Do Shock Collars Hurt the Dog?

dogs shock collar white background

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding shock collars for dogs. 

If you are thinking about getting one of these collars for your dog, you’ll want to learn all you can about them. This information will help you to make an educated decision.

How Shock Collars Work

Shock collars go around a dog’s neck and are designed to give a mild shock when they are activated. A shock can be administered through remote control via the owner, or automatically when triggered by a sensor at a certain point on a person’s property.

The “shock” is usually just a vibration that lets the dog know not to beyond a certain point on the property. Most collars offer numerous intensity levels to choose from. There are even some collars that emit a loud beep as opposed to a shock/vibration.

Will a Shock Collar Harm my Dog?

The sensation of the “shock” that your dog receives from one of these collars is usually nothing more than discomfort, as opposed to actual pain. It is meant to be more startling than anything else. 

There are no lasting negative health effects that dogs with a shock collar will suffer. Even the highest intensity level on one of these collars won’t do any real harm to your pooch. 

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That being said, it is important that you use the collar properly. If you get a shock collar for training purposes, you don’t want to overuse or misuse it. While it might not cause any long term physical harm, you can do damage to them mentally/emotionally.

labrador with shock collar in a park e1582979002603

Benefits of Using a Shock Collar

Before you decide whether or not to get a shock collar for your dog, you’ll want to take a close look at some of the main benefits this device offers.

1. It’s Effective at Keeping Your Dog Safe

Many people put shock collars on their dogs because they are so effective at keeping them safe. There are shock collars that vibrate and startle your dog when it comes close to the boundary line of your property. This lets them know not to go any further so they don’t run into the road.

 2. You Don’t Have to Do Anything

If you are using a shock collar that works on sensors, you won’t have to actually do anything. You just let the sensors do all of the work for you. You can even buy shock collars that automatically vibrate or beep loudly when your dog starts to bark.

3. There Are Lots of Inexpensive Options

You should be able to find plenty of affordable shock collars for sale, especially if you spend some time browsing the web. Take some time to compare deals at different places so that you can get what you need without paying more than necessary. There are lots of great places to buy these collars, including pet supply stores. The more of this research you do, the more money you are likely to save.

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4. Different Intensity Levels

You will most likely be able to choose the intensity of the “shock” that is administered to your dog. This makes it easy to ensure that your dog doesn’t receive more of a shock than they really need.

chihuahua with dogs shock collar

Drawbacks of Shock Collars

There are also a few drawbacks of shock collars that you’ll want to be aware of before making a decision either way.

1. It Can Be Emotionally Difficult

While the shocks that the collar is giving your pet aren’t harming them in any real way, it can still be difficult to see. This can take some getting used to, but it is definitely not an option for every dog owner.

2. Unintentional Shocks

If you get a shock collar that activates automatically when your dog marks, there is always the chance that the device will make mistakes. This means that your dog could theoretically get shocked even though it’s not doing anything wrong.

3. Not Using Positive Reinforcement

A vast majority of dog trainers highly recommend only using positive reinforcement when training a dog. Shock collars use negative reinforcement, which comes with its own set of risks. The fact is that these devices work better for some dogs than others. It can be difficult to know if this method is right for your dog until you actually try it.

Should I Use a Shock Collar with my Dog?

The fact is that while shock collars can be effective in some aspects, they come with some fairly big risks. Both remote and automatic electronic collars can do more harm than good. And while these devices rarely harm dogs in significant or lasting ways, they typically aren’t the best training method overall.

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Shock Collar Alternatives

If you want to train your dog to stop barking so much or to stay within the bounds of your property, there are other training methods you can use. As we stated above, most trainers prefer positive reinforcement. This means rewarding your dog with verbal praise and treats when it does what it is supposed to. It is an effective method of training these animals that give you complete control.


  • A shock collar is a device that goes around your dog’s neck and delivers a mild electric charge.
  • There are shock collars that you can activate with a remote, as well as ones that are activated automatically by sensors.
  • Most shock collars do not do any significant or lasting harm to dogs when they are used properly.
  • Shock collars tend to have different intensity levels for you to choose from.
  • There are lots of affordable shock collars available on the market.
  • Automatic shock collars can make mistakes that punish your dog even when it does nothing wrong.
  • Most professional dog trainers prefer positive reinforcement over negative reinforcement methods like shock collars.
  • Research has shown that traditional training with positive reinforcement is more effective than a shock collar, but it can depend on the dog.
  • If you want to train your dog to stop barking or just to stay on your property, you’ll want to consider trying the positive reinforcement approach first.