Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Caution: This collar can be hazardous to your dog's mental health!

Photobucket Not too long ago, website feedback came in from a person who had an issue with our anti-shock collar and anti-punitive training stance. In a nutshell, this person claimed there was no negative fallout from shock collar usage, and that it was a fine tool for training that didn't cause pain to the dog. I responded with many valid, scientific reasons why RPB does not advocate use of shock collars, and why I as a certified trainer actively work to dissuade people from using such devices on their dogs. (I never received a reply....)

    "There is never any reason for pets to be shocked as a part of therapy or treatment…There are now terrific scientific and research data that show the harm that shock collars can do behaviorally." - Karen Overall, PhD

What I found most disturbing by this person's email wasn't that she used shock collars to train dogs, but the fact that she obviously considered herself an educated trainer and yet still lacked even a fundamental understanding of how and why shock collars work. I'm not sure if this person was self-taught, or had learned from other shock collar trainers. But what I am sure about is that a person presenting themselves as 'educated' was spreading misinformation about a training device that could do some serious emotional harm to a dog, not to mention the physical pain it could cause.

The truth is, there is lots of bad and misguided training advice out there. Dog guardians are often misled - purposefully or ignorantly, even innocently - by those who stand in an authoritative position. One aspect of RPB's mission is to educate and guide Pit Bull guardians in the humane, practical training and behavioral management of their dogs. We as an organization are often in a very good position to steer people towards valid, scientific sources of information on dog behavior and training. Pit Bull parents can learn hands-on in my positive clicker classes about teaching their dogs new behaviors, and solving common behavioral issues in a humane, pain-free way.

No guardian wants to physically hurt or cause emotional stress to their beloved dog. I wouldn't think for a minute that shocking a dog sounds good to any sane individual. Sometimes people *just don't know*! That's where RPB comes in...

Here is a great article from Dog Sports Magazine on shock collars and why they can be problematic. It is important, before you use any device, to understand it. Don't take a professional's word for it. And always trust your gut!

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