4 Reasons to Avoid a Smart Collar For Your Dog

Written by Cammi Morgan
Updated: October 25, 2023
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Considering buying a “smart collar’ for your dog? These collars are often touted by companies as high-tech, convenient, and harmless tools to help keep your pup safe. But are they? In this guide, we’ll cover four reasons to not buy a smart collar for your dog.

Read on to learn more.

What is a Smart Collar?

Essentially, smart collars employ a variety of technical features to allow guardians to monitor the location and activity of their dog, receive alerts, and control the movement and even vocalization of their dog. Not all smart collars offer the same features, and you’ll find the costs of these products can vary significantly.

Some collars work similarly to fitness and biometric tracking devices for people. Others are more akin to traditional bark or shock collars with added features. Using shock, vibration, and frightening sounds to deter the movement or vocalizations of your dog is the number one reason we don’t recommend buying specific types of smart collars. Below, we’ll delve into the harm these devices can cause.

Funny young black and white Greyster dog posing outdoors wearing a red collar with a yellow GPS tracker on it sitting on stones near a railway in summer

Smart collars offer several features such as GPS tracking. Others, unfortunately, also offer shock.

©Eudyptula/iStock via Getty Images

Reasons to Not Buy a Smart Collar for Your Dog: Avoid Causing Harm or Fear!

Recently, England banned the use of shock collars on dogs. This ban follows suit with other countries such as Wales, Germany, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden. Shock collars, also known as e-collars, or “stim” collars, rely on the use of electronic shock and vibration to prevent or interrupt unwanted behavior from dogs. The companies that sell these collars use extremely euphemistic language to convince customers that their collars have no ill effects on dogs. Rarely, do they use the word “shock”. Instead, smart collar companies, such as Halo, use phrases such as “static feedback” and describe the shock as a “tap on the shoulder”.

However, studies have proven that shocking dogs, no matter how much euphemistic language that some companies and trainers use, have a great risk of causing significant psychological and physical harm to dogs. One shock collar company, Pet Safe, is currently facing a class action lawsuit that alleges hundreds of documented cases in which their shock collars have caused severe injuries to the neck of dogs, including skin ruptures, bruising, inflammation, burns, and infections.

Studies confirm that using shock collars, including “smart collars” that employ shock, can cause significant psychological stress, chronic anxiety, pain responses, confusion, learned helplessness, depression, and even permanent changes in the dog’s heart and breathing rate. A welfare-oriented pet care company, Green Acres Kennel Shop, has produced an excellent overview of the harmful outcomes of using collars that employ shock.

Many well-respected, science-oriented organizations, such as the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, the Pet Professional Guild, and the BCSPCA, have condemned the use of harmful training methods such as employing shock.

Avoid Redirected Aggression

In addition to causing direct psychological and physical harm to your dog, shock collars also greatly increase the risk of redirected aggression. This type of behavior occurs when a dog directs aggression away from the threatening source and onto a different or unintended target. People may find the association obvious when smart collars deliver a shock when a dog gets too close to an invisible fence. However, this association may not be so obvious for the dog. Instead, they may associate something entirely else in their environment with being shocked. Perhaps the mailman coming up the sidewalk at the same time as the collar shocks them. Or a child playing across the street. Or their canine companion. The cat lazing in the grass. Or you.

Rather than risk redirected aggression, fear, and pain, you can choose to contain your pet in your yard by building a fence, using leashed walks instead, or exercising your dog in a nearby, fenced-in area if building a fence at your home is not currently possible.

Problem of pets in homes biting strangers sometime.

Dogs who are forced to endure smart collars that use shock are at a higher risk of associating the shock with an unintended source, such as a delivery person.

©jattumongkhon/iStock via Getty Images

Reasons to Not Buy a Smart Collar for Your Dog: They Are Expensive

Smart collars can come with quite a hefty price tag. The price of a smart collar can range from $80-$700, just for the collar. After you purchase the produce, you’ll usually need to sign up for a costly monthly or yearly subscription for most of the features to work. If you’re on a budget, the expense of these collars may simply be beyond what you can afford. Instead, you can purchase a well-fitted, comfortable harness. For most dog guardians, you likely don’t need to be actively tracking your dog’s biometrics or GPS location.

Many Smart Collars Aren’t Durable or Reliable

Finally, many smart collars, such as those produced at Fi Collar, aren’t much, if any more, durable than regular collars. While they come with various tech features, the collar itself can break. It can snag, and wear, and your pup can chew it just as easily as a cheap collar. Additionally, some doggy daycare facilities have reported repeated problems with these collars. Dog guardians will frantically call to say the smart collar notified them that their dogs escaped the facility, as the pup plays happily and safely at the daycare. A malfunctioning GPS report is bound to cause undue anxiety. Instead, you can microchip your pet, which will reliably scan at any vet office or shelter.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Nadezhda Kurbatova/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Cammi Morgan is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on mycology, marine animals, forest and river ecology, and dogs. Cammi has been volunteering in animal rescue for over 10 years, and has been studying mycology and field-researching mushrooms for the past 3 years. A resident of Southeast Appalachia, Cammi loves her off-grid life where she shares 20 acres with her landmates, foster dogs, and all the plants, fungi, and critters of the forest.

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