Tuesday, December 13, 2011
There are those out there who say just put a shock collar on the dog and that will fix all reactivity. Does it work? maybe, sometimes, depends on if it's more counter survival then what is being reacted to. The #1 factor with a shock collar is timing and that takes training. The #2 factor is context. Even at the highest setting, is the shock more counter survival or is the situation? I've had many people come to me when the shock collar no longer works, or never did work. You have to know what survival is and what it means to your dog and dogs as a whole. The #3 factor is association. Will the dog come to learn that wearing that particular collar means pain in specific circumstances? In my experience, 90% of the time - yes. Doesn't "cure" the reactivity.
In the natural world, pain means death and pleasure means life.
If you add more pain (death) to a situation, you are liable to get a dog who reacts with more ferocity. You could also create a dog who gives up. Early this year I worked with a dog who had given up. He had so much pain from a shock collar associated with going for a walk, with having a leash on outside the home, that he walked as slow as he could, hung his head nearly to the ground and made it very obvious that he was avoiding even glancing at other dogs. You could see the nervous licking, the trembling, the avoidance whenever another dog got too close. At the first lesson with this group of dogs, I watched this dog flinch at least 40 times in the space of 30 minutes. Whether or not the shock was being administered was a moot point, the dog expected it and the reaction was Pavlovian. The worst part of this was the fear in the attitude of the owner. She was terrified of taking the shock collar off the dog in public, knowing from experience that her dog knew where the pain was eminating from. The reactivity, the aggression toward other dogs was still there, just suppressed with the shock collar.
What does work?