Updated: Aug 19, 2022
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Let's talk about dog training with e-collars.
Using that term, e-collars, instead of calling them shock collars, is important! It helps to clarify some important things and differentiates them from the old school electronic collars.
Electronic collars came onto the scene in the 1960s. At that time, they were simply designed to correct the dog, and they did their job. They were different than the quality e-collars available today. Since the 1960s, animal training and technology have come a LONG way.
Today, quality e-collars use beeps, vibration, and "blunt stimulation". This wide pulse stimulation provides a muscle reflex response -- not the jerking response found in narrow pulse stimulation systems. A good quality e-collar uses stimulation similar to a Muscle Stimulator or TENS Unit that your doctors may have used on you to relieve muscle spasms, increase range of motion, prevent muscle, atrophy, etc. Quality e-collars do NOT use high shocking circuitry that may cause your dog's neck to jerk excessively and/or scare your dog.
Do e-collars inherently cause harm to dogs? Absolutely not!
Can any tool (including gentle leaders, flat collars, harness, leashes, etc) hurt your dog if used improperly?
E-collars are intended to help us communicate more clearly with our dogs during training (just like any other training tool). E-collar training is not a standalone option, but should be paired with things like praise, markers, and rewards. In fact, I generally only introduce an e-collar to a dog after we have already been in training for quite some time. We use it to fine tune certain behaviors.
If utilized well, an e-collar stimulus can mean a variety of things. It could be loaded like a clicker and used to communicate that the dog is doing exactly what you wanted. It can be built up as a positive cue for recall through a history of reinforcement. It could be used as pressure/a correction (negative reinforcement). It can even be used as a cue to your dog to keep doing what they are doing and/or do it harder and faster!
If you've seen me using an e-collar with your dog, you know that I don't use them as a quick fix. Introducing an e-collar properly is a LONG process that takes lots of positive reinforcement, a desire to improve your dog's life, and tons of patience. That is what is needed to use e-collars properly.
Do you have any questions about e-collars? Feel free to email me! I'd love to answer you.
Or better yet, request a training consultation so I can show you an e-collar in person and tell you about all the wonderful ways it can help you and your dog!
Pictured: Korra Therapy Dog & Zuko having an absolute blast exploring my grandparents' farm thanks to their dog training with e-collars!