Ignorance about “shock collars” is not hard to demonstrate

I shot a bit of video today to respond to one of the most lame dog training video’s I’ve seen regarding “shock collars”. It was obvious from the moment I clicked on this video the trainer didn’t have a clue of what e-collar training was about.

How obvious? Well, if a person is trying to demonstrate a training technique and they use time lapsed video footage of their training a STUFFED ANIMAL, that pretty much sums up their actual level of expertise on the topic.

Yes, you actually did read that correctly. The supposed expert used a child’s stuffed toy to demonstrate how “shock collars” are used to teach a Place command.

So here is my video response and how I and many others do use an e-collar to teach the Place command.

I understand there are people who don’t support the idea of using e-collars for training a dog and I understand people having misconceptions about how the tool is used. However, it is shameful for someone who proclaims their site as a source of knowledge to consciously propagate ignorance by generating such a load of crap.

Here is the video I’m referring too if you want to waste your time and watch.

My advice for the average pet owners out there sifting through mountains of info looking for help…If a trainer can’t use a living, breathing dog to demonstrate their techniques they’ve got no business asserting to the public they actually know what the hell they are talking about, e-collar training or otherwise.

Comments

51 comments
  • Not trying to beat a dead horse, but I noticed something said about the profitability of remote collar training. I think it is quite an interesting statement. Most trainers who do use remote collars and sell them can tell you the margin of profit is close to nothing. If it was about making more money, don’t you think slow and steady would be the motto? Instead of four lessons for set criteria, we’d be saying let’s do 120…right? Fast isn’t as profitable when you look at it that way. Profitability may be arguable in the sense of customers saying it helped and word of mouth…but that idea that remote collar using trainers are making more money for any other reason than that….seems counter-intuitive. The companies that make the collars are much more likely to see profit from the sales of the collars. I’d have to compare profit margins on the fancier clickers out there, all the other tools used for motivation, etc…and then I honestly believe there would be better porfit margins in those things, from treat pouches, to different toys, tugs, leashes, harnesses, etc. Just a thought.

  • In response to those who ask why use the shock collar when other ways will work. You may see my not wanting to take the time to teach my standard poodle a great recall without the shock collar as laziness on my part. However I would like to let you know that regardless of what you think of me, I am thinking of the happiness of my dog. If I were go the way of training positive only recalls, my nine month old standard would not yet be able to do all of the things she loves. My dog loves to run. Sure I could take her on a run but I would never be able to run as fast or as long as should would like. She runs so fast that she looks like she is flying. Without my shock collar she would not be able to run off leash at the beach, park, campsite, or on 10 miles hiking trails(I must be lazy if I go on 10 mile hikes with my dog). My dog would not be able to burn off energy when I visit my parents who live on 5 acres that just happens to be next to a busy highway. I will tell you my dog loves her shock collar because it means that she gets to sprint for miles around the yard and jump over all the logs at the beach. My dog’s life would be limited to the end of her leash because I love her so much I will not risk her life just hoping that the positive reinforcement when she is chasing a flying bird will be good enough for her to go against her instinct of continuing to chase that bird. Yes I could take her to a dog park, but that would require a 45 minute drive to a park where other dogs may not be up to date on shots or trained. I also like to give my dog the freedom to run everyday, rather than only the times I have the free time to go to the dog park when it is open.

