Training collars are known by many names – shock collars, remote training collars, electronic dog collars, electronic collars – and they are the subject of many opposing opinions as to the ethics of their use, their use and their usefulness in general. Although we believe that training collars should not be the only approach to behavior training, they are certainly popular, especially for hunting dogs, as training collars can be used from a distance.
These types of collars emit something the dog finds unpleasant, usually an electric shock. But training collars are limited. They can only get rid of unwanted behavior. They are of no help when trying to train your pet to do something you want it to do, such as command training. Shock collars can also be dangerous if misused or malfunctioning.
How to use shock collars in a humane way
Human use of a training collar begins before the collar is placed on the dog. Start training the dog as a puppy to instill desirable behavior and obey commands. Trying to instill a new behavior using a training collar will not be effective and will do more harm than good. Once your dog knows the desired behavior and can perform it on command, a training collar can be used to reinforce the learned behavior, but it should be used sparingly.
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Training collars are as humane as the owner wants to make them. If you choose to use one, here are our tips for using it in the most humane way possible.
Mix the positive and the negative in your training routine
Use positive reinforcement in conjunction with the training collar. Training your dog shouldn’t be all negative. When your dog does something good, be sure to reward him so he doesn’t just associate you with punishment. When he obeys your command, give him a dog treat or some extra attention.
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When your hound achieves something in the field, shower him with praise so he sees the activity as a great and entertaining experience instead of a threat of shock. The training then has the dual strength of positive and negative reinforcement and is accomplished more quickly, eliminating the need for prolonged use of a training collar.
Risks of training collars
You should be aware of the potential risks of training collars that use electric shocks. In addition to dysfunction that can be disastrous (more on this later), shock collars used too frequently can cause aversive behavior or anxiety.
A dog should not fear his master, especially to the point that the bond between them is broken. If the two are unable to function as a team, they will not be able to hunt together, and no amount of training can solve this problem. Using the collar as a tool of punishment can cause the dog to associate the outside with a negative stimulus, causing him to lose enthusiasm for the sport.
Know when to stop
Know when to stop using a training collar on your dog. If your dog exhibits fearful or anxious behavior, it could be a sign that he is too sensitive for the collar. A
A particularly groundbreaking study in the Netherlands showed that frequent use of the collar as a tool of punishment (as opposed to a reinforcement tool used only when absolutely necessary) caused aggression, anxiety and a incorrect causal association between the pain and you, the owner. The last thing you want to do is harm your dog’s personality and happiness in any way.
do your research
A training collar should never be a long term solution. Before investing in one, be aware of available alternatives such as a command collar, which emits a tone that only your dog can hear. Frequencies at the upper end of a dog’s hearing range are irritating and uncomfortable. This tone can be associated with different commands and warnings.
As with everything else, bad things can happen if you use a training collar the wrong way. Ask a veterinarian for advice before using the training collar to ensure that your dog