Monthly Archives: November 2015

Social Referencing In Dogs! Dog Behaviorist in Northern Virginia

How often have we been placed in an ambiguous situation where we don’t know how to react. We take a cue from other people’s responses (in the hope that they are more experienced) and behave just as they do. This is called ‘social referencing’ and is very apparent in young children who are faced with a novel situation and don’t know how to act. Unconsciously they look around and do what the other toddlers and kids are doing. Fair enough, considering that no-one (even kids) want to make a fool of themselves.

Psychologists have observed that dogs too behave the same way as young human children do, when they’re unsure of how they have to act. When children encounter something new, they look at the parent or caregiver and at the new object of concern. The child takes a cue from the behavior or attitude of the person according to whether they react positively or negatively. Dogs too can apparently distinguish facial expressions and are rather sensitive to voice, and like humans, dogs cannot help but imitate what they see.

They look from their owners’ faces to the new object of concern back and forth, trying to attract them to it. Depending on the owner’s emotional response and vocal expressions, dogs would decide whether to react positively, negatively or ignore the whole thing.

As it was found that social referencing occurred only in an uncertain situation, researchers created one in the form of an oscillating fan with plastic streamers attached to it. When the fan was switched on, the streamers were blown by the air current and they flapped about in all directions. When a dog was made to enter the room, it stopped short and looked askance at the strange gadget. The sound that the motor produced and the flapping of streamers were something that it had never encountered before. Although the dog was free to move about the room, it just sat there looking at its owner and the fan alternately, trying to make sense of the new object by getting the owner’s response to it.

Dogs are extremely sensitive to responses from their owners and if the owner was vehement about the new object, the dog tended to stay put, but if the owner didn’t seem to mind, the dog didn’t either—it moved about cautiously but was apparently not very much put out by the presence of something strange. It did however look to the owner now and then acting as if it were mildly concerned.

All this seems to suggest that dogs are very much like small kids, who react to the unknown by looking up to their parents or whomever they are with to help them make sense of something they’ve never seen before. Dogs too take their cue from their owners and respond in accordance with their human companions’ emotional behavior.

In short, dogs like kids are watching how your react to everything around you and take their cue from the kind of behavior that they see and the kind of response that they get. Dogs trust their owners and do as they do.

The late Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” that apparently includes dogs too as dogs can learn simply by behaving and copying humans.

If you are interested in learning more about your dog, their behaviors, or training; contact us at Off Leash K9 Training. or 888-413-0896 or

Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

Where Did Dogs Come From? How Did Dogs Evolve?

Evolution of Dogs: Northern Virginia

Wolves have been associated with human beings for a very long time and studies show that man first used wolves for food. Their bones were found alongside humans as far back as 400,000 years ago. Not all of them were wild, some were timid and knowing that food would be near human camps, started moving closer to the campfires. Gradually some of the more docile ones began to move with humans as part of a group and over time evolved into tame animals.

The fact that wolf packs and the early hunter organizations were built on the same lines   fructified the existing relationship. Both the groups allowed themselves to be led by a leader and were willing to work together and cooperate with one another, unquestioningly. Humans started to adopt wolf pups and allowed them to grow and play in their midst and as a result, they were naturally tamer than their predecessors.

It was at this time that humans realized how helpful wolves could be; both worked together to hunt food and humans began to rely on wolves because they could detect prey easily. Moreover, because they were much faster than humans they were very useful in searching for wounded animals. Both became equal partners in these searches and the most cooperative wolves were favored by men—these were said to have puppy like characteristics.

Dogs apparently descended from wolves and they are said to be a product of “human selection rather than natural selection.” Scientists say that it was around the end of the last Ice Age—about 15,000 years ago, that this process actually began. As they lived close to man and associated with him- over time- their brains, head, teeth and body size evolved.

It was at this time (about 3,000-4,000 years ago) that humans wanted more specialized companions and different breeds began to emerge.

