Why I think using a shock collar on my dog is the right choice

This article by Annette Dimitroff, a dog owner living in Vancouver, is in response to the recent plea by the BCSPCA for people to stop using shock collars. The animal welfare agency says short or long-term use of the electronic or e-collars, that deliver an electrostatic shock to the neck, is associated with high levels of stress, phobias, fear and increased aggression in dogs and can cause physical harm including burns.

Never in a million years would I have thought I would use an e-collar or write letters in support of them. I grew up on a farm with the most amazing dogs a child can have - formal training was never considered or needed.

Then I got Tripp.

No one sets out to get a puppy and also gets an e-collar. We started with puppy classes, obedience classes, read the books, did the socializing. I was kicked out of all the group obedience classes in my town. I worked with numerous one-on-one trainers and they told me my dog (who is 125 pounds) was a lost cause. I had veterinary tests done in case it was an underlying medical issue that was causing his aggression. I spoke with the BC SPCA and they couldn’t offer any new advice, they also informed me he wasn’t a candidate to be surrendered due to his aggression, not that I would have.

Rhodesian Ridgeback dog, Tripp.

Tripp was like two different dogs. With me and people he knew he was the goofiest animal I have ever known. His huge goofy smile with a full body wag still makes me chuckle. He can be so gentle, I could stick my hand in his food dish, and take away a toy he was chewing on. He even put up with a crazy kitten using him as a jungle gym. He knew all the commands and never showed any hint of aggression.

With strangers, it was a different story. We spent hours upon hours walking and trying to socialize. He wasn’t having it. The treats that caught his attention at home were a mere annoyance to him while out in public. Every person, no matter how far away, was looked at with suspicion. He was on guard, stressed, constantly alert and high strung. We had to cross roads to pass people. I had to drag him into the bush if we were passing on a trail. I did all the stuff recommended: “Sit,” “look at me.” I would cover his eyes; block his vision with my body, treats once he calmed down. I had trainers join us on walks. He got worse as he got bigger. He was scared of strangers so he barked, growled and lunged. And it worked: strangers didn’t come near us.