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Why Aren't Electric Shock Collars Approved for Dogs Under 8 Pounds?

| Updated September 26, 2017

A shock collar is designed to train a dog by administering a short, low-voltage electric shock through a dog's collar. The collars are controlled by a unit that works at a short range. There are several manufacturers that make electric shock collars, and the weight limit may vary by manufacturer. Small dogs may be unable to withstand the weight or bulk of a shock collar, and they are susceptible to injury with use.


Electric shock collars are typically used to train a dog to avoid negatively perceived behaviors, such as barking, jumping or biting. Shock collars can also be used to reinforce learned behavior, for instance by administering a shock if the dog does not respond to a "sit" command. Shock collars are intended to be used for short durations--during training--then removed.


An electric shock collar is comprised of an adjustable dog collar with a receiver on the collar. The receiver will administer a short electric shock, or a longer shock depending on the setting and the manufacturer. Shock collars are used in conjunction with a control. The trainer or dog owner uses the controller at short range to administer the shock to the dog to redirect behavior. Both the receiver and control are powered by batteries, which can be replaced as needed. The size, weight and shape of the collar varies by manufacturer.


Many manufacturers have a weight restriction on the collars. For example, a manufacturer may recommend a dog weighing less than 8 pounds should not use their collar. A smaller dog may be unable to withstand the weight of the collar and receiver. Smaller dogs also have smaller necks, so the large collar would be bulky and too difficult for the dog to wear. If the collar is not correctly fitted, it will not work when training the dog. If you own a small dog and are interested in an electric shock collar, contact some manufacturers to determine if there is a size to fit your dog.


The animal activist organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) opposes the use of electric shock collars because of the potential pain the collar may cause a dog. PETA suggests behaviors such as barking and jumping are normal for dogs, and that it is inhumane to shock a dog for displaying a normal behavior. PETA believes using a shock collar, on a large or a small dog, can result in injury to the animal.


There are several alternatives for a small dog that may be unable to wear an electric shock collar, or if you feel a shock collar is inhumane. You can use positive reinforcement by praising the dog or providing a treat when the dog exhibits good behavior. There are also other training collars available that do not administer an electric shock, such as pinch collars or collars that tighten when the dog pulls. A veterinarian can suggest an appropriate training collar for your particular dog.