The Romans bred and trained hunting dogs and as breeding continued, herding dogs that worked with livestock, emerged. Hounds and sporting dogs for hunting were bred and another set of dogs also came into the picture—working dogs. This species performed many task such as guarding, hauling and even hunting rodents and vermin. Smaller breeds also made an entry and these were merely meant to be companions.

During the Civil War, dogs not only accompanied troops but were also used to stand guard. When world war I happened, dogs served many roles—they carried messages, searched for wounded soldiers, helped pull small ambulance carts, detected enemy forces and were a source of cheer and delight to soldiers in hospitals and at the front. Scout dogs were also doubled up to serve as security dogs, tracker dogs were used to hunt down the enemy and during this time, they were trained to detect mines also. The American war dogs helped expose hidden caches of weapons and in the early 1900s, dogs were also used to catch criminals.

Dogs and humans have such a long and varied relationship that each one began to depend on the other. These animals adapted so well to humans and proved to be such loyal companions that they cannot be apart. Dogs are man’s best friends and both understand each other well.

The wild, man-eating wolf was tamed, trained, became a domesticated animal and today the bond between humans and dogs is so strong that a man will do anything to save his dog and a dog will willingly stand by its owner.

Interested in learning more about dogs, dog behavior, or dog training? Contact us at Off Leash K9 Training. or 888-413-0896

Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

Random Questions about Human-Dog Psychology! Dog Trainers Virginia

Dog Pyschology Northern Virginia

4 Questions about human-dog psychology answered by these studies.

Can dogs actually look like their owners?
A study was conducted by Roy and Christenfeld in 2004 that found dogs do resemble there owners. But, there is a catch. They found that only purebred dogs resembled their owners.

An article was written analyzing the data from this study and the author, Levine, found problems with the original work. He says that we cannot definitively say that purebred dogs resemble their owners.

Roy and Christenfeld came out and defended their study saying that their work was accurate.

This makes the answer to this question inconclusive.

Do dogs serve as good conversation starters?

There is no surprise that having a dog can do wonders for your social life. Whether you’re out for a walk or at the dog park, there are always friendly faces to strike up a conversation with.

Rogers, Hart, and Boltz did an observational study in 1993 with elderly dog walkers. They found that dogs owners had more conversations than their pet-less counterparts They often talked about their beloved dog, which isn’t very surprising.

  Dog owners also reported to have higher satisfaction with their social, emotional, and physical states. So dogs not only serve as good conversation starters, they also improve your health!

Do humans talk to their dogs like they talk to their babies?
A lot of people use baby talk to speak to their furry friends. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if someone is speaking to their child or dog. So Mitchell (2001) set out to compare how people talk to dogs with how they talk to infants. Unsurprisingly there were both similarities and differences.

Mitchell found that people used a high-pitched voice, present-tense verbs, and repetitive use of words when talking to both dogs and babies. However, when people spoke to their dogs they gave more orders and used shorter sentences compared to when they spoke to babies.

Since dogs and babies both have limited communication skills and short attention spans, the similarities in the study are not surprising.

Can dogs understand what we’re saying?
Two researchers, Miklosi and Csanyi wanted to look at what people perceived of their dog’s capability to understand them. They gave dog owners in Hungary a questionnaire to fill out on how they feel their dog responds to different types of speech.

The Hungarians thought their dogs responded to questions the most, followed by permissions and then information giving.

 The researchers then asked the dog owners how well their dog listened to and obeyed a command. They claimed their dogs obeyed commands 31% of the time in any given situation and 53% of the time when the context of the command was right.

Going off of this study it seems that dogs can understand us pretty well!  Also, this shows that using the command in the proper context makes a difference, as well.

If you are interested in making your dog amazing, contact us at Off Leash K9 Training. or 888-413-0896 or

Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

Marker and Treat Training History: Dog Training in Northern Virginia


Clicker and Treat Training Northern Virginia

We’ve all heard of marker/treat training, clicker /treat training, or dogs doing detection; however, most people do not know that this is standard classical conditioning which was found by a man named Ivan Pavlov.

