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19 May 1999 Issue
Association Warns Against Shock Collars

The Association of Pet Behaviour Counselors condemns the widespread use
of devices which deliver electric shocks to dogs for the purpose of training
or curing behavior problems.

According to the APBC, their potential for accidental misuse is high, and
they could easily cause considerable and unnecessary pain and distress to the
animal.

The APBC said that a dog experiencing an unpleasant shock to the neck
"out of the blue" will associate the sensation with whatever the dog happens to
be focusing on at the time. Used incorrectly, this could be an area, object,
another dog, the owner or even a child.

Unwanted side effects could easily occur, says the Association, when the
dog being shocked becomes afraid of being in that area, or it could become
afraid of, and as a result, potentially aggressive towards owners, children,
other dogs or strangers.

In inexperienced hands, it may take many repetitions of administrations of
the shock before the punishment is finally associated with the unwanted
behavior, and several more before the dog learns how to avoid the shock
by performing the 'correct' action. "Not only is this inhumane," Association
officials say, "but can set up a series of fears which can cause associated
behavior problems in the future."

In addition, they said it is possible that the device may be triggered by
external influences, or malfunction, which may result in delivery of repeated
shocks, particularly in those devices which are designed to be triggered by
barking and are put onto dogs left alone for long periods.

The Association advises that sophisticated methods of punishing dogs are not
necessary in order to train them to behave appropriately. Humane methods
which rely on a sound understanding of the dog's mind are more effective.
Results may take slightly longer to achieve, but the process benefits from
being less stressful for the dog, free from the risk of side effects, and
improves rather than spoils the relationship between dog and owner.

Only in a handful of cases, where all else has been tried and failed, and when
the condition is potentially life-threatening, can the use of such devices ever
be justified, according to the association, and, only then, in the hands of an
experienced behavioral specialist who is capable of accurate timing.
(Canine Times)

Source: sdurbin@tulsa.cc.ok.us

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