I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.
- Mahatma Gandhi
Fuck shock collars. There, I said it. I know it's a "tool" that quite a few dog trainers feel the need to utilize. Basically, every time the dog engages in behavior you don't like, you zap the dog.
Here's the problem with shock collars, as Shannon Duffy of Your Good Dog points out after watching a puppy being delivered shock after shock by dog training franchise Sit Means Sit:
Every time this PUPPY (they start at 4 months) shakes his head he is being delivered a shock. Watch when he lies down and rubs his face trying to either ease the pain from the shocks of remove the collar. This is unacceptable for training a dog to do what amounts to circus tricks.
To my friends (there are quite a few) that are now using this method to train I beg of you to see that this is inhumane. If you do not feel that it is then put a collar around your neck and you take the same level shock every time that you shock the dog. And not just the one time “I held it in my hand and it’s not so bad” shock but every time, same level. I guarantee you learn better training methods.
Let me give a better idea to you how this type of negative reinforcement works.
Sun Tzu, the master of strategy and war, was born in ancient China, roughly 544 BC. He has been the messiah of many a general and businessman, as his tactics and philosophies are still in use today. He was described as a very genial and merciful man…off the field. On the battlefield, however, he had only one objective: win.
The most bad ass general ever to wear a skirt while contemplating the world’s largest blunt.
There is a story about him that goes something like this:
Sun Tzu was tested by the King Helü of Wu, and ordered him to train a harem of 200 concubines, turning them into soldiers. Sun Tzu put them in two groups, naming the king’s favorites as the company commanders. Sun Tzu then commanded the concubines to face right – but they just giggled.
In response, Sun Tzu said that a general, (himself) was responsible for ensuring that soldiers understood the commands given to them. Then, he reiterated the command, and again the concubines giggled.
Sun Tzu then ordered the execution of the king’s two favored concubines, to the king’s protests. He explained that if the general’s soldiers understood their commands but did not obey, it was the fault of the officers.
Sun Tzu also said that, once a general was appointed, it was his duty to carry out his mission, even if the king protested. After both concubines were killed, new officers were chosen to replace them. Afterwards, both companies, now well aware of the costs of further frivolity, performed their maneuvers flawlessly.(1)
Apparently the ends justified the means. Or maybe not.
There is no argument that shock collars work. Of course it works. You are causing an animal intense pain to keep them from a behavior. Whether or not it works has never been the question. Whether or not we should use such extreme measures has been the real question. It doesn't build loyalty, it builds fear and anxiety. Step out of line and
Now I know quite a few trainers who claim there is no problem with shock collars. "I only put it on vibrate, never any higher." A big problem with that.
If a training device should only be used on "vibrate", why does it go to 11? What's the purpose? That's like giving my kids a squirt gun, but telling them not to use the flame-thrower setting on it. Why would it be there if the makers of the collar didn't see it to be necessary?
An animal abuse case in Las Vegas against notorious shock jocks, Sit Means Sit, resulted in the franchisee losing his license after repeatedly shocking a 7-month old puppy to the point of leaving burn marks on the puppy. Let me repeat that: they shocked a puppy so much that it resulted in burns. Repeatedly.
I had a very difficult time getting through the video, and I hope you did, too. Here at Darwin Dogs, we firmly believe in balance. Not every question your dog asks can be answered with a treat. However, no question can be answered with pain. If pain is your first response, to a puppy’s questions, then perhaps you need to rethink your tactics. If you’re looking for devotion through pain, well…wrong movie.
So I urge you, if someone suggests using an instrument of pain, such as a shock collar or a prong collar on your dog, tell them you already know how that ends. Shockingly awful.
Cruelty-Free Dog Training in Cleveland Ohio
Bradford 2000, pp. 134–135.