Schilder and van der Borg conducted a study to compare the behavior of police service dogs that had previously been trained using a shock collar (Group S) with those which had not (Group C). In the training test no shocks were applied, but the animal's behavior was observed during training tasks. The intention was to investigate whether shock collar based training might have a long-term effect on stress-related behavior even in the absence of shock, and whether this related to specific features of the training context. Behaviors recorded included recognised indicators of stress (panting, lip-licking, yawning, paw lifting and body posture) as well as yelping, squealing, snapping and avoidance. During free walks on the training grounds, groups S dogs showed significantly more stress related behaviors and a lower body posture than group C dogs. During training, the same differences were found. The difference between the groups was more significant when training took place on the familiar training ground, indicating a contextual effect. The presence of the trainer was considered to be part of this context. The authors concluded "We concluded that shocks received during training are not only unpleasant but also painful and frightening."
Dr. P's Dog Training: The Electronic Collar - Uwsp
The manuals provide information about using the shock collars for basic obedience training but also about dealing with behavior issues. Many provide suggestions to alternative strategies first. To assess the right level of stimulation, some suggest watching for behavior changes such as attention redirection, while others suggest looking for outward signs of discomfort and confusion. Even more concerning is the absence of explanation as to when to use short over continuous stimulation or how to use the tone or vibration modes. Many also emphasize the application and use of negative reinforcement, which can lead to prolonged electrical stimulation until the dog performs the desired behavior. Overall, most collars seem to lack sufficient information for the basic users.
Using the electronic collar in dog training
Advocates for the use of shock collars have often argued that most studies do not offer objective data based on the appropriate use of such devices. As confirmed by the study above, owners don’t always use shock collars in the way suggested by the manufacturers. In a second study by Lincoln University but also involving ECMA (Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association), meant to measure the long term effects of using shock collars in training and its potential welfare consequences, three groups of dogs were compared while the shock collars were used by experienced trainers and as specified by the manufacturers: group A dogs were trained with shock collars, by trainers experienced in their use, group B dogs were equipped with dummy collars and trained by professionals experienced in the use of shock collars and group C dogs were trained by APDT trainers through positive reinforcement and no shock collar ().
How to Use an Electronic Dog Training Collar: 10 Steps