Dispelling the Myths About Shock Collars
The use of electronic training devices has become increasingly
widespread. In 1998 pet owners worldwide purchased more than 300,000 remote
training collars, over 600,000 containment systems, and almost 600,000 bark
Why the popularity? These training systems have become much more
affordable, and pet owners are finding them to be a safe, effective means for
controlling the various behaviors that they find unacceptable.
As sales of these products increase, so do the not so favorable opinions
about them -- that they make dogs aggressive, that there is a greater chance
of failure than success when using them, that the shock they deliver is
painful, that they will result in significant injury to your pet.
These can all be classified as "myths", since there is very little hard
data available to prove or disprove them. However, recent studies are
providing results that allow for a more reasoned analysis of this technology.
Last year, one of the major manufacturers of electronic training
products retained an independent laboratory to compare the level of correction
produced by a pet containment system receiver to the shock produced by other
common circumstances and devices. The evaluation demonstrated that the "shock"
produced by a containment system is nowhere near the intensity that some
people believe. These results are shown in diagram below.
Manufactured by Pet Safe Training Systems, Model Number RF-250
This chart puts the correction into perspective. As you can see, the "shock"
produced by the containment system is nearly 40% less that than that one would
receive from walking on carpet. (Please note that static shock will vary
greatly depending on the relative humidity: the lower the humidity, the higher
Further, this study demonstrates that the training "shock" is
one-fourth the level of a cattle fence and one-twentieth the level of a stun
gun, two devices to which electronic training equipment is often unfairly
But even this study tells only half the story. It compared the voltage
put out by these devices...the intensity. You also need to consider the
duration. Reputable brands of electronic training equipment correct for only a
short period of time. The brand that has the UL mark of approval on its
receiver features a correction that lasts only 1/40 of a second -- less time
than it takes the average person to snap their fingers.
But what this study does demonstrate is that not all "shock" is the
same. And that the correction in question is not "painful," "powerful" or even
"uncomfortable." "Surprising" maybe, but none of the above.
Still, every animal will react differently to the correction. So you
should always approach a training situation with caution when using this kind
of equipment. As is usually the case, education is the answer. When you're
training a pet, you need to have as much information as possible...and a
behavior management plan to support you, as you would with traditional
training techniques. When looking at selecting a product select one that
provides you with both instructional manuals and videos.
If you choose a product that supplies you with these necessary
educational materials you will greatly increase your chances of success when
attempting to improve your dog's behavior. To help demonstrate this fact let's
look at a survey that was recently completed by a leading manufacturer of
electronic training equipment.
This company surveyed 1,025 dog owners that had been using one of three
types of electronic training equipment (remote training collar, bark control
collar or containment system) for a period of not less than 90 days.
The most significant findings came as the result of asking the pet owner
the following question, "Since using the electronic training product how would
you describe your pet's overall behavior?" The owner was asked to respond with
one of the following: a) better behaved (and specifically how), b) no change
in behavior or c) worse behaved (and specifically how).
The results are staggering. Slightly over 2/3 (860 of 1,025 dog owners)
responded that their dogs overall behavior had in fact improved since using
the electronic equipment. The graph below demonstrates the overall results.
Reasons that these dogs would show an overall improvement in their
behavior would include that the owners used the equipment correctly. Correct
use includes spending a significant amount of time working with and
socializing with your dog. When a dog receives an increase in time and
attention, his behavior will usually change for the better.
This survey also helps to dispel another myth about the use of
electronic training equipment - that it causes dogs to act aggressive. None of
the dog owners surveyed purchased the equipment for the purpose of eliminating
aggressive behavior. However, approximately 12% stated that another positive
side effect of using the equipment was that their dog no longer exhibited
occasional aggressive behavior that had been seen in the past. Also, of those
owners stating that their dogs behavior worsened in some way since using the
equipment, none reported the worsening being in the form of aggressive
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