Shock training has been used on dogs for over 40 years. The most common way being the shock collar. While many people swear by shock collars to curb unwanted barking and other nuisance behaviors, results have been mixed and the humaneness is frequently in question.
So how exactly does shock training work? It’s pretty straightforward. When the collar detects barking through vibrations in the dog’s vocal cords, a small shock is emitted for typically 1-3 seconds. Shock intensity ranges. Some collars send a very slight shock, comparable to a static shock you may get from a doorknob, while others will give up to 9 volts of power. This is just like putting your tongue on a 9 volt battery for those of us brave (or gullible) enough to try it. At first, this doesn’t seem so bad, especially for use on very large breeds. However, the negative implications go much deeper than just a little pain.
For some reason punishment seems to be the first line of defense against unwanted behavior. Some would say, 'what’s a little shock compared to endless nights of no sleep?'. Here’s some things to consider before jumping into shock training with your dog.
Many dogs, especially rescues, bark because of anxiety. Anyone who has cared for a rescue animal can attest to the often obvious signs of abuse. Dogs are very social creatures and rely heavily on their senses of smell and touch to connect with their environment. They’re also emotional creatures, who just like us humans, can be happy, aggravated, mopey, and indifferent, among many others. Fear of punishment can be a strong motivator, but living in fear is no way to foster a healthy lifestyle.
Another common form of shock training is the invisible fence. This can lead to something called barrier frustration that dogs get when cooped up for long periods of time. The desire to get out and explore becomes so strong that the lack thereof results in anxious behavior, most notably barking for attention and boredom.
Understand your pet’s needs. There is no universal training method that works for all dogs. Each animal has their own personality and their own unique needs. More often than not, dogs are barking because their needs are not being met. Do not just hear your dog, but listen, and try to figure out what your dog is asking for. If you can help your situation simply by exercising your dog more, or buying a few toys, that should be your first option. If it is just needlessly barking out of boredom and for attention, then consider a training method. But remember that extreme reinforcements can carry consequences of their own.