This Shocking Item Set Off My BS Meter

I’m kinda gullible about people. If someone tells me something, I tend to believe it.

After all, why would they lie?

Thanks to a good liberal arts education, I don’t have the same failing when I read something.

And it’s a good thing. Because I got a shocking email recently that set off my BS detector big time.

BS for sale.

Not all BS comes with a sign telling you what it is. Sometimes you have to dig around to figure it out.

Shocking Press Release

Do you ever read something and ask yourself, “Is anybody actually fooled by this? It’s so transparently ridiculous.”

Well I got a press release last week that had me saying just that.

The subject was how shock collars will help more pets have loving homes. No really. That’s right in the title.

See for yourself.

PetSafe shock collar press release screen shot.

My purpose is to point out the BS you’ll find in many such releases, not to demonize the person who wrote this one. Hence the daisy.

It takes a lot of mental gymnastics to push the “benefits” of shock collars.

Oh, and there’s a lie right in the title. The press release doesn’t actually say that 86% of pet owners found static stimulation helpful. It says “86 percent of pet owners who use static stimulation collars have used them for a pet life-saving purpose.” That doesn’t mean they worked. And it’s certainly not 86% of pet owners. 

I hate sloppy logic.

Let’s use those critical thinking skills your English, philosophy, and history teachers tried to drum into you.

Honey the golden retriever on her leash.

What are some of the things you could do to keep your dog happy and safe that don’t shock her? How about taking her for walks on leash?

Testing The Text

(Read the entire press release here. All the emphases below are mine.)

Bring on the BS. Let’s scoop some poop.

BS, paragraph 1:  “Shock collars, referred to more appropriately by the industry of electronic collar manufacturers as static stimulation collars, have changed significantly over the last 60 years, yet understanding of the value of the product has remained the same.”

Scooping It Up:  First, the sentence doesn’t say what it means. The intention is to tell us that we should call shock collars “static stimulation collars.”

But if you take it at its word, the industry that makes millions of dollars from selling shock collars considers it appropriate to call them static stimulation collars.

Okay, call them what you want. They don’t deliver static. They deliver an electric shock.

Take a look.

Wow, that guy is really sensitive to static.

BS, paragraph 1:While there are strong and opposing views about the use of static stimulation products within the pet professional community, a recent study conducted by Wakefield Research for Radio Systems® Corporation, the maker of the PetSafe®Invisible Fence® and SportDOG™ brands, reveals that unfamiliarity and misconceptions of static training products among pet owners are also wide-spread.”

Scooping It Up: So a company that makes shock collars conducted a survey. That doesn’t sound biased. I wonder what it will say?

The survey included 1000 people. In it, 86% said they used a shock collar to protect their dog’s life, such as by keeping them in the yard. Okay, let’s learn more.

Honey the golden retriever puppy makes a friend at class.

Finding a puppy training class?

BS, paragraph 2: “One pet owner, Tami Kolinsky, said, “We thought about getting [an electronic dog] fence but had mixed feelings about the idea of electric shock collars.” After Daisy, their Jack Russell Terrier, was tragically killed by a speeding car, Kolinsky said, “We were heart broken and promised to not let our other three pups get hurt.” “

Scooping It Up: Let’s bring in an emotional story. Who couldn’t relate with the tragedy of losing a loved one in a horrible accident?

I hate “blame the victim” arguments. My fight is with companies who use BS to sell shock collars.

But if the Kolinsky family had installed a fence, hired a trainer, or started daily, supervised walks with their dogs to keep them safe we wouldn’t be reading about them here.

Honey the golden retriever puppy stands near a fence.

Building a fence?

BS, paragraph 3: The survey revealed that more than 60 percent of pets are not fully trained and 30 percent are consistently exhibiting an undesirable behavior (such as running away, property damage and/or excessive barking).”

Scooping It Up: The paragraph continues by implying that fewer dogs would end up unwanted in shelters because of poor training if people used shock collars.