When you think of, you automatically tend to associate him with the theory of Classic Conditioning. Born in Russia in 1849, Pavlov was preparing to step into his father’s shoes and take over from him as village priest. However, he changed track and took up science, more specifically, he began studying the digestive process in dogs.

Incidentally, his work in this area led to the development of the first experimental model of learning- Classical Conditioning. This was very important as it later formed the basis of how humans too could be trained to respond in a certain way to a particular stimulus.

Engrossed in unraveling the secrets of the dog’s digestive system, Pavlov became rather interested in other related aspects and began studying why dogs salivate. You would think that dogs start drooling when they see food, but Pavlov proved that salivating had a much more far-reaching effect. He discovered that dogs salivated even when there was no food in sight– the stimulus that was supposed to make them dribble. On further observation, he found that the persons who fed the dogs used to wear lab coats and the mere sight of these lab coats caused dogs to react in the same way that they did to food.

Pavlov tried to figure this out and he conducted a series of experiments. Just before giving the dog a meal, he struck a bell and after repeating this process a number of times, he found that whenever a bell was struck, the dog started salivating. This meant that the dog started associating the bell with food in the same manner that it associated a lab coat with its meal.

This was what Pavlov referred to as ‘classical conditioning’—a neutral stimulus (like the bell and lab coat) eventually elicited the same response as that elicited with an original ‘unlearned reflex,’ which the scientist referred to as unconditioned or built-in.

In Classical Conditioning terminology, Pavlov noted that an unconditioned stimulus (US) elicited an unconditioned response (UR) —-in this case, the food is the unconditioned stimulus and the resulting salivation is the UR. Connecting a stimulus to a reflex is called conditioning. When he later added the ringing of the bell as a Conditioned stimulus for food, Pavlov found that after some time, only ringing of the bell would cause (salivation), which he referred to as a Conditioned Reflex (CR).

Pavlov conducted many experiments and conditioned the dogs using a flash of a light, a touch on the dog’s harness, and the use of different pitches of a whistle where the dogs had to learn to associate a specific pitch with access to food. The dogs thus learned to make new association between events in the environment. The scientist also found that the shorter the time between the stimulus and the response, the quicker a conditioned response was developed.

Pavlov’s experimental research gained him a lot of respect across Russia, America and many other nations. He summarized all his discoveries his amazing book, ‘Conditioned Reflexes’.

In 1904 he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering studies of how the digestive system works.

If you are interested in learning more about classical conditioning or make your dog amazing in obedience/detection, contact us at Off Leash K9 Training! or 888-413-0896

Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

The Evolution Of The Service Dog! Service Dog Trainers Virginia

History Of Dogs

We do service dog and therapy dog training in Northern Virginia, so we always get ask about these certifications. Many people do not know the history of the service dog.

Dogs have a rich history of interaction with humans. They also are known to have a sort of sixth sense when it comes to things like pending storms, human health, and finding their way home. It is no surprise that they have been considered some of most dependable amenities for disabled individuals. Besides completing necessary tasks, they form unbreakable bonds with their humans.

Early Contact
Early interactions with dogs are thought to have originated with wolves coming near living camps and residing around the edges while consuming leftover or offered food. Eventually they became protective of the camp and the people within, warning off predators. Over time they are thought to have become closer and closer to the humans, until they were domesticated. Dog remains have also been found in burials from ancient civilizations.

Military and early Service
Romans used dogs for military purposes, as well as in domesticated situations. There is artistic evidence of dogs leading humans around. European efforts to find soldiers that had been hurt were also an early service. Dogs in the 1700’s were also given the responsibility of bringing messages to soldiers in dangerous positions during battle. Ancient Chinese documentation presents pictures of dogs helping humans in different ways, as well. Modern service dogs are trained specifically for tasks such as guiding the blind, detecting and warning of pending seizures, and even to call emergency responders.

