Shock, Electric, "Invisible," and Underground Fences and Shock Collars - "The ShockingTruth"
We do not recommend this equipment. There are so many reasons not to use them and so few reasons to choose them; especially, when you consider that using positive or reward-based training methods works just as well or better without all of the fallout and problems.
The idea of hurting a dog for doing something he didn't know he wasn't supposed to do in the first place is simply inhumane. Even if he does have a pretty good idea of what he should be doing, he can make mistakes--especially in a large area defined by few or no markers. Imagine yourself wearing a shock collar at your new job. Every time you do something wrong you get shocked. Eventually, you'd likely be afraid to work at all.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering the use of an underground fence:
- Your pet is vulnerable because other animals can get into the fence and he may have nowhere to escape within your marked boundaries
- A highly aroused (scared, offensive, territorial...) dog can cross the boundary, but he won't want to cross the shock zone when he's ready to come home.
- In the event of electrical storms or power disturbances, it is suggested by some manufacturers that you turn your fence off to eliminate the chance of unwarranted shocks or a disruption in operation of the fence. Dogs receive random shocks and serious injuries from these collars.
- Some pets become afraid of going outside entirely
- The signals created by other wires in your yard or house can be picked up by the radio collar your dog is wearing causing him to receive seemingly random shocks.
- A dog can receive unintentional negative messages about other elements in his environment, which may create aggressive behavior (e.g. if your dog is attracted to people initially, and attempts to approach anyone walking by your "fenced" area, he will be shocked or warned when he gets too close. If this happens enough, your dog could inadvertently learn to associate the unpleasant consequence of the shock or warning of a shock with the arrival of people. Unfortunately, your dog can become aggressive towards people, at this point, whether or not he is within the confines of your fence.) Here's what Pat Miller, author, trainer, CPDT, and previous APDT president has to say... (http://www.peaceablepaws.com/pages/faq.asp#3, 4/22/05), as well as an abstract of the artcle by by Richard Polsky "Can Aggression in Dogs be Elicited Through the Use of Electronic Pet Containment Systems"(http://www.dogexpert.com/Polsky%20Papers/Electronicfences.html).
- If a person or neighbor's pet comes into the defined area and your pet harms her, you may find yourself involved in an expensive lawsuit, and/or expensive medical bills.
- Collars can malfunction and cause serious burns to your dog. (Please read Whole Dog Journal's Simply Shocking by Pat Miller, [Whole Dog Journal, April 2003, Vol. 2, No. 4]). To subscribe to Whole Dog Journal go to Whole Dog Journal's Website. Go here for Best Friend's General Store's website blog which offers links to pictures of shock collar injuries. These alone should convince you to stay away from shock collars.
- Because of the reasons above, you should not leave your dog alone in a shock-fence contained area.
- "... says Kim Leasure, Communications Manager for Invisible Fence, Inc. "However, it's not a panacea. We don't advise people to leave their companion animals outdoors while they're at work all day. Someone should always be in or near the yard to look after the family pet." (http://www.sthuberts.org/petpouri/articles/fencing.asp, 4/20/05)
Shock collars that are used for basic/general training purposes attempt to teach your dog either to desist in a behavior you don't want or or to give you behaviors that you do want. Because your dog gets a shock for anything that isn't the "right" thing, he can develop insecure, fearful or aggressive behavior.
The San Francisco SPCA says about using shock and choke collars to train:
These techniques are not only unnecessary, but combined with poor timing (as is often the case) they are ineffective—and can actually be cruel. Not only does the dog experience the mental and physical punishment, but she also does not know how to avoid it. Whether it is choke collars, shock collars or worse, physical punishment of dogs under the guise of “training a dog for her own good” is inappropriate and unnecessary. A trainer who believes the momentary strangling of a dog to teach her not to pull on her leash is necessary is hardly a friend of dogs—and certainly not worth the fee. (http://www.sfspca.org/behavior/dog_library/index_library.shtml, Choke & Shock Collars: BAD!, 4/20/05)
Karen Overall, M.A., V.M.D., Ph.D. has this to say about shock collar training.
Click here a paper by Temple Grandin and Mark Deesing, Colorado State University, "Distress in Animals: Is it Fear, Pain or Physical Stress?"
Click here for Puppy Adept's own Tracey Schowalter's article imploring you to Get the Facts First!
Read Steve Dale's excellent article, Vets on Behavior Proclaim, Never Use Shock Collar
And, from the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, Shock Collars: The Shocking Truth
One dog owner's story about her "invisible fence" experience: Click here.
Please consider the many alternatives to using electric fences or shock collars. Use reward-based training methods, or find a "positive" trainer near you who can help you get the behaviors you want without hurting your dog and your relationship with your dog.