Of course there’s no proof of that. Just speculation.

Listen, shock collars do work as a training tool under the same principles of operant conditioning as clicker training. But if 60% of a survey group can’t be bothered to train their dog, why would buying a shock collar give them a sudden interest in learning about operant conditioning and developing split second timing to train their dog to new behaviors?

Heck, if they’re willing to do all that, they could buy a cheap clicker, some stinky snacks, get a good book from the library and train their dogs for a lot less money. And far less pain.

Honey the golden retriever puppy near a baby gate.

Putting up baby gates?

BS, paragraph 6: “Using static stimulation to reinforce a recall, stop jumping or barking could free up owners to take their pets more places which would, in turn, provide exercise and socialization that ultimately leads to a more relaxed and well-adjusted pet.”

Once again, more speculation.

But the crazy thing is that there are many tools to help dog people manage behaviors and train new ones. And some of them are sold by the same company trying to tell us how important shock collars are for keeping dogs in happy homes.

Honey the golden retriever as a puppy with her food toy.

Stimulating her brain with food toys?

Several years ago, PetSafe bought Premier, the company that sold an extensive line of food toys (great for stimulating your dog and tiring him out), harnesses that kept dogs from pulling, martingale collars that prevent dogs from slipping away and getting lost, and training clickers.

I wonder why PetSafe doesn’t spend more time promoting their less-aversive line of dog tools?

Could it have anything to do with a no-pull harness selling for $14 while “remote trainers” (what they call shock or static stimulation collars on the packaging) cost anywhere from $40 to over $100?

I wonder what the profit margins are on these different items?

Shadow the mixed breed dog has a pretty smile.

Using an Easy Walk harness?

BS, paragraph 8: “When asked a series of seven questions about static stimulation products, 69 percent of respondents got three or more facts wrong about the products, and an astounding 97 percent got at least one fact wrong. Unfortunately, these misconceptions have led many pet owners to write off the use of static stimulation collars, and in many cases, training their pets in any form before doing even a little research. 52 percent of pet owners who got at least one fact wrong about static stimulation say that they would only use static stimulation products as a last resort.”

Scooping It Up: Here’s where I really lose my temper. Where’s this survey?

I get several press releases about pet products every day. Lots of them, especially those promoting pet causes, will refer to a survey or study. And most press releases include a link to the study or survey.

So what are these “facts” the survey respondents got wrong? We all know how poll results change depending on how you ask the question. And is it really true that people with “misconceptions” about the value of shock collars write off “training their pets in any form…?”

Really?

Honey the golden retriever puppy plays with Toshi the doodle.

Planning play dates with friendly, well socialized dogs?

BS, paragraph 11: Not-for-profit organizations such as The Partnership for Electronic Training Technology (PETT) are committed to consumer education and advocate for the safe use of modern electronic training collars.”

Scooping It Up: I wasn’t convinced by this press release to believe that shock (oops, static stimulation) collars offer any benefits to my relationship and communication with my dog.

Luckily, the companies have banded together to form a not-for-profit organization to educate me further.

I spent some time on the site looking for educational resources. In the FAQs, the PETT website claimed I could use a shock collar to teach my dog to come to me.

One again, you don’t have to convince me that positive punishment (that’s the scientific term used in operant conditioning) works. But I’m curious. How do you shock a dog to come to you?

The website doesn’t tell you. There are no training tips or information about the science behind the training.

Do you think PETT might be more about increasing profits for the companies than “committed to consumer education?”

Honey the golden retriever learns to sit on a wobble board.

Training on agility equipment?

But Pam, Why Are You So Cranky

If you’ve read Something Wagging for a while, you know that I try to find a middle ground. I avoid squabbles that do nothing to help animals. I look for gentle ways to approach controversial, and personal choices, like eating animal products.

But this press release really pissed me off. And it still does.

I understand that people have different opinions from mine. They see the world differently. And I can’t fight them out of their beliefs.