The Breeds
Certain breeds are more commonly used as service dogs in modern times. While it is a natural development for all bonded dogs to help and protect their owners, some breeds seem to be more naturally set up to complete training designed to prepare for specific tasks. German shepherds are commonly used in the police force and also as guide dogs. Labradors and Retrievers are also frequently seen helping disabled individuals. These breeds are often chosen or even produced by breeders for this specific purpose. They have certain personality traits that are applicable to their roles. There are sometimes beliefs that breeding produces a quality and predictable offspring. This is, however, contributing to the already excessive dog population. While these are often seen as medical necessities for many people, there is little breathing room for mistakes or unpredictable dogs. It may be quite some time before homeless dogs are fully considered for service dog use. There have been some new efforts moving in this direction, however. All breeds have their specific traits, and it is best for the owner and dog alike if a compatible pairing is made.

Dogs are already set up to help and serve. Their natural instincts to protect their resources help them bond quickly in a family environment. Even family pets, not trained for service, have been known to alert their families of fires, intruders, and illness. Dogs are so much more than pets. They can physically carry out tasks, calm anxiety, and they love unconditionally. Loyalty is a major trait of all dog breeds. Dogs have been in service for possibly thousands of years.

Are you interested in your dog becoming a certified service dog? Contact Off Leash K9 Training at or

Email us at:

Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

Diabetic Alert Dog Trainers in Northern Virginia



Diabetic Dog Northern VirginiaWe do diabetic alert dog training in Northern Virginia.

Diabetic Alert Dogs are lifesavers for type 1 diabetes patients, specifically when they are hypoglycemic unaware, meaning that they don’t experience the usual symptoms associated with low blood sugar (shakiness, sweating, etc.).  Research has shown that dogs can detect low blood sugar using the smell of sweat alone.  Dogs are typically very reliable and accurate when detecting this, with rates of up to 90% accurate. For people living with diabetes, this is a life-saver and takes away some of the stress and worry in caring for this illness.

How diabetic service dogs work Diabetes alert dogs are trained to notice when their owner is experiencing low blood sugar. They then alert their owner by placing their paw on their owner.  If sleeping, the dog may be trained to awake the owner, and in the event that they do not awake, the dog may awake another family member.  The cost of the training for diabetic alert dogs is quite high.  Many organizations now exist to help diabetics afford a dog.

Dr. Wolf A family physician and diabetic himself, Steve Wolf is a proponent of diabetic alert dogs.  After he experienced a hypoglycemic event while driving, the doctor looked into getting a guide dog and bought Kermit.  Kermit has assisted Dr. Wolf since then, keeping him aware of his glucose levels and cheering up his patients.  One day, Kermit displayed intelligent disobedience by refusing to get in the car to go home from work.  Dr. Wolf took the hint and checked his glucose.  He found it was low and was able to take measures to compensate it before driving.    Diabetic alert dogs work constantly and do whatever they can to help their owners.

Mark Reufenacht The first person to train a diabetic alert dog was Mark Reufenacht.  Reufenacht is a forensic scientist who also has type 1 diabetes.  He had the idea that if dogs could detect bombs and drugs, they might be able to detect blood sugar levels.  He researched extensively before training the first diabetic alert dog, Armstrong.  He founded an organization called Dogs 4 Diabetics and now works in his free time to run it.  His goal is to give diabetics a tool to help control their diabetes.  The organization gives dogs away for free to qualified applicants.  Reufenacht’s organization has a long waitlist of patients hoping to get a guide dog.

For families of diabetics, a diabetic alert dog relieves the worry and sleeplessness of living with a diabetic.  Sugar levels may drop suddenly while a diabetic is sleeping, meaning that they may simply slip into a coma without waking up.  Although glucose monitors that can be worn constantly may have the ability to alert in the case of dangerous glucose levels, their accuracy is not great.  They may also have delayed results, meaning that a diabetic could have a complication by the time the monitor shows dangerous glucose levels.  Furthermore, a monitor can beep, but it can’t get help, a glucose kit and food or paw the person’s chest until he/she wakes up.  Diabetic alert dogs are super pets and life savers for those living with type 1 diabetes.

