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Are Electronic Shock Collars Painful or Just Annoying to Dogs? A New Study Reveals Some Answers | Blog | Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS

Trainers often debate about the use of electronic shock collars. Some trainers find these collars unethical and unsafe. The pro-collar camp takes a different stance. Some say it just distracts the dog, calling it “tap technology” and others say it may be painful at the instant but then the dog learns to behave and there are no lasting negative effects.

In 2003, researchers from the Netherlands, Matthijs Schilder and Joanne van der Borg, assessed the short and long term behavioral effects of dog training with the help of shock collars. They wanted to know three things:
open the article to read the rest!

Interesting article but I have issues with it. Cause they used the collars exactly the way I was told NOT to. As a correction at a high enough level so the dogs will yip.

To used for TRAINING (not just as correction) you use the lowest rating on the collar that your dog feels (not that makes them yip).

Be interesting if the study was used with the proper way to use the collar well.
 

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I didn't read the article, just read what you posted. But I do know that they can do damage, because I was watching It's Me or the Dog, and there was a bulldog whose owner had an ecollar that put scars on her neck.

But I've used it on myself on the lowest setting to see what it felt like and it didn't hurt. But I'd quit doing whatever I was doing if it was zapping me. LOL
 

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Be interesting if the study was used with the proper way to use the collar well.
So true. My girl's collar is set between 3 and 8 out of 127 levels depending on the day and distractions. I can just barely feel it at 10 - more of a tingle/tickle feeling and not painful at all. She has never shown any fear or avoidance related to it, and actually comes running when I pull it out.

Used actually SHOCK/punish a dog and as a painful aversive I can absolutely see where it would have the effect in the study.

I really wish someone impartial would do a study using the collars properly so that we could actually get a real answer.
 

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Studies are pointless unless they're done right....
 

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These scientists certainly had an agenda when they made this study. Of course dogs are going to show fear behaviour when you are shocking them so much they give 'barking screams'. They could have at least had the shock collar intensity the same as a pinch or choke correction. I'm sure if they had a trainer that was really ripping at the dog with a prong collar, it would show the same signs of pain and fear as the dogs wearing shock collars.

I use a shock collar, and he's never shown any signs of fear or signs of not being able to recover from a correction because I don't abuse the tool by using ridiculously high settings. The thing that bothers him the most and takes him time to recover from is actually the vibration feature, which is clearly not painful.
 

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These scientists certainly had an agenda when they made this study.
This is what I see after reading it too. The people doing the study knew what they wanted it to "prove" so they set about ensuring that it did. Bad science.

Unfortunately, like many other agenda driven studies have in the past, it will no doubt soon be heralded as truth by those with an anti-ecollar agenda and plastered all over the internet, and people will assume it is proof and treat it as such, without ever actually looking at it in detail to see how poorly done it was and that the conclusions were clearly a matter of (probably intentional) self fulfilling prophecy.
 

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I didn't read the article, just read what you posted. But I do know that they can do damage, because I was watching It's Me or the Dog, and there was a bulldog whose owner had an ecollar that put scars on her neck.
Wanted to comment on this. The sores you see on dog's necks from ecollars are not caused by the shock, even though it appears that way at first glance. These sores are actually rub marks caused by the ecollar being left on too long. Ecollars fit quite snug against the neck and there is constant pressure on the skin from the prongs. When the collars are left on too long (even if they aren't used, even if they have no batteries in them) the pressure from the prongs, coupled with dirt and moisture will caused sometimes very nasty sores on the dog's necks. You are most likely to see this with IF collars because so many people leave them on 24/7 but it can happen with any ecollar or a even a prong collar. The bark collars I have state in the instructions to not leave them on more than I think 10 hours at a time.

As for "proper use", many feel that using the ecollar as a punishment on higher levels is proper use and until recent times that was the main use of them. I would suspect that is also still the most common use of them.
 

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I know it's a preference for the dog owner but I have never used one so I can't say for sure. I agree that the people doing the study probably had an agenda so it is going to slant the results.
I've done a little bit of looking around and cannot seem to find much for scientific studies done on e collars.
I've had one on and it depends on the setting you use, but I can tell you it does hurt at a higher setting.
I kind of illustrates to me something my grandfather used to say. "You can make numbers come out almost any way you want them to. Figures lie and liars figure."
 

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It's interesting that Dr. Yin calls this a "new study." It was done in 2003, making it EIGHT years old! But I guess that "new" is a relative term. Since she's brought it up ...

The "Schilder Study" as it's known is an excellent example of how misguided and how misleading the anti Ecollar forces can be. As several have pointed out the study used ONLY high level stim for their study and most people using modern methods are using low level stim. They will say that it has the same effect on the dogs but all they do is display their ignorance with such a comment. It's a bit like comparing a child bumping into you accidentally with a collision between two tractor-trailers.

The group they studied, are famous for using the highest levels of stim IN THE WORLD in their training.

Here's something that I find quite interesting about this study. They go into great detail about the equipment that they used. We know the various breeds of dogs used. We know their sexes and ages.

We know how many wore Ecollars and how many did not. We know the brand of camera used to film the study; its model number and the size of film it used. We even know that it had a 40X optical zoom!

We know the sampling method they used, the number of training sessions they observed and the number of sequences they filmed. We know the OB commands that were used during the "walking" phase of the study and what "protection" movements were involved.

We know how the data was analyzed; we know what sampling method was used; we know how each ear and tail position was scored and we know how the data from the two samples was compared.

