If you are having problems training your Lurcher especially to Return when called then you may be considering an Electronic Training Collar but with conflicting opinions what should you do?
- Victoria Stilwell says – No
- Cesar Millan ( the Dog Whisperer ) says Yes
Would one solve your training problems? or is it just plain cruel?
Are Lurchers a special case? As a highly intelligent and sensitive dog is this type of treatment could be simply too much for them.
Is it even Legal to use such a device?
I wanted to take an impartial look at the devices and the questions around them.
Speaking about question here are just a few more that may be bothering you:
- When your dog receives the shock will he have a clue what it’s for?
- Will your pet hate you for using this on him?
- Are you simply exercising your desire for revenge and control?
- Are you saving your lurcher for death or serious injury?
- Are you saving someone else from the same?
- Will using the collar have exactly the opposite effect when your lurcher runs panic stricken into danger?
- If something else happens when you activate the collar will your dog react to thet in future?
Why Would You Even Consider It?
We’ve all been there. Your much loved Lurcher has set his sights on something and nothing will stop him going in an unswerving straight line toward it. This is where a lurcher is different than many dogs. He will focus on a target blocking out everything else completely.
He will also Get from owner to target in seconds, being out of hearing range before you have had chance to evaluate the situation.
He’s in the zone, locked on like a missile and can no longer hear you and he doesn’t want to.
You can shout and ball all you want, use all the words that he would normally respond to punctuated frequently by his name and some swear words but you might as well not exist.
He is heading into danger either to himself or another dog, horse, cat person or whatever.
It is now that ones thoughts turn to giving him some electrical stimulation. The modern equivalent of the whip.
Technology has the answer and it’s an Electronic Dog training Collar. We can now activate a collar around our pets neck from over a mile away ( depending on the model and make) and that will beep at him or vibrate the collar.
By the way “Vibrate” is most often a euphemism for administering an electric shock.
Until recently I had never given serious consideration to one of these devices but recent meetings, whilst on holiday, with other dog owners has made me look further into their possible uses or abuses.
It can happen to all of us
I can remember walking the coastal path with my aunt and her ten year old Greyhound. She was eighty five years old and had a lifetime of experience with long dogs of all types.
After running hell for leather across a field the dog was headed for the cliffs. Several pets have fallen to their deaths from here over the years and so my aunt used her usual recall. Not a glimmer. The hound carried and despite all attempts was not for returning.
At this my Aunt, who I must add is very demure and respectable, banged her walking stick hard into the gravel path a muttered the expert handlers expression “BASTARD”.
This shocked me but I have remembered since that it can happen to any of us.
A Chance Encounter
I had never given serious thought to using a shock collar until earlier this year.
I was walking with my lurcher Johnson when he spotted some exiting looking playmates including another lurcher, much larger than himself and a cross with an Irish wolf hound.
My wife and I got talking to the owners and we got to the subject of recalling the dog or waiting till he was so bored that even we began to look interesting again. The big fellas owners outlined the problems that they had with him.
Nightmare – whilst lose he had bowled over frail people, run into roads and cause numerous near disasters.
Their answer was an electronic training collar.
They both took great pains to explain that it had only been used as part of a proper return training program and that the shock ( sorry buzzer ) had only been used once or twice. The beeper was used twice, twenty or thirty seconds apart and then the same gap again before the buzz.
Now one or very rarely two beeps were enough to return the wanderer to his owners side.
As I had this problem I decided to look into it further.
Over the next week or so I spoke to another two people who had used similar devices and couldn’t speak highly enough of the effect. But are they ethical? – only you can decide.
Are Shock Collars Legal?
The answer is YES in the UK except for Wales where their use was banned in 2010. This was promptly followed in 2011 by the prosecution of a dog owner and subsequent fine of £2,000 for using one in Wales.
In actual fact he wasn’t using it. The dog had escaped and why roaming when it was found wearing the device the owners defense that he didn’t know they were banned did him no god whatsoever.
So beware and ensure that
- You’re not in Wales
- The English, Scottish and Irish laws haven’t changed recently.
Also with a recent survey showing that 73% of the public disapprove of these devices you must be careful to avoid angry confrontations with animal lovers who don’t share your point of view.
What Exactly do Electric Collars Do?
The Collar is just one part of the device it is the “delivery” end and it can be set to deliver a beep, a buzz or an electric shock to your dog.
The level or intensity of the shock can be varied so that you can increase the severity until the animal stops it’s wrong behavior or vanishes in a cloud of smoke ( only joking). A recent Report by the University of Bristol says that the shock last from 1/1,000 to 1/30th of a second at a few thousand volts ( between 1,500 and 4,500 volts).
It may be a “few thousand” to some people but I wouldn’t want it connecting to me.
A recent report ( already mentioned0 found that there were several worrying side-effects here is a quote from the report:
“Application of initial high intensity shocks
has also been found to elicit behavioral responses associated with fear and distress in
the dog, including yelping, struggling, biting, freezing, withdrawal, hiding, running to
the owner, cowering, trembling, defecation and urination (Tortora, 1982a)”.
Right – no problems there then.
What they Don’t DO
They Don’t teach a dog that the electric shock means come back to your owner. In fact, with lurchers being so intelligent they may well work out that you caused the pain and decide that they don’t want to be where you are again.
The only way that they stand a chance of working is if they are used as part of a conventional training program. And this is the one thing that many owners either don’t want to do or have found themselves unable to do.
These collars will not solve your dog behavior problems overnight and could give you a dog with anxiety issues that you didn’t have before.
The Official Opinion
No one can tell you how to train your pet but a lot of research has been done by those who are ” in the know” and their conclusions are mostly negative.
The Kennel Club has produced a report as have the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA all of which can be found by Googling them.
A Cost Consideration
OK so leaving out the emotional and physiological considerations these collars are not cheap.
Should you decide to get one a market leader would be one of the SportDog range
The collar and controller would cost about £250.00 from the manufacturer.
Compare this to professional advice from and authorised and highly regarded dog trainer.
The average cost for a training session would be £ 30.00 for 45 min’s much cheaper if you go to a small group session which has the advantage of other dogs to test your boys ability to ignore distractions.
At this price you could have six private lessons for the cost of the electronic collar, that’ if you need that many.
If you’re thinking of the time involved in conventional training, then consider that the manufacturer of the leading collar recommends that you spend 10 mins twice per day for 2 weeks using an electronic collar.
So it’s up to you.
My Personal Decision
There are many reasons that have pointed me to my decision and it is purely personal. Your lurcher is ” your Lurcher” and you must do what you think is right.
As I sat down to write this post I was still turning things over in my mind, although I was prety sure which way I would go.
On the rug in front of the fire is my lurcher, Johnson.
He is looking at me with that love and loyalty that is the reason that we chose him in the first place. The thought of doing anything to cause him pain, anxiety or distress, however small, is a total N0-N0.
I’ll stick to the traditional return training. Hiding, running away, leaping up and down, shouting in strange voices and all the other things ( mostly sufficient to get me put away) that I’ve used to get his attention.
Eventually following this with a reward on the odd occasion that he finds me more interesting than everything else and returns to claim his treat.
His behavior may not be perfect but at least he still loves me.