.

        I’d forgotten about the horses, but yes, the ones my Mom had were behind an electric fence also.

        Posted by dogear6 | November 22, 2014, 9:01 PM
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBRLiBhu_xo watch this video on what shock collars can do. No animals were used in this video just humans.

    NO SHOCK COLLARS!

    Posted by Jenn Sweeney | November 22, 2014, 6:29 PM
  8. Seems to me that humans and dogs got along just fine for thousands of years before shock collars were around. Everyone is looking for an easy (or lazy) alternative. If you want easy, don’t have a pet.

    Posted by Charles Huss | November 23, 2014, 6:59 AM
  9. This shock collar is insane…..it looks like some sort of torture for dogs……dogs are not slaves for humans….there should be much better ways to train dogs than using them….. 😦

    Posted by eripanwkevin | November 23, 2014, 8:34 AM
  10. I have no fence and both my dogs are off leashed trained. I never let my dogs out unsupervised. To many things could happen to them even fenced in without supervision.My dogs don’t g out the boundary of their yard. I spent the time to train them and also felt it added to our bond spending that time with them. I live in the country and there are all kinds of wild life and cats and horses and unsupervised dogs roaming around here and even though my dogs love a good chase if I say no they stay.If people don’t want to spend time with their dog why do they have that dog?

    Posted by sassybrat1904 | November 23, 2014, 11:12 PM
  11. I have never been one to use these. Not for me
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

    Posted by Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady | November 24, 2014, 7:58 AM
  12. I got the same press release and it really pissed me off. I’m not happy that shock collars exist at all. But the press release was filled with obfuscations, passive language, and outright lies. As an exercise in literary analysis, it was horrid. I spent several hours shredding the use of language in a recent post.

    If you believe your product is a helpful training tool, you shouldn’t have to use mental gymnastics to sell it.

    Posted by somethingwagging | November 26, 2014, 9:48 AM
  13. I would never EVER use one of these implements of torture on a dog to ‘train’ it. Lazy people use things like this. Lazy people look for shortcuts but all they do is instil terror. Anyone who wants a dog has to realize that there is a period in which it will require more effort. If that person cannot provide that effort in helping the dog learn, then that person should not get a dog. And as for safety, perhaps that person should put it on their toddler to see if they like it – then you’ll know for sure that it’s just plain wrong.

    Posted by James McDonall | November 26, 2014, 10:30 AM
  14. I am a dog owner of two very big dogs. When I leave home to go to work, my neighbours tell me they incessantly bark intermittently. I believe the mother barks out of protection of her now 15th old boy that I kept for company and the 15th old, I believe does its out of boredom maybe.. even though he gets marrow bones, exercise as I live on a hectare and so on…? What do you suggest that actually works and is humane? I have heard what doesn’t work or is inhumane but what dog owners want to hear is results; for the dog, the owner and the neighbourhood. Ps.My dogs are my babies. Appreciate constructive feedback 🙂

    Posted by alinafionalee | October 17, 2015, 6:40 PM
    • I would suggest you work with a trainer so together you can find solutions that are right for your dogs. Could be fear, or boredom, or something else. But whatever it is, find a solution now. And don’t use shock collars to do it.

      Posted by rumpydog | October 17, 2015, 9:45 PM
    • I’m the owner of a pitbull who barks incessantly at people passing our car, even biting me to try to get to them! He only does this in the car! Talk about spending time with my dog?? I’m literally with him 24/7 and I’m definitely NOT lazy!! What about the collars that have tones??? Are they bad too?? I definitely don’t in any way,shape or form want to hurt him, just need his behavior to stop!

      Posted by Brenda | August 12, 2016, 12:08 AM
  15. Ok so I read this did I miss something? Using an Android just wondering if I got the info… I was hoping to find an alternative… Did I muss it or did this person not mention an alternative… I was hoping there was some kind of scent spray collar or buzzing noise collar

    Posted by Deris Ciliberto Gonzalez | October 15, 2016, 9:43 AM
    • Nope. Sorry. You’re actually going to have to put forth the effort to train your dog yourself.

      Posted by rumpydog | October 15, 2016, 10:03 AM
      • I am a dog trainer. I have been for a long time. I have very high drive Belgian Malinois that I love and respect. They are my life. I have not responded to a message board in years, but I felt the urge in this instance. For all of these people who act like the know so much about dogs, and how to train certain issues, I ask you how much experience you have had with major behavioral issues. My extremely high drive dogs live a life where they can go just about anywhere with me, and they do. When they go with me they go without leads 9 times out of 10 and they do that because I trained them on ecollars, with a level of discomfort that was very minimal. I put it on my own skin at 3 times the level and still had no problems with the shock. My dogs do everything I ask of them on command first time, and I owe a lot of this to ecollars. For you to say that I am LAZY, when I spend hours and hours with my dogs a day is incredible. You have no idea what you are talking about. There are definitely inappropriate ways to train with e collars, and you cant definitely damage your pet if done incorrectly, as with most training. I love how so many “dog lovers” want to throw shame at dog owners that have legitimate issues, but have no real answer for them as to how to correct it. Positive reinforcement is not always that answer folks. Dogs aren’t humans. My Dog is a part of my family, but she is not a human. Because I am aware of this, I have a very intelligent, ell rounded dog. I dare you to look at one of the dogs that I have worked and to tell me that they have been abused.

        Posted by Ryan | October 26, 2016, 3:22 PM
      • Please excuse my typos. I meant well rounded. I was actually very heated reading these comments. I probably wouldn’t of responded if I could take it back. So you can go ahead and delete it as a moderator if you would like. I do think that it is very irresponsible to tell people that there is only way to train a dog. I have seen many strictly positive reinforcement trainers tell people misinformation, that could lead to their dog hurting a young child. There are appropriate measures for every case, and they are always different. To tell people that ecollars are inhumane, or that corrective training is inhumane is dangerous. Your dog may do just fine with positive reinforcement. I guarantee you that it is not always the case for a lot of dog owners. For you to tell people that they are cruel, but to not have a good answer for them is irresponsible. Your answer is to simply coexist with your dog. Kudos to you if that has worked in your household. A lot of people out there are not coexisting. A lot of households are literally ran by dogs that owners have tried to rescue and give homes to. I meet with people in tears on a weekly basis who have tried to rescue a dog, who has behavioral issues, and who is now ruining the owners lives day by day.

        Posted by Ryan | October 26, 2016, 3:49 PM

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