When it comes to taking care of a dog, there are going to be many different things that you are going to need to invest your time and money into. From training and grooming your dog to making sure that it has a good collar, all dogs come with some degree of investment.
One of the most important things you will need to look for includes a dog training collar, of course. When you begin to go shopping for collars, you will soon realize that there are many, many different kinds of training collars out there. Eventually, you will come across the collar that has sparked controversy all across the country: the shock collar.
Shock collars are used for one of two purposes. They can be used as a training collar that you can use to administer negative reinforcement to the dog whenever it does the behavior that you do not want it to do. They can also be used in conjunction with a wireless fencing system, shocking the dog if it strays too close to the “fence” that is set up on your property.
The latter is generally a more acceptable way to use a shock collar, as there is usually a warning tone that comes before the shock. One thing you will want to keep in mind about shock collars is that you should never, ever purchase a collar like that until your dog knows all of the basic commands. This will help prevent you from using the collar out of frustration.
As you might be able to imagine, or as you might already know, there is a considerable amount of controversy surrounding shock collars and whether or not they should be used as an obedience training tool. As for an electronic fencing system, they can sometimes be looked down upon, but that is considered to be a much more “reasonable” way to use a shock collar.
One of the biggest issues with shock collars is the fact that it gives no positive reinforcement, which is one of the largest parts of training a dog.
Almost every single dog training resource that you come across is going to make a big point of using positive reinforcement to get your dog to do what you want. This is because it has been shown over and over that dogs respond very, very well to positive reinforcement over other types of reinforcement, especially negative reinforcement. This means that there is a very, very good chance that your dog isn’t quite going to learn that a certain behavior is wrong.
Another reason why shock collars create immense controversy is because dogs generally don’t understand which behavior warranted the shock. This means that there’s a very good chance that they will not be able to correct that behavior, and instead, they will begin living in fear of experiencing another shock.
Training a dog with fear is one of the worst things that you can possibly do, as it will generally create dogs that are aggressive, misbehaved, and unhappy. Nobody wants this to happen to their own dogs. In fact, a fearful dog can be a dangerous one, especially if it has had this kind of negative reinforcement for far too long.
Then, of course, there is controversy surrounding the idea of using any sort of pain to correct a dog’s behavior. It is hard to tell just how much pain you are putting your dog in, especially because much like people, dogs have varying levels of pain tolerance and pain response. Even if you go the smart route and use as little of a shock as possible that is effective, you might not know just how much it hurts your dog.
On top of that, there is the issue that these collars can cause swelling and inflammation if they are not properly kept.
Before you consider getting a shock collar for obedience training purposes, you might want to consider some alternatives to such a harsh method.
Consider Other Training Alternatives
There are two main things that you should try first before you jump straight to using a shock collar. Of course, these are only applicable if you are using the shock collar for obedience training purposes. If you are using the collar to keep your dog inside, the only thing that you need to remember is that you need to be outside with them so they can learn to associate the punishment with going too far away from you.
The first, and arguably the most important, thing to consider when trying to find alternatives is that you should try to use positive reinforcement. You might be surprised to see just how much it can really impact your dog to associate behaving properly with getting a reward. This includes treats, pets, playtime, toys, and so on.
Consider using positive reinforcement any time your dog doesn’t do the problematic behavior. For instance, if your dog has a tendency to bark at people passing by, if your dog doesn’t do the barking, you might want to consider giving it a treat.
Even if it seems excessive to give your dog that many rewards for doing something that it should have been doing in the first place, it has been shown many, many times that this is the most effective way to train a dog. While dogs might be smart, they don’t quite have the comprehension to understand negative reinforcement as much as they do with positive reinforcement. If you haven’t yet, you should make sure that you are using positive reinforcement to try and get the dog to do the behavior that you want.
The second thing that you should think about doing is seeing what exactly the issue is with training your dog. Sometimes, when you can pinpoint the exact issue, you will know how to better deal with it, or how to avoid the problematic situation altogether.
As many people use shock collars for dogs that bark too much, consider that example again. Consider exactly which situations set your dog off. Is it outside noises, and is there a particular one? Is it the idea of seeing animals outside, and whether or not the dog can get to them at all? Consider what the trigger is for your dog’s bad behavior and consider addressing that first before going straight to a shock collar.
Taking Care of a Shock Collar
Of course, whether you are using the shock collar with a fence or you have determined that using a shock collar is an appropriate form of training, you are going to want to make sure that you do things right.
One of the things you will want to make sure of is that you are taking proper care of the shock collar so that it isn’t negatively affecting your dog’s health.
There are three tips to remember here. Firstly, you are always going to want to make sure that you don’t leave the shock collar on for long periods of time. This doesn’t help anybody, and it can end up doing a lot more harm than good. Only use the collar for specific situations, such as taking the dog out to do its business.
Make sure that the setting of the shock isn’t burning your dog’s skin. Underneath that layer of fur, dogs have considerably sensitive skin. A shock collar that is on too high of an intensity can end up doing more harm than good as well, as it can end up causing permanent damage to your dog.
This is also something that nobody wants to have happen to their pet, and it is something that should be taken seriously. To make sure this doesn’t happen, you should always be using the mildest shock that gets results, and you should make sure that you check the area where the prongs were whenever you are taking the collar off.
Finally, remember to clean both the area where the prongs were, and the prongs of the collar. This is simply an important part of maintenance that you will need to remember to make sure that nothing goes wrong.
Be prepared, especially if your dog was very disobedient, that your dog might be sensitive in that area and not want to be touched. Do not punish your dog for this. Instead, be patient and wait for the sensitivity to go down a little bit before wiping down the area where the collar was. You can use this opportunity to check the area where the prongs were, making sure that no real damage was done to your dog’s skin or fur.
Making the Most of Using a Dog Training Collar
In the end, there might come a situation where you have to use a shock collar whether you want to or not. There are a few things to remember to make the most of the situation.
First of all, you should make sure to always combine positive reinforcement with using the collar to offset the negative reinforcement. This is the most that you can do to make sure that the negative reinforcement doesn’t have, well, negative effects on your dog.
Secondly, You will also want to make sure you use the mildest effective setting possible, as you can always go up if your dog decides to stop listening. Make sure not to use fear as your overarching method of training, as this will only create an aggressive dog.
At last, try to always be there, especially for fence collars, so that your dog can associate training with the shock rather than just being confused, afraid, and in pain. Doing these things will help lessen some of the issues that many people have trouble with when it comes to shock collars.