Training dogs can be a controversial issue among individuals, dog trainers, and humane education supporters. One of the more debated issues in dog training is the use of shock collars or electronic dog collars (e-collars) to teach dogs with problematic barking problems to stop barking.
According to Sophia Charchuk, Media Coordinator with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) the use of shock collars, also known as e-collars, is becoming a growing concern for the safety and the mental welfare of dogs when used as a training device. Shock collars or e-collars easily transfer a severe shock or an electronic transmission into a dog's neck that is extremely painful, especially for sensitive dogs.
To support this argument, a brave PETA staffer voluntarily placed an e-collar around her neck to gain an understanding and an unbiased opinion of what a dog felt when receiving an electrical shock. The collar sampled for the test came with six-intensity levels. According to Charchuck, the volunteer did not make it past level three, and she revealed these findings: "Level one was an unpleasant, scary shock. Level two hurt and felt like something sharp was trying to stab into my neck. Level three felt like I actually was being stabbed in the neck, and I took the collar off right after that."
Charchuck shares "shock collars have built-in prongs that deliver the jolt into the dog's neck. So in addition to the painful shocks themselves, the dog endures constant discomfort as the prongs jab into the animal's neck. Multiple studies have found that shock collars are detrimental to a dog's welfare. One such study, conducted in the Netherlands, determined that shock collars are even worse than notoriously cruel choke collars or physically hitting the dog." Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a well-known canine behaviorist, says in his book The Well-Adjusted Dog, "I have seen deep ulcerating wounds develop in the necks of dogs fitted with e-type prong collars that are too tight or have been worn too long."
Further online research into the issue publicized that some electronic collars are not used for the intentional purpose to shock a dog. Many collars come with included features such as the beep mode, and the vibrate mode, which can help curve a behavior when complemented with gentle training processes.
Additional research provided some advantages and disadvantages with shock collars and e-collars:
Charchuck says "dogs' loyalty and devotion to their guardians are legendary. The mental anguish of a dog that is regularly made to suffer from painful electric shocks by the very person the dog loves above all else is nothing short of tragic. That's why kind dog guardians use positive reinforcement—such as praise and treats—to motivate their companions, and humane dog trainers stress the importance of training that is clear, consistent, calm, and compassionate."