Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human and Animals in Translation, was recently interviewed on National Public Radio.
Host Terry Gross asked her, "Would you ever use negative reinforcement punishment as a way to discipline an animal?"
Most of the times I would not, but I would never say never. I would never use punishment on something that's fear-based behavior because that will worsen it. If you want to teach the animal a new skill - like if you want to teach a dog a trick, I want to do that all with positive reinforcement. You want to teach the lion or the dolphin at the marine park or the zoo to cooperate with veterinary work, that's all done with positive reinforcement -totally, totally, totally.
There's only one thing where punishment is - you just about have to use punishment and that's stopping prey-drive behavior. You've got a dog that's killing cats or you've got a dog that's killing sheep and they've already done it. I absolutely despise shock collars and I despise a lot of the things that hunters are doing with shock collars. I think it's totally wrong. But there's one legitimate use for it: Car chasing, jogger chasing, cat killing, deer chasing, anything that's prey-drive behavior. And this is not aggression and it's not fear. It's a very special other kind of emotion that the animal has. And you'd want to put the collar on, have the dog wear it for two days, and then - because you never want him to find out that the collar did it. And then one day a thunderbolt from the sky blasts him for chasing deer. And that's one of the few situations I would use a punishment. For all kinds of other things, no.
As Temple Grandin says, there are better ways to do most things, but there is no better tool for busting a dog off of deer, sheep, cats, or cars than an e-collar.
Failure to bust a certified deer-chaser or cat-killer off of its prey is eventually fatal to one side or the other, one way or the other.
This point cannot be stressed enough: those that want to ban all use of e-collars, as some seek to do in the U.K., are affirmatively saying they are OK with dogs dying from vehicle impact, are OK with sheep being savagely wounded, are OK with cats being mauled to death, and are OK with farmers shooting stock-worrying dogs.
Anyone who salutes that is a fool, plain and simple.
An e-collar is like a monkey wrench; it appears to be a useless and thuggish tool you will never need, right up until the minute you need it, and then its use becomes both transparent and necessary.