Should You Use A Shock Collar On A Husky?

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This article has been fact-checked by Dr. Dilber Hussain, DVM, to ensure we're providing the most up-to-date guidance. READ MORE

Using a shock collar on a husky is a very controversial topic; some people think it is a great tool that can enhance training, while others believe that it is cruel and should not be used.

We personally advocate against using shock collars on huskies. While they can be very effective training tools, it’s very difficult for the average dog owner to use them as effectively and safely. If a shock collar is needed, it should be used under the direct supervision of a dog behaviorist as a last resort to deal with severe behavioral issues.

Ultimately the choice is down to you, the owner. In this article, we’ll lay out the theory behind using shock collars, how it relates to huskies in particular, and why we don’t advocate for their use, especially by amateurs.

What Are Shock Collars?

Shock collars – also known as E-collars, dog training collars, or electronic collars – are a special type of collar that uses a two-pronged device attached to the collar to administer a small electric shock to your dog.

There are several versions; some shock collars are remote-controlled while others activate with barking or at a predetermined property line. That’s right, there are even shock collars that can be programmed to work around a perimeter (this is usually done for guard dogs left outside).

How Are Shock Collars Used?

Shock collars are used to directly address unwanted behavior.

For example, if your husky runs off during a walk you would press the button to get their attention. Afterwards, you need a plan of what to do.

In this scenario, you would recall your husky and reward them when they return with praise or a small treat.

Shock Collar Reception Around The World

Shock collars have been banned in many countries throughout the world, and legislation is quickly being passed in many countries to ban them in the future (see France for example).

The main argument for banning shock collars is due to the pain that they can cause animals when used. Although a lot of new shock collar brands argue that they use a very small shock that is not even noticeable by human standards, the general consensus shows that a lot of countries are leaning towards banning them entirely.

It’s worth noting that other countries allow the use of shock collars but only in structured dog training courses. Whereas shock collars are still legal in every US state, so it really does vary from place to place.

How Are They Used On Huskies

The main arguments for using a shock collar for a husky are as follows:

  • Allow them to go off-leash during walks, as the shock can be used to deter them from chasing prey or simply exploring too far.
  • As a preventative measure for their tendency to try and escape. Huskies are known as escape artists for a good reason – they naturally try to explore new areas and are highly independent, which means they tend to escape and get lost if you aren’t careful.
  • Directly deal with behavior issues – Shock collars are seen as a last resort for dealing with severe canine behaviour problems, including those that a husky may develop.

Why We Don’t Recommend Using Shock Collars

The reason why we don’t encourage the use of shock collars is simple; they are extremely difficult to use correctly.

Not only is it hard to judge what setting to use, but it’s also incredibly difficult for amateurs to use them for training effectively. In fact, most professional dog behaviorists will only use shock collars as a last resort in training dogs with very bad behavior issues.

Examples of this include very aggressive dogs that are at high risk of attacking other dogs or kennel dogs that are at risk of being put down if their behavior doesn’t improve.

In our opinion shock collars should only be used in the hands of canine behaviorists to deal with severe behavioral problems as a last resort. Other training methods should always be used first before resorting to a shock collar or similar device.

Why They Don’t Make Sense For Huskies

In this case, we are referring to huskies that don’t have extreme behavioural issues. Shock collars may be used by dog behaviorists to deal with these under their supervision.

There are a couple of reasons why shock collars don’t make sense for most huskies.

Not Likely To Attack Other Dogs Or Humans

Huskies are not very aggressive toward other people or dogs (unless their prey drive takes over for small dogs), and they are more likely to make friends with strangers than be aggressive toward them.

Essentially, huskies aren’t much of a threat to other people and most other dogs or animals, so using something as extreme as a shock collar doesn’t make sense.

Should Be Kept On A Leash Anyway

In our opinion, huskies should always be kept on a leash. They simply have too much of a prey drive and a tendency to explore that leaves them prone to running off and putting themselves in danger.

There will always be methods to train a stronger recall, but with dogs that have a strong instinct to chase small prey like the husky a shock collar is the only 100% effective method to stop them from running away. Whether or not you are happy to use a shock collar to let your husky go off-leash is a personal choice.

As we mentioned before, it’s also super difficult to train for the right response as well.

Outside Areas Should Be Secure

Huskies love to explore and escape from any area that they are in.

If you use an electric collar to set up a perimeter it can confuse your husky and cause them to become stressed. Huskies don’t have a natural guarding instinct, so for them the only thing they will be thinking about is escaping from the perimeter and exploring elsewhere.

Using negative reinforcement can create problems here, especially if they don’t know how to react to the shock.

The alternative is to simply provide a safe outdoor space that is completely fenced off. That way they’ll be able to understand their space easier without the need for negative reinforcement.

What Are The Alternatives?

Fortunately for us and our pups, there are plenty of alternatives to shock collars that are effective in training.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is the opposite of negative reinforcement, including methods such as the shock collar.

Pretty much every dog behaviorist will opt for positive reinforcement to achieve the desired outcome. It works by rewarding your dog when they show good behavior.

For example, if your husky correctly recalls back to you on command you would reward with a treat. This can be used in combination with a clicker, which are great for teaching basic commands like sit or stay.

Vibration Collars/Beep Collars

Vibration collars work similarly to shock collars but use vibration instead. Beep collars are similar but use a beeping noise instead, essentially just a different way to get your husky’s attention without harm.

If your husky responds well to a vibration collar you can achieve essentially the same results as using a shock collar without worrying about any pain your dog may be suffering.

Use Long Leads

If you’re worried about not letting your husky off-leash, there are plenty of long leads that allow them to roam almost freely while you are still in control.

You can also purchase no hands leashes that can be used for running which are great to let your husky explore and run alongside you.

Summing It Up

There’s a reason why shock collars are banned in so many places and legislation is being pushed elsewhere for them to be banned.

In our opinion, they are only suitable to be used by dog behaviorists who can use them correctly to reinforce the right types of behavior. Even then, they are likely to only be used as a last resort behind methods such as positive reinforcement.

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About The Author

Caitlin is the owner and lead writer for The Malamute Mom. She has over 10 years of experience with Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies. She is currently working on getting her PhD in materials science but continues to write for The Malamute Mom in her spare time.

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