What Experts Say
KAREN L. OVERALL
Karen L. Overall is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behavior (ACVB) and is certified by the Animal Behavior Society (ABS) as an Applied Animal Behaviorist.
World renowned animal expert Karen Overall has spoken out over many years of the ineffectiveness and ill that results when electric shock is used as a training tool on dogs.
"As a specialist in veterinary behavioral medicine I have been advocating for banning the use of shock collars of any kind for years. There are now ample published data in the peer-reviewed literature that show that shock harms dogs and adversely affects their behavior and welfare. Many people who resort to shock are afraid that without it their pet will die because of their behaviors. The companies who sell shock collars prey on these fears. Most people do not realize that the use of shock interferes with and suppresses normal canine behaviors, in general, not just behaviors that people find problematic. In fact, shock may render the behaviors of concern worse. In my patient population, dogs whom clients have shocked are over-represented in those euthanized because of the adverse effects shock has had on their behaviors. Dogs can recover from shock with appropriate care, and anyone considering shock should first seek the help of a qualified specialist in veterinary behavioral medicine. Specialists should be the source for competent, data-based information for any behavioral issues about which clients are concerned. I have studied the information provided by the companies manufacturing and selling most of the world's shock collars and it is my opinion that, without doubt, the information provided about behavior is incorrect and/or inadequate to address the behavioral concerns of dogs and may lead to abuse. The time to advocate for safe, effective, humane behavioral care for all animals has come, and shock has no role in such care".
Karen L. Overall, MA, VMD, PhD, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, ABS Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist
THE ACADEMY FOR DOG TRAINERS
The Academy for Dog Trainers was founded in 1999 by Jean Donaldson. The Academy offers one of the most rigorous, advanced programs in dog behavior and training in the world; science based training. Regarded by many as the Harvard of dog training. Jean is one of the top dog trainers in the world and has lectured extensively in the US, Canada, the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Jean is a four-time winner of The Dog Writers' Association of America's Maxwell Award, and her seminal book The Culture Clash was named number one training and behavior book by The Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
"Electric shock is never appropriate in dog training or behavior modification. All training and behavior change objectives can be better achieved, more safely achieved and more humanely achieved with modern methods. Because dog training has no standards of care, trainers still exist who use electric shock and attempt to argue for its necessity and harmlessness, however this is an artifact of the lack of regulation, minimum education requirements and consumer protection in the dog training industry, not an example of valid argument in favor of these devices."
MARC BEKOFF, PH.D
Marc Bekoff is a former Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is a Fellow of the Animal Behaviour Society and a past Guggenheim Fellow. In 2000 he received the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behaviour Society for major long-term contributions to the field of animal behaviour. Marc is also an ambassador for Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots program. He and Jane co-founded the organization Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: Citizens for Responsible Animal Behavior Studies in 2000.
"Shock collars should never have been developed in the first place, and surely they should be universally banned immediately if not sooner. They have no place in 'positive dog training,' or what I prefer to call 'positive dog teaching,' or in any sort of dog teaching whatsoever, and I'm incredulous and I shudder when I hear that some people still argue that they can and should be used."
Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., author of numerous books including Why dogs hump and bees get depressed and Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence, Homepage: marcbekoff.com and, with Jane Goodall, ethologicalethics.org
SORAYA V. JUARBE-DIAZ, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (ABS)
Dr. Juarbe-Díaz has the longest established veterinary behavior referral practice in the state of Florida. She has been an adjunct professor at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine and an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee's College of Veterinary Medicine, teaching veterinary behavior medicine to students and all interested hospital staff while also seeing patients for treatment of behavior problems.
For 2 years Dr. Juarbe-Díaz was the assistant editor of the Journal of Veterinary Behavior; Clinical Applications and Research and continues to be a member of its editorial board, a position she has held since the journal's creation in the fall of 2005. More recently she was postdoctoral researcher and a research consultant for the University of Pennsylvania in a study of the genetic determinants of noise phobia in dogs and study into the cognitive abilities of working dogs. Her interests include animal welfare,animal cognition and behavioral disorders in domestic species. Her house is a home thanks to 2 rescue dogs, a cat and 2 horses (one a rescue and the other an off the track thoroughbred embarking on a second career as a sports horse.)
"Using pain to teach or train a behavior is neither teaching nor training, though it may stop a behavior that the "trainer" considers unwanted or inconvenient. There is abundant evidence of the damage, physical and psychological, that training with pain does to any sentient being. Violence begets violence, and affects all who witness or experience it. Disguising violence by labelling shock collars as training tools or by calling them electric or static charge devices is nothing short of endorsing animal cruelty. Dogs can be taught what we want them to do in a humane way that takes into account their cognitive abilities - we don't need to terrorize and abuse them to achieve our goals."
Kathy is a renowned lecturer and author. She has decades of experience working with marine mammals and is now focused on training dogs and owners alike. She lectures nationally on operant conditioning sharing her passion for the science of training and the awesome power of clicker training which she has experienced with so many species.
"I feel deep compassion for dog owners who believe that shock collars are a reasonable option for their pet. In their eagerness to solve a behavior problem, they ignore the fact that these collars are, at minimum, painful, and in many cases, torturous.
