A Shocking Experience

I just watched a very interesting video. Trainer Frances Dauster decided to see for herself what a shock collar feels like. No, she didn’t put it around her neck, but she did position it so the two prongs that are normally placed against a dog’s neck were positioned against the inside of her wrist.

The “stimulation” as it is sometimes called, began at a very low level, and moved up through level 8, at which point the shock became too painful to proceed any further. The sensation was described at various levels as akin to a mosquito bite, static electricity, a bee sting, a painful slap, and…well, one that elicited an exclamation I can’t reprint here.

At a certain level of shock, although the prongs were against her wrist, one of Frances’ fingers began to twitch. This makes sense, given the nerve pathways’ ability to conduct electricity—we are electrical beings, as are dogs. It does make me wonder, though, in what other parts of a dog’s body the shock is felt, and whether the pain is localized to the neck or if it travels. She also mentioned that it hurt more each time. Do dogs become more and more sensitized when shocked multiple times?

Perhaps most interesting was the comment that was made after a few of the tests that the pain lingered on for a few seconds afterward, then gradually faded. Even if you were a proponent of shock collars, you’d have to admit that if this is the case with dogs as well (and there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t be), pain lingering on after a correction is pretty sloppy training, not to mention cruel. (For the record, I don’t recommend citronella collars for the same reason.)

I’m sure some people will watch the video and thinkm Oh, but you wouldn’t just put a shock collar on a dog at that high of a level. Why then, I would love to know, do shock collars even go up to such insanely strong levels? Naturally, some dogs are more sensitive than others, just as people are, but at some point it becomes obvious that a particular sensation is going to cause serious pain to the majority of recipients.

Another important point to consider is that during this video, the trainer controlled the remote; she knew when she was going to receive a shock. Dogs don’t know. Pain combined with lack of control and the element of surprise is much worse than pain that is self-administered.

I commend Frances Dauster for doing what I certainly would not have done. Perhaps watching this video and hearing the description of the pain at various levels of “stimulation” will stimulate some to throw their shock collars away and “train with your brain—not pain.” You can check out the video for yourself here

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13 Responses to A Shocking Experience

  1. Jen says:

    Thank you. For telling this story, and for linking the video (I’ll be watching that later)

    I’ve promised myself that if I ever get to the point where I feel a shock collar is necessary for ANY dog, I will try it on myself in some manner before I pick up that remote.

  2. Thanks for sharing Frances’ video. I know some people like TENS electrical therapy but I myself experience lingering nerve sensations and twitching hours afterwards so I always vehemently decline those treatments in physical therapy situations. As you so aptly point out: Frances was able to control the remote; dogs can’t. We must be their advocates.

  3. ADM says:

    Victoria Stilwell actually did that on one of the episodes of “It’s Me or the Dog” – not only did SHE experience the shock collar on her wrist, but she also had the owner of the dog (which was an English Bulldog), test it on her own wrist. Needless to say, it was uncomfortable to both women. Not only that, but the bulldog was previously trained as a puppy by a person that suggested the collar – it left burn marks on the dog’s neck, that took months to fade away. Burn marks??? I think people who use these collars SHOULD test them on their necks. Nothing but abuse.

  4. I think that last point REALLY needs to be made more strongly – when YOU control the delivery of the pain, you are mentally prepared, you know what is coming, even though you will anticipate the pain, the knowledge that you are completely in control of when that pain happens and how long it is applied for really helps.

    When you are NOT in control of the pain, AND you are unaware of what criteria triggers the pain, certainly in humans the pain is far far worse and the anticipation of it is as bad or in some cases, worse than the pain itself.

    I will happily be a guineapig for an experiment with an e-collar on low levels around my wrist, to compare reactions to self-delivered pain vs unexpected pain (there is potentially a risk I might die, I have a serious heart condition, but then how many dogs have undiagnosed heart problems and are subjected to shock collars – I am actually serious, I’ll sign something, perhaps if I fall down dead and that goes on youtube, THEN people will stop using shock collars?)

  5. This is a great link for more information regarding the dangers of using a shock collar http://www.dog-secrets.co.uk/negative-impacts-training-dogs-using-electric-shock-collar/

  6. UPDATE ON DEMO ON MYSELF:
    i just posted this to my wall where i posted the video, but wanted to make the comment noted here, too:
    i had a client pick up her dog at 1230, and that one particular “flat bee sting” looking one was still barely visible. i had take the video at shortly after 0900. so THREE hours later there was still a teeny tiny spot to be seen.

  7. Matthew says:

    Thank you for posting that. I have been arguing against shock collars on a non dog forum the last couple days and the justifications for using one are mind blowing empty. Two of my “favorite”

    they are just animals
    all the police use them on their dogs

    the thread was about which collar to teach a dog recall.

    The strongest counter argument to my suggesting that maybe instead of shocking your dog, you actually teach a recall along wtih some starting tips was…

    I am apparently a Prius driver and a idealistic polyanna

    Well….If learning to properly train my dog without the use of pain makes me an “idealistic Polyanna”…I can live with that.

    Things is, when people start out justifying the use of Shock Collars with “they are just animals” how do you get through to them?

    • wildewmn says:

      Matthew, I know how you feel. I find that showing rather than telling whenever possible is the best way to stop those arguments. Of course a lot of your discussions are going to be online rather than in person, but if you can show people video of a rock-solid recall that was trained without the use of e-collars or other coercive methods, there’s really nothing to argue against. Other than that, sometimes if you make your points calmly and in a friendly tone (which I understand can be hard to maintain), although people might not change their minds then and there, you are planting seeds. And who knows who might read your words and be influenced by them.

      And then laugh at their gas mileage .

    • Matthew says:

      I think the message is starting to get out, the pro arguments less and less plausable..that or I am just learning more and more.

      One of the points I didn’t really know how to address in terms of exampling an alternate training “program”, was the claim that shock collars are the only way to train a dog to stay away from rattle snakes. not having that problem where I live, I have never given that scenario any thought. From following our blog, I believe you live in snake country. how do you train our dogs in regards to rattlers?

      Rock solid recall, rock solid “leave it” and common sense management would make sense to me as a starting place.

      However, that still doesn’t address your the unexpected rattler that you may not know is there so you don’t know to recall your dog or ask for a “leave it”. If this is something beyond the comments, maybe a blog post some day down the road??? *grin*

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