Shock collars can cause dogs both physical and psychological pain – and even damage their bond with humans, according to the BC SPCA. 

The animal welfare agency is launching a new campaign asking dog owners to pledge not to use shock collars for training, arguing there are reward-based tools that are just as effective.

The collars, which deliver an electrostatic shock to the dog's skin, are sometimes used to stop pets from barking too much, or to train them to stay in the yard.

But veterinarian Dr. Karen van Haaften, the BC SPCA's senior manager of behaviour, said the benefits don't outweigh the costs.

"While these collars can alter behaviour, there is a growing body of evidence from across North America and Europe that their short- or long-term use is associated with high levels of stress, phobias, fear and increased aggression," van Haaften said in a statement.

There are physical risks as well, according to the SPCA. Collars can leave severe burns on an animal's neck, or cause an unhealthy increase in their heart rate.

Dr. van Haaften said owners should also know dogs can potentially associate the zaps they experience with their environment, including their owner.

"One of the most unfortunate, and inadvertent, results of shock collar use can be a breakdown in the bond between an individual and their pet," she said.

For its campaign, the BC SPCA is inviting dog owners to read "the shocking truth" about shock collars, which are sometimes known as electronic or e-collars, and sign its online pledge. The agency says collars are "not safe or humane," depsite being supported by some trainers. 

Owners who are struggling to deal with a problem behaviour can also find accredited training services through the agency's website