Electronic Static Correction Dog Collar: Training tool, or Torture Device?
Is an electronic dog collar a useful training tool, or does it just harm and punish the dog?
This is becoming more and more of a hot topic nowadays. Electronic dog collars, known by some as "shock collars", are becoming more widely available and used. They first appeared back in the 1950s and it is these first devices that have given this tool a horrible reputation. The first ones made were little more than a collar with metal prongs attached to a power source. There was no way to control the correction and as a result could in fact do serious harm to the animal. Today we have much more advanced and humane options, should you decide to go this route.
Let's discuss first what these collars actually do. The most common of these use a combination of static correction and sound stimulus. The static correction is used to stop the dog from performing an unacceptable action or to teach a dog skills and behaviors neccesary for them to be more well behaved and in fact keep them, and the people who come into contact with them, safe. The idea of static correction is scary to some people, after all it does sound exactly like the negative name-sake says, a "shock collar". I personally have felt the effect of this correction and can honestly say, it does not feel like a shock. Nothing like that sudden jolt that comes out of nowhere after rubbing your feet on carpet and touching a doorknob say. It feels much more like a high frequency vibration. Uncomfortable for certain, but in no way painful. The effect on a dog is that it introduces an abrupt sensation to the dog and makes them stop to determine the cause. This can be used quite effectively as a detterent to certain activities. It is the same principal as an "invisible fence" that is very popular among dog owners. When your pet is doing something that is innapropriate (i.e.- knocking over the garbage, barking incessantly, jumping on you and/or visitors, running off or pulling and tugging on the leash when out for a walk, etc.) the static correction is administered via a remote control. This causes the dog to stop the action to determine the cause of the correction. After a very short period of time the dog will equate his own actions with that uncomfortable feeling and seriously curtail or cease altogether those actions.
The second conjoined function of these collars is the sound or "beep" function. This is used most effectively in combination with the static correction. Meaning that you would first use the beep function, followed by the static correction. Again after a very short period of time the dog will come to understand that the beep is his warning that the static correction is about to come. In this way you can completely phase out the use of the static correction and use only the beep function of the collar.
I must emphasize though that these collars should be used for training and correction, NOT as punishment for any "bad" thing the dog does. If you do this you will only serve to create a nervous and scared dog. Your pet will become increasingly confused because he or she never knows what action is going to result in the correction.
The other thing to remember is that it is very important to incorporate PRAISE into any training program. For example, lets say you are taking your dog out for their walk and they tug on the leash trying to walk you or they begin to run off. You would start with the beep, followed by the static correction. When your pet returns to your side be sure to praise him. The whole "good boy/girl!" with a pet on the head should do nicely. Now you are training two-fold, your dog will realize the actions he should not be doing result in an uncomfortable sensation, while when he does as instructed he gets rewarded. This is the only way to be sure that the training stays with the dog and will encourage them to do the correct thing without having to receive the commands from you.