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  • 21 Feb 2020 12:44 PM | Shock Free Administrator (Administrator)

    Email forwarded on February 21, 2020

    Kevin Andreyo - PA Convention Invention,
    Bryce Cossitor - President BOD Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference,
    Pittsburgh Magazine editors -,,

    Dear Mr. Andreyo, Mr. Cossitor, and the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine;

    As a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) with 25 plus years of experience, and as chair of the Shock-Free Coalition, I was very disappointed to read the article Local 5th Grader Invents Dog Leash to Reclaim Walks - The Walk’er Shock’er tries to help protect you and your pets during a walk by Garret Roberts in the February 19th issue of Pittsburgh Magazine. While I usually enthusiastically support a child’s creativity and interest in science, I am dismayed that, in this case, your article glorifies a device that would be considered inhumane and contraindicated by behavioral and veterinary science.

    I am equally disappointed that an organization professing to be interested in science; the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference, would recognize a project when science does not support its use, but in fact, has demonstrated through peer-reviewed, scientific research that the use of shock collars is both unnecessary and inhumane. What kind of message does that send to children about how we treat other living, sentient beings? What does it say about the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference’s commitment to science and to judiciously evaluate submissions?

    A shock collar works by acting as an aversive, which means it causes physical and/or emotional pain/discomfort to the dog in an attempt to change behavior. The 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines published by the American Animal Hospital Association states:

    This Task Force opposes training methods that use aversive techniques. Aversive training has been associated with detrimental effects on the human–animal bond, problem solving ability, and the physical and behavioral health of the patient. It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous.

    Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior.”

    In addition to the AAHA, the following organizations have also renounced the use of shock collars based on sound scientific research; British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), British Veterinary Association (BVA), Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology (ESVCE),  New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), and the Pet Professional Guild (PPG).  Several countries, including England, Wales, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, the province of Quebec in Canada, and the states of New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in Australia, have already banned electronic stimulation devices.

    The science on the use of electric shock for the training or management of dogs is clear.

    •  Electric shock from a shock collar causes stress, pain, and fear and can cause the dog to react aggressively and to attack and bite.
    • Training a dog with rewards, such as food, is both more efficient and effective than training with aversives.
    • I encourage you to do your homework and to read the two documents I have attached; 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines, What’s Shocking about Shock? What Science tells us about the use of shock in dog training and the scientific research and articles cited in those two documents. There is no science supporting the use of electric shock for training animals in the scientific literature so why is this device being recognized by a group professing to represent the best of science and technology?

    The statement in the article in Pittsburgh Magazine, “The Walk’er Shock’er is a pressure detecting dog leash that could save your dog’s life and prevent injury to you or anyone who walks it,” Malock writes on a blog for the device. “The amount of pull from the dog controls the amount of stimulation going to the collar. The harder the dog pulls, the more stimulation the dog receives” is at it’s best misleading and dangerous as the use of shock is very likely to increase the dog's fear and the probability of biting which in turn increases the possibility of the dog being euthanized.

    I hope that the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference reconsider the recognition of The Walk’er Shock’er and that Pittsburgh Magazine updates their article with the facts.

    I have been teaching people to train their dogs to walk on a loose leash for 25+ years using a clicker and treats, with no punishment of any kind. I am not alone, as any accredited professional trainer can do the same. The Walk’er Shock’er is not an innovation; it is an inhumane and barbaric step backward. For a better way, read Dog Training – How Do I Get My Dog to Walk Politely Instead of Pulling on the Leash?


    Don Hanson, CDBD, CPDT-KA
    Chair, Shock-Free Coalition (
    Member, Pet Professional Guild Steering Committee, (


  • 21 Feb 2020 11:37 AM | Shock Free Administrator (Administrator)

    A vibration is simply a euphemism for electric shock. It doesn't matter what the product is called. The effect is the same. An aversive Is anything that a pet tries to avoid or escape from. This leash technique is designed to work as a correction device. 

