Such tools are often sold as harmless devices, and they’re proliferating. Don’t play along.
I’m amazed how many tools you can buy that cause dogs pain and fear. There’s the SimpleLeash, a leash and shock collar combo that automatically shocks your dog every time the leash goes tight — that is, every time she wants to smell something, investigate a new person, or lift a leg on a tree out of leash range. Which is to say, every time she wants to be a dog.
There are now collars that shock your dog when he barks, collars that shock your dog at the press of a button for any reason you like, and mats that shock your dog when they place their paws on them. You can even get a handy-dandy Stay! Mat Wireless Crate, which shocks your dog if he gets up from the mat until he returns to it and lies down. Yeesh! If I am reincarnated as a dog, please don’t let it be to a home where I have to use one of those.
These tools are often sold to well-intentioned pet owners swayed by a variety of euphemisms — a shock is referred to as a “sensation,” a “tickle,” a “tap,” a “stimulation.” They would probably be a pretty hard sell if “shock” were used, or if you were told this tool would hurt your dog. If a dog is “man’s best friend,” we sure have a funny way of showing it.
For some dogs, these tools seem to create few unwanted side effects. Like with people, tolerance for pain varies widely among dogs, and for dogs that have a higher pain tolerance and a strong prey drive, a shock of a few seconds is easily trumped by the joy of chasing a deer — in other words, it’s worth the trouble.
For others, the side effects may be more subtle and only readily apparent to someone well-versed in reading dog body language: a succession of lip licks, yawns, and head turns, which are saying, “Please make it stop.”
Shock collars can create anxiety, stress, fear and unwanted aggression in dogs. They can make a dog skittish, nervous and create an array of new problems.
Pet owners purchase shock tools in desperation, not knowing how to improve their dogs’ quality of life. Some are hoping for a quick fix to long-standing behavior problems. Instead, they end up having to address the original problem and also repair the damage done by inappropriate training tools and techniques. Dog owners, don’t be fooled. There are other training techniques that will be far more effective with far less damaging results on your dogs.
Would you want to walk around with a shock collar on all day not knowing when that moment will come and you’ll be zapped by an electrical jolt!