Electronic Shock Collars:
Are They Worth the Risks?
Richard H. Polsky, PhD
Published in Journal of the
American Animal Hospital
September/October 1994, Vol. 30
The advantages and disadvantages of using electronic shock collars as training tools to solve behavioral problems in dogs are reviewed. Three kinds of shock collars are described: one which operates manually via a remote-controlled transmitter; an antibark collar which operates whenever a dog barks; and a shock collar used for boundary training. Shock collars may be used to punish a target misbehavior or, alternatively, to encourage or facilitate behavioral response. Advantages of using shock collars include the ability to rapidly suppress a target misbehavior, the ability to administer remote punishment, and the ability to facilitate behavioral response. Disadvantages include the random discharge of shock; the problem of applying shock with incorrect timing, intensity, or duration; behavioral regression after a shock collar has been removed; shock-induced aggression; and lesions on the neck. The criteria needed before shock collar usage is considered are reviewed. It is concluded that shock collars should be used on a case-by-case basis by experienced users only, and that the decision to use one should be made only after all other options at behavioral problem solving have been exhausted.
From the office of Animal Behavior Counseling Services. Inc. Los Angeles, California.