Clicker Training VS Shock Collar: Deciding Between Training Techniques

June 8, 2018


A Well-Behaved Dog Develops From Positive Rewards and a Loving Home

Dog enthusiasts are aware of the pets in their neighborhood, from the pup that escapes its yard to the barking professional down the road. Most pet owners want a well-behaved dog, but they don’t know how to achieve this goal.

Currently, two forms of training techniques have been popularized in the pet world. Clicker training and shock collars function in extremely different ways for pets residing in Lakewood and Golden households. As a pet owner, understanding the benefits and drawbacks to each training method is critical. Dogs will react to the training technique that fits their personalities.

Understanding Clicker Versus Shock Collars

Clicker training involves the use of a mechanical device that produces a “click” sound when pressed. Pet owners simply press the button whenever the situation warrants it. For example, a dog correctly responds to a “sit” command. The owner presses the clicker and offers the pet a treat. The clicker translates into a reward in the dog’s mind.

Shock collars provide an electrical charge to the pup when it does something wrong. Because there’s a punishment involved with an action, the dog will presumably learn to avoid that scenario in the future.

Reinforcing Good Behavior

Ask any dog daycare professional about his or her preferences, and clicker training will normally win out. There’s a healthy psychology attributed to operant conditioning. In fact, the same behavior modification works for humans and canines.

The clicker becomes a trigger for the pet. At first, the clicker is just a pleasing sound after a behavior. The trainer or owner will then add a reward to the clicking sound. From this point forward, the pet knows that the click leads to a reward. They want to trigger the clicker so they respond to commands as they arise.

Punishing Bad Habits

The opposite, behavior-modification strategy is shock-collar use. Dogs don’t experience a reward for good behavior. They receive negative reinforcement when they misbehave, such as running out of a property boundary.

Shock collars produce an electrical charge that’s experienced on the dog’s skin. The pet owners may or may not be nearby when the shock occurs. This dog training strategy is passive and requires little interaction with the owners. In fact, many countries have banned their use altogether because of the negative reinforcement involved. The shocks can continue without any reprieve for the animal in some cases.

Exploring the Consistency Issue

When pet owners use any training method, it must be consistent. For this particular reason, shock collars seem like an obvious method to choose. However, there’s still the issue of the animal being physically impacted by an electrical shock.

Lakewood dog enthusiasts who turn to clicker training must keep consistency in mind at all times. If the clicking sound isn’t used during even one behavior, the training method becomes compromised. Ideally, an entire family should be familiar with the clicker method. Everyone must use the clicker in the same way, which is similar to sticking with a single, command term for each activity.

Mixing up the Positive Rewards

Pet owners cannot always hand out treats to their dogs. The pets will inevitably gain weight. As clicker training continues forward, mix up the rewards. Tiny treats with few calories are good options. Consider other rewards, including:

  • Verbal praise
  • Rubs on the belly
  • Pats on the head

All of these rewards are perfectly in line with positive reinforcement. They also create an anticipatory sensation within the pet. The dog doesn’t know what reward is coming next so their attention is even more attuned to the training and subsequent behaviors.

Being Aware of Stress Issues

Offering a pet a reward during clicker training is in stark contrast to shock collars. The pet might be under constant stress with the collar in place. After feeling the shock several times, they might have a higher level of stress because of anticipation.

Stress leads to both physical and mental problems as the pup continues to wear the collar. If Golden families decide to use the collar, consider it as a short-term solution. Don’t place it on the dog as a perpetual, behavioral reminder.

Seeing the Clicker as a Game

One of the best parts of dog training with a clicker is the side effect of pure pleasure. Dogs simply see the clicker training as a game. They engage with the owner, rewards are involved and exercises create endorphins in the pet.

Because there is no punishment involved with the clicker, the pup looks forward to the sessions. Shock collars have the opposite effect, which modifies their behavior in ways that may not be desirable.

Knowing Dog Trainers’ Preferences

Most dog trainers don’t approve of shock collars. They can be easily misused, which leads to negative behaviors in the pets. Trainers understand the psychology within dogs. Their education and experience give them this insight.

Many studies have concluded that animals simply respond better over long, time periods to positive reinforcement. The same can be said for humans. Treating the dogs with rewards creates a positive situation for everyone involved.

Applying Training Techniques at Home

If owners work with dog training professionals, it’s important to take those same skills home. Perform the same commands and responses with the pet. Continuing the training will only reinforce the ideas within the dog. After several months of training, the behaviors should be solidified in long-term memory. As long as the commands are used throughout the pet’s lifetime, its responses should be consistent and reliable.

There will continue to be a controversy between clicker training and shock collars. The majority of dog daycare professionals will typically use clicker or reward-based training methods. Pet owners should take a hard look at their training preferences and its effects on their pups. Every pet should reflect a happy and loving household.