Many dog owners today know that shock collars aren’t exactly the best tool for training your Bully. Not only are they used as a negative reinforcement training tool, they’re also abusive in my opinion. Many pet store retailers are saying goodbye to shock collars.
I recently read up on some news sent out by Petco. In this news, it stated that Petco will no longer sell dog’s shock collars because they decided it was an abusive tool for training. If you don’t know what a shock collar is, it’s a collar that delivers an electric shock to your dog.
Dog trainers and pet owners have been using this collar as a means to train their dogs. However, the training isn’t delivered positively. In fact, quite the opposite.
What Is The Shock Collar?
I’m sure many of you have seen those videos online of people putting a shock collar on themselves. Someone else holds the remote and delivers the shock to the person. As soon as they receive the shock, they struggle to quickly remove the collar. Why?
Let’s face it, the shock collar shocks you! It uses electricity delivered by the batteries inside the unit and shocks the dog. This isn’t a good way to train your dog. Period. Not only does the dog not understand why you would want to hurt them, but now they’re scared of wearing a collar.
Let’s imagine kids for a moment. I only say this, because dogs are like children. Their mental capacity is that of a two-year-old child, except they don’t have the ability to drive you insane by saying “No” all day. Okay, back to kiddos. Let’s imagine you have a two-year-old. You want your child to learn certain things so that as they get older, they’re not terrible human beings.
What if, instead of being nice to your kid, you hurt them all the time, trying to get them to listen. Do you think your kid is going to be hyped up to make you happy, or fearful of you whenever they see you. They’re going to fear you. End of story.
The kid isn’t going to want to communicate with you at all for fear you’ll hurt them if they do. This is exactly what happens to your dog when you use this kind of training technique.
I Used A Shock Collar Only Once.
I will admit, I bought a shock collar over twelve years ago with one of my dogs, Annie. She was a very difficult dog to train, and I thought this contraption would work. I spoke with the pet store associates, and they had convinced me this was the tool to use for difficult dogs.
The reason I bought this thing was because Annie would never stop jumping on people. Every time someone came to the door, she would insistently jump up on them and try to bite their clothing to drag them down. Maybe she just wanted them to be on the floor with her, who knows?
Several people would get very upset with this, and I understood. Some didn’t like dogs, but that didn’t keep me from having one. I love dogs. In every attempt to train Annie from jumping, I went to the extreme, the shock collar.
First off, I used it wrong. I started with the lightest setting, because I was hesitant to use it in the first place. So, I started with the “1” setting. Someone came to my door, I answered it and Annie jumped. I attempted to tell her, “No Annie, Down.” It didn’t work. I then delivered the shock and it didn’t phase her at all.
She was still up on that person.
I turned the dial up gradually and nothing worked while still delivering the commands. I actually made it to the highest number on the remote, “10”. It still didn’t work. I stared in horror as Annie’s neck started wigging out (that’s the best term I can use). She just stood on the person and her neck muscles were going crazy. I immediately stopped using it when I saw her neck muscles spazzing out.
Admitting, I never used that thing again. Instead looking into positive training methods after that. Negative just wasn’t working for Annie.
What is the difference between negative and positive training? Negative training is exactly what it sounds like. tell your dog to do something, and when they don’t obey, they get negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement can come in several ways.
You can either hit your dog, scream at your dog, shock your dog, choke your dog, or any other terrible ways you’re attempting to get your dog to obey what you want. Let’s imagine this for just a moment.
You started a new job. You’re super excited to meet your new boss and can’t wait to start making your new boss really happy. Your boss tells you to do something, but you just started. You have no idea what they’re asking you to do because you haven’t been trained yet. It’s your first day for Pete’s Sake!
Instead of them “training you” they slap you when you don’t do what they asked. Shocked, you try again, but you still don’t know what they mean.
This time, your boss starts screaming at you. Depending on how you react to screaming, you react. You might start breaking down at this point, who knows.
Now your boss is really starting to get angry at your incompetence. They tell you to do something once again and when you don’t obey, now they start hitting you, not just slapping you. Next on the list of their favorites is choking you, and finally the shock collar.
After all this negative training has taken place, do you seriously think you’re not going to be afraid of your boss whenever they ask you to do something?
Now let’s imagine your boss was nice about training.
Positive training is delivering positive reinforcement when you give your dog a command and they listen. Before you can train though, you have to also teach your dog that command. As I mentioned, dogs have the mental capacity of a two-year-old child. Meaning, when you’re training your dog, you have to get them to understand the command before they know what you mean.
Let’s go back to the new day on the job scenario. Imagine your new job is a very complicated job and you need to learn the lingo of the job. Your boss is telling you to do something and you’re having a hard time understanding at first.
Given whatever your boss asks you to do, they physically show you what to do first. So, they give you a task, they show you what they mean. At first, when you’re still confused, instead of hitting you or choking you, they show you again. They help you until you finally get it. Once you achieve what they’re asking you, they give you something yummy.