But I hate nothing more than seeing people obfuscate, spin, and just plain lie for personal gain.

There is the Republican Senator who argued recently that building a pipeline to transport oil from Alberta’s tar sands to refineries on the gulf coast would make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil. (Really? We’ve annexed Canada now? I thought Canada was a foreign country.)

And how about the current presidential administration arguing that any male over the age of 13 killed in a drone strike is a likely terrorist to make the number of civilians killed look lower?

Don’t even get me started on large commercial puppy breeders whose websites claim they raise their dogs in a home setting. Yeah, because you’re willing to live within 200 yards of kennels filled with scared, barking, neglected dogs does not mean they’re raised in a home environment.

If you believe something is true, stand up and say it. Don’t wrap your words in passive language and sentences that imply ideas but don’t really mean anything.

Honey the golden retriever puppy in her crate.

Using a crate?

The Truth About Shock Collars

What is the truth about shock collars that was not directly mentioned in the press release? They are an effective way of teaching a dog according to current learning theory.

Lara Elizabeth at My Rubicon Days took on the challenging task of explaining the science of learning theory and operant conditioning in her post about shock collars. She made a graphic with a wonderful quote by veterinarian and dog behaviorist, Dr. Ian Dunbar: “To use shock as an effective dog training method you will need three things—a thorough understanding of canine behavior, a thorough understanding of learning theory, impeccable timing. And if you have those three things you don’t need a shock collar.”

Never Shock a Puppy graphic.But whether a shock collar teaches a dog something or not is beside the point for me. I follow the Never Shock A Puppy Manifesto. And I believe that dog training is all about the relationship.

There’s nothing about a buzzer, vibration, or shock when you push a button that builds your bond with your dog.

Promoting shock collars to a mass market of uneducated dog owners as an easy way to make life with your dog more happy is irresponsible at best. And total BS.

Connecting with my Golden Retriever.

Or even practicing for the Canine Good Citizen Exam.

Making It Personal

I’ve done really dumb things in my life as a dog person. I hope I’m getting smarter.

But even when faced with dogs who fought constantly and destroyed my house, I never felt I should resort to a shock collar for training. I can’t say why. It just didn’t feel right.

The notorious Agatha and Christie, as sweet little old ladies.

The notorious Agatha and Christie, as sweet little old ladies.

Now I know more. I’ve gained some basic dog training skills. And I still screw up.

When I’m using clicker training to teach Honey to close a door with her nose, I mess up. Thanks to my bad timing, I’ve confused Honey and gotten her lifting her paw when she closes a door.

But when I screw up training with my clicker, Honey only gets a treat. Never a shock.

Does training make your dog happy?

At first, I accidentally taught Honey to jump on my arm. It took a while until I figured out how to teach her to put her paws on an object. But my mistake still got her a treat.

I know people who use remote collars to train their dogs who do understand the science and use them sparingly. I don’t agree it’s necessary. But I appreciate that they’ve thought about it seriously and educated themselves about the collar’s use. And I’m unlikely to convince them to change their minds.

But they aren’t the average dog owner this press release hopes to reach.

I saw a more typical use of a shock collar while vacationing with Honey on Cayuga Lake.

At the lakeshore, we met a man with a Labrador and a golden retriever. Both of them were wearing shock collars.

They were perfectly nice dogs. They said hello to Honey (who remained on leash) and then went off to explore.

Every time one of the dogs got too far away from his person, he’d touch a button and we’d see one of the dogs give a little shake of his head.

The crazy part was watching the owner shock his dogs over and over again. And at different distances.

He didn’t decide that a certain tree was the farthest he wanted his dogs to go. If he felt they were exploring a little too much he shocked them.

The dogs didn’t learn a thing.

I guess the owner got what he wanted. The dogs did move slightly closer after a shock.

But the man better watch out if his batteries die. Because I doubt those dogs would pay any attention to their person without a remote in his hand.

Pam ask Honey if she loves her.

It’s all about the relationship.

