Despite the broad international consensus of professionals specialized in canine behavior that the use of punishment collars is not very effective and safe for the animal and its owners, only a few autonomous communities explicitly prohibit it in their pet animal protection laws. the use of punishment collars and only one of the three also vetoes their sale.
However, its use is still widespread as some understand it as a training tool . The acquisition of these necklaces is quite easy and advice on their sale is null.
The equation is simple: desperate owner + contraption that causes damage + simple purchase + untrained seller = catastrophe assured.
The main punishment collars are:
- Electric collars:
They transmit electrical impulses in the animal’s neck, either by manual activation by remote control or automatically when the dog barks or approaches an “invisible fence”.
Although the manufacturers always assure that they are “friendly and harmless”, the intensity of the discharge can vary depending on the type of use, the breed of the dog, its body condition, the humidity of its skin and even its mood and emotional state.
An electric shock causes, to a greater or lesser degree, pain. And that will generate stress and anxiety . Just one application of this electric shock is enough for it to generate a learned helplessness in our dog that will inhibit all its behaviors in the very long term and even for its entire life.
Also, they are unsafe for their environment. The pain can trigger an aggressive attack by the dog.
We cannot also ignore the physical damage that can be caused, such as skin lesions and even necrosis due to malfunction or the tight fit that these devices require for the correct contact of the metal terminals on the dog’s body.
- Spiked or barbed collars
It is a metal fastening system, usually stainless steel, like a chain whose links have spikes towards the inside, so that they are on the animal’s neck.
They are popularly known for “correcting the habit of pulling on the leash” by imitating the “natural correction between dogs” when one grabs the other by the neck to gain authority and superiority.
Some collars come with rounded “spikes” or a plastic protector, in order to be less sharp. But, like the shock collar, it causes distress , annoyance , injury , and/or discomfort to the dog.
And if you don’t believe it, try putting it on yourself and applying the pressure that your dog would do when pulling it. Well, now think that the skin on a dog’s neck is three times thinner than yours…
- Choke or strangulation collars.
They are usually made of braided cord like a gallows , in such a way that if the dog pulls… it simply strangles . It is clear, at this point in the article, that it is yet another restraint system that causes pain in the animal and, with it, damage that may be irreparable in our relationship with it and in its well-being.
The methods of education based on punishment are obsolete and all these collars do physical and psychological damage to the animals that use them. The community of ethology experts undeniably recommends positive education. Punishable punishment has innumerable negative effects:
- It can cause physical damage to the dog.
- It can generate aggressive behavior towards people.
- It deteriorates the person-dog relationship.
- It is not very effective: the dog can generate a certain tolerance to “punishment”.
- It doesn’t help you learn new behaviors.
It is imperative that these collars not only will not solve a possible behavior problem of our dog, but can aggravate it and even generate others.
There are much more effective and harmless alternatives for it. For this reason, let us always put ourselves in the hands of a professional ethologist who advocates friendly educational methods with the animal.
Cooper, J., Wright, H., Mills, D., Casey, R., Blackwell, E., Van Driel, K., & Lines, J. (2013). Studies to assess the effect of pet training aids specifically remote static pulse systems on the welfare of domestic dogs.
Blackwell, E. J., Bolster, C., Richards, G., Loftus, B. A., & Casey, R. A. (2012). The use of electronic collars for training domestic dogs: estimated prevalence, reasons and risk factors for use, and owner perceived success as compared to other training methods. BMC Veterinary Research, 8(1), 1-11.
Lines, J. A., Van Driel, K., & Cooper, J. J. (2013). Characteristics of electronic training collars for dogs. Veterinary Record, 172(11), 288-288.