Is the solution to ‘shock’ what you don’t want?

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.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. James Hoyne says:

    Yes, yes and emphatic yes!

  2. martha ortmann says:

    I volunteered for a University research project using electric stimulation to increase muscle strength. These were essentially electric shocks to my thigh muscle. Even though I knew what and when they were going to occur I developed an incredible dread. I would never do that to a dog. Try a shock collar on yourself and you may think differently

  3. I so agree with what you said about people becoming desensitized to shock products. I saw a post the other day saying “stop calling it a shock collar. The ecollar doesn’t shock the dog, it’s just a stimulation that makes the nerves twitch.” My eyes rolled so far back in my head, I thought I’d lost them. You can call it stim, tap, or whatever to make it sound better, but it literally is an electric shock, and it’s delusional to think otherwise. It doesn’t “e” the dog, it shocks the dog, so I won’t call it an ecollar, I will call it a shock collar, because that is what it is.

  4. Tricia says:

    This is so great! Management is so often frowned upon, and yet is so often the best answer. We seem to be open to it with cats, horses, chickens, ducks (!). But we have undue expectations of our dogs, seeming to believe that they are supernatural or something. Not very fair to dogs.

  5. marrin47 says:

    You couldn’t be more right about this Nancy! I see it all the time and it makes me crazy. I soooo love to train my dogs. I miss it now that I don’t have one of my own to train and interact with right now. I have to be patient ::) So I borrow the neighbors dog and take him to classes with me and walk him. He already knows left and right and could probably compete in Rally, although we are just having fun. He comes over to my house on his own when he gets bored at his.
    Marrin – Colorado

  6. Debbie Guy says:

    I would use an e-collar to prevent my dog losing its life from being run over because it escaped my fenced yard, from euthanasia because it attacked another dog while on leash, from being shot because it got loose and killed my neighbor’s livestock. If SHOCKING my dog saved it’s life, I would do it with a qualified trainer.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Hi Debbie, there are about a hundred different ways to answer your statement, maybe more, and none of them include electrically shocking a dog.

      If your dog is escaping your yard – find out why and fix that problem. Does your dog not like you, boredom, hungry, unexercised, lonely?

      Attacking a dog while on leash? Not sure how this would happen, but just for shits and giggles, if your dog was on leash and attacked another dog, you might have had 5 different directions to go before you got close to another dog. Where I live at least if your dog is on leash and gets into a fight with another dog, there is no ‘euthanasia’ on the table.

      If you have a dog that wants to kill your neighbors livestock, is your dog in a fenced area, is your dog workign with you and learning more, is your dog left unattended to stare at stock, is your dog unmanged, unsocialized. If your dog is killing livestock, something on the human end has gone terribly wrong, and no electric shock can fix the human end, that is only a temporary at best band-aid.

      Electrically shocking a dog has never saved a dogs life, it is rather a CYA method (cover your ass) because the human end has failed or doesn’t care.

      Either these are merely examples you posted, or you have one busy distressed household – Nancy

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