Beyond The BS

Yes, training dogs makes them less likely to end up surrendered to shelters. I have no argument with anyone who promotes training for that reason. Even if they stand to make money by it.

But training is about more than keeping your dog from being a nuisance. It’s about growing a relationship.

Training isn’t pushing a button. It’s building a bond.

And spreading half-truths wrapped in passive language and sprinkled with loaded language about saving dogs’ lives just to make more money selling electronic equipment is just BS.

 

photo credits: (Bullshit) Doug Beckers via photopin cc. Never Shock a Puppy graphic appears with permission by Roxanne Hawn. Click on the images to learn more.

 

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Comments

  1. Yvette Van Veen says:

    I do NOT use shock collars. But to answer your question, they use negative reinforcement to build behaviours with a shock collar. Usually the process is:
    Teach the dog the meaning of the word using R+. (Not always, often this is done.)
    Put the dog on a long line. (Done so the dog doesn’t bolt when shocked.)
    Call the dog. Add the aversive (continuous shock). Turn the shock off when the dog is coming toward you.
    This way the dog learns that the way to turn it off is to come very quickly. The faster they come, they avoid the shock altogether.
    It’s entirely possible to use shock to build behaviours. Generally, if you see an aversive and an increase in behaviour, you’re in the realm of negative reinforcement. The animal is working for the relief they get from some type of pain, pressure, fear, discomfort….aversive.
    Again…not that I do it. But I am a crossover trainer and know how it’s done by many.

    • Thank you, Yvette, for explaining.

      It appears the collar is used to reinforce the recall, not teach it. And I believe that’s what the press release actually said.

      There is no better feeling than having a dog with a dynamite recall. But I like knowing that my dog comes running to me because I’m promising good things instead of because she’s trying to escape something.

      • Yvette Van Veen says:

        You can do it without the treat. You can use the collar to teach a recall. You can use negative reinforcement to create many behaviours.
        I just personally don’t like it for a variety of reasons. At the very least, the animal has to experience and aversive to learn to avoid it. Unlike humans who can be verbally told of consequences.
        Just point out that recalls can be taught with shock rather than perhaps letting someone else point that out in a less than pleasant manner. I also love a speedy positive reinforcement trained recall. It’s a thing of beauty.

  2. Margaret T says:

    Thank you. I’m passing this on, OK? Lots of people need to read it. The people who recommend expensive training courses where you turn over your puppy to some guy who puts a shock collar on him and gives you back a shut down puppy (but, oh so calm! and miserable….) in a week–those people I despise. Or maybe even hate, but I think I’m too rational to actually hate.

    • Yeah, that’s craziness in my book too. It’s training when you and your pup bond the most. Who’d want to miss out on that by farming their dog out to be trained by a stranger?

      And no need to even talk about the shock collar thing. You know where I am on that.

  3. “Static Stimulation” collar?!? Oh, that’s rich. Great job of scooping it up!

    • Yeah, I hate bogus language. Pre-owned cars? Restrooms? Ugh.

      And as Lara Elizabeth points out in her comment below, it’s not even factually accurate.

    • He joked his way out of it. He insisted it was teaching his dog to not run out in the road. Scornful looks are. the best you can do if words do not work in this situation.

  4. Excellent post. You spent a lot of time on this, and everyone should appreciate the effort. I hate shock colors, too. A friend at work started using one on his dog. All I ever said to him on the subject was” you wear it. Then talk to me”.

    • I’m curious if your workmate ever did try the collar on himself. I think that should be the least you should do before trying such a thing.

  5. Great article Pam. Shock collars have always seemed medieval to me. I can’t imagine any person, or any company thinking they are OK. Would you use one on a child for all those same reasons? I think not, so why use it on a dog.

  6. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who gets verbose on this topic! Thanks for dismantling that press release claim by claim. Like you, I would never use a shock collar because I would never use a shock collar. It just feels wrong. Just as I don’t need science to tell me that my dogs are emotional, intelligent beings, I don’t need science to tell me not to shock my dog. It’s still nice to have science on our side for the sake of argument. Effective doesn’t mean ethical.

