Shock Collar Technology
A shock collar is a device used to assist with training dogs. It is intended to modify or curb certain behaviors by delivering a shock to the dog when the unwanted act is carried out, and by so doing, over time, cause the dog to stop displaying the unwanted behavior.
The shock is delivered by two blunt electrodes that make contact with the dog’s skin and is operated by a radio-controlled electronic device in the dog collar. The shock delivered can normally be of varying intensity and duration. There are also electronic collars, or e-collars, that incorporate tones or beeps as well as a vibration mode that can be used alone or in conjunction with the shock.
Curb Unwanted Behaviors
These collars are used in variety of training applications; many professional trainers use them to train “working” dogs, while in many cases the collars are used by pet owners to curb behaviors such as incessant barking, jumping on visitors, extreme aggression with food, general aggression, and any other type of behavior that a pet owner might want to control.
A device of this kind will have its detractors as it is felt that by using a shock collar the owner is treating the dog cruelly or inhumanely. However, while improper use of the shock collar can bring validity to these concerns, it is in how the collar is used that is important.
While the first generation of shock collars were more intense and seemed to have only one setting, modern collars have several shock settings of increasing intensity. Therefore, the shock being administered will be increased or decreased depending on the dog’s reaction to the stimulus and the time taken to modify the behavior.
The good thing about many of these collars is that they now include beep mode and vibration mode that are often used on their own to train the dog, making it unnecessary to use the shock mode.
These modes work in two ways. First, the dog may have been previously trained to associate sound with a positive or negative action. If they hear the beep, they will stop and wait on their reward, or if it is associated with a negative action, they stop and comply because they do not want to receive the negative consequence, usually a shock.
The other way in which these modes work is to initiate the startle response in order to interrupt an action. If a dog hears the beep it will startle it, similar to how a whistle would, and interrupt its activity. Trainers advise that this mode should be used infrequently as, if used too often, the dog will get used to it, making it ineffective. With the vibration mode, the effect is similar in that the vibrating sensation will interrupt the dog’s activity.
The shock effect is clearly the most aggressive of these corrective measures. Most shock collars today allow owners to adjust the intensity level of shock, and the duration of the shock. The owner will decide how strong the shock needs to be and how long it has to be to bring about the desired corrective result.