Are Shock Collars Humane?

Shock collars are not a humane way to train your dog, despite what some might say. Shock collars are collars that your dog wears that administer a shock to the dog at varying intensities and lengths. Sounds painful, right?

dog using endura flap

Shock collars are not an effective or humane option for training your dog. Fear and pain-based training systems are short-term solutions that only serve to hurt your dog and make them fearful of the world around them.

The electronic pulse administered with a shock collar can be quite painful for a dog. Although they can be set up to administer a very light shock, any amount of negative reinforcement can lead to behavioral issues down the road. It’s best to stick with positive reinforcement training methods when training your dog.

What’s the Problem With Shock Collars?

Aside from being painful and scary for your dog, shock collars can also cause a multitude of other issues:

  • Increased aggression
  • Tense muscles and anxiety
  • Fear of people and other dogs
  • Lack of confidence in new environments
  • Panting, yawning, and other signs of distress

It’s sometimes believed that dogs will associate negative behavior with the shock from the collar. But it’s also possible that they won't make that connection and will simply fear a “random” shock to their neck. This is scary and harmful for your dog physically and mentally. And it will only serve to worsen negative behaviors.

The Best Alternatives to Shock Collars

There are lots of humane alternatives to using shock collars to train a dog. It’s best to focus on positive reinforcement to reinforce good behavior and discourage bad behavior. This has been proven to be the most effective way to train your dog.

Clicker Training: This is a great positive reinforcement method for your dog. All you need is a clicker and some treats. First, you will charge the clicker by repeating the process of clicking and immediately giving your dog a treat. This will let them know that the sound of the click means a treat.

Next, you can move on to giving a click and treat when your dog performs the desired behavior (sitting, staying, not jumping on the table for food, etc).

Clicker training can also help you teach your dog which behaviors are not desirable, like jumping on people, scratching at the door, or chewing their pet door flap.

If your dog jumps on people, you can train them to stay calm when a guest enters your home by having a new person come inside and ask your dog to sit and stay. When they remain seated as the guest enters, click and give them a treat.

Spray Collars: Citronella spray collars are an option if positive reinforcement training simply is not working for some behaviors.

Unlike shock collars, a spray collar administers a painless spray of citronella, a scent that dogs do not like. Make sure that the collar releases the spray at the exact moment of the bad behavior so that the dog associates this unpleasant smell with whatever they just did.

For pet door flap chewing, one option is to coat the flap with something that smells or tastes yucky to your dog. Here are some scents that dogs hate.

We hope this helped give some alternatives to shock collars for dogs. Here are 10 tips for being a great pet owner.

Elizabeth Muenzen

Written by

Elizabeth Muenzen

Content Specialist

Pets: My dog Benji is mixed Yorkie, Poodle, Chihuahua, and MaltiPom (YorkiPooChiMaltiPom?), yet he mysteriously bears no resemblance to any of these breeds.
Fun stuff: I love to cook!

Content Specialist

Pets: My dog Benji is mixed Yorkie, Poodle, Chihuahua, and MaltiPom (YorkiPooChiMaltiPom?), yet he mysteriously bears no resemblance to any of these breeds.
Fun stuff: I love to cook!


  • Hi Caryl,

    Here is an article listing some smells dogs hate that I recommend checking out: I hope that helps, feel free to reach out anytime!

    Happy holidays!

    Elizabeth (Staff)
  • Hi, I have never used a shock collar and never will, but you said you would list some smells and tastes that dogs hate. There was no list, and I need it, Thanks


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