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Why I use a shock collar on my dog

My Lab mix Ace has never needed a shock collar (e-collar), but I had no hesitations using one with him as a safety precaution on my parents’ property.

When I was in high school, my mom and dad started using an electronic fence for our golden retriever. This was an underground “invisible” fence system where our dog wore a “shock” collar.

I never felt bad about the electronic fence, because I saw how much freedom the system allowed our sporting dog. (See my post on when to use a shock collar here.)

It would’ve been much more expensive to install a physical fence around that much land. Plus, we later got a second golden retriever who could climb right over a fence.

black Lab mix wearing shock collar

Training our dogs on an ‘invisible’ fence

I was involved with dog obedience training in high school, just as I am now. As a 14-year-old, I was familiar with different training methods.

It made sense to me to patiently teach our dogs the boundaries of the yard.

I’d walk the perimeter, giving them a warning beep with the collars and the command “get back,” followed by lots of praise. They learned very quickly that the tone meant “get back.”

[quote_center]A small price to pay for a dog’s lifetime of off-leash freedom.[/quote_center]

Later, they would receive literally one or two actual shocks when they tested the boundary, followed by more praise for “getting back.” A small price to pay for a dog’s lifetime of off-leash freedom.

So when I later adopted my first dog, it made sense for me to train Ace to also respect the boundaries of my parents’ new yard in Wisconsin.

English springer spaniel and golden retriever in the snow

The right choice for my individual dog

My dog is the type to stick close to his people. I highly doubt he’d ever run off, even if left unsupervised.

However, it’s nice to have the added safety of that “fence.” My dog gets to be out more when we visit my parents. There’s basically no chance he’ll cross the boundary into the road. It’s a win for all.

[quote_right]If you don’t like’m, don’t use’m.[/quote_right]Over the years, Ace has spent hours upon hours enjoying off-leash time at my parents’ house. They’ve taken care of him for up to 3 weeks at a time while I travel. I imagine that yard is his favorite place on earth.

So to hear people attack others (you know how dog people can get) just for suggesting a shock collar in various situations makes me sigh.

I can’t get involved in the arguments for or against any collar. I don’t really care what type of collar anyone else chooses to use.

If you don’t like’m, don’t use’m.

But every dog is different, and every situation is different, and some types of collars (whether it’s a shock collar or a Gentle Leader) can improve a dog’s quality of life.

It’s about making a smart and fair and humane choice for your individual dog.

You are the best advocate for your own pet. I trust you to make the best choice as I have done with Ace.

Have you ever used a collar or training method that someone else told you was wrong?

Let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts. I also hope you’ll sign up for my email newsletter here.

Additional posts on this topic:

Is it time to stop using choke collars?

Yes I use shock and prong collars

Does a no-pull harness work?

Remote collar as a positive training tool? (from Oz the terrier)

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