B.C. SPCA calls on pet owners to toss shock collars
'The most appropriate use of a shock collar is not to use one'
Electronic collars, also known as shock collars or e-collars, are a big no-no when training dogs, according to the B.C. SPCA.
The animal welfare organization is calling on pet owners to take an online pledge to end the use of shock collars, which it says causes dogs both physical and psychological pain.
"It's a common tool that people end up reaching for, and we find that a lot of pet owners are really not aware of the risks of using a tool like that," said Karen van Haaften, B.C. SPCA senior manager of behaviour and welfare.
"The most appropriate use of a shock collar is not to use one."
Shock collars send electrical shocks to a dog's neck. The owner can control the intensity and length of each shock.
"There is no level of a shock collar that is not uncomfortable for the dogs," van Haaften told Radio West host Sarah Penton.
Side effects of the use of shock collars include increased heart rate, increased cortisol levels, higher rates of aggression, fear and anxiety, according to the B.C. SPCA.
Historically, the collars have been used to try to train dogs into good behaviour, but the B.C. SPCA says they don't always work.
For example, van Haaften said, if you use a shock collar on a dog to stop it from jumping up on furniture, they may learn not to do it because the pain is very motivating. But when the collar is removed, the dog is likely to do it again because they know that pain can't happen without the collar.
The SPCA suggests addressing behavioural issues in dogs by first identifying the cause of the problem.
"It's not just a Band-Aid solution," van Haaften said.
"Figure out what is the emotional motivation for the behaviour and then try to help the dog deal with that trigger in a different way."
Several countries in Europe have banned the use of shock collars. The province of Quebec has done the same.
If Canada or B.C. were to consider banning the collars altogether, van Haaften says the B.C. SPCA would support that.
With files from Radio West