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Shock-Free Coalition's Response to Invention of Device that Uses Electric Shock to Stop Dogs Pulling on Leash

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: https://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/local-5th-grader-invents-dog-leash-to-reclaim-walks/ 

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 https://www.shockfree.org/Education/Myths-and-Misconceptions.

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: https://petprofessionalguild.com/Open-Letter-to-Pet-Industry-Representatives-Regarding-the-Use-of-Shock-in-Animal-Training 

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: https://petprofessionalguild.com/Junior-Members

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

CALL TO ACTION

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: kevand@berksiu.org
  • President BOD Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C) -Bryce Cossitor: bcossit@aasdcat.com
  • Pittsburgh Magazine Editors -
Bryan Hislop: bhyslop@pittsburghmagazine.com
Sean Collier: scollier@pittsburghmagazine.com
Freelance Submissions: 
editors@pittsburghmagazine.com 

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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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