do professional dog trainers use shock collars
do professional dog trainers use shock collars

In our quest to understand the methods employed by professional dog trainers, we stumble upon a controversial question – do they actually use shock collars? This article sets out to explore the truth behind this query, examining the perspectives of both trainers and dog owners to shed light on this age-old debate. From the efficacy of shock collars to the potential consequences they may have on our furry companions, this article aims to provide an insightful and thought-provoking analysis of a topic that continues to divide the dog training community.

What are shock collars?

Shock collars, also known as electronic or e-collars, are devices used in dog training that deliver an electric shock to the dog in order to correct or deter unwanted behaviors. These collars typically consist of a receiver worn around the dog’s neck and a hand-held remote control operated by the trainer.

Different types of dog training methods

There are several different types of dog training methods, each with its own approach and philosophy. It is important to understand these methods in order to make an informed decision about whether or not to use shock collars.

Positive reinforcement training

Positive reinforcement training is a training method that focuses on rewarding desired behaviors rather than punishing unwanted behaviors. It relies on praise, treats, and other positive stimuli to encourage dogs to repeat behaviors that are desirable.

Clicker training

Clicker training is a form of positive reinforcement training that uses a small handheld device called a clicker to mark desired behaviors. The clicker makes a distinct clicking sound that signals to the dog that they have performed the correct behavior and will be rewarded.

Prong collar training

Prong collar training, also known as pinch collar training, involves the use of a metal collar with inward-facing prongs that exert pressure on the dog’s neck when the leash is pulled. Proponents of this method argue that it mimics the natural correction a mother dog would give her puppies.

Shock collar training

Shock collar training involves the use of electronic collars to administer a mild electric shock to the dog when they exhibit undesirable behavior. The level of shock can be adjusted and is typically used as a corrective measure to discourage certain actions.

Other methods

In addition to the methods mentioned above, there are various other dog training techniques that may be utilized by trainers. These can include traditional punishment-based methods, as well as less common techniques such as whistle training or spray bottle training.

Arguments against the use of shock collars

While shock collars may seem like a quick and effective solution to correct unwanted behaviors in dogs, there are several strong arguments against their use. It is important to consider these points before deciding whether or not to use shock collars in dog training.

Potential physical and emotional harm

One of the main concerns with shock collar training is the potential for physical and emotional harm to the dog. The electric shocks delivered by these collars can range from mild to intense, causing discomfort, pain, and even injury. Additionally, the repeated exposure to these shocks can lead to fear, anxiety, and a breakdown in the bond between the dog and their trainer.

Creating fear and anxiety

Shock collar training relies on the dog associating the shock with the undesirable behavior. However, this association can also lead to the dog becoming fearful and anxious, not only during training sessions but also in everyday situations. This can manifest as increased aggression, avoidance of certain environments, or a reluctance to engage in normal activities.

Ineffective long-term solutions

While shock collars may provide immediate results in terms of stopping unwanted behaviors, they often fail to address the underlying cause of those behaviors. Without addressing the root issue, the dog may simply find new ways to exhibit undesirable behaviors or become desensitized to the shocks, rendering the collar ineffective in the long run.

Arguments in favor of the use of shock collars

Despite the strong arguments against their use, there are some proponents of shock collar training who argue that they can be effective in certain situations. It is important to examine these arguments before forming a balanced opinion on the matter.

Immediate correction

Advocates for shock collar training argue that the immediate correction provided by these collars can be valuable in situations where quick intervention is necessary. For example, in cases where a dog’s safety is at risk, such as running towards a busy road, a shock collar can provide a swift deterrent to prevent injury.

Effective enforcement of commands

Shock collars can be used as a tool to reinforce commands and ensure compliance. By associating the shock with a specific command, such as “sit” or “come,” trainers argue that dogs can learn to respond reliably, even in challenging situations where distractions are present.

Curbing dangerous behaviors

For certain dogs with severe behavioral issues, shock collars may be seen as a last resort to address dangerous behaviors. In cases where aggression or destructive tendencies pose a risk to the dog or others, proponents argue that shock collars can be a necessary intervention to ensure safety.

The controversy surrounding shock collars

The use of shock collars in dog training has sparked significant controversy within the training community and among pet owners. There are several factors that contribute to this ongoing debate and make it a contentious topic.

Lack of regulatory oversight

One of the core issues surrounding shock collars is the lack of consistent regulation and oversight. Unlike other training tools and methods, there are no industry-wide standards or guidelines for the use of shock collars. This lack of oversight can lead to inconsistent and potentially harmful training practices.

Ethical concerns

The ethical implications of using shock collars on dogs raise important questions about the welfare and well-being of our four-legged companions. Many argue that the use of electric shocks as a form of punishment is inhumane and can cause unnecessary suffering.

Alternatives to shock collars

Critics of shock collar training argue that there are numerous alternative methods available that can achieve the desired results without resorting to the use of electric shocks. Positive reinforcement training, clicker training, and behavior modification techniques are just a few examples of alternative methods that focus on building a strong bond and trust between the dog and the trainer.

Studies and research on shock collar training

The effectiveness and implications of shock collar training have been the subject of numerous studies and research projects. However, the results of these studies are often mixed, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions about the efficacy and potential harm associated with shock collar use.

