Tags: Humane Husbandry
A review of the scientific research finds there are risks to using electronic collars in dog training and says it's time for a ban.
Last year, a position statement from the European College of Veterinary Clinical Ethologists argued against the use of electronic collars in dog training and for a Europe-wide ban on their sale and use. Now an article in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour by Dr. Sylvia Masson et al explains the reasons behind their position that electronic shock collars should not be used.
The paper looks at the scientific evidence and demolishes all of these reasons. Ultimately, the use of electronic training collars poses risks to animal welfare, as found in Ziv’s earlier review of aversive training methods more generally.
For example, people who use shock collars may end up paying more on a dog trainer or behaviourist if use of the collar affects their relationship with the dog or the dog’s welfare. The application of shock may result in fear, aggression or learned helplessness. Poor timing on the part of the trainer will increase these risks.
Studies show increased fear and stress in dogs trained with shock collars. And it is possible for dogs to associate this with things other than the behaviour being punished, for example with the trainer, the location of the training, or (in the case of boundary fences) with people or dogs who happen to be walking by.
Meanwhile, there is no research that suggests electronic training collars are more effective. In contrast, there is some research that suggests positive reinforcement leads to better results. (For example, one study found no benefits to the use of shock collars to teach recall but some risks to animal welfare).
The scientists also consider people’s sources of information about dog training, which are often poor. This means many people may not know positive reinforcement is a better way to train dogs.
if anyone is wondering whether or not to use an electronic collar on their dog, this article gives many reasons not to do so.
If you need help with your dog’s behaviour, choose a good dog trainer who will use positive reinforcement.
Professional organizations recommend the use of reward-based training methods (see seven reasons to use reward-based training methods). You might also like my post the ultimate dog training tip. You can also read about my own article (published in the same issue of the Journal of Veterinary Behavior) on why don't more people use positive reinforcement to train dogs.
Excerpted from Companion Animal Psychology.
Click on the link below to read more.