All of these things are clearly stated in the study as is common with such things. But somehow ... they forgot to mention the brand/model of Ecollar that they used! AMAZING that they forgot to mention this! Well, not really. I found out by going through some contacts I have in Europe that they used a Shecker Teletakt an obsolete collar that is no longer made. This model has contact points located on both sides of the dog's neck (as opposed to most modern Ecollars that have their contact points about 1 1/4" apart), so there's MUCH MORE tissue involved than with modern Ecollars. AND it has much higher stim levels than do today's collars!

The results of the study rather than being scientifically determined were completely subjective, with the scientists using rather worthless measures of when the dogs were stressed. They looked at such things as "ear carriage, lip licking, tail carriage and others. But they failed to mention (or take into account) the fact that MANY other factors can cause these to occur.

Stephen Lindsay, author of the three volume set of books "Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training." said this about the Schilder study,

This was an intentionally deceptive study, designed to reach predetermined conclusions. And that couldn't have supported the findings that it reached even if it had been competently done. [Emphasis Added]


I've written up a detailed critique of the study if anyone is interested. You can see it HERE

These folks will never rest. They keep rediscovering old studies pretending that they're brand new and re-releasing them as if they had just been completed. Unethical at best. Dishonest at worst.
 

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I really wish someone impartial would do a study using the collars properly so that we could actually get a real answer.
Ditto. But its never going to happen, because who would pay for it? Those that are anti collar are only interested in biased studies. Those that are pro collar are too busy training their dogs ;)
 

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It's interesting that Dr. Yin calls this a "new study." It was done in 2003, making it EIGHT years old! But I guess that "new" is a relative term. Since she's brought it up ...
Actually it's quite possible that if it was done in 2003, the published results are fairly new. It takes quite a long time for studies to be completed and published. One of my ferrets was part of a study for a new treatment of a common disease and the actual study was only maybe a year but I was told it would be years before the results would be published anywhere. Once the results are published, no doubt people will refer to it as a new study on treating this disease.
 

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Ditto. But its never going to happen, because who would pay for it? Those that are anti collar are only interested in biased studies. Those that are pro collar are too busy training their dogs ;)
That's too funny.... :D
 

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Actually it's quite possible that if it was done in 2003, the published results are fairly new. It takes quite a long time for studies to be completed and published. One of my ferrets was part of a study for a new treatment of a common disease and the actual study was only maybe a year but I was told it would be years before the results would be published anywhere. Once the results are published, no doubt people will refer to it as a new study on treating this disease.
Except, that is not the case. This study was accepted for publication in October 2003 and the results were published early in 2004. It is not "new" in any way.

The fact that this blogger calls it such in an entry today is deceptive at best.
 

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Lou that was an awesome critical evaluation of the study! I subscribe to Dr. Yin's blog, and had read her interpretation of the study and took it at face value. I am not in favor of the use of e-collars, but I don't like biased science either.
 

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Except, that is not the case. This study was accepted for publication in October 2003 and the results were published early in 2004. It is not "new" in any way. The fact that this blogger calls it such in an entry today is deceptive at best.
I shoulda read Wildtim's post before I wrote my response to AgileGSD. Mine has a touch of additional info so I sent it in.

Actually it's quite possible that if it was done in 2003, the published results are fairly new. It takes quite a long time for studies to be completed and published.
This study was accepted August, 23, 2003. It was published in Applied Animal Behavior Science, Volume 85, Issues 3-4, March 25, 2004 . It's been the subject of discussion on many forums, including at least 7 threads on this one dating back to 2008. The study is FAR from "new" except perhaps to Dr. Yin or to some warped definition of the word "new."
 

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Lou that was an awesome critical evaluation of the study! I subscribe to Dr. Yin's blog, and had read her interpretation of the study and took it at face value. I am not in favor of the use of e-collars, but I don't like biased science either.
Thanks for the kind words Good_Karma. Actually there's quite a bit of science on Ecollars that's out there. Some of it is kinda odd though. In one study, Schalke, they found
... animals, which were able to clearly associate the electric stimulus with their action ... and consequently were able to predict and control the stressor, did not show considerable or persistent stress indicators. [Emphasis Added]


Yet in the conclusion they wrote
The results of this study suggest that poor timing in the application of high level electric pulses, such as those used in this study, means there is a high risk that dogs will show severe and persistent stress symptoms.
Yet their study clearly shows that when training is done properly, such a risk does not exist!

Ruth Crisler has done an excellent writeup on the studies that are available out there on Ecollars. CLICK HERE. It's the March 30, 2010 blog entry If the link doesn't take you right to the article.
 

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Yet their study clearly shows that when training is done properly, such a risk does not exist!
Isn't that the problem with the ecollars in general? In the hands of someone who knows what they're doing they can be an effective tool.
Put one in the hands of a hot headed trainer that has no patience and the dog suffers.
 

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It's not just a problem with "Ecollars in general." It's a problem with ANY tool. The only thing that changes is the nature of the dog's "suffering" especially at the hands of a "hot headed trainer that has no patience." If that's the case it really makes no difference what tool is in use.

At least with an Ecollar, that kind of person can't do any physical damage.
 

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Hey Lou - where did this quote from Steve Lindsay come from? I searched one of the largest abstract and citation databases thinking he had done some research or something and he isn't listed at all. That paper is 7 years old but his book is even older. I was looking for something newer.
thanks SJ.
 
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