Remote Activated Electronic Collars

A device for delivering remote punishment that has considerable usefulness is the remote-activated electronic collar. Remote electronic stimulation provides a means for delivering a well-timed and measured aversive event. In many ways, it represents an ideal positive punisher, having many potential applications in dog training. In addition to intractable barking problems, dangerous habits such as chasing cars and bicyclists, various predatory behaviors, persistent recall problems, and refractory compulsive habits—all are often responsive to training efforts utilizing an electronic collar. Tortora (1983) has advocated the use of electronic training in the management of certain forms of aggression.

Ideally, the electronic collar should possess several operating features: (1) a variable shock intensity adjustable from the transmitter and collar, (2) a warning and safety tone built into the collar, and (3) reliable operation and range. Little in the dog-behavior literature has been written on the use of shock in dog training or behavioral management, perhaps reflecting the stigma attached to its use, yet limited professional use of such collars is definitely warranted and justified (Vollmer, 1979a, 1979b, 1980; Tortora, 1982, 1983). There are many potential complications in the use of shock for the suppression of behavior, including the possibility of evoking redi rected and pain-elicited aggression (Azrin et al., 1967; Polsky, 1998). Notwithstanding the potential for abuse and undesirable side effects, limited professional use of remote electronic collars is definitely warranted and justified. What may not be justifiable is their current widespread use by dog owners with little behavioral background or experience. There is a considerable risk for abuse when such collars are placed into naive and inexperienced hands.

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