    PPG does not recommend any “pet correction devices” or aversive stimuli intended for pet care, management, or training by eliciting a “startle response,” and/or an alarm reaction to prevent a behavior such as pulling, barking, jumping up, growling or any other problematic behavior. Ramirez-Moreno and Sejnowski (2012) define the startle response as a “largely unconscious defensive response to sudden or threatening stimuli, such as sudden noise or sharp movement” that is “associated with negative affect.” (cited from The Use of Pet Correction Devices, 2019:

    Please consider the following:

    Masson et al. (2018) note there are many parameters to consider when modulating the intensity of shock delivered and highlight all of the following as concerns: “…the level of pain felt by the dog…shock intensity (Schilder and van der Borg, 2007, Lindsay, 2005), shock duration (Schilder and van der Borg, 2007), electrode size (Lindsay, 2005), beep warning and response time (Schalke et al. 2007), degree of humidity, and the morphology of the dog itself [hair length, moisture level of skin, subcutaneous fat level (Jacques and Myers, 2007)]. Together, these data render it nearly impossible to determine the appropriate intensity of shock for a particular dog in any given situation (Lindsay, 2005).”

    There also appears to be a significant individual difference among dogs in terms of sensitivity to the pain caused by an electric shock. This is unrelated to the thickness of the dog’s coat (Masson et al., 2018). Masson et al. (2018) address reports by individuals who have tested an electric shock collar on themselves and stated that it does not hurt by pointing out that dog skin is “more sensitive to shock” than human skin. Indeed, the canine epidermis is 3-5 cells thick; however, in humans, it is at least 10-15 cells thick.” (Vet West Animal Hospitals, 2019).

    State Ha and Campion (2019): “Animals can learn through both positive and negative learning, which operate on different brain pathways and use unique dopamine receptors…the DR1 receptors are generally viewed as ‘positive’ receptors, while the DR2 receptors are ‘negative’ receptors. Across multiple species, studies have shown that individuals will prefer to stimulate their DR1 receptors over their DR2. While punishment, which stimulates the DR2 receptors, might appear to have an immediate result, stimulating the DR1 receptors is more effective for learning in the longer term. Combining positive and negative with one another neurologically and psychologically confuses the learning process.” (cited from Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the Bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People, 2019:

    A dog trained via shock or vibration or whatever you want to call it is not being taught a new behavior. He is not learning anything. He will not be in the right frame of mind to learn anything because he will be too busy trying to avoid the next shock. It is virtually impossible for the trainer to be consistent in the application of the punishment, particularly in the hands of a child or unskilled trainer. In addition, any time the device is not present, the pulling behavior will still be there. The fallout of such unpredictable and aversive training methods has been well documented by a growing body of scientific research; risks include aggression, fearfulness, and total shutdown. There is absolutely no need to use aversive training methods when all the scientific research shows that the opposite, i.e. positive reinforcement methods, are more effective and, not to mention, ethically sound. It would really be a shame if any licensed veterinarian were to endorse any kind of product that is already known to cause behavior problems that are far more serious than the basic manners issue of a dog that pulls because he has not been trained to walk on a loose leash. Behavior problems are the top reason that pets are relinquished to shelters and/or euthanized. Why on earth would anyone want to add to that already damning statistic?

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  • 21 Feb 2020 9:06 AM | Shock Free Administrator (Administrator)

    The Shock-Free Coalition, the advocacy arm to The Pet Professional Guild, has contacted the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine after reading an article regarding the invention of a dog leash, designed to stop dogs pulling, that uses electric shock and is a finalist in the upcoming PA Invention Convention. The article is here.

    Emailed: February 21, 2020

    Dear Pittsburgh Magazine Editors, 

    Re: Local 5th Grader Invents Dog Leash to Reclaim Walks by Garret Roberts, February 19, 2020: 

    It was disappointing to read the above article whereby a young boy has created a device that uses electric shock as a so-called training method, but even more disappointing that this device, designed to cause pain, fear, anxiety and/or frustration, is going to be lauded as a finalist at the PA Invention Convention on February 25, 2020. It is also disappointing that the Pittsburgh Magazine would appear to be endorsing such a device by giving it publicity, without explaining the immense risks of fallout from such a "training" method. 

