Once upon a time, there was a fair lady who loved canines so much she spent every day grooming and training them. One day, her Pomeranian fathered a litter of puppies, and she spent six months raising and training the sweet little furballs. While she loved all of them, she was especially fond of the blondest one in the litter. When it was time for the puppies to leave the nest and venture out into their own homes, the lady diligently chose a good home for each one of them. The blondest puppy went to a friend of the lady’s, a friend she trusted to give the tiny furball the love and care he deserved.
Fast forward six months. The lady, wondering about her beloved puppies, went on Facebook and found a photo album of little Blondie. After oohing and ahhiing over how big he had gotten, the lady’s eyes fell on something, and her heart instantly jumped to her throat.
A shock collar. Wrapped around the puppy’s tiny little neck was a collar considered so cruel and inhumane Wales made it illegal. The lady, who knew how trainable Blondie was, politely contacted her friend and informed her about the dangers of shock collars. It could cause anxiety and fearful aggression in Blondie. It could burn his skin. If used improperly, it could even fry the little puppy’s brain. The friend became defensive and rattled off the benefits of a shock collar: it made the puppy stop barking so much, stay inside her property, and avoid dangerous objects. The lady fired back with a much gentler alternative – reward training – which she knew very well had worked on Blondie. The friend then retaliated with the classic, “It’s my dog, so I can train him however I want.”
The intense argument turned into a huge controversy within their circle of friends on Facebook. This incident claimed the end of their friendship, and today, three years later, they still speak bitterly of each other.
True story. The lady and the friend were acquaintances of mine.
I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the first friendship to fall out over the issue of whether a dog shock collar is humane or not. It has always been a highly controversial topic.
The shock collar (which some electric collar companies have dubbed “gentle training collars” and “sport collars”) delivers an electric current to the dog (or even cat) through two contact points at the animal’s neck whenever he crosses an invisible line or his owner presses a button. The amount of pain and discomfort the dog experiences depends on the voltage level, the duration, and the frequency of the electric current. The smaller the dog is, the more sensitive he is to the electric currents. The amount of pain he feels can also depend on the type of fur he has and his temperament.
Some dog trainers say that shock collars bring many risks, like fearful aggression, the possibility of the dog linking the shock with the wrong thing, and serious injury or eventual death of the dog due to poor handling on the owner’s part. The bottom line, they say, is that shock collars can permanently traumatize a dog, physically and mentally.
Other dog trainers see nothing wrong with shock collars. They’re quick to list the advantages of a shock collar, such as the owner’s ability to control the dog from a distance, “automatic training” in the owner’s absence, and providing a shortcut to teaching the dog his exact boundaries.
If you ask me, I’m not a big fan of those things. I believe that, because dogs are always eager to please their owners, there’s a way to train even the most attention-challenged dog with rewards and lots of hugs and kisses. It just takes a lot of time and patience, that’s all. I don’t think dogs deserve to suffer just because their owners are too lazy or busy to train them properly. Just my two cents!
What do you think? Are you for or against dog shock collars? Aye or nay?