Sports dogs and e-collars: A controversial topic

A couple columns back, I wrote about finishing up the training of your working dog. Several people reacted negatively to the picture of my dog wearing an e-collar.

The last 15 years or so, the use of e-collars has become very common in working breeds. I have used them for several years, and find them quite useful. Many oppose the use of such equipment. Most likely they have never seen one used properly or have seen or heard of someone who has abused and ruined a dog with one.

I have to admit, I had reservations myself about using a collar that shocks my dog. My opinion was the e-collar was a tool used to punish an animal. There have been so many horror stories of dogs made vicious or useless due to improper usage. I was fortunate enough to see the collar used properly, and realized it wasn't a tool of punishment, but of reinforcement.

When I first saw an e-collar or electric collar used, it was obviously causing the dog pain. I freaked out on the handler using it on his dog. His dog would yip every time he pushed the button, which infuriated me. I asked him how he would like it if I put the collar on him. I wanted to see his reaction when I shocked his neck until his hair stood on end and smoke came out of his ears. I remember being so put off by this piece of equipment, that any handler using one on their dog was seen as abusive. A few years later, I met a guy using one on his dog. The animal seemed rather unaffected by it.

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