Debate Surges Over Dog Shock Collar Use

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CBS News – It’s sort of like a spanking, a short-lived physical punishment for unwanted behavior. But like spanking, people can’t seem to agree if it’s an acceptable form of discipline, in this case, for dogs.

Sean O’Shea tells CBS News correspondent Don Dahler he’s used shock collars to train dogs for years. He swears by it, and he’s not alone.

“As far as tools go with a dog, it’s about as close to 100 percent dependability and reliability that you could get anywhere,” O’Shea said.

Shock collars send an electric current to dogs that can range in intensity. The signal is meant to deter bad habits.

But researchers at the University of Lincoln, in England, found “the immediate effects of training with an e-collar give rise to behavioral signs of distress in pet dogs, particularly when used at high settings.”

“Shock collars can be damaging, not only physically — they can cause burn marks — but they can also be emotionally damaging,” said New York City dog trainer Andrea Arden. She wants shock collars banned.

“If you try and use pain and aversion to teach an animal, odds are they’re going to learn at a slower rate and they’re probably going to have the negative side effect of being highly stressed,” Arden said.

But a leading maker of e-collars told CBS News they are both safe and humane and that, “there is no evidence of long-term harm to the dog’s welfare.”

O’Shea says a lot of people have the wrong idea about the devices.

“The scientists think they’re the experts,” said O’Shea, but to him, it’s the dog who knows best. “He tells me what works and what doesn’t, and if he was a stressed-out wreck, I would know that we’ve got a problem.”

Arden thinks differently. She told CBS News, “a good trainer wouldn’t need to use a tool that uses severe pain to teach an animal.”

While they are a last resort for some pet owners, others use them for basic training. Clearly there is disagreement among dog trainers and owners alike.

The collars have been banned in parts of the U.K. and Canada, but there’s no sign that will happen here anytime soon.

11 comments

  • JEK

    It’s ok to Shock Humans, but it’s so bad for Animals….That reporter needs to talk to the Police!! They swear that stun guns are completely SAFE! B.S. and yes a Stun Gun is the same as a Dog Shock Collar.

  • dave

    shock collars should be part of the new uniform dress code for walmart employees… specifically front end customer service managers… might improve response times!

  • Tracy

    Shock collars are not “short term” disciplinary” tools. Used properly they are for training. Our boxer would jump on people and repeatedly run into the road. It only took 2 weeks on the mid level setting and he was completely trained. Now, 8 years later if he starts acting out all we have to do is pick up the remote (he’s not even wearing the collar) and he straightens right up. If shock collars are banned, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to rescue another high-maintenance breed like that again.

  • Amazed

    I had someone tell me one time that if these were used on straying husbands they would be home 10 minutes before they needed to be…..guess they do pack quite a jolt.

  • Mel

    I find this article to be highly suspect. There is very little information given on how the product was tested. Did they shock their test subjects repeatedly on a high level to get this data? I purchased an e-collar for my small terrier after he chased a rabbit into the street. He ran under a passing car and came out the other side unscathed. I live in the country on some acreage and we have a coyote problem. Although he is a tough little dog, he is no match for a coyote or a passing car. His e-collar allows him freedom to walk with me outside while I do chores. It emits a warming sound and if he doesn’t obey the command, he is “nicked”. Eventually I was able say “no” and push the sound button and he stops immediately. This collar has saved my dog’s life; however, I use it per the instructions . In my opinion, anyone who would shock a dog until it leaves burn marks did not read how to use the product and would likely beat his or her dog without the collar. For those who are still not convinced, I nicked myself to see how it felt. It is not painful – just startling. Any product for people or pets can be misused or abused. This article is a prime example of yelling fire where there is none – not even smoke.

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