Dog Tips

Are Shock Collars Bad for Dogs?

Imagine if you got a small shock every time you reached for a cookie. Not only would your snacking habits change dramatically, but you'd probably develop a serious distrust of kitchen appliances. (the only way you’ll stay away from those carbs and follow your diet, we guess) Now, let's swap places and think about our dogs. Shock collars have sparked quite a debate among pet owners and trainers. Are they quick fixes for bad behavior or just plain cruel?

So, if we study the reinforcement theory, there are basically 4 ways to encourage or discourage a specific behavior. 

  • Positive reinforcement – Getting chocolate or praise for your good behavior

  • Negative reinforcement – Removing/reducing homework for a kid for good behavior

  • Positive Punishment – Your coach making you run a mile for coming late

  • Negative Punishment - Taking away your child’s phone for an inappropriate behavior

Professional dog trainers usually use these techniques to teach the dog new things and reduce/stop undesired behavior. For example -

  • Positive reinforcement – Giving treats to your dog when they do as you say to make the dog more obedient

  • Negative reinforcement – Holding your dog’s mouth and then releasing it when the dog keeps quiet to encourage your dog to be quiet more often.

  • Positive Punishment – Hitting your dog on the nose for barking at the food table

  • Negative Punishment – Taking away attention when your pup bites to make them bite less often.

Are Vibration Collars Safe for Dogs? 

Belgian Malinois sitting on the pavement

We understand that dogs, at times, can be very disobedient. At first, you’ll try by offering treats. It will work in the start as your dog learns that obeying can get them a treat. But after a point, this may become less effective. This is when vibration collars can help. A vibration collar is a remote-controlled wireless collar that can give a small shock to your dog when you press the button. The vibration becomes an unpleasant feeling for the dog and hence discourages them from indulging in a specific type of behavior. 

When it comes to the safety levels of the collar, the control is in your hands. There are usually 3 options that you can go for static stimulation, vibration, and tone. You can set the effective vibration level. 

Most people imagine a vibration collar as a cruel device to control our sweet-loving pets. But they are not that. A vibration collar can be a great device, if used well, to train the dog. However, a shock collar is different from a vibration collar. While a vibration collar sends a small, painless vibration to your dog’s neck, a shock collar can be unpleasant and painful. Vibrating collars can also be a great option for training dogs who cannot hear. 

Are Bark Collars Cruel?

Best Dog Collars


Bark collars are another type of training collars that are meant for dogs with excessive barking problems. They are designed to negatively reinforce bad behavior. They detect the vibration of a dog’s vocal cords when they bark. A low-level shock is given to the dog’s neck when these vibrations are detected. While it can be an effective tool to stop dogs from barking, they are criticized heavily for being cruel and inhumane by several organizations and bodies. 

You can also find ultrasonic bark collars for your dog. These collars have a microphone and emit a high-pitched sound that irritates dogs. The sound is imperceptible to humans. These collars usually come with a shock addition as well. They release a shock after the sound if the behavior continues. These are considered to be less cruel.

Are Choke Collars Bad for Dogs? 

A larger dog holding a red ball runs on a grassy field beside a smaller dog.

Choke collars are another type of collar used by some to encourage or discourage a certain type of behavior in dogs. They are made up of metal links and tighten around your dog’s neck when the button on the remote is pressed. This may feel effective but can be very painful for the dog. Moreover, there is no way to control how much the collar tightens. They can end up choking or strangling your dog. The pressure can also cause injuries to the trachea and esophagus, injuries to blood vessels in the eyes, neck sprains, nerve damage, fainting, transient paralysis and even death. Most trainers and pet parents would advise you against using these types of collars, especially when there are other effective training methods available. 

Are Dog Shock Collars Bad? 

2 women hanging out with their dogs and smiling

If someone gives you a glass of water, you can either drink it or throw it on the person’s face. The point here is that, sometimes the effectiveness of something depends on how we use it. Similarly, shock collars can be a good training tool but only if used carefully. The only difference is that water thrown on the person’s face will not cause any major damage. Shock collars, on the other hand, if misused, can create fear, anxiety and aggression in your dog towards you and other animals. And they can only be used as a punishment to stop a particular behavior and not to encourage a desired behavior. 

More About Spot Pet Insurance

While training your dog, you can expect an adventure of a ride. There can be multiple such questions that you’ll come across. And you may even make some mistakes initially as the internet is filled with tons of different opinions on what is good and what is bad for your four-legged buddy. But one thing that will definitely help you in the entire journey is pet health insurance. 

Spot accident and illness plans can be used with any licensed vet in Canada or the U.S. Whether you are home, or traveling to the U.S., veterinary services your pet receives for the diagnosis, treatment, or management of covered conditions can be eligible for reimbursement. Spot’s accident and illness plans can help cover a variety of conditions including; broken bones, lacerations, aggression, kidney disease, diabetes, and more. With the addition of Wellness Riders for an extra cost, you can also receive reimbursements for wellness exams, certain vaccinations, dental cleanings, and more. 

Learn more about dog insurance or get a free quote!


  1. Which type of dog collar is best for your dog? (n.d.). The Humane Society of the United States.

  2. Pros and Cons of Bark collars. (2023, November 27).

  3. Bayne, E. (2024, March 29). Is a vibration collar best for my pet?

Follow us on Instagram

Follow us everywhere else: