Email forwarded on February 21, 2020
Kevin Andreyo - PA Convention Invention, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bryce Cossitor - President BOD Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference, email@example.com
Pittsburgh Magazine editors - firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 (www.shockfree.org)
Member, Pet Professional Guild Steering Committee, (www.petprofessionalguild.com)