There are currently a large number of collars and other electronic equipment that help in the training of dogs, especially when it comes to correcting inappropriate behaviors. All of them generate great controversy and discussion as to whether they are humane or not, whether they cause pain and suffering to the dogs or not. I believe that it is not possible to generalize; there are particular situations in which they are of great help and also more sensitive or fearful dogs that can be harmed by this type of devices. We will make a description of the electric collar for dogs as objective as possible so that you can get to know it and decide if it is good or not for your pet.
History of the first electric dog collars
The first electronic equipment appeared in the 1950s, usually to keep dogs from chasing deer or cattle or to keep hunting dogs from returning to their masters at the end of the day. They were quite rudimentary, but proved useful for administering corrections from a distance. However, the shock they administered was quite strong and painful. They were not effective for training, as the dogs became frightened and lost enthusiasm for working due to the fear of punishment.
It became apparent that this electric dog collar needed to be improved so that it could be used without undesirable side effects. In the 1960s and 1970s, work was done to make electrical stimulation work safely to elicit appropriate behaviors in dogs rather than serve only to administer punishment. From research it became clear that dogs are individuals with different sensitivities and temperaments and equipment with very low levels of electrical stimulation was developed. These modern collars can also be regulated to deliver an appropriate shock for each animal, neither too low as to be ineffective nor too high as to frighten the dog; they are graduated so as to cause mild discomfort. These improvements meant that the electric dog collar could be used safely in many more situations than earlier models.
Electric collar or traditional training?
It is important to make clear that the collars do not replace the traditional education systems, where the dog learns one by one the basic commands being rewarded every time he does what is expected of him. This training is fundamental to get the dog used to obey, to understand what behavior he must have and above all, to know that he must submit to people, who are his “leader in the pack”. In this training, the electric collar for dogs can also be used, but as an additional tool or support. Many of the education problems that are presented in consultation would improve with only a basic education of the animal, without the need of electronic equipment.
Even so, there are dogs that need to receive corrections because they persist in their inappropriate behavior. These corrections should not be physical punishments or anything that causes pain, insecurity or fear. The goal is to startle the dog to regain his attention. This is where electronic systems come into play.
Types of electric dog collars
Depending on the characteristics of each collar, they can help you to apply a correction when you are not present, for example in the case of dogs that bark too much or enter places they are not allowed to, or cats that should not get on a couch, etc. They also act at a distance, when the dog is too far away to hear your voice or decided not to obey you.
There are electric collars that have different levels of electrical stimulus, to adjust it according to the sensitivity of each dog. Some of them have safety systems to avoid unnecessary or prolonged shocks. There is also an electric collar for dogs that emits an unpleasant sound or vaporizes the animal’s face with citronella instead of generating an electric stimulus. The most advanced ones emit an audible alert before applying the correction, so that the dog has time to change its behavior and avoid the unpleasant stimulus.
In my opinion, any behavioral correction should be accompanied by obedience “classes” to reinforce the notion of who is in charge in the house. E-collars are a valuable tool that should be used with common sense, but it is not enough to just put it on the dog and that’s it.
In Tiendanimal you can find all models of training collars and bark collars for dogs that you can imagine. You can choose the one that best suits you and your pet. Remember that it does not necessarily have to be an electric collar, there are also vibration, sound or spray collars.
Is the electric collar for dogs dangerous?
As to whether they are harmful to dogs, as I said before, you can’t generalize. The electrical stimuli are really low, almost like the static you feel when you brush against a carpet. Some people equate them with an electric prod, but this is by no means true; if you compare the voltages, the collars have twenty times less intensity when they are set at maximum.
Because of the psychological effect they can have, I believe that the electric dog collar is not suitable for nervous or skittish animals, as it will be a new source of fear for them, something that will make them even more nervous. They should also not be used on very young animals, who have not finished forming their “personality”; this occurs between 1½ and 2 years, depending on the size of the dog. If your dog is very sensitive to pain, you may not want to use an e-collar; not so much because it is too strong, but because the dog may take each shock as an aggression and feel insecure and very upset.
If you decide to use an electric collar for dogs, it is important that you study well its operation before placing it on the animal. These tools can be used correctly or incorrectly, and the results you obtain will depend to a great extent on that. Spend a lot of time observing your pet’s reactions when receiving the corrections so that you can evaluate if he tolerates them well or if he gets too scared. Remember that these should not be a corporal punishment, but only a wake-up call to regain control over your dog.
So far, more positive than negative results have been obtained with the use of electric collars for dogs, so they are a safe tool that, when used properly, can be a great help in the training of our pets.