Garmin has made shocking dogs with electricity as easy as fighting a Pokemon, and I’m outraged.
The company announced a new product this week: The Delta Smart activity tracking device, which includes an electric shock feature. With the companion Garmin Canine app, dog guardians can send jolts of electricity to their dogs’ necks with a simple finger tap on a phone screen.
I channeled my outrage this morning and created a petition on Change.org. Can we rebut so loudly that Garmin has no choice than to remove the electric shock feature from the device? I’m not so naive to think it will be an easy sell, but a girl can dream.
Please take a moment to sign the petition and then share it far and wide. Here’s what it says:
Remove the Electric Shock Feature from Garmin’s new Delta Smart Dog System
We ask that Garmin remove the electric shock feature from the Delta Smart Dog device. GPS is a wonderful tool to use with our dogs, and so we love that Garmin has created a system for the pups. But the shock component is too cruel and too dangerous.
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), the Pet Professional Guild, and The UK Kennel Club, have all spoken out against the use of electric shock collars — which are banned in countries including Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, and Switzerland, and in some Australian states.
AVSAB explains that using aversives such as electric shock to train dogs can lead to “potential adverse effects, which include but are not limited to: inhibition of learning, increased fear-related and aggressive behaviors, and injury to animals and people interacting with animals.”
With all training, timing is important, but when using an aversive tool like a shock collar, timing is essential. In order for a dog to learn what to do and what not to do, trainers must time the shock precisely when the dog does the behavior. If not, the dog will associate that punishment with something else.
For example: A woman wants her dog Bowser to learn to not jump on the couch. Bowser trots into the family room, jumps up on the couch, and climbs into her daughter’s lap — at which point the electric shock hits him. She has now put her child in serious danger. Bowser will not associate the act of jumping up on the couch with the pain; he will associate her child with the pain and could very well become aggressive toward her.
In addition, proponents of shock collars will explain that the “zap” does not hurt the dog — that it’s the same feeling as a little static electricity jolt from touching the TV while standing on carpet. That jolt might not bother humans, but what is missing from this argument is the fact that aversive methods only work if they scare and/or hurt the dog. If the zap doesn’t bother the dog, then the dog will not learn. Electric shock collars do hurt and scare dogs. If they didn’t, no one would use them.
Garmin is a highly regarded name, and unwitting customers might assume the Delta Smart Dog activity tracker is safe because your name is on it. It is not. Please do the right thing for the dogs and their people and remove the shock feature from the device.