E-collars, prong collars, lasso collars …. all these barbaric tools can still be found anywhere. Even though electric collars are now officially banned in most of Belgium, they are still accessible on the internet, and anyone can still find a way to get hold of one. I have not yet heard of anyone being convicted for using this tool, and I have never witnessed an arrest due to the wearing of this collar.
These tools remain very popular
As a reminder, these collars punish the dog because it exhibits a behavior that does not suit us, humans. In the case of prong collars, for example, the dog will no longer pull on the leash because if it does, it will experience pain. In the case of electric collars, often used for recall, the dog learns, through operant conditioning, that if it strays, it will receive an unpleasant stimulus. Without going into the details of how these tools work, it is obvious that anyone who uses them is, by definition, harming their dog.
The responsibility of some dog trainers
But what worries me greatly is that there are still trainers and/or behaviorists who advise their clients to use these tools and even sell them, taking a commission in the process.
A client of mine shared this experience with me. The trainer she had hired sold her this torture kit. This lady’s dog is an adorable little being, very small and entirely harmless. By nature, he barks as soon as he is afraid of a noise or another dog. These are alert barks, anxiety, discomfort. In positive training, this is addressed through desensitization and reconditioning, as well as by respecting the dog’s distance and choice to avoid what scares him, in order to relieve the dog and not forcibly expose him to a stimulus that frightens him. This trainer, on the other hand, believed that these barks should simply be eliminated, and that when the dog barks, he should be electrocuted to make him stop. Firstly, it’s torture, and secondly, it adds stress to stress, a traumatizing experience to anxiety. Imagine being surrounded by spiders, snakes, mice; in short, an extreme source of fear. Now imagine that, not only are you not allowed to express this fear by screaming or escaping, but instead of feeling comforted, you receive electric shocks. I think if you went through such an experience, you’d be headed to the hospital. This is exactly what punitive training generally achieves, and the use of electric collars in particular. You don’t need to be an expert in canine behavior to realize that this is animal cruelty.
Owners: refuse these tools!
This trainer is known in the field for causing a lot of harm to dogs. And he’s not the only one.
Therefore, I appeal to you, dog owners, who are seeking help for any behavioral issue. Because it’s thanks to you seeking help, and also to positive trainers, that awareness can be raised, attitudes can change, and we can live in a world where punishment is not acceptable. Let’s not rely on laws that are not enforced and on the grand principles of animal welfare which, in reality, give little consideration to canine well-being.
If a trainer offers you coercive tools, tells you that you must dominate your dog, gets angry at him, or uses any form of violence, run away. Trust your instinct as well; if you’re not comfortable doing something to your dog, there’s probably a reason for it. This is about the future of compassionate training and respect for this living being that brings us so much.
Sonia, your Dog Nanny