Shock Collar: Not Every Punishment Needs To Hurt

I’ve written a lot about the shock collar in the past.  In a very narrow set of circumstances, there is no better way of getting rid of problem behavior. However, a shock collar is far from the best solution for most of the problems. I have never used and have never needed a shock collar inside the house or in the back yard.

Not every punishment needs to hurt. There are other punishments that can be used more effectively than a shock collar to diminish undesirable behavior.

When I look back on my puppy’s education in all things, one thing has recently struck me: I have never done anything that caused my dog pain inside the house. Now understand, discipline was applied to my dog. When unacceptable behavior reared its head, he most certainly was punished. It’s just that that punishment was not painful.

The non-painful punishments described here are much better suited for in-the-house use. They are cheaper, more readily available, and easier to administer. And the techniques here can be used in a lot more circumstances than a shock collar can.

The Cue

The first thing that we (as a family) agreed upon (before the puppy came home) is what word would be used to indicate “Cut it out…”. I did not want to use the word “no” because of the ease with which we encounter this word every day. “No” is used in every day conversation and has a lot of different meanings beyond “cut it out”. Additionally, there was a command I intended to teach my dog that sounded a lot like “no” (it was “whoa”).

Instead, we chose the sound “aaaah”. Like the “A” sound in the word “tack”. This sound has only one meaning, and is for the dog alone (though my wife has applied it to me as socks were found in places other than the hamper).

The Punishment

Just saying “aah” to a puppy has only limited utility. He may pick up on the fact that you are not happy, and may stop his behavior. Unless what he is doing is really fun…then he won’t care that you are unhappy. And, after a while, he will have heard that sound enough that it will blend into the background.


The dreaded spray bottle

Instead of just saying “aah”, we attached it to the dreaded water spray bottle. You can pick up spray bottles in the garden or laundry section of stores that have a laundry or garden section. These bottles can be filled with water and the nozzle can be adjusted to spray a mist or a stream of water with the pull of the trigger. We filled the bottle with ordinary tap water, set the nozzle on stream. When an offending behavior presented itself, we said “aah”, then followed the behavior up with a stream of water to the face.

In short time, behaviors could be easily quashed with “aah” and a stream of water.

The pup did not like the water one bit, and after a few iterations, the phrase “aah” would quickly get him to stop a behavior. Today, at the age of 4, I cannot think of a behavior in the house that cannot be stopped with a simple “aah”. The water bottle has mostly been phased out.

The Happy Pup

I am a big softie. I don’t like it when my pup is sad or sulking. So, after I would spritz my dog, I would often love up the pup. I would get him happy again, even though this behavior was not acceptable.

Gary Wilkes writes about this in better and greater detail. Take a look here.

Another Non-Painful Punishment

I had suggested a spray bottle for a friend’s dog. He would start to jump at the stream of water and bite and play with it. So much for punishment there!

Gary Wilkes (from the blog above) advocates the use of a bonker. A bonker is a loosely rolled towel that is used to bonk a dog in the face as punishment.

Dogs really do not like things flying at their faces. So, if you were to take your bonker, and use this to bop the dog in the face, it will be extremely unpleasant to a dog. You are not trying to hurt the dog, just make an unpleasant situation for the dog. The bonker can be kept in the hand or it can be thrown across the room. Size it appropriately for the size of the dog.

Last Words

If you have a dog behavior that you need to nip in the bud, punishment is not a bad thing. Don’t rush out and buy a shock collar. Save your cash and try one of these cheaper options first.

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