    I sure would like to know the annual revenue for these terrible tools – I tried to find some information like that in researching my post, but didn’t come up with anything concrete. It shouldn’t be surprising that PetSafe’s parent company is Radio Systems Corporation – how else for an electronics company to corner the booming pet supply industry?

    I’m sickened that shock collars are promoted as easy, effective and harmless tools for the average pet owner. I have seen some people frustrated by the precision required by clicker training switch to a shock collar – which should require EVEN MORE precision since you are dealing with a potentially damaging aversive.

    I could go on all day, but thank you for another thoughtful post on the matter – I think all we can do is keep using our blogging voices to try and influence those who will listen.

  7. According to Wikipedia, referring to them as “static collars” is also factually inaccurate:

    “Shock collars are sometimes referred to as delivering a “static shock”; however, static electricity is direct current and carries little energy (order of millijoules). Shock collars make use of alternating current. It is therefore inappropriate to refer to shock collars as delivering a static shock.”

    • Thanks for the research on the meaning of static. In truth, I find normal winter static unpleasant enough. I can’t imagine suffering from an AC shock over and over.

      And amen a million times on your comments about the lie that shock collars are easy for novice animal people to use. Really?

  8. you wouldn’t catch us using one! Horrible things!

    • And look how good your pups are. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some way to show off all the excellent dogs trained by kind methods to inspire people who are tempted by shock collars?

  9. And PetSafe just lost another customer. I’ve purchased their water fountains in the past. This is irresponsible and it kills me that they’ll probably be a sponsor at BlogPaws. I know that not everyone shares my views on this, but there are certain brands that I believe (and PetSafe has proven this through this press release) that they’re more focused on profits than animals. I’m sorely disappointed.

    Thanks for calling them out on this. I’m so glad that I didn’t receive this email.

    • Unfortunately, PetSafe now owns so many of the good positive reinforcement tools, too, because they know that not everyone wants to use punishment. I got one of their treat-dispensing toys in this month’s Bark Box and now I have to examine that partnership as well, and how far to extend my boycott.

      • I was very upset when Premier sold to PetSafe. I loved their products. And I’d love to replace Honey’s Tug-A-Jug and Easy Walk harness. But I just can’t bring myself to put more money in PetSafe’s pockets.

        • I think that the Freedom harness is comparable to the Easy Walk and is made by an independent company. It’s not exactly the same, but West Paw has a new treat dispensing toy, the Toppl, that looks interesting. I’m always searching for alternatives, too – both of the top remote trainers, like the Treat & Train developed by Dr. Sophia Yin, are manufactured by shock collar companies, now. I did find another from an agility company.

          Jessica and I are constantly updating our Force Free Shopping Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/myimperfectdog/force-free-shopping/

          • Thanks for the link to the pinterest board. That’s a great resource.

            Sorry to see that Garmin also sells shock collars. They’re one of the biggest sellers of boat GPS and navigation equipment. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

            I’ve bought an independent front-fastening harness and didn’t like it. I’ll check out the Freedom harness and the Toppl.

    • If PetSafe is a BlogPaws sponsor, I hope they get major push back.

  10. I have no experience with shock collars at all. However I did a post a while back about training sessions to teach dogs to avoid snakes. The sessions were sponsored by a veterinarian clinic and conducted by an experienced trainer using shock collars by some euphemism. Some readers came unhinged, but I think if we lived in poisonous snake country I would seriously consider that as a life-saving measure.

    • The one time I paused to think more about shock collars when was I read Ted Kerasote writing in Pukka’s Promise about using one to teach his free-range dog to avoid stampeding herds.

      In the end, I decided that we manage the risks we expose our animals too. I’d rather manage the risk another way than to shock my dog.

