Electronic training collars pose a welfare risk to companion dogs – sciencedaily

The results of a recent study revealed that the immediate effects of training companion dogs with an electronic collar cause behavioral signs of distress, especially when used at high settings.

Research, conducted by animal behavior specialists at the University of Lincoln, UK, indicates that in the sample of dogs studied there is more concern about the use of so-called “shock collars”. well-being than with training based on positive rewards.

The results were published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS A.

There are arguments for and against the use of electronic training collars (or electronic collars), with groups on both sides having a genuine concern for the welfare of dogs and wanting to do what is best for their pets. .

Nonetheless, limited studies have been conducted on the use of electronic collars in the companion animal population. Academics at the University of Lincoln have studied the performance and welfare consequences of training dogs in the field with manually operated electronic devices.

The research followed a preliminary study using a small sample of dogs that had been largely referred for training due to the pursuit of sheep. The results showed changes in the dogs’ behavior during training, which were consistent with pain or aversion, as well as an increase in salivary cortisol indicating an increase in arousal.

However, these trainers did not follow the training guidelines published by the collar manufacturers. A larger study involving industry approved trainers was therefore conducted to assess whether training collars can be used effectively to improve obedience without compromising the welfare of dogs.

The new study looked at 63 pet dogs referred for poor recall and related issues, including worry about livestock, which are the main reasons for using collars in the UK. The dogs were divided into three groups – one using electronic collars and two as control groups.

The trainers used lower settings with a pre-alert function and the behavioral responses were less pronounced than in the preliminary study. Despite this, dogs trained with electronic collars showed consistent behavior changes with a negative response. These included showing more signs of strain, more yawning, and less time spent in environmental interaction than the control dogs.

After training, most owners have reported improvements in their dog’s problematic behavior. Owners of dogs trained using electronic collars, however, were less confident in applying the demonstrated training approach.

These results indicate that there is no consistent benefit to be gained from electronic collar training, but greater wellness issues compared to positive reward-based training.

Lead author Jonathan Cooper, professor of animal behavior and welfare at the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences, said: Collars to improve recall and control hunting behaviors. As a result, it appears that the routine use of electronic collars, even in accordance with best practice, as suggested by the collar manufacturers, poses a risk to the welfare of companion dogs. one would expect the risk to increase when the practice deviates from this ideal. “

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Materials provided by Lincoln University. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.

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