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.
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.
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.
- 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?