Electronic collars won’t solve dog barking problems and are likely to make behaviour problems worse.
While their dog’s behavioural problems can be concerning, owners should never resort to electronic collars as a solution.
These collars may be referred to as e collars, shock or static collars, and owners may be advised to use them as a quick fix to barking problems.
But make no mistake – these collars inflict pain, can cause friction sores and inflammation around the neck and will lead to more fearful, anxious and aggressive behaviour.
It can also lead to learned helplessness as the dog shuts down all behaviours in order to avoid the shock. In some cases, incorrect fitting can result in punishing the dog when it’s not barking.
These collars are a bad idea any way you view them and in some jurisdictions are illegal.
Shock collars are banned in NSW, ACT and South Australia.
If dogs are causing problems with excessive barking, owners should:
- Go to their vet for advice. They may refer you to a veterinary behaviourist who can uncover the underlying motivation behind the barking. They could recommend environmental management, behaviour modification and possibly medication to treat the problem.
- Use the principles of reward-based training because they are the best and safest strategy to reduce barking.
- Not expect a quick fix. Barking is a normal behaviour in dogs and it can take time to teach dogs new ways of behaving. Punishment is never the solution to control a particular behaviour. It only makes the problem worse.
The AVA has a section on the website to help pet owners become aware of the best way to deal with behaviour problems in pets. For more information visit: http://www.ava.com.au/polite-pets.
Dr Katrina Ward, president of Australian Veterinary Association behaviour group