Are you interested in making your dog a service dog/diabetic alert dog?

Contact us at or 888-413-0896

Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

Study On Electronic (Shock) Collars

Virginia Shock Collar Trainers

Since we are the best electronic (shock) collar trainers in Northern Virginia, we often get asked about the affects of electronic collar training. It is not actually a “shock” at all (as some people call it), it is actually a very low level stimulation, much like stim pads that physical therapists use.

Due to the ever increasing numbers of animals, especially dogs, that are being dropped off at shelters or abandoned in the streets, scientists have taken task to determine what and why so many of man’s best friend continue to wander the streets. Of course, all signs point to behavioral issues to many other scientists have begun to study causes and effects of bad animal behavior and also have created studies to investigate techniques to rehabilitate such less than pleasing behaviors. One such study was that of Dr. Steiss and her team, which focused on the effects of the usage of electronic collars to control barking.

Dr. Steiss and her team wanted to find out whether or not electronic collars had a lasting physiological effect on the dogs who wore them. The team also wanted to find out if the use of electronic collars would improve the behavioral tendencies of dogs, perhaps creating a sort of “cure” that would turn more people to try to train their dogs unruly behavior instead of just turning them over to the nearest shelter or letting them out onto the street.

What Dr. Streiss and her team concluded is that electronic collars, when PROPERLY USED, are an extremely effective tool in reducing and altogether eliminating excessive loud barking in dogs with unruly behavior. In addition to this, Dr. Streiss found no lingering or permanent effects on the physiological nature of the dogs they tested. They found that the amount of barking was reduced even by the first day that the test dogs wore the electronic collar. By the second day, the team had concluded that the learning effect of the test dogs was immense, that the dogs quickly learned to link the electronic correction with the barking, therefore correcting the behavior. The team did note that on day one of the two day study, the dogs registered increases in blood and salivary cortisol levels but the results were not conclusive enough to state that this rise in levels was only due to the wearing of the electronic collars.

Therefore, Dr. Streiss and her team were able to confirm that the use of electronic bark collars in attempting to train dogs is an effective and safe method. Other similar studies including a study from German researched Dieter Klien came to conclude upon similar results. His study states that given the low dosage of electronic current, just barely enough to correct the dog and given that the electronic correction only occurs for such a short period of time, that the effects of the electronic collars could not possibility include any organic damage to the animal. These findings only exist to prove the correctness of the findings of Dr. Streiss and her team. So despite the overwhelming and sometimes falsified data that exists that advises against the use of what some call “inhumane” forms of training, it can be seen through numerous tests, including the one of Dr. Streiss, that the use of electronic training devices such as electronic collars actually have a positive effect on the dogs in that they achieve a faster learning rate in overcoming bad behavior like excessive barking (among other things).

Additionally, by being able to humanely and effectively correct these issues, these dogs are able to have happy lives with their family.  This is a much better alternative than getting rid of the dog, dropping it off at a shelter, or causing the dog to be put down.  Those are the “truly” inhumane things.

Please note that electronic collars should only be used by trained professionals.  If you do not have experience with using electronic collars, you should never attempt to you train your dog on your own.

Interested in world renowned electronic collar trainers?  Contact us at Off Leash K9 Training! or 888-413-0896 or

Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

After School Snack Ideas your Kids can Share with the Dog

Dog Expert in Virginia

While doing our boarding and training program in Northern Virginia, we always get asked questions about dog food and snacks!

There are few things cuter than kids and their dogs. Best friends for life and inseparable, kids share everything with their dogs, including food. Parents may never know who really ate the vegetables when the plates are cleared at dinner, but it’s all worth it. The hard part can be keeping the dog healthy when a child is constantly handing over various foods to their pet, or your toddler is leaving a food trail on the floor. Fortunately, there are some great snacks that are healthy for the both the kids and the dogs.