  • Beth, I completely agree that drive building is part of the process. Often people say, “well if it isn’t super reliable, you aren’t educated on it.” To be honest, I read Susan Garret’s blog a bunch. I also very familiar with Gail Tamassas Fisher, Karen Pryor, Patricia Mcconnel, Mario Versljype, Meghan Herron, and Sophia Yin to name a few. There unfortunately in the world of dog training is an applicable timeline for people getting the help they need that needs to factor in cost, time, available time, etc… Which means fast does apply sometimes. By no means am I saying remote collar training must be the first approach. I use a bunch of drive building. But let’s also be frank in realizing that even with drive building not all shih-tzu’s are going to be Mario’s malinios, or a high drive working line shepherd. Positive training is not super complicated, while there are many techniques.
    Let us also be honest that if we are talking science, that punishment according to operant conditioning is not what is always being used in these cases. Negative reinforcement, conditioned reinforcers that could be called positive reinforcement depending on your definition, and yes, maybe sometimes punishment. Nor does it have to be about dominance in all honesty. Why do we attach dominance theory to all arguments in regards to training that uses multiple quadrants? Kinda silly. Last, in almost every correlation study (which will always have too many variables to be solid science) we can find problems with not only how the data was collected, the control groups, the lack of tested variations on use of the tool, etc… All these studies have some serious fundamental problems to truly be definitive or comprehensive. What instead they tell us, is that certain uses create more adverse effects, while other uses can be understood and continued with drops in stress and cortisol. Days, weeks, months and years matter little when serious aspects were ignored in the first place. I respect all methods. Once again, love clicker training, love positive reinforcement. Does it mean they are permissive? NO, and you won’t catch me saying it. However, it doesn’t take a genius, if not so bias, to see where every quadrant, every method, every tool, every approach can be limited, thus the need to be open to more than a narrow minded view. So because I use or others here use many approaches that makes us narrow minded? I beg to differ that the opposite is the case. Instead I offer that narrow mindedness is being unwilling to see those that are not getting the help they need from some approaches, whatever they be. I do not force an owner to choose this tool or that. I look at what the dog is motivated by before hand, what drives we can build, the progress of that in a timeline, how effective it is, the owner’s ability to apply the principles, and what modifications to the approach, method, or training aids will increase their success. And no, I wouldn’t claim dogs to be computers. It does require relationship, time, work, effort, reading and listening to the dog, etc… We cannot guarantee 100%. What we can do is increase probability, and with multiple ways of looking at a problem vs a narrow set of options, increase the options we have to do so. But honestly, if you are set in your thoughts, why contribute here. I learn from all sides because I see the advantage. If you see no advantage…you are simply spouting without purpose here.

    • Sorry Jonathan although I agree it should not be the first port of call but I disagree 100% with it being needed at all as it does cause pain This link I posted shows how thin a dogs skin is compared to ours thus making their pain receptors closer to the surface than ours are.
      Love Jean, Karen, Patrica, & Sophia Yin I haven’t heard of the others but I know that those 4 I mentioned would never (from what I’ve read so far) recommend an E-collar now they are force free trainers. I will check out your other recommendations. Thank you 🙂
      http://www.vetwest.com.au/pet-library/skin-the-difference-between-canine-and-human-skin

      • Where in this article does it state that the proximity of the receptors to the surface of the skin influences pain perception? You have drawn that conclusion yet I do not see any science to support it. It is my understanding that in the scientific community pain perception is thought of as a subjective experience with distinct discriminative and emotional components.

        If your theory is accurate how is it that dogs can swim in much colder water than we can without exhibiting any pain. In fact I would say they seem to thoroughly enjoy it (those who like to swim)? How is that canines can carry their young by the skin of their neck (via the mothers teeth) and the pups make no fuss? How is it that they often play with one another with enough bite pressure to elicit bruising on our skin yet no noticeable discomfort to each other? In fact they seem to play very roughly “biting” one another with such force as to be “painful” to a human…

        Have you seen Sophia Yin’s scat mat video? Straight forward use of +P. She is no stranger to negative reinforcement either. I am not criticizing her. I respect much of her work, but some (like yourself) place these people on a pedestal of “no force” when it is simply not true. They may not speak openly about it and they may choose other tools (head halters, chest harnesses etc.) but they apply force non the less. Pressure is pressure, whether is is physical, spacial, social or otherwise. It can be applied in many ways and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. We all learn via pressure variance. Pressure on, pressure off. It is simple, clear and instructive.

        • By no means do I feel qualified to answer questions of neurological perceptions of pain across species, but I would like to point out that for the most part, dogs are better cold-adapted and less well heat-adapted than people (horses, meanwhile, have a huge range of temperatures they can tolerate well, in part due do adaptations like poor circulation in their legs and the ability to sweat). That has virtually nothing to do with how pain is perceived through the skin. On the skin, there is still a lot to parse out: Is the sensation pleasurable, sharp, confused (as with tickling), dull, throbbing, pressure, etc., etc? But all of that should matter little when using these collars since one should ALWAYS BE USING THE MINIMUM AMOUNT OF STIMULATION to get the desired response. Following that rule will inherently account for differences between people and dogs, between individuals, or in the same individual on a different day (eg hormone fluctuations are known to effect pain perception).