I don’t know what this yummy is for each of you reading this. I can’t say chocolate because not everyone loves chocolate. Use your imagination, and pretend they give you something you really like.
Most dogs love similar treats, so for dogs it’s easy to give them a treat. People are more difficult.
Don’t you think you’re more inclined to listen to your boss when they give you a treat? I know I would love to do whatever they ask if I’m getting a yummy treat for completing that task. Much more so than getting choked or hit.
Tips On Training Your Bully The Positive Way.
As you can see, positive reinforcement is much better than negative. Finally, we’re saying goodbye to shock collars and Hello to positive training. At least as far as major pet retailers are concerned. I’m sure you can still buy these awful collars online, but try to train through positive reinforcement first. Speaking of, what are some good tips and tricks to train your Bullies?
When I train my dogs, I always make sure to have treats on hand. I have some favorites, but it’s also what Atlas wants. I let her sniff through the treat aisle. Whichever treats she lands on for the longest, those are the ones I buy. So. start there first. Get treats.
Second, have a treat in hand and be somewhere free of distractions.
Start with the basic commands first. Don’t go trying for “Around” or “Spin” on the first round, that’s advanced training. Let’s start with “Sit”.
Treat in hand, you tell your dog, “Name, Sit.” They’re going to be confused at first, I guarantee. They’re going to sniff at the treat and want that immediately. Don’t give in.
**You MUST show your dog what you want first. When you say “Sit” you have to show them what that command means. You push their bottom to the floor repeating the command, “Sit”.
Once your dog achieves the “Sit” command, you tell them, “Good job! Good girl/boy, Name.” Give them the treat while saying this.
You’re not done, they still don’t know what that means. They just know they made you very happy, so they’re happy.
How Long Does It Take For Them To Learn?
You have to repeat this command over and over again. Until they understand what “Sit” means, their butt goes to the ground, they don’t understand the command.
How long does it take for this command to stick? As long as it takes. Each dog learns differently, just like we do. I’m blessed with a very smart dog, so Atlas learns new commands very quickly.
Annie on the other hand, took years to learn the basics. She wasn’t a bad dog, she just wasn’t the smartest dog. Actually, let me rephrase that, she was a stubborn dog. A very stubborn dog. But I didn’t give up. I still was saying goodbye to that shock collar when I saw how much pain it caused her. I didn’t want that for my dog, at all.
So, lots of treats later, lots of repetitive commands, she finally learned the basics. I will say, that once she learned them, they stuck. Now, I use hand signals while training my dogs and I’m glad I do. Once Annie became very old, she lost her hearing. I was only able to give her commands by sign language once she reached the age of 12 years old.
Atlas learns quickly, about 4 times repeating. Annie, I couldn’t tell you. A very long time. For each command. Ugh. She taught me patience though, so I’ll give her that.
I hope by now, you’re saying goodbye to shock collars. Every dog wants to make you happy, and I mean every dog. Training them positively. Show them you love them. They mean the world to you.
If they don’t and you find you’re angry and lashing out, find a home that will show your dog they can be loved. They’re cared for and taken care of.
All Dogs Deserve Love.
Even the most stubborn dogs deserve to be loved and taken care of. Training them is one step towards this. If we don’t train our dogs, then we can’t expect them to behave when we need.
Just like with unruly children. We don’t beat it into our kids, we train them to behave the right way. Discipline has it’s place, don’t get me wrong. If your dog acts out and chews up your bathroom floor (true story), then reprimand them. Do so in a way that shows them they weren’t good dogs. Don’t beat them, don’t choke them. Instead, I walked Atlas to the bathroom floor, pointed at the floor and simply said, “What did you do?”
She knew what she did, she tucked her tail and dropped her ears. She knew that I was unhappy; dogs can sense our emotions. I said in a very stern voice, “Bad Dog.” That’s it. No hitting her, I didn’t yell at her. I did nothing to hurt her. But she knew that what she did wasn’t good and she hasn’t done anything like it since.
This is how I train my dogs. When they misbehave, I physically show them what made me unhappy. Then, without using their name, I say, “Bad Dog.”
When they’re good and listening to my commands, I use their name. “Good girl, Atlas! Good girl!” Then comes the treat. She knows that by following my commands, she’s making me happy. She’ll want to continue doing this over and over when I give the commands.
Your dog will be happy and your dog won’t be afraid of you. Your dog will be able to communicate with you without fear of reprimand. You want this. You want your dog to be free to show you they were bad when you come home. Trust me, dogs give themselves away as soon as you come home. But only when they don’t fear you. If they fear you from repeated abuse, then they will always look scared or afraid. You can’t learn from your dog this way and it’s a one way relationship. You’re the bad guy, they’re the bad dog. Terrible training technique.
So, throw that shock collar away, saying goodbye to shock collars for good. Grab those treats and start fresh! All dogs deserve love!