Ye Olde Dog Shock Collar


People have used punishment and negative reinforcement to get dogs to do what humans want them to do for many thousands of years. But it’s only in the last few generations that we’ve been training using electricity.

Exactly how long people have been using shock collars on dogs is hard to say. Although use of shock collars in dog training didn’t become widespread until the 1960s, they were in existence long before that. Randolph Hicks Carter filed the first patent for an electronic dog collar in 1934. The device, pictured above, required the dog’s walker to carry a generator. In the 1940s, T.D. Burger Jr of The Spokesman-Review wrote several instructional articles on how farmers could make their own electronic shock collars to keep dogs away from chickens. Of course, this method is still not superior to an even earlier dog/chicken coop deterrent: fences.

Related posts:

Dog shock collars: They can punish humans, too!

Why are we still putting shock collars on dogs?

Using a clicker for all the wrong reasons

Training a dog to stay in a yard without an electric fence



4 Responses

  1. Scofflaw

    July 22, 2011 9:48 pm

    Hi, I commented on the article you wrote about this subject on motherboard if you care to check it out.  I won’t rehash everything I said over there here on your blog but I will say I think you’re failing to take the issue of e-collars into perspective. 

  2. Anonymous

    July 25, 2011 3:19 pm

    Thanks for your reply. You’re right: as I mentioned in this article, I really don’t understand hunting using dogs. That’s why I stated that I’m not really qualified to argue for or against their use in that arena, and that’s why I argue for the dogs but for the humans: I think they’re dangerous for humans, and shouldn’t be so easily accessible.
    But I recognize that that is perhaps a Pollyanna-ish point of view; I also don’t condone the way in which guns can be so easily purchased in this country, but I know that people were doing lots of needless damage to themselves and others even before the invention of gunpowder. Likewise, people coerced dogs before electricity. 
    At the heart of the matter, I suppose, is my feeling that hunting is a sport for humans, not dogs. So to harm them for the benefit of your own hobby seems cruel. The fact that your coonhound wants to go after everything and not just after what you want is a problem that could be solved simply by not hunting to begin with. 
    I am currently researching an article on people who train hunting dogs using positive reinforcement. So stay tuned. Note that the positive reinforcement training methods I use on dogs are the same that are used to train killer whales and dolphins–animals that are much harder to control than dogs, and much less likely to let a human get away with punitive methods of training.  

    • Scofflaw

      July 26, 2011 3:31 am

      Once again, you are failing to take things into perspective.  For most people who breed, hunt and train coonhounds it is so much more than just a hobby, for you to dismiss it so flippantly as such might offend certain people, they might mistake it for petty and snide elitism(i’m sure you didn’t appreciate Brian Lynn’s condescending remarks he made in his blog about you)  it’s a very important part of their culture, heritage and way of life, and for some it’s the way they earn a living or supplement their income.   In certain parts of the country where there’s very little access to high paying jobs due to cultural obstacles, financial obstacles and the simple fact of geographical isolation people still rely on the land to earn a living, and eat.  You have to remember that the six coonhound breeds were developed here in America by people’s ancestors who brought different types of foxhounds, bloodhounds, boar hunting hounds and bleu de gascognes over from their countries of origin.   These are traditions passed down from generation to generation, there’s bloodlines that have been bred for more than fifty years in some families.  Granted times have  changed, but having a good hound back in the day could determine whether or not you ate dinner on any given night. 
      I probably should have been more specific in my post, not all of my dogs need to be trained with an e-collar, that’s reserved for the most headstrong dogs.  As you know, all dogs are different, some take right to treeing coons with very little training at all.  For most i’m able to break them off of deer and other unwanted game with breaking scents, which are scents extracted from glands of whichever unwanted game you’re having a problem with.  You spread some of this on a rag and tie it around the dogs neck. Usually after being bombarded with this scent for a couple hours, a few days in a row, they’ll never want to smell it again in their life, let alone chase after it.  But there’s also some dogs who are just stubborn bastards(if you’ve ever trained a hound you know the type) that need an e-collar for their own good, and I haven’t ruined a dog with one yet.  On the contrary, it’s probably saved a few lives.  The best part about it is that it allows you to make an immediate correction which falls well within that less than one second window in which a dog can make an association or “learn”, and the dog doesn’t associate the shock with you, so you won’t make the dog fearful of you with it.
      In my opinion, it is much more egregious and cruel to subject a dog who was bred to hunt or work to a mundane life out of his element.  To take a dog that was meant to be pursuing game through the pristine peaks and valleys of the Appalachians dotted with tamarack and pitch pines, and place him in a five hundred square foot apartment in some place like, say, I don’t know, New York City?  But i’m not crying for them as much as I think it’s wrong because after a while they forgot how the Appalachians smelled at noonday, and the cries of the hawks overhead circling their prey, and the high acidic smell of the pitch pines along the trail.  After a while they forgot the sangria color of the sun dying behind the Appalachians.  After a while they only knew the muddy, smogged-out sunsets of Manhattan, that was all they remembered and all they wanted to remember.  After awhile they don’t want to go back anymore, and if someone took them back and set them loose they would only crouch in one place, afraid and hurting and homesick.   That’s the saddest part I think, knowing that some animals are doomed to die in a virtual cage where they live, far away from wherever god had meant them to be(kind of like those killer whales and dolphins) Sometimes dressed as gramaphones, sometimes as recently deceased pop-icons


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