Dog Care Tips Dog Training Guide

Can A Shock Collar Kill A Dog? 4 Proper Ways To Use Them

Many of you, wanting to train your dogs, might have come across the concept of using electric or shock collars for behavior change. And like any other affectionate owner, you might be reluctant to use them because of how bad they sound.

Countless users and sellers have given their opinion on personal biases that the truth has become foggier than it has to.

There are some truths and some misconceptions about the use of an E-collar, let’s dive into them.

Can A Shock Collar Kill A Dog? Are Shock Collars Cruel?

No, a shock collar cannot kill your dog when you use it appropriately. To do that, learn how they work to refrain from hurting the dog unintentionally.

Shock collar on a dog’s neck

How Does A Shock Collar Work?

An E-collar strap is wrapped around the dog’s neck like any other collar would. The shock collar prongs are attached to the dog’s skin which would act as conductors, delivering the current.

The remote controls the collar via a wireless connection. A typical remote will have the options of tap, vibration, and shock.

When the key is pressed on the controller, the collar gets a signal and delivers the desired correction, be it a vibration, tapping sensation, or static shock. Most remotes have gradations for vibration and shock levels.

Here the dog gets this sensation which you might have guessed already, is unpleasant. This makes it stop the current behavior whether it was barking, chewing, Jumping, or anything unwanted.

Most of the time, the mode used for correction is vibration and tapping. The use for an actual static shock arises rarely.

That’s about the basics, let’s discuss the possibilities of how such a collar can harm your pooch.

Dangers of Shock Collars – Shock Collar Injuries

Shock collars can’t kill a dog but they can cause the following issues when used incorrectly.

1. Allergies

Some dogs are naturally allergic to the materials used in dog straps or prongs.

This could be the plastic, nylon, or metal contact points. 

The allergic reaction comes in the form of rash patches or a burning sensation on the neck.

This however can be easily avoided by not buying the cheaper collars but only from those brands that make use of allergy-free materials. 

2. Pressure Necrosis

When placed too tight, the collar strap can compress the local blood vessels which leads to skin pressure necrosis and result in sores.

Being a user-related problem, you can easily prevent this by tightening the collar and allowing a finger to pass beneath it. This would allow adequate prong contact without compromising the blood supply.

Also, make sure you do not make your dog wear a collar for more than the recommended time for each particular product.

3. Shock-Related Physical Pain

This concerns most users, about the physical implications of using shock to correct a dog’s behavior.

Shock has the potential of causing physical harm to your dog when used excessively at high intensity. It can result in skin burning, muscle cramps, and in rare cases, palpitations and heart rhythm abnormalities.

However, you need to understand that these are rare, extreme case scenarios resulting from gross user negligence. 

The remote is calibrated in such a way that the lower intensities barely scratch the dog while correcting the behavior. They rely on the element of surprise to make the dog change its behavior rather than the pain.

Related: How to treat shock collar wounds?

4. Psychological strain

Symptoms like anxiety, palpitations, and sleep disturbances can occur as a result of the overuse of shock stimulations on dogs.

As mentioned before, these are related to how a user understands the device and uses it. For most users, such instances would be rare if at all.

5. Aggression

Displacement is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when anger is directed from the source of insult to less harmful individuals or even objects.

This can occur with shock collars when dogs start barking at other dogs and strangers as they cannot understand who shocked them.

How To Use A Shock Collar Properly?

By now, you would have gotten an idea that an E-collar’s safety relies more on how an individual uses it. 

Here are some tips you could use to make better and safer use of these products on your pooch.

Read also: Shock collar alternatives

1. Training

With proper training from an expert, you can know the ins and outs of the individual collar. This would allow you to adjust the timing and the dose of your correctness as suited to your dog.

2. Practice

Every technique has to be practiced to master it. 

As you use them more and more, you would know when a shock would be needed and when only tapping and vibration would suffice.

This would greatly reduce the need for unwanted shocks and minimize the possibility of any harm to your pooch.

The recommendation is that you use the collar on your arm, and try a shocking level, if you can bear it then so can your dog. Do not use levels on your pooch which you cannot tolerate yourself.

With time you would also get accustomed to the different intensity levels and be able to judge as to which level should be used in any given situation.

3. Buy a high-quality product

Always use products from trusted brands. These not only have low chances of allergic reactions but also have a more user-friendly interface.

Additionally, they are fool-proof with many safety features that would prevent you from giving any accidental shocks to your pooch.

Read also: Safest shock collar for dogs

4. Positive Reinforcement

Alternatively to vibration and shock for bad behavior, whenever dogs refrain from unwanted behaviors, give them treats.

This could be in the form of food or a toy. With time your dog will associate bad behavior with correctness and good behavior with a reward. 

Consequently, it will adapt itself to good behaviors only, and the need to use correctness will diminish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions that are frequently asked during the live sessions.

Can a shock collar hurt a dog’s brain?

No. The chances of a shock collar damaging your dog’s brain are almost zero.
Although such collars can lead to allergies, pressure necrosis, and muscular sores when used improperly, their damage to a dog’s brain functions has not been reported.

Do professional dog trainers use shock collars?

Yes. Professional dog trainers especially in K-9 training, use a multitude of techniques and gadgets for dog training. This also includes the use of shock collars.
However, individual trainers may avoid using such collars and adopt other methods, that depend on their experience and personal preferences.

How tight should a dog collar be?

A dog collar should fit snugly, having no room for rotation or sliding but still having some space for a finger or two to pass underneath.
Make sure your dog can eat, swallow, and breathe easily without any added effort when the collar is applied.

Can A Shock Collar Kill A Dog? Conclusion

E-collars are a handy tool that can ensure correct behaviors in a dog.

They come in a wide range of modes and gradations to be used.

However, they do come with some side effects that may harm your dog when used impatiently. That is why make sure you are properly oriented to use such a device before applying it to your dog.

Also, only buy such products from certified and trusted sources to ensure quality materials and reliable technology to eliminate any chances of harming your dog.

About the author

Scott

Hi, my name is Scott. I am currently the trainer/behavior consultant for DoggoMag LLC for the past two years.
🎓: North Carolina State University
📍: Brightwood Animal Hospital