Electric shock is a uniquely dangerous form of punishment because it's invisible to the punisher. People have difficulty gauging the level of discomfort or suffering the animal is experiencing. The pioneering research conducted by Yale professor Dr. Stanley Milgram 50 years ago demonstrated how willing most people are to inflict dangerous (and even potentially lethal) levels of shock on another person if convinced this will help him learn. These data are directly relevant to the often disastrous choices people make when trying to "educate" their dogs.
The good news is that shock collars are archaic and unnecessary. Suppressing "bad" behaviors through the use of shock and other physical punishment may seem like a quick fix but is never a long-term solution. As an alternative, skillful training builds calm and cooperative behaviors in dogs through the structured use of positive reinforcement.
Next to my desk, I have a scrap of paper on which I wrote this quote from the life-changing book Coercion & its Fallout by Dr. Murray Sidman 2001; : "An overworked and incorrect bit of folk wisdom pronounces the carrot to be of no avail unless backed up by the stick. But the carrot can do the job all by itself." Milgram S. Behavioral study of obedience. J. Abnormal Soc. Psychology. 67:371-8, 1963.
Emily has over 200 in-depth dog training tutorials posted on Youtube with the intent that humane training information should be free to everyone. Emily created the term Progressive Reinforcement Training to describe an ethical way of training animals that involves no form of physical or psychological intimidation. She has conducted seminars in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia.
"I support the ban on the use of shock collars. I lused to live in Sweden where the use of shock collars on animals is banned already for being inhumane. I believe companion animals, working animals and farm animals in North America as well as the rest of the world deserve the same humane treatment and respect as the animals that reside in the country I live in..."
DR. JILL TAGGART, ANIMAL BEHAVIORIST
Dr. Jill Taggart, clinical animal behaviourist, runs private clinics in North & West Vancouver. She has a Master of Science degree in companion animal behavior and a PhD in behavioural psychology. She is a behaviour consultant to the BC SPCA running dog, cat and small animal behaviour seminars for pet guardians throughout the lower mainland.
"Shock collars induce pain and suffering and are often overused. The pain from the shocks is on its own, a serious welfare issue. But, in order for a dog to learn from these devices the shock has to be of an intensity to invoke fear. As the dog starts to habituate to lower levels of shock, the handler will usually increase the shock to get the dog to respond. The dog doesn't know from where the shock is emanating, so its stress hormones and heart rate will escalate creating significant physiological as well as psychological stress. So they are not only experiencing intense pain, but intense fear. As the shock is remote and the dogs have a problem identifying which of their actions are generating the shock, they will often then generalize their fear to a broad range of other neutral things that they believe are associated with pain. With electric fences, dogs may become fearful of going outside instead of just near the boundary of the property. More importantly, the shocks will motivate the dog to escape the stimulus that is causing the pain resulting in defensive aggression. There is evidence from invisible fence studies that dogs redirect this aggression towards the nearest human, causing serious injury (Polsky, 2000). Alternatively, if they believe there is no escape for the pain, a type of learned helplessness or psychopathology resulting in self-mutilation or other destructive behaviours could result."
STANLEY COREN PUBLICATIONS
Stanley Coren is a well respected scientist and Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia. Coren has won a number of awards for his research, and the quality of his contribution to science has been recognized by a number of major scientific organizations. In addition to studying dog behavior and writing books about dogs, Coren is also an instructor with the Vancouver Dog Obedience Training Club.
“I have never used shock collars. I do not like them on principle. First punishment is an ineffective method of teaching which also weakens the bond between dog and trainer. Second, as a psychologist I don't like what it does to the person delivering the shock. It builds an insensitivity in the handler to the pain of others and causes a long term reduction of empathy”.
Prof. Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C.
* Mr. Coren's quote was provided to us upon request along with permission to use it. Mr. Coren has since requested that it be noted he believes the misuse of tools is best resolved by education, not a legislated ban, and therefore is not in favour of the outright ban we are calling for.
THE KENNEL CLUB-UK
The primary objective of The Kennel Club is 'to promote in every way, the general improvement of dogs'. The Kennel Club was founded in 1873 and is able to offer dog owners an unparalleled source of information, experience and advice on dog welfare, dog health, dog training and dog breeding.
Issue Statement - Electric Shock Collars
June 6, 2006 The Kennel Club believes that electric shock collars have no place in a civilised society. The majority of dogdom, and the welfare and veterinary bodies have similar views. An electric shock collar trains a dog to respond out of fear of further punishment - having received a shock when it does not perform what is asked of it - rather than from a natural willingness to obey. This is not the type of training method that the Kennel Club would endorse. Unwanted behaviour in dogs is best resolved by positive training methods...
BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SOCIETY
Best Friends Animal Society is guided by a simple philosophy: kindness to animals builds a better world for all of us. Best Friends' No More Homeless Pets campaign is a grassroots effort to place dogs and cats considered "unadoptable" into good homes, and to reduce the number of unwanted pets through effective spay and neuter programs. “We do not advocate shock collars or shock devices. We believe in relationship-based training. It is all positive and takes a long time and a lot of practice but we believe it is well worth it”.
Jennifer Andrews Humane Educator Best Friends Animal Society