Snack time
After school snack time can be chaotic. The kids walk through the door starving, and the dog is jumping all over the place happy to see their best friend. This may be a time of day that is less supervised than mealtime, so this is the perfect time to present a hassle free snack. You can calm your fears and relax while your child and dog are sharing the goods at snack time by choosing from the many dog safe foods you eat every day. There are also some great dog friendly recipes out there for a special treat. Take care to establish rules about feeding so your dog doesn’t develop bad habits or aggression, however.

Who Doesn’t Love Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a commonly used ingredient in dog treat recipes. While peanut butter can be a good source of protein, you need to be careful what type you buy if your dog will be having a taste. Sugar is never a good idea for kids or dogs, so look for a natural version with little or no added sugar. Creamy is probably easier for both as well. There are some great organic choices out there to keep everyone healthy. Look online for great dog friendly recipes that use peanut butter.

Yogurt is often used to promote digestive health in dogs and humans alike. Plain, organic yogurt is best for dogs and can be used in many creative ways. Forget the expensive frozen dog treats from the store. Get out an ice cube tray out and freeze yogurt for a yummy frozen snack option. Yogurt can also me mixed with peanut butter before freezing for extra tasty fun. Kids can add some dog safe fruits as well.

Fruits and Vegetables
Apples and bananas are often offered after school and can be offered to the family dog when prepared properly. Even large dogs need to have their snacks cut up into smaller pieces or they may swallow large pieces of food in a hurry to scarf it down. Take care to consider the size of your dog when preparing fruit and vegetables. Removing peels before serving can lessen the risk of choking. While you may have a hard time convincing your kid to eat green vegetables, your dog can actually benefit from some greens. Zucchini and peas are on the safe list.

Before feeding any human foods to your dog, check out a reputable list of toxic foods from your veterinarian’s office. Grapes and chocolate are the two most well-known toxic foods for dogs. Be very careful what you let children walk around the house with. You aren’t the only parent that finds week old snacks hiding in the couch cushions. Chances are, your dog will find an abandoned snack before you do, so make sure it is a safe one.

If you are interested in making your dog amazing, contact us at Off Leash K9 Training! or 888-413-0896

Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

Foods My Dog Should Not Eat On Thanksgiving?


Northern Virginia Feed Dogs

It’s that time of the year! At our dog training center in Northern Virginia, Thanksgiving food always comes up!

Your dog will probably be sniffing around the kitchen with high hopes as the turkey and other goodies are prepared for the Thanksgiving Day festivities.  As you sit down to a table full of delightful dishes, your dog stares up at you with those irresistible eyes.  Some people sneak their pets a bite or two while other dog owners go all out with a special holiday plate for their furry friends.  Think twice before you choose to give them just anything from the holiday table.  Some human foods are highly toxic to dogs.

The Turkey

There is good news for your dog considering the main dish.  His dreams of turkey can be safely fulfilled.  There are, however, some restrictions.  As you would with your meat, make sure it is cooked thoroughly.  Bacteria can harm dogs just as it does humans.  Avoid the bones.  Dogs and bones are thought to go together like peanut butter and jelly, but this just isn’t the case.  Cooked bones tend to splinter profusely and could choke or cut your dog.  They can also perforate intestines, causing internal damage.  Cut off the fat.  So much for the idea of throwing all the scraps in the dog food ball, if you wouldn’t eat it, neither should your pet. Make sure to remove the skin from any meat, as well.  Pancreatic caused by the fat found on poultry can be fatal.  A trip to the emergency veterinarian is not a part of a fun holiday tradition.   So, try to give your dog the fully cooked lean meat.


The Sides

The problem with most side dishes comes with the lesser ingredients used for seasoning or flavor.  Onions and garlic are commonly used in stuffing and other sides.  These are both unsafe for dogs and should be avoided.  Anemia can result and threaten your dog’s life.  Various seasonings are also not recommended for dogs.  It is hard to keep track of the many different seasonings added to side dishes. Unless you cook sides free of seasoning, it is best to keep the side dishes away from your dog.  Grease and fat are often present in sides such as gravy and can cause the aforementioned fatal pancreatitis.


