E-Collar Training – Facts, Myths & Techniques

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E-collar training is a hot-button issue in the dog training world. There are those who swear by it and those who think it’s inhumane. So, what’s the truth? In this blog post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of e-collar training, dispel some myths about the practice, and provide some tips on how to use an e-collar effectively.

What Is an E-Collar?

A dog with an e collar gps

An e-collar, also known as an electronic collar or remote collar, is a device that is worn around a dog’s neck and controlled by a hand-held remote. The remote can deliver a variety of stimuli to the dog, including electric shocks, vibrations, and beeps.

E-collars are most commonly used in obedience training and behavior modification. There are several approaches to training that use positive and aversive-based training, and if you’re not properly trained on this type of collar, you’ll be giving the wrong signals during training.

The Pros of E-Collar Training

There are several advantages to using an e-collar during training. First, it allows you to deliver a consistent stimulus to the dog regardless of your environment or the distractions present. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to train a dog who is easily distracted, has a lot of energy, or is being potty trained.

Second, e-collars can be very effective in reducing or eliminating unwanted behaviors, such as barking, digging, and jumping. And third, they can reinforce desired behaviors such as coming when called or sitting on command.

  1. When used correctly, e-collars can be a very effective training tool.
  2. E-collar-trained dogs are more responsive and better behaved overall.
  3. E-collars can help train dogs with undesirable behavior issues that may not be corrected with traditional training methods.
  4. They often train police dogs with e-collars because they need to be highly responsive in potentially dangerous situations.

The Cons of E-Collar Training

Labrador dog with e collar

Of course, there are also some drawbacks to using e-collars. First, if they’re not used properly, they can cause physical pain or injury to the dog. Second, they can be emotionally traumatizing for both the dog and the owner if not used correctly. This can be counted as an aversive training method if used incorrectly.

And third, they can create a dependency on the collar rather than on the owner’s verbal commands during training. It’s important to note that these disadvantages are only present when e-collars are used incorrectly or without a proper understanding of how they work.

When used correctly, e-collars can be safe and effective tools for training dogs when coupled with reward-focused training.

  1. When used incorrectly, e-collars can cause physical and psychological damage to dogs.
  2. E-collars should only be used as a last resort after traditional training methods have failed.
  3. Some people believe that e-collar training is inhumane and should not be used under any circumstances.

Myths About E-Collar Training

  1. “E-collars are the same as shock collars.” – This is simply not true. Shock collars deliver an electric shock to the dog with no warning or provocation from the dog. E-collars, on the other hand, can deliver a variety of stimulations (including shocks), but only in response to a cue from the trainer.
  1. “They train all police dogs with e-collars.” – While many police dogs are indeed trained with e-collars, this is not always the case. Some police departments have stopped using e-collars because of public pressure and concerns about animal welfare.
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  1. “You can leave a shock collar on your dog.” – This is a big no-no! Shock collars should only be used during training sessions and should be removed immediately afterward. Leaving a shock collar on your dog for extended periods of time can cause serious physical and psychological damage.
  1. “Cesar Millan uses e-collars.” – Cesar Millan is often mistakenly thought to use e-collars when training dogs, but he actually does not use them at all (he prefers prong collars).
  1. “E-collars are always more effective than prong collars.” – This is simply not true and depends on each individual dog’s temperament and bad behavior issues.
  1. “E-collar training is inhumane.” – If used correctly, e-collar training is no more cruel than any other type of training (including prong collar training). It’s important to remember that all forms of negative physical punishment have the potential to be abused, so it’s important to only use them under the guidance of a qualified professional trainer.
  1. “‘E’- stands for electric.” – The “E” in “e-collar” actually stands for “electronic,” not “electric.” Most modern e-collars do not deliver electric shocks but use a variety of stimulation levels to get the dog’s attention
  1. “E-collared dogs will be afraid of their owners.” – Again, this simply isn’t true! E-collar training often strengthens the bond between owner and dog because it requires trust and communication between them.
  1. “E-collars will make my dog turn to aggressive behaviors.” On the contrary, e-collars can actually be very helpful in reducing aggression in dogs by allowing you to quickly and effectively interrupt bad behaviors such as growling or lunging.
  1. “E-collars are only for professional trainers.” While professional training can certainly use e-collars, they’re also suitable for use by any responsible pet owner who will take the time to learn how to use them correctly. You don’t want this to be a negative reinforcement.
  1. “E-collared dogs will always need their collar on.” This is not true! Once your dog has learned the desired behavior(s), you should only need to use the collar intermittently (e.g., during periods of high distraction) or not at all if you so choose.

Tips for Those Considering Electric Training Collars

Young belgian shepherd malinois in electronic collar and prong collar

If you’re considering using an e-collar to train your dog, there are a few things you should keep in mind no matter the weather or circumstance:

  1. Choose an experienced trainer or behaviorist who uses positive reinforcement reward-based training techniques and has experience working with electronic collars. You don’t want to use this as a form of punishment.
  2. Be sure to read the instructions that come with your collar carefully so that you understand how it works and how to properly use it before putting it on your dog.
  3. Start by using the collar on yourself so that you can understand what it feels like before using it on your dog. This will help you avoid over-correcting your dog when he or she misbehaves.
  4. Use the lowest setting possible that gets your dog’s attention without causing him or her pain or discomfort. 
  5. Never leave the collar on your dog unsupervised, and remove it when a day of training is over so that he or she can’t accidentally receive a correction while playing or sleeping.

FAQs

When Should You Train With an E-Collar?

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This is a tough question to answer because it depends on each individual dog. Some dogs may be ready for e-collar training as early as 6 months old, while others may not be ready until they are a year or older. The best way to determine if your dog is ready for e-collar training is to consult with a professional trainer. They will assess your dog’s temperament and give you specific advice on when to train with an e-collar.

Can a Dog Sleep with an E-Collar On?

Yes, a dog can sleep with an e-collar on, but it’s not recommended. The reason is that if the collar gets snagged on something while your dog is sleeping, it could choke them, or they could accidentally get corrected by the collar. So, it’s not recommended you leave their collar on and take it off immediately after training sessions.

What Can I Use Instead of an E-Collar?

If you’re not comfortable with the idea of using an e-collar to train your dog, there are alternative methods you can try. One popular method is clicker training. This involves using a small hand-held device that makes a clicking noise when pressed. We pair the clicker with treats or praise, and over time the dog will learn that the click means they get a reward.

Another alternative is positive reinforcement training, which focuses on rewarding desired behaviors instead of punishing undesired behaviors. This method can be more time-consuming than other methods, but it is gentle and effective.

Conclusion

E-collar training is a controversial topic in the dog training world, but there are pros and cons to using this method and myths that circulate about it. When used correctly, e-collar training coupled with positive reinforcement training can have successful training outcomes, but it should only be done under the guidance of a qualified professional trainer.

Before you decide whether this type of approach to training is right for your dog, make sure you do your research. There are plenty of training videos out there to help!

Meet our writer

Karen is a former pet business owner with 17+ years of experience in training and taking care of pets. She currently owns three dogs (a greyhound, saluki, and golden mix) and has gone through several types of programs to further her education in the pet world.

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