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Are Shock Collars Bad for Dogs?

Are Shock Collars Bad for Dogs?

As much as we love our dogs, some behaviors are exhibited that we don't like, actions that an owner would want to stop, such as; persistent barking or leaving your yard unsupervised. Using a shock collar is one method, known for its efficacy for curbing such behavior.


It is often considered the least humane approach of training; a question commonly asked and argued is: Are shock collars bad for dogs? We would discuss how shock collars work, their merits, side effects, and if it's an option to choose. It is imperative to know what is good or bad for you and your canine companion. 

How do Shock Collars Work?

First, what is a shock collar? It is an aversive collar normally used to train difficult dogs. The shock administered to the dog is safe, but can be unpleasant. Hence, it is often used as a last resort.


It uses an electric current to send signals or jolts through metal contact points from the collar to the dog. It is to be noted that the collar works only when in contact with the dog's skin and not fur. When properly fitted, you should be able to fit a finger or two snuggly between the collar and your dog's skin.


In some, if not most collars, there are other functions besides the shock such as vibration and sound emission. The shock administered can be at different levels of intensity from a low shock to higher levels. The intensity is reduced or increased based on the reaction of the dog. 

Why Some Dog Owners Use Shock Collars

You should not completely write off shock collars, and their users should not be considered as "demons." Some dog owners use shock collars for a variety of reasons; we would mention a few.

Ease of Use:

Many dog users consider shock collars because of their ease of use. They can be used for various purposes- prevent barking, long-distance training and can be coupled with an electronic fencing system.


Those coupled with an invisible fence helps prevent a dog from leaving a designated area. A wire trigger is buried underground, as the dog approaches it, it administers a warning signal before the actual shock. Making it useful in preventing the dog from wandering off or escaping the yard when the owner is not around.


Shock collars can also be used remotely, making it an easy disciplinary measure. There are shock collars that administer a shock when the dog barks. The dog will associate barking with getting shocked and will eventually learn to stay quiet.


When used the right way, or by dog trainers, dog shock collars can be effective. The dog can easily associate bad behavior with a shock and will learn that such action is bad. In some cases, owners seldomly need to shock their dog as the beep or vibrating function is sufficient.


When misused, it doesn't have the same effectiveness. It is best to use it after teaching the dog what you want, as it would be unreasonable to correct a dog before it knows what it is you want it to do.

Pros Of Shock Collars

Although shock collars are considered cruel for dogs, they have their perks. Here are some of their benefits:


Compared to hiring a dog trainer, using the shock collar is more inexpensive than getting a trainer. Shock collars can be as cheap as $25 depending on its features such as range of use, remote control, and level of adjustability.


It can be used to correct when deemed necessary in an instant.


Having a wide range of stimulation levels, some incorporate several options such as sounds, vibration, or even light signals. Owners who are a bit fearful about the intensity of the shock can adjust their level to receive a mild response from the dog or also stick with vibration.


When used appropriately, shock collars can be quite useful in curbing bad behavior in dogs.


Dog shock collars have different functions, and they can be coupled with other systems to work. They can be used remotely, and don't require their users present.


Shock collars coupled with an electric fencing system are designed to function even when the dog owner is not around. As the dog draws closer to the boundary, it will get the initial warning signal (beep or vibration) and a shock if he continues heading towards and on reaching the boundary.

Cons Of Shock Collars

Consider these dog shock collars side effects to see if the merits outweigh the demerits or are shock collars cruel?

Fear and Resentment:

Due to the discomfort, the dog may come to fear the owner, associating the shock with them. This can be seen with lousy handling caused by a poorly timed shock or misuse of the shock collar. Many dogs tend to cower in fear or run at the presence of their owners after such treatment.

It can lead to aggressive behavior:

Dog shock collars can cause anxiety, among other psychological problems, which can lead to the dog being aggressive towards its owners, people, and other pets. The aggression can cause the dog to attack others; this shock collar side effect can be worse than the bad behavior being addressed.

Negative reinforcement:

Shock collars are a form of negative reinforcement. It does not reinforce positive behavior on its own. According to a study, it was confirmed that positive reinforcement works better and enables better relationships between owners and dogs.


The shock could be brief or considered mild, but the fact is that your dog suffers pain. It is hard to argue what level is too much, but setting the collar to high shock levels can be nothing but cruel.


Dog shock collars can injure the dog's body when worn for too long or made too tight around the dog's neck. This injury, if untreated, can become infected and spread around the neck.  Not only dog shock collars have this effect; pinch collars are also bad for dogs in this area and can have more severe effects. Effects like whiplash, damaged trachea, spinal cord issues, etc.


Many ask, can shock collars cause brain damage to dogs? No, although they can make existing issues worse, brain damage is not a shock collar’s side effect.


After considering dog shock collars side effects, we can say they outweigh their advantages, and they should be the last option to consider while training a dog. The most humane way of training is one that causes the least stress for your dog.


We advise you to consider better options that use positive reinforcement to get results. Yes, dog shock collars are effective, but they cause more harm than good. We hope you'll be able to conclude if dog shock collars are cruel or not with help from this article. With great power comes great responsibility.


Have you used shock collars in the past? What do you think, are shock collars bad for dogs?


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