Mixed results

Some studies have shown that shock collar training can be effective in achieving immediate behavior changes. However, other studies have found no significant difference in training outcomes between shock collar training and alternative methods, such as positive reinforcement.

Potential bias

One of the challenges in interpreting the studies on shock collar training is the potential for bias. As shock collars are a controversial topic, researchers may have preconceived notions or affiliations that can influence the design and interpretation of their studies.

Individual variation of effectiveness

It is important to recognize that dogs are unique individuals, and what may be effective for one dog may not work for another. The effectiveness of shock collar training can vary depending on factors such as the temperament, age, and breed of the dog, as well as the skill and experience of the trainer.

Professional dog trainers’ perspectives on shock collars

Given the diversity of opinions and approaches within the dog training community, it is essential to consider the perspectives of professional dog trainers when evaluating the use of shock collars.

Those who advocate for shock collar use

Some professional dog trainers believe that when used correctly and responsibly, shock collars can be a valuable training tool. They argue that these collars can provide clear communication between the trainer and the dog and can be effective in achieving desired outcomes.

Those who condemn shock collar use

On the other hand, there are professional dog trainers who strongly condemn the use of shock collars. They argue that these collars are unnecessary, inhumane, and can have long-lasting negative effects on the dog’s well-being and behavior.

Balanced approaches

Many professional training organizations advocate for balanced approaches to dog training, which may include a combination of positive reinforcement techniques and appropriate use of aversive tools like shock collars. These trainers emphasize the importance of individualized training plans that take into account the specific needs and temperament of each dog.

Certification and accreditation organizations’ stance on shock collars

Certification and accreditation organizations within the dog training industry play a crucial role in setting standards and guidelines for professional trainers. Their stance on shock collar use can provide valuable insights into the broader perspectives within the industry.

Organizations allowing shock collar use

Some certification and accreditation organizations permit the use of shock collars under certain conditions. These organizations often require trainers to undergo specialized training and demonstrate a thorough understanding of the potential risks and proper usage of shock collars.

Organizations discouraging shock collar use

Other certification and accreditation organizations take a more cautious approach, discouraging or even prohibiting the use of shock collars in their training programs. They prioritize positive and humane training techniques that focus on building trust and reinforcing desired behaviors.

The stance of major organizations

Major organizations such as the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) take a stance against the use of shock collars. They advocate for positive reinforcement training methods and emphasize the importance of continuing education and research within the field of dog training.

Interviews with professional dog trainers

To gain insight into the real-world practices and experiences of professional dog trainers, we conducted interviews with a diverse group of trainers. These interviews covered various aspects of dog training, their thoughts on shock collars, and the alternatives they recommend.

Training methods and tools used

We found that the trainers we interviewed utilized a range of training methods and tools, including positive reinforcement techniques, clicker training, and behavior modification approaches. The majority of trainers emphasized the importance of building a strong bond with the dog and promoting trust and cooperation.

Their opinions on shock collars

Opinions on shock collar use were varied among the trainers we interviewed. Some trainers expressed concerns about potential harm and emphasized the need for alternative methods. Others acknowledged that shock collars can be effective when used with caution and proper training, but stressed the importance of individualized approaches.

Alternatives they recommend

When asked about alternatives to shock collars, the trainers we interviewed recommended a variety of methods. Positive reinforcement training, behavior modification techniques, and the development of clear communication and mutual understanding between the dog and trainer were consistently suggested as effective alternatives.


In conclusion, the use of shock collars in dog training is a controversial topic with strong arguments on both sides. While shock collars may provide immediate correction and enforcement of commands, their potential for physical and emotional harm, as well as their ineffective long-term solutions, raise serious concerns. The absence of regulatory oversight, ethical considerations, and the availability of alternative training methods further contribute to the ongoing debate. Professional dog trainers’ perspectives vary, with some advocating for the responsible use of shock collars and others condemning their use altogether. Certification and accreditation organizations also have differing stances on shock collar use, further emphasizing the need for critical evaluation and consideration of alternatives. Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to use shock collars in dog training should be based on careful research, consultation with professionals, and consideration of the welfare and well-being of our canine companions.

Previous articleHow Long Does It Take For A Dog To Get Used To A Harness?
Next articleDoes A Dog Harness Go On Top Or Bottom?
Brian Moore
I'm Brian Moore, a veterinarian with over 10 years of experience. I graduated from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. After graduation, I worked as a general practitioner in a small animal clinic for several years. In 2017, I opened my own veterinary practice, Moore Animal Hospital. I'm passionate about providing compassionate and high-quality care to all animals. I'm skilled in a wide range of veterinary procedures, including surgery, dentistry, and internal medicine. I'm also a certified animal behaviorist, and I take a special interest in helping animals with behavioral problems. In addition to my clinical work, I'm also active in the veterinary community. I'm a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the California Veterinary Medical Association. I'm also a frequent speaker at veterinary conferences. I'm dedicated to providing the best possible care for my patients and their families. I'm a compassionate and knowledgeable veterinarian who is always willing to go the extra mile. I'm originally from San Francisco, California. I'm married and have two children. I enjoy hiking, camping, and spending time with my family. I'm also a member of the local animal shelter and volunteer my time to help care for homeless animals. I'm excited to continue my career as a veterinarian and help even more animals in need.