Electric Training Collars Can Cause Psychological Damage

Training a cat with punishment is not good

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats
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.”

Electric dog collar misuse
Electric dog collar misuse and malfunction

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

4 thoughts on “Electric Training Collars Can Cause Psychological Damage”

  1. All that punishment teaches is fear of more punishment.

    It goes further than collars. There are a couple of firms in the UK who are now selling “Invisible fences” where the cat wears a collar and if the cat goes over the line of a buried cable, the poor cat gets a painful electric shock. These hateful systems are being sold to supposedly save cats from being run over on the road.

    They don’t stop intruders into a cat’s territory and what happens when a cat is so terrified it runs through the boundary and once the adrenalin is down, cannot return to it’s territory due to fear of being painfully shocked?

    The science behind these dreadful devices is utterly crap.

    Brian Blessed who I used to believe was a good advocate for animals was involved in the advertising campaign for one of these invisible fence torture devices a couple of years ago. I hope he has since, seen sense and distanced himself from these instruments of torture.

  2. I do hope that shock collars are banned!
    They are horrible and cruel and most definitely hurt and confuse dogs because they train by fear.
    I hate them with a passion as I do electric fences and scat mats.
    One of our neighbours has a yorkie X which he says ‘barks at his own shadow’ It’s true, he yaks non stop and they had thought about a shock collar for him, but thankfully decided against it when we told him how cruel they are.
    As much as that dog gets on our nerves we wouldn’t wish that punishment on him.
    I hate any form of punishing cats, people need to realise that cats don’t understand punishment, it’s cruel and pointless.

    • The concept of training by punishment is a symptom of the incorrect relationship between human and companion animal that exists across large areas of the planet. Humans are pretty basic in 2013.

    • Disgusting – if I wasn’t busy right now I’d probably lay into those pathetic excuses of humans who make and use those disgusting things. It’s like having a tazer attached to your throat – it must be beyond horrifying for any animal with one on. I would love to make those so called humans wear those things so they understand the true meaning of ‘imprisonment, torture, captivity, punishment’.


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