Are Electronic Collars A Welfare Risk To Dogs?
A recent peer-reviewed study explained by Science Daily analyzed how electronic collars used to correct undesired behaviors effected a dog’s anxiety and stress levels. The dogs stress levels were measured by cortisol levels in their saliva and by observing calming signals such as sniffing and yawning. Behaviors that were addressed included chasing livestock and poor recall.
Misuse – The Biggest Threat With Electronic Collars
The trainers in the first study did not use the collars within the recommended guidelines from the manufacturer. We’d like to claim that many average dog owners are not very likely to utilize these collars exactly as the instructions said due to their desired for improved behaviors quickly or simply a lack of understanding about how sensitive dogs can be without showing obvious signs of discomfort.
The second study, which included over 60 dogs, used the collars as directed by the manufacturer. This resulted in less stress than the first study, but did not eliminate all anxiety. They consistently showed more tension and less engagement with the environment than those in the control group.
Ultimately Electronic Collars Are Unnecessary
The study concluded that there are more hazards with electronic collar training than with consistent positive reinforcement based training. The risk of side effects due to electronic collar training increases if the guidelines from the manufacturer are ignored. Ultimately, we must understand that most normal dog owners cannot be trusted to have the correct understanding of timing and intensity levels that most pros still have yet to master; therefore, making this tool risky and unnecessary.
Lead author Jonathan Cooper, Professor of Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences, said: “e-collar training did not result in a substantially superior response to training in comparison to similarly experienced trainers who do not use e-collars to improve recall and control chasing behaviour. Accordingly, it seems that the routine use of e-collars even in accordance with best practice, as suggested by collar manufacturers, presents a risk to the well-being of pet dogs. The scale of this risk would be expected to be increased when practice falls outside of this ideal.”