      Even if you believe the snake scenario justifies the use of a shock collars, we both know that’s not the situation these companies are talking about. They’re marketing to people who want an easy way to “fix” their dogs or who are unwilling to walk their pups or build a fence.

  11. We’re with you on shock collars – never used one, never wanted to really. I know some folks who use them and wouldn’t judge, but do try to talk them out of it if I have the opportunity. Calling it a static collar is so annoying – that’s not what it is. And their idea of demonstrating on a person…how do we know that dogs feel the same sensation – did one of them tell you? Drives me nuts.

    • I saw some YouTube comments from people swearing that even if a collar hurts a person it doesn’t hurt a dog because of their fur. Or because dogs don’t feel as much pain.

      It’s amazing how authoritative people who know nothing can sound without any qualifications at all.

  12. Pam, I love you.

    I am just gutted at how PetSafe has seemingly taken over the blog community these last few weeks, convincing perfectly rational people that these things are A-Ok. I’m glad to see one of the “big guys” standing up to them.

    • Right back atcha, Jessica. :)

      PetSafe usually does a big push around the end of the year holidays. When I first started blogging, I won a prize from them for writing a dog version of the 12 Days of Christmas. I had no idea they were such big sellers of shock collars until Mary Haight told me.

      My prize included a pet fountain and a warming bed that, when I looked it up, had been recalled. So much for integrity.

      So I’m assuming lots of bloggers got this press release and other forms of outreach for their end of the year push.

      Oh, and thanks for the laugh about being one of the “big guys.” I can only assume it’s good natured ribbing about my body because it certainly doesn’t describe my blog numbers. :)

  13. I’ve seen several posts lately about this particular item. I’m assuming that the company sent out a bunch of freebies hoping people would say nice things. Unlike you, I would see the post, yell “wrong” and immediately hit delete.

    We have people here at the beach that use a shock collar/remote combo that they call an “electronic leash.” Fortunately it is not recognized as a leash under our city ordinance. And when the ordinances came up for review/rewriting I pushed really hard to keep it out. Like you, I disagree with them and feel there’s got to be a kinder way to teach your dog.

    That being said, I knew a couple women who have cadaver dogs. These dogs are trained to search out dead bodies, often in the woods or through the marsh. it’s not uncommon for the dog to be fifty to a hundred yards ahead of its handler. Shock collars were used to teach these dogs snake aversion. Snakes were put in cages and the dogs were shocked anytime it showed interest in the snake. My friend hated doing it but she thought it was better than her dog getting bit by a poisonous snake. I understand the purpose, but I don’t think I could do it.

    • Jan from the Poodle and Dog blog did a piece on using shock collars to teach snake aversion.

      I can understand the desire to keep a companion or valuable working dog safe. But if I, the rotten trainer that I am, can teach a food-motivated golden retriever to “leave it” when someone drops chicken on the ground, I assume there must be more humane ways to teach dogs to avoid snakes.

      I was also tempted to hit delete when this press release hit my inbox. But I hate the misuse of language nearly as much as I hate harming puppies.

  14. What surprises me is how many animal rescue groups are okay with the shock collar or the shock containment system.

    I wonder how you can say you are thinking of an animal’s welfare but allow the new owner to shock the dog.

    • Well some rescue groups are accused of being too fussy when placing animals in adoptive homes. Others might need to be a little choosier.

