Although this refers to dogs it is actually about punishment as a way of training animals including cats. Lots of people including cat behaviorists recommend punishment as a way of training a cat. Squirting water at a cat is an example.
You can buy devices that scare cats. Even shouting at a cat or rubbing a cat’s nose in urine is a form of training by punishment. They are all wrong.
This is a good story. The Kennel Club, the number one dog club in England have called for a ban on electric dog-training collars because research tells us that dogs can suffer psychologically and be damaged psychologically1.
This type of dog training aid is popular in Britain. They are used by 500,000 pet owners who push a button on a wireless transmitter which signals the collar to electrocute the dog. It stops dogs doing things that the person dislikes. The manufacturers say they are harmless and that it makes a dog learn fast. Learn? Or become frightened?
Two recent research studies relied on by the Kennel Club contradict the manufacturers who rely on a study by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The studies that the Kennel Club rely on are:
- From the Universities of Bristol and Lincoln and
- Food and Environmental Research Agency
These studies found that the electric shock collars were no better than positive reinforcement (reward based training). They also found that the collars could have:
“..a negative impact on welfare at least in a proportion of animals trained using this technique.”
Interestingly, the Kennel Club also refer to a second study paid for by the manufacturers which found they “had a detrimental effect” (translation: hurt dogs mentally).
One of the great weakness of this sort of “training” is the manner in which a person uses the device. If it is misused, which I believe is likely, the dog will not be able to associate pain with action. He becomes confused and stressed. For me the whole concept is wrong in itself but this is compounded by poor usage. I can’t understand how people can use it. If you love your dog or cat how can you deliberately hurt him or her?
Electric shock collars don’t train dogs. They just create fear in a dog and an association between doing something and pain, even when used properly. Is that really training a dog or just punishing a dog? The dog has no idea why he suffers for doing something he clearly finds natural.
These findings support my argument, which I have consistently made on this site, that training cats by punishing them is wrong. It can make cats anxious and fearful and alienate the cat from his human caretaker.
Source: (1) Times Newspaper