Shock Collar or Leash When Exercising Dogs on Town Streets

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Remote Electronic Dog Training Collar

By Sophia Yin, DVM, MS

A reader recently emailed me about a hot topic of debate in his town of Carl Junction, Missouri. The town is considering revising their leash law to allow owners to walk their dogs on electronic collars including when they are running their dogs next to them in the street while driving golf carts. His specific question was, “Does this provide good control?”

There are several factors involved in answering these questions. First, you have to understand how such collars work and how dogs need to be trained in order to learn the goal behavior of heeling next to their owners even in the face of high distractions.  Secondly you have to understand what can potentially go wrong even in the hands of the most skilled dog training professional. And lastly you have to be aware of  how the average owner will use the collar and how dogs tend to behave with their owners in charge of the electronic tool. To see the specifics read the Huffington post blog article titled, “Electronic Collars Vs. Traditional Leashes for Exercising Dogs on Town Streets—A Cause of Debate in One Small Town in Missouri“.

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2 responses to “Shock Collar or Leash When Exercising Dogs on Town Streets

  1. Very interesting topics! The town is considering revising their leash law to allow owners to walk their dogs on electronic collars including when they are running their dogs next to them in the street while driving golf carts.

  2. We are at our wits end with our 8yo Shepherd rescue, and her two owners are in disagreement over whether a shock color would help her. As Dr. Yin has clarified, it’s not simply a matter of reinforcing good behavior, but also NOT reinforcing negative behavior. Our girl’s only bad behavior is that she will occasionally bolt for her own little vacation (she’s great on the leash, happy in the house and yard, gets plenty of regular exercise and walks, knows all her commands, etc). When she sees her opportunity, she just goes, totally ignoring any calls to return. We, so far, have been able to find her, and she’ll come to us happily at that point.

    But all theories seem to agree: don’t ever scold when a dog responds correctly to the COME command, so she always gets positive reinforcement when we find her after she’s finished with her walkabout. So, since her motivation/want is to go and be free for a while, how do we remove the reinforcement she creates by doing this behavior?

    I think a shock collar, timed properly could help, but I don’t want to freak her out, either.

    We need a dog who will hike and camp with us, and so need her to reliably respond to the come command (she’s very reliable when she knows we can force it, e.g., when she’s on a long rope or leash or within a closed area).

    We want to be able to train her with positive reinforcement, but when she can bolt, she will, and at that point, NOTHING motivates her more than roaming until she’s finished. So all I can think to do is to catch her on her way out, when she decides to ignore me and run, and give her a counter-incentive (shock) at that point.

    Any comments would be appreciated.

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