Raw Foods

The turkey isn’t the only raw item lurking around on Thanksgiving morning.  Families are often also busy making breads, cakes, and cookies.  The dangers here are similar to those of humans.  Your dog will not know, however, to stay away from the raw turkey.  Keep your dog out of the kitchen and the turkey out of reach.  Some dogs just can’t resist temptation.  Sure, many of us grew up licking the bowl after grandma made a cake, don’t let your dog get to the batter.  Salmonella is a concern wherever raw eggs are present.  Bread dough often uses yeast and can cause dangerous bloating once in a dog’s stomach.  While the meal is being prepared, it is a good idea to busy your dog elsewhere with a safe treat or chew toy.

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate with your family and pets alike.  The holiday will be a lot more fun if everyone stays healthy and safe.  There are plenty of healthy dog treats and recipes that will make your pet happy without taking a chance with human dishes.  Make a little treat bag with a new toy or snack for your dog if you must do a little something extra.

Obviously, this list could go on and on with things that your dog should not eat on Thanksgiving; however, these are the main things that almost everyone will have.  To see a larger list, read our blog on Things Dogs Should Not Eat.

If you are interested in making your dog amazing and prevent them from begging at the dinner table, contact us at Off Leash K9 Training! or or 888-413-0896

-Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

Shock Collar Training or Pinch Collar Training?

Prong Collar or Shock Collar

We always get asked about electronic (shock) collars and pinch collars at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia.  Many people refer to them as “shock” collars; however, they just give a low level stimulation (like stim pads).

There have actually been studies and research that have been conducted on electronic collars and pinch collars.

One of the notable studies was the Salgirli dissertation, which was aimed at investigating whether the rise in stress signals in dogs could be attributed to continued and persistent use of electric signals or pinching signals. The dissertation was further used to investigate whether or not a pinch color could be used as an alternative to electric collars and if so, whether or not the pinch collars would attest to the same stress results as previously recorded in the studies involving investigation of electric collars.

To achieve such results, a test group of forty-two adult police dogs, ranging in various breeds. The tests included the conditioning of the quitting signal, which was a conditioned frustration that is attributed to negative punishment. The test itself consisted of walking each test dog subject past a “provocateur” who each time attempted to taunt and tease the dog into precipitating a reaction. If the desired effect was not achieved by the dog, it was punished to determine a constant and a learning effect. The study then, unlike the Schalke Et Al, this dissertation was aimed to compare the differences between negative and positive methods. It was not a study aimed at understanding the use of punishment on positive reinforcement in dog training. To measure the results of this test, the scientists measured the learning effect of the dogs by assessing the number of dogs that learned over time to quit the behavior that precipitated the punishing stimuli.

The results of the test were interesting. There were no statistical variances in the learning effects that was measured between the pinch and the shock collars. But what was significant was the significantly lower learning effect in quitting signal that was measured from the two different collar types. In conclusion, the dissertation reviewed that the pinch collar caused more behavioral reactions in terms of stress; meaning the dogs exhibited more stress signals. These included pinned ears, panting and stress yawns. But the electronic shock collars caused more vocal reactions in the dogs meaning whines, barks and growls. The explanation as put forward by the study was that the increased level of vocalization in the shock collar results was to be attributed to a startled response rather than a response to a pain stimulus which was the results of the pinch collar.

Designed as a test to only measure the behavior changes in the test group of forty-two dogs, the dissertation does make note of their collection of the changes in salivary cortisol stress levels in the dogs but also notes that these changes were not of a large impact to the study. Coupled with the behavioral observations and the cortisol results, the Salgirli dissertation was able to determine that electronic collars inhibit less stress in dogs when compared to the results of the pinch collars which is shown to have produced more stress signal effects.  The dissertation also notes that the test group only included adult test subjects and that the test subjects were subjected to a hard procedure designed to test the abilities of current and future police dogs.

Note, electronic collars should only be utilized by trained professionals.

Contact Off Leash K9 Training you are interested in making your dog amazing, more confident, and more obedient! or 888-413-0896 or

Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training