  15. Yikes!
    Great post! I just read one about the harmful effects of giving peanut butter to dogs and its cancer causing ingredients that had me rolling over laughing in hysterics!
    We are not a fan of shock collars, their are vibrating collars that are used to teach deaf dogs to “check in” but they don’t shock or cause pain – those I understand the use of, we had a deaf dog at one time. But an electrical shock?! NO way.
    In some dogs like my Ziva, she has a pretty soft personality. I hate to admit it but I lost my temper with her about 4-5 months ago when she chewed up yet another rug of mine…I didn’t hit her! But I yelled, and she slunk around me for days! I had totally broken her trust, now I’m careful about my reactions and constantly working to build trust. If I ever were to allow anyone to put a collar on her it would send her mentally back to the stone ages and i’m positive she would shut down. Nothing would be learned except fear.
    I’ve seen one instance where a shock collar was properly used, he was an aggressive husky mix, they used it as punishment when he displayed any adverse behaviors towards humans or dogs, he had bitten several people before they resorted to shock.
    They would warn him first, then reinforce their warning with what they called a, “bite” (shock)…surprisingly he seemed to learn better from it. They don’t use it anymore, and he immediately stops when they warn him about something. They are also using lots of positive training now that that initial phase has passed. They had initially considered euthanizing him, he was too much of a liability to adopt out to someone else – in this case i’m glad they found a solution and he is living a happy productive shock free life now. Maybe something else would have worked, but they felt painted into a corner and wanted to deal with the issues quickly. *They had adopted him without knowing his past and were surprised to discover his aggressive tendencies.

    • I understand what you mean when you talk about Ziva being a soft dog. Honey is too. She could never handle rough training methods.

      Just like in our human relationships, we build and break trust all the time. The best we can do is keep trying to build that relationship so that even when we feel we’ve let someone done, they forgive us and we can move on.

      As expected, a few people have shared stories about effective uses of shock collars. My argument is with a company that doesn’t like their product being thought of as a tool of last resort. Instead, they think they’re an easy training tool that any dummy can use.

      I don’t even want to think of a world where almost anything thinks of a shock collar as a training tool of first resort.

  16. Absolutely fabulous article! Its so wonderful to see someone tell the truth and clean up the BS. Its disgusting how they are trying to push these tools to the general uneducated public… :( Thank you for sharing!!

    • Thanks.

      It’s especially awful when there are so many excellent, and humane trainers out there that can help families solve issues they’re having with their dogs.

      I guess they’d argue that a shock collar is cheaper than personalized work with trainer. I feel sorry for anyone who would make such a bad trade-off.

  17. Horrible things, shock collars! There are hundreds of other nicer ways to teach a dog :)

    Great post!

  18. I have seen someone use a shock collar to stop their dog running off. The dog goes and hides rather than head out the door when that collar is picked up to put on him. That’s all I need to know!

  19. I have heard these same “it’s a positive training tool, you’re just doing it wrong” lines for decades. Prong collars are the worst of these but now that a huge, profiteering corporation like PetSafe wants to sell more shock collars, they’re going to BS us to no end. I tend to be more of a “just ignore them and they’ll go away” person about it- I speak with my money and my attention- but I very much appreciate you calling the BS out in this well laid out post.

  20. I absolutely agree- total hogwash!

  21. You are too awesome. Thanks for tearing this apart. Maybe we should teach these people a lesson with a static stimulation collar. But let’s place it a little lower than the neck.

  22. I’ve watched them in action and I cannot stand them! I have a neighbor who uses one to control / stop barking. I want to put it around her neck so bad…. #enoughsaid

  23. I don’t understand how they can have a not-for-profit organisation simply to sell their products. The wording in that press release is sickening – and the thought of more people using these things without a clue what they’re doing is scary.

    • Here in the U.S., we have lots of advocacy groups for private, commercial interests.

      Fossil Fuel companies are especially guilty. They come up with names like “Smart Energy Solutions” or the like and they’re simply promoting their own businesses.

      I’m just surprised the electric collar folks didn’t call their group “Finding Cute Puppies Good Homes Initiative.” That’s the American way.

  24. Excellent post!! Thank you for laying out these arguments so well..I’ll be sharing this link with everyone I know.

    Recently, an acquaintance bought a shock collar for his dog, and his wife promptly told him he could only use it on the dog if he tested it on himself first. After getting shocked on the lowest setting, he immediately took it back to where he bought it. The customer service person told him that the comparison wasn’t truly accurate or fair because dogs have fur.

    Hmmm…. unless things have changed from when I last took high school physics, I’m pretty sure that fur still can’t stop an electrical current!

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