Warning against electronic collars

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electronic-collarThe Australian Veterinary Association [AVA] has issued a warning against electronic collars, claiming not only that they don’t solve barking problems, but additionally that they are likely to make behavioural problems worse. “Make no mistake – these collars inflict pain, can cause friction sores and inflammation around the neck and will lead to more fearful, anxious and aggressive behaviour,” says Dr Katrina Ward, the president of AVA’s behaviour group.

Often referred to as e-collars and shock or static collars, these devices are already banned in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and South Australia, although stage laws are difficult to regulate. As Dr Ward says, “[The collars] can also lead to learned helplessness as the dog shuts down all behaviours in order to avoid the shock. In some cases, incorrect fitting can result in punishing the dog when it’s not barking.”

Instead of using electronic collars, the AVA advises that pet owners should visit a veterinary behaviourist to help uncover the motivations behind barking problems, addressing it through environmental management, behavioural modification, reward-based training and possibly medication. “Punishment is never the solution to control a particular behaviour – it only makes the problem worse,” says Dr Ward.

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