    Here are just some of the issues that could have been explained with a little research: 

    After Nate’s sister lost control of Ellie and got dragged across the yard, he was inspired to way to train the dog to not pull again. - Instead, the family could teach their dog to walk with a loose leash, using positive reinforcement and a humane training device, such as a well-fitted harness.

    “The Walk’er Shock’er is a pressure detecting dog leash that could save your dog’s life and prevent injury to you or anyone who walks it.” - This is simply not true. Training an emergency stop could save a dog's life. Giving it an electric shock will not. For more info, see

    The amount of pull from the dog controls the amount of stimulation going to the collar. The harder the dog pulls, the more stimulation the dog receives. - for "stimulation," read electric shock. There is no alternative behavior being trained here and the dog is learning nothing, other than to fear whenever the next electric shock is coming, and that electric shock can be painful. 

    Here is an excerpt from PPG's Open Letter on the Use of Shock in Animal Training that explains why there are so many problems with this: 

    Numerous respected scientific studies confirm the efficacy of positive, reward-based training, as does the collective experience of PPG’s highly skilled and qualified membership worldwide. To this end, PPG’s official position is that the use of electronic stimulation, “shock” or “e-collars” to train and/or modify the behavior of pet animals is completely unnecessary for effective behavior modification and has no place in ethical animal training. Such practices are also inherently damaging to the animal, as we will outline below.

    Renowned veterinary behaviorist and PPG Special Council member, Dr. Karen Overall, states that shock collars “violate the principles of three of five freedoms that define adequate welfare for animals: Freedom from pain, injury, and disease, freedom to express normal behavior and freedom from fear and distress.”2 The freedoms Overall refers to are Roger Brambell’s Five Freedoms, which have been a standard for assessing animal welfare since 1965.3

    Countless evidence indicates that, rather than speeding up the learning process, electronic stimulation devices slow it down, place great stress on the animal, can result in both short-term and long-term psychological damage, and lead to fearful, anxious and/or aggressive behavior. 

    Several countries, including Wales, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, the province of Quebec in Canada, and the states of New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and South Australia in Australia, have already banned electronic stimulation devices.

    The British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association both recommend “against the use of electronic shock collars and other aversive methods for the training and containment of animals” and state that shocks “and other aversive stimuli received during training may not only be acutely stressful, painful and frightening for the animals, but may also produce long-term adverse effects on behavioural and emotional responses.”

    Here is the link to the full statement: 

    PPG is all about education and we would like to offer Nate Malock a free PPG Junior Membership, which comes with a training manual and support. This would be a wonderful educational opportunity for Nate to develop his interest in dog training, and to learn scientifically sound, up-to-date training methods from experts in the field that do not resort to the use of pain and fear. For the long-term welfare of his beloved dog and to develop his admirable interest in his pet's well-being, we feel this would be invaluable:

    Thank you for your attention and we look forward to hearing from you.


    Electric Shock constitutes a form of abuse towards pets, and, given that there are highly effective, positive training alternatives, should no longer be a part of the current pet industry culture of accepted practices, tools or philosophies. Help us spread the word by contacting these key figures!

    • PA Convention Invention Competition Organiser - Kevin Andreyo:
    • President BOD Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C) -Bryce Cossitor:
    • Pittsburgh Magazine Editors -
    Bryan Hislop:
    Sean Collier:
    Freelance Submissions: 

    Quick Links
    Talking Points on Shock
    Myths and Misconceptions
    What the Experts Say
    Sign the Shock Free Pledge

  • 18 Feb 2020 9:12 AM | Shock Free Administrator (Administrator)

    If you need quick access to important and factual points on shock then here you go. Feel free to email these links and documents as needed.

    A website page on the Talking Points on Shock

    Please share this document Talking Points on Shock

    Please share this position statement on Shock

    Please share these professional opinions on the use of Shock

    Visit the Shock-Free Coalition and sign the pledge and spread the word

About Shock-Free Coalition

The Shock-Free Coalition believes that pets have an intrinsic right to be treated humanely,to have each of their individual needs met, and to live in a safe, enriched environment free from force, pain and fear.

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