Saying Goodbye to Shock Collars

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Shock Collars for Dogs

Saying Goodbye to Shock Collars

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.

Negative Training.

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.

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!

6 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to Shock Collars

  1. Oh wow…thank you so much for this article saying goodbye to shock collars. I actually hate them! My rescue had a shock collar put on as a puppy. She shakes now everytime I put on her harness for a walk. So sad!
    Thanks so much! GOODBYE TO SHOCK COLLARS!!!

    1. Hi Alyse,

      That’s so sad that they did that to a puppy. Puppies should never be subjected to that kind of torture, especially during training. Puppies need lots of encouragement, love and praise when trying to teach them basic commands. I’m glad that she’s in a better place now with someone that knows better and will love her.

      Katrina

  2. I have never bought or used a shock collar, I never liked the idea of it. A friend once recommended it to me, but I was afraid that something could go wrong with it, like giving a too strong dosage, and well … who would want some electricity go through his or her neck anyway?
    Positive reinforcement is a much better way to teach. By teaching a dog to fear you, you are not teaching him to stop jumping or stop misbehaving, you are simply teaching him to be afraid of you … I have seen it and it is heartbreaking to see those dogs’ eyes.
    I have made mistakes too in the past, I think we all do, but we all learn from them, right 😉
    I am a schoolteacher, and with teaching it works the same way. You give positive reinforcement, and if a child fails a test you work with him or her to get it better next time. You don’t yell at him/her and make the child feel bad for failing a test. That just causes more damage.
    I spent my high school in boarding school (because my father was in the military) and I remember this one woman who supervised us on our floor in the boarding house. She was mean and bitter. One day I failed a math test. Math was hard for me. When I came back to the boarding house, the woman already knew about it – I have no idea why or how … – and she saw me joking and laughing with a friend. She turned to me and snapped that I better shut my mouth, having such bad grades, and I should spend my time making more of an effort instead of wasting it trying to be popular. Her words hurt and shocked me. First of all, I was a good student, I had excellent grades at nearly everything, except math . I always did my homework and studied, and I was certainly not little Miss Popular at all. Later, a friend told me that she had just quit smoking and was irritable because of that, but well, just like some people kick dogs to vent, the woman kind of “kicked” me in her frustration.
    This is why I make sure not to do to my students and to my dogs what that woman did.

    1. Christine,

      I’m sorry that you went through that as a kid. I’ve known a lot of adults that strike out at kids because they can, and the kids can’t do anything about it for fear of getting in trouble. My Dad was like that when I was kid. I still have a complex because of the things he said to me. For years, I thought I was fat because growing up, he always called me fat. I know now that I wasn’t, but when I was in my 20’s I simply had the complex and I couldn’t help it.

      I would imagine at boarding schools you had a lot of teachers that were less than pleasant, but I don’t know for sure, I only know what I’ve seen in movies. Although I know movies aren’t correct or accurate most of the time.

      It’s sad to think that animals have to go through the same thing though. I have to admit, I spanked my dog yesterday for the first time and she’s a year and a half old. It wasn’t out of anger, but it was out of fear of her not listening. I keep having nightmares that she jumps out of the car while the doors open and runs into the road. This nightmare wakes me up several times a week. Last night I dreamed she jumped out a of window 30 stories up to jump into another window. She didn’t fall, she made it, but I was so scared I woke up from it.

      Anyway, my youngest daughter opened the car door for her when I pulled into the garage and she went to the edge of the garage like she always does. Well, my daughter went after her instead of letting me, “Atlas, come” and she ran. She ran through the entire neighborhood with my daughter chasing her. I kept yelling to stop chasing her, that’s why she’s running, but my kids don’t listen to me when it comes to training the dogs. Had she NOT chased Atlas, she would have listened to my command, and came back. Instead, I ended up having to chase her as well through the neighborhood, since every time my daughter went towards her, she would run. She went into people’s garages, ran around their cars, ran through the yards. It took a good 15 mins of chasing her to get her back under control.

      Once I got a hold of her collar, I spanked her with my hand on her bottom and said “Bad dog”. I’ve never had to do that before, and it bothered me. We got inside and she was so sad and so sorry. She laid at my feet and rubbed her nose all over my legs, telling me she was sorry for upsetting me. I felt bad all night, and I didn’t spank her hard, but she’s all muscle, so it didn’t phase her at all. But, she was pretty sad for a good 30 mins, trying to tell me sorry. This morning, she ran to the edge of the garage again, but my daughter wasn’t with me. I could see in her eyes she was debating again, but once she heard me do this weird “shhh” noise, she looked at me, and when I said, “Come”, she came to me right away.

      It’s hard to train dogs with kids, they simply don’t understand, but it’s scary to think that if she did that with cars driving by, and I couldn’t get to her in time, she’d get hurt. I told my husband I need to train her with distractions around to get her to obey so that I don’t have to worry about her not listening in times when it’s dire need.

      Thanks for reading this article! I’m glad you enjoyed it and thank you for sharing your experience.

      Katrina

  3. Atlas has a wonderful mommy in you. You were scared that she might get hurt, so your reaction is perfectly understandable. I can relate to it. When that fear kicks in … I have felt it too, it can be crippling …

    I also understand about your father. My father did similar things to me, telling me I was “stupid”, and other things. And these words stick with your for years, even decades. I can absolutely relate. It takes time to get over that …

    1. Christine,

      Thank you. I felt so bad about it, and I even told my husband about her running off and he said that he would’ve reacted the same way. It’s so scary to think that they might run out of the car. She’s even jumped out of the window before! We were stopped of course, and there was a grassy hill next to us; we were dropping our girls off at their friends house and they were all giggling and excited on the hill hugging each other, next thing I know, Atlas jumps out the window! I’m yelling at her, like, did she really just did that??? OMG!

      Even driving, I’m worried when she gets too far out of the window like she’s going to jump when I’m stopped at a light. So, I finally ordered her a seat belt and harness set up. She’s going to hate me for it, but she’ll get over it. Her safety is just SO important to me, that she can deal with being mad at me while I strap her in like the child she seems like to us.

      Thanks for reading this one! I appreciate it!

      Katrina

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