          As for carrying puppies, there’s a difference between biting something and holding something in your mouth, and while the latter shouldn’t be a big deal with a soft mouthed dog, it may very well not feel great. “Flea biting” always seemed like it was meant to focus pressure more above the skin and in the hair and around a flea, which is why it feels like crap on bare human skin, but that’s a guess.

          Carry on 🙂

      • You do realize there are millions and millions of dogs on remote systems? Where are the over-whelming cases of this explosion of rage? Again, I am not saying there can not be abuse of the tool. I’m not saying some have no education and should not be using the tool…but where is the overwhelming amount of dogs who have been ruined? Who supposedly live in pain? Who are so shut down?…remote collars have been around since the mid 60’s. (Thankfully the tool has had major advancements since then!) but they have been in existence a long time. Their popularity and use continues to rise. If they are so horrid and easily cause such effects the streets should be lined with examples of what your concerns are. Yet here on this blog, on the FB page, in other communities, people who have taken a bit of time to learn how to use the tool are singing its praises for what they have been able to accomplish and how much happier and content they perceive their dogs to be because of the clearer communication and relationship enhancing experience they’ve had. Do you think all these people are lying or are they just stupid and can’t see the truth right in front of them?

        • The dogs suffering from explosion rage make up a large number of those that have been PTS. I don’t think the people who train using these things are stupid I think they struggle to read a dogs body language & assume that because the dog doesn’t whimper or jump when they are given an electric shock but start to do what he person wants they assume the dogs are happy with it when they are not. I have adopted dogs from rescues that have had these devices used on them & I tried one once myself. These devices make the dogs shutdown & if you look in their eyes after you’ve used one of these you will see that their eyes are dull not bright & shiny like they used to be. These things only enhance the experience for the owner not the dog. E-collars only give “clearer communication ” that means if you do that agian I will zap you again so the dog chooses to avoid the pain by not going there agai.

          • So then perhaps all the dogs suffering from this “explosion” are going to hospitals other than mine?

            I can verify that 99% of the dogs that have been euthanized during my employment as a vet tech suffer from health issues far beyond what earthly medicine can fix. The remaining 1% have been the VERY rare behavioral cases where the only training that was applied was not effective–not because it worked and then all of a sudden, after years of a great life with the family, stopped working. In fact, there has been the rare case that I have persuaded to seek the services of a results-based trainer (and by that I mean one who applies training collars in a humane and effective manner), and of course the result is a dog that stays in the home instead of being PTS or sent to a shelter. That’s quite opposite to your experience!

            Please provide evidence of these dogs you say are being PTS in large numbers.

            Your visualization of a dog with “dull eyes” made me smile. Was the haircoat dull as well? Perhaps the misapplication of a training tool is the least of the dog’s worries. I have seen the spark of life in the bright eyes of a rack-of-bones pit bull that was later PTS at a rural kill shelter. I’ll bet that dog wasn’t given enough treats, right?

  • There are a lot of opinions and different comments on here, but I keep hearing people refer to the ecollar as a form of punishment training. I have a beautiful American Pitbull terrier. He is 5 years old, I got him from the local animal shelter when he was a couple months old. He passed the Canine Good Citizen test and we are a certified therapy dog team. I am a teacher and Primus has gone to school with me and read with children, he is a great dog. But he is still a dog and being a terrier brings along some dominant dog issues. We joined Sit Means Sit dog training 2 years ago and we love it. I do not use my collar as punishment, I don’t shock him when he is doing bad, I give him a level that correlates with his distraction and awareness when I give him commands. I have used all kinds of training, and yes they were beneficial, but I love this training and I feel it works best for my dog and me. My dog is checked regularly by the vet and there is no harmful effects of the collar. I know some of you will send me links that dissagree with that, but I have found that anything can be put on the internet so I am interested in the real deal that I see, and that is how this training has been great for my dog. I am not lazy, I don’t feel that the ecollar is the easy way, or the quick way, but it is efficient. And if you use your collar as a punishment that is wrong. My dog is not afraid of his collar, and he gets excited when I get it because he knows he is going for a walk or a ride. We attend training classes 1 to 2 times a week, and he also works without his collar. When we do therapy work and visit schools and nursing homes the collar is not allowed, so he goes without. Also, when I do obedience or rally work with him we also go without the collar. I can’t say enough good stuff about my Sit means sit trainers or my collar. But it all works because I took the time to learn the proper way to use and because I continue to work my dog and train him on a consistant basis. Training doesn’t work if you don’t use it.

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