A dog is perched on the edge of his lawn, growling, barking and pacing back and forth. His frustration surges with each passing of a stranger walking, a car driving by, the carrying on of children in a yard next door, or even an oblivious squirrel darting through. With each venture to his boundaries in the lawn this pet becomes more exasperated that he cannot get access to the interesting (scary or exciting) things that pass by his territory. There is not an owner in sight. They are inside of the home confident that their dog is “safe” from running into traffic and secure in the idea that no trouble will be had by their dog since their yard is safeguarded by an unseen force – the electronic shock fence. It is partnered with an electronic shock collar secured around the dog’s neck. The equipment works together, so no worries. This dog owner was not present when the “boundary training” took place. They did not see that their dog needed to learn through pain to cautiously approach these mysterious flags, for passing them meant a shock through his neck that would reverberate for some time after the punishment. Those flags are gone now, and all he knows is that perching on the edge of his lawn and barking is the extent that his physical body can go without that terrible thing happening again.
What the dog would like the owner to know about the “invisible fence”:
- It does not keep people from approaching the house and stressing him out to no end.
- It does not keep other animals, domestic or otherwise from approaching him and if he runs he may not have far to go to escape.
- It does not keep a sufficiently-motivated dog from running through, and with that could prevent him from returning to his yard after the adrenaline rush is over.
- Shock collars work by causing pain, resulting in fear and dogs that are shocked learn to associate that shock with people and things in their presence at the time of punishment.
- The collar is exposed to the elements and along with day-to-day wear and tear could cause continuous shock if the unit malfunctions and remains on.
- The electrodes themselves can cause pressure necrosis on the neck, and are often made of non-hypoallergenic metal causing contact dermatitis, or allergic reactions.
Marketers like to use neutral euphemisms to disguise the harsh reality of shock collars. They are often called “e-collars,” “remote collars,” “training collars” and other benign terms. In a similar way, the painful shock delivered to the dog is referred to as a “tap,” a “tingle,” “stimulation,” “e-touch” or anything to obscure the fact that an electrical shock is being sent through the skin and nerves of the body. -Jan Casey, Courteous Canine Inc. and The DogSmith Tampa
Watch the video and compare the learning
The YouTube video: Punishment Versus Reward Training in dogs using smarties and a shock collar on humans is almost 8 minutes of an excellent example of learning for a dog through positive reinforcement and clicker training vs. the learning (or lack thereof) from the use of shock.
At 2 minutes 23 seconds into the video they introduce the volunteer that will learn a simple task while being shocked. Prior to this a volunteer performed the same task, quickly, through the use of training with a clicker and treats.
- I want you to make note that this man is wearing the shock collar on his arm and not on the sensitive, thinner skin on his neck where it is placed on a dog.
- The electrodes dig into the meat of his arm and he wants to get it off of him and being a human, he has the capacity to remove it. Your dog does not have that luxury.
- He begins to sweat, has difficulty thinking. He becomes resistant to even trying to complete the task for fear of another painful shock.
- This human volunteer is fully aware during the process what is happening, knows this is a demonstration and can at least rationalize the experience. Your dog is not so lucky.
Best Friend Fence
For those of you that choose to use an invisible fence I challenge you to watch the video and consider the points of danger associated with this containment tool. If you are in a neighborhood that has rules and regulations that do not allow for a traditional fence these rules are often in place because the aesthetics of the neighborhood is more important to an association than the comfort and safety of a family pet. There are alternatives out there if you do not want or cannot have an opaque fence. Consider Best Friend Fencing at www.bestfriendfence.com. They have a great variety of fence kits including everything you need to easily install a virtually invisible barrier on your property.
Be present to your dog
Certainly both dogs and children need supervision outside. Unlike children, dogs are not good at keeping themselves occupied in a yard all alone. Dogs need and want you to play with them. Dogs will sometimes need you to reassure them that the world that passes by outside is o.k. The fun and fresh air that you get while being outside with your dog is of great benefit to you too.