There are many different camps of passionate dog trainers and finding a rational thinker among them is sometimes very hard indeed.
I have to tell you that I am one of the most practical people on the planet… so I have little use for passion without reason. And I don’t mean reason based on science alone, because we all know that science can also be biased and affected by human emotions. Data can be twisted and bent to fit the result we want to be true. There are whole books written around a scientific conclusion that can actually be refuted using the very same data! We can end up with pseudo-scientific claims that don’t match up with practical, real-life experiences and observations.
Those opposed to so-called aversion training seem to forget that animals use aversion training all the time: a snap, a nip, a bite, a bump, a growl, a hiss, a fight, a dominant stance, a stare. My cat is completely dominant over my dog. Likely because, in Lucy’s past, some other cat put her in her place with a furious slashing of sharp claws in her face. She’s not afraid of the cat, though, she quite likes him, but she’s 100% respectful of him… and that’s what he demands. If she comes too close, he hisses at her. And she gets it! But she still wags her tail at him and would like to invite him to play… even though he has no intention of ever playing with “That Creature” as the cat calls Lucy!
We had a Husky in my youth who started out wanting to kill every cat she saw, but one day our half-grown kitten ripped up her face… and she respected cats from then on, never chased them again and became very good friends with that very same kitten and with many other cats in her lifetime! The theory that aversion training can only change a behaviour and not an emotional reaction just doesn’t hold water in the case I just described.
By the way, Lucy is not a soft dog! She’s a dominant dog, so I must always make sure I’m the one in charge or she’ll try to take over! That’s one of the reasons I chose to use an e-collar on her. She can’t just blow me off!
However, to call the e-collar aversion training or punishment is silly. All it really is is an attention-getting device. It says, “Pay attention to me and not that squirrel or you’ll get a reminder!” If your dog is soft, you may only have to use the “pulse” setting. It’s like your cell phone vibrating in your pocket. However, many dogs require a stronger reminder… so you can use the “nick” or “stim” button. It’s like the sensation a Tens Machine gives you, but only for a split second. You use that on the lowest setting possible that still works for your dog. If you’ve ever seen a dog start to run out into traffic to chase a squirrel or a cat and been completely helpless to stop it, you would never say that an e-collar is punishment, as it would save your dog’s life! Not many dog’s will respond to a voice command under those circumstances… and forget hand signals or treats! Why do you think that gun dog owners use e-collars? So they can communicate with their dogs over a distance and quickly call them back when necessary!