Top 5 Reasons People Turn to Shock Collars

While we adore our dogs, we would NOT be completely honest if we didn’t admit that they sometimes drive us nuts. Every dog, no matter how terrific (or well trained), has a habit or two that frustrates us to no end. In many cases, these are the exact dog behaviors that result in families turning to shock collars in hopes of fixing the problem.

In the coming weeks, we’ll offer ideas on how ELSE you can address dog training basics or dog behavior problems that drive you crazy.

BUT, first, let’s recap the Top 5 Reasons People Turn to Shock Collars (and other correction-style collars like choke and pinch/prong collars):

1. Pulling on the Leash
Good leash manners are a must for modern, polite society. At times, however, our enthusiastic, unruly, or nervous dogs have other ideas.

If you’ve ever had someone ask, either in amusement or with contempt, “Who is walking whom?” you know this particular embarrassment of having a dog who doesn’t walk nicely on a leash.

2. Barking
Whether it jangles your nerves or you worry about neighbors snitching to authorities, getting excessive barking under control is vital to dog-owner/community relations.

3. Not coming when called (especially when off leash)
Having a dog take off on you and not come back is another highly embarrassing (and potentially dangerous) thing. Whether your dog is just running to run or chasing something down (another dog, a car, a kid on a skateboard, wildlife), there is probably no more powerless feeling than feeling like you cannot get him to come back.

4. Acting “aggressive”
The truth is that most dogs who seem “aggressive” — barking, growling, lunging — are actually scared. Really scared. The problem with trying to punish this behavior away is that it:

  • Can increase or intensify the dog’s behavior
  • Can squelch the behavior without addressing the underlying fear

5. Chasing or harassing wildlife (including poisonous snakes)
In many areas, dogs who chase or harass wildlife or livestock can be shot on sight. Not kidding. And, really none of us want to see our dog suffer a poisonous snake bite. So, obviously these are behaviors we do not want in our dogs.

Other Common Uses of Shock Collars?
So, those are the top 5 our coalition brainstormed, along with our friends from Humane Society of Boulder Valley and other local dog trainers. We plan to address each one in the coming weeks. Can you think of any others situations or dog behaviors that people try to fix shock/pinch/choke collars?

How Your Donations Help!
Do you want to help spread the word about pain-free dog training? Then, we need your donations today!

As our service project, we’re raising money for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley‘s upcoming No-Choke Challenge. (More details on how our efforts dovetail on our About Page and on the No-Choke Challenge page.)

Just click the donation button on this handy-dandy donation widget to get started!

If for some reason you cannot see or use the donation widget below, please visit the Never Shock a Puppy Donation Site instead.

Read More!
Never Shock a Puppy coalition members (and others, we hope) are blogging from their own sites on this and related topics. Each of us explain our opposition to shock collars (and other punitive methods in our own ways), so we hope you find at least one blogger who “speaks your language” so that you can follow our campaign in a way that feels most comfortable to you. Check out this blog hop to learn more.

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13 Responses to Top 5 Reasons People Turn to Shock Collars

  1. alyson english says:

    We just added a new puppy to our family this week — our first! I can’t imagine using a shock collar on Sam (our Maltipoo) or any other dog. We waited to add a dog to our family because we wanted to be able to give him (and his training) the time and attention both deserve. Now our kids are old enough to understand how to act around him, what words we’re using to train him, and what to expect from a puppy. (Okay, we’re still working on some of this with our 5-year-old, but she — like Sam — is catching on quickly!) Thanks for this fantastic site, guys.

  2. JJ says:

    People will use traditional-type training tools to train just about anything – sit, stay (though why anyone needs a “do nothing” cue like stay is beyond me in the first place,) down, heel, etc.

    What shocks me is that people are actually stupid enough to turn to pain/discomfort-inducing tools when dealing with aggression. Escalation, anyone?

    When it comes to training avoidance behaviors, traditional training makes sense…. I guess that’s part of the downfall: It makes sense. Believe it or not, it’s not really the “lazy man’s way” if done right. It can be; it’s often times used as such, but it takes a lot of talent, timing, and sophistication. I have taught avoidance behaviors with previous dogs, and when facing a life/death situation like rattle snakes, I’d do it again. So, to avoid that, I just don’t go where the snakes are. O_o;; Can’t feel the need to train it if there shall never be a need!

    Anyway, nice article. It’s interesting. =]


  3. I never knew this was so bad before; thanks for educating us!
    It makes me sad to think of a puppy scared and not understanding why this is happening.

  4. Such a good campaign and cause. I’m looking forward to reading more about your efforts. I don’t think my shelter dog was ever shocked, but he was put outside for hours and hours on end and still has some barking issues as a result.

  5. I find those collars a little frightening. I have a friend who considered trying one with their dog, so he bought one and he tried it on himself. After turning it up to high and subsequently shocking the bejesus out of himself, he peeled himself off the floor and took the thing back.

  6. Jen says:

    What do you do when someone you respect shocks their dog? It really makes me think that they are a bad person. I try to understand that we all get frustrated with some of our dogs’ behaviors, but electrocuting them? Why is that an accepted answer?

    • Jen, I have friends who use shock collars. These are people I like and respect. These are people with whom I do other kinds of community service work side by side. These are NOT “bad” people. Often, person to person, the only solution is to agree to disagree. It’s actually a bit like religion or politics.

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  10. Debbie says:


    I am curious on your opinion regarding Rattlesnake Aversion Therapy (RAT). Overall, I am not a fan of shock collars, despite the ‘well trained’ dogs I see out there that have been trained using shock collars. I am, however, torn when it comes to the use of them for training a dog to avoid rattlesnakes, something we have quite an abundance of here in Southern California.

    The majority of Murphy’s basic training (obedience & shaping behaviors) has been done using positive reinforcement techniques, but he did just go through his 2nd RAT. His first one came after he picked up a California King Snake (thankfully harmless) at one of our local offleash areas. The incident happened when he was about 6 months old, and I waited to do the 1st training until he was over 1 year old. Even then I had reservations, but in the end decided to go through with it because I felt it was necessary to keep him safe from the dangers of a snakebite…and didn’t see another option to train him in this type of thing.

    This past weekend he went through a refresher course (he is now 2) and I was very impressed that he remembered how dangerous the snakes were and wanted nothing more the avoid them.

    So…long story short…how do you propose performing training to avoid snakes without the use of e-collars? Or is it acceptable in this case, considering it could save the dogs life?

    looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
    Murphydog’s Mom

    • Hey, Murphy’s Dog Mom … Thanks so much for your question. I truly do understand your decision. I know many others who have made the same tough choice in this instance … even though, otherwise, they would NOT use shock collars in other kinds of training.

      Personally, I chose not to go this route despite the fact that my Lilly has suffered (and survived) two rattlesnake bites. You have to remember, though, that the snakes we have here are much less potent than the ones in other areas. We did cover this topic in detail during the campaign.

      Here is a link to the main post on this site on the topic:
      Is Snake Aversion Training the Exception or Not?