Although I never use electric [collars] for obedience training I do use [them] to control chronic barking or on dogs that attack their kennel environment if the potential for injury is obvious [“Who Should You Trust to Train Your Dog?” by Tasneem Paghdiwala, April 6]. It is an extremely effective technique that actually creates a calmer attitude as the dog quickly comes to understand that such behavior results in negative consequences. If used properly it is rare to have to reinforce more than once or twice, and in eliminating extreme behavior dogs tend to be both calmer and subsequently far more relaxed, thus the necessity for negative reinforcement is far less “negative” and is justified by the beneficial results. . . .

I recently read an article that recommended over 3,000 training exercises to establish an off-lead recall for pets, whereas with negative reinforcement (not a shock collar) I can generally attain reliable results in a week of several short lessons three times a day. Positive-only obedience training, while doing no harm, has little if any reliable effectiveness on the great majority of dogs.

Training is knowledge while obedience is a state of mind. Obedience, by the nature of the concept, is negative. It can rarely, if ever, be brought about reliably without the inclusion of some level of negative consequences for noncompliance or to control unwanted behavior no matter what anyone may wish to believe. . . .Positive-only trainers . . . offer false hope to people, resulting in almost complete failure if those people are seeking reliable obedience, and such advertisements that “we train only with love” is simply pandering to emotion rather than facing reality. No group of social animals whose social behavior is based upon nature’s design of leadership can be trained through our own emotional preferences.

Don Sterling