Electric Collar (e-collar) Dog Training
Myself Ryan Matthews, I have literally trained thousands of dogs with the electric collar. I have also been to the top training schools to learn the proper usage of this type of tool. The reason I came to explore the dog e-collar training is due to the demands of my clients. I found that a large percentage of pet owners wanted off-leash control, quick results and their dog reliably obeying. I have also observed that many dog owners do not want to take the time to train their dog, but want to reap the reward of having a well-behaved pet. Like most things in life, in order to get what you want; one has to work for it. In my opinion, using the e-collar allows dogs to have more freedom, clients to get quick results and it gives me the opportunity to train them in a safe and humane way while utilizing an effective training aide.
Since electric collars are sold at most major pets stores, some people believe they can just strap it on their pet and begin training. The over-achievers watch the training DVD that comes with it and expects everything to go picture perfect. That is the wrong way to conduct e-collar training. In fact, it can be a horrible way to train a dog. If the trainer doesn’t know what they are doing; the end result is usually a dog being unnecessarily shocked. However, if used with finesse, it can be a highly useful training tool.
I am not comfortable teaching everything I know about e-collar training in this article, because some of it will require either me observing one’s dog or for me to demonstrate via video the ideal usage of the e-collar, so I have included optimal use of the e-collar in World Of Dog Training eCourse “Proper e-Collar Training”. I will, however, share the common mistakes I have observed. First, the collar does not have to be a bad thing. Rather than using it exclusively for correction, try using it to get the dog’s attention. Think of it like a person tapping someone on the shoulder to get their attention. Once, you have the dogs focus, just like with clicker training, the dog is much more likely to listen to what you want from them.
Hands down, the biggest mistake I have seen is owners not putting the collar on tight enough. If the collar is not snug, not only will it not consistently work, it may ark, resulting in too high of stimulation and be unfair to the dog. To know if the fit is proper, position the collar (box) on the bottom of the dog’s neck between the two ears. It should be snug like a belt, one finger tight at the top of the collar strap. Grab the box and make sure you cannot rotate it on the dog’s neck if so, it’s too loose. Also, to avoid unnecessary irritation, take the collar off when you are not home and at night when you and the pet are sleeping (put it on a charge, also.) Be sure to always remove the collar if the canine’s neck is completely wet, like in the case of going swimming. If it the collar is left on, it may cause a rash.
The collar should be on the dog whenever he is supervised or you are home with the pet. Even if you don’t intend to use the collar, leave it on the dog. Some people put it on just for walks or going out. When first teaching the dog the language of the collar, it needs to be on most of the time. This will desensitize the pet to the collar and get them used to it. Also, like any other piece of equipment, i.e. leash or muzzle, ensure the dog is coming to you to put the collar on. You may find you naturally want to pet the dog… don’t. Like I have mentioned before, if you make something a big deal, so will the canine.
Keep the remote with you all the time. Follow the consistency principle of the Four Training Pillars, meaning press the button every time you give a command. This concept may throw you off initially, but remember, I have done this successfully with thousands of dogs; they are happy and have a lot more freedom with e-collar training done the right way. The remote will have a tone option and you will be inclined to use it, but don’t. That is the wrong way to use it. Press the button every time when you give a command that the DOG ALREADY KNOWS.
Start with the dog on the leash (ten foot is best.) Once you give the command that the dog knows, press the button at the lowest level the dog feels (see my World Of Dog Training eCourse on
“Proper e-Collar Training”, to find your dog’s level.) If the dog is non-responsive, raise the level slightly and repeat the process. At first, the dog will appear confused because it cannot pinpoint where that funny tickle is coming from. Relax, the dog will get comfortable with the feeling of the stimulation once it has felt it about 20 different times. Remember, the way we want to use the collar is like a tap on the shoulder. If I was to tap you on the shoulder to get your attention, it likely wouldn’t bother you, unless, of course, I continued to tap on you. Depending on the dog, just as with humans, there are many different personalities and responses. You can also try tapping the button a few times to get the dog to respond quicker to the command. This would be considered applying pressure and you may not be comfortable with that; and for some dogs, it should not be done. If a dog is overly timid or has a soft demeanor, I would avoid tapping the button.
Again, I would like to remind you that this system is not for everyone, simply because not everyone will be able to follow the guidelines and proper tips on dog e-collar training. I have found that many people think of e-collar as a shocking system. That’s because their cousin or neighbor bought an e-collar, slapped it on the dog and just started hitting buttons resulting in the dog freaking out. I would too if I were the dog. That is why I am careful with how and what I say about e-collars. If you have never put the collar in your hand and felt the stimulation, yet object to this type of system; that would be like saying you “hate onions” but have never actually tasted them. If you want to have reliable off leash control, this system can be the one for you.
Don’t Knock it till you try It
I am going to give you an ideal way to educate the public through my dog training Ecourse on the preferred use of the e-collar. I have found that when trainers mention the use of an e-collar, also known as “shock collar,” the first thing the majority of people think is animal cruelty by electric shock. I have a few issues with this misconception. One is that the same people don’t bat an eye when they hear verbiage such as “pinch collar” or “choke chain.” These don’t have a pleasant sound to them either, yet they are generally more readily accepted than the e-collar. I have many clients who are successfully using the e-collar, but most of them were initially turned off at the thought of using this training tool.
Although we can’t compare human and dog anatomy to each other, to enlighten my clients to the humaneness of this tool; I put the collar the dog will wear in the person’s hand and use the remote at the lowest level, pressing the button, asking if they can feel anything. I know already if they felt it or not based on their reaction or lack thereof. Eventually, I find the level that they feel. The majority of the time, when they finally feel it, the reaction is to say, “That’s it?!” If you will experience the e-collar on the lowest level possible, you may be also surprised at how “un-shocking” it can be.
As the best dog trainer, I familiarize a new dog with this training system, I find the dog’s level the same way I do the human’s level, which is to locate the lowest level possible. The point is, even though this tool can be used at a high level, causing discomfort, it can be effectively used at a low level and there is no cause for a negative reaction to the use of an e-collar in dog training.