Every morning when I walk into the office, there is always at least one phone message pertaining to someone not wanting to shock their dog, but that is the advice they have received from neighbors, friends, family, and strangers at the dog park.
For almost two decades of morning messages like that, I can safely and comfortably say that is the most common advice given to people who are not understanding their dogs behavior, whether it is solicited or unsolicited. It is easy, cheap, and simple advice, that carries a false authority.
And it really doesn’t matter the problem, whether a dog isn’t heeling perfectly, to barking, digging, chewing, cautious behavior, or just because a dog is who they are.
MY FIRST QUESTION – What do you hope to achieve by putting electricity on the artery of another living being?
Before going into a diatribe of morals and ethics, and the psychological and physiological damages that can happen, I first want to know what a person is hoping to achieve, what is the outcome they are looking for. And you know what, almost every single time, and this is important, they are looking for a dog they do not have.
Some how we as a society have become so desensitized to what a shock is and what it does to another animal, that it is now somehow magical with little to no effort, and you can possibly turn a dog into a totally different dog, one that you might like more, by simply shocking them.
The reality? Dog owners who jump on the shock train are usually over their skill level and lacking the knowledge to work with the dog they currently have, and instead of digging in and building their skills and making a real roll up the sleeves effort, a shock collar is simply easier and they don’t have to invest any more than necessary.
MY SECOND QUESTION – If you believe shocking your dog is your only option to shift the behavior that is concerning you or one you want to change, would you be willing to use that shock collar on a problem horse, or chicken, or your cat? And every single time I get an emphatic NO! But why?
I believe marketing has a great deal to do with it. You only ever see a dog image or photo on shock products, period.
If you are willing to work, do the work, learn more, and gain some understanding, sometimes things can change, and sometimes the dog is better off in a home with more dog savvy people. So time and time again, choose your dog carefully based on who they are not what they look like, or who you hope they will be.
EXAMPLE – I have free range ducks in my back pasture, they have a small fenced yard and a green house like home called Fort Duckworth. After I tend to them in the morning, water, food, look each one over to make sure all is well, and collect all of their eggs, their yard gate is open and they have an entire acre to cruise, pretty much all day. Foraging, swimming in their pool, finding shade to sleep under, sunbathing, all of it.
An awesome duck life to be sure.
Well Mama Beetz, our 14 month old Border Collie was barking at the south fence line, I went over to see what it was and there was one of our ducks in our neighbors pasture. How? My Ladies are too big to fly, they can flap their wings but they cannot get more than an inch off the ground. How? A gust of wind, a raptor picking her up and dropping her. How?
We have new woven fencing that would be impossible to get through, especially by my large egg laying ducks.
The next day when I let them out to roam the pasture, I watched and observed, and there it was, they were squishing themselves as small as a mouse and going under the fence in the places where the wild rabbits had wallowed out a small space. One went under and then the others followed. Now I had thirteen ducks in the other neighbors pasture, with his horses. Our drake stayed behind and just watched his ladies through the fence because he was truly too large to fit under.
QUESTION TIME – Do I go and buy a shock collar for each one of my ducks and shock them when they go near a fence line to teach them where they need to be? Because you know that is what people do every day for their dogs that leave their yard or their property, and it is the number one advice dished out at dog parks.
No, I did not. I spent three hours collecting rocks in a bucket and walking the fence line and filling in the wallow spaces so my ducks could not get out. Physical labor, management control, and safety, I wanted my ladies to stay where I could watch them and be safe.
My ducks walked the fence line the very next day, checked on all of the low spots, and when there was no place for them to go under, they went back to foraging and swimming and sunbathing.
ROLL UP THE SLEEVES TIME – Training is always awesome, always do more with your dog, but it is the management, possible solutions, and understanding of what is going on that also help in creating success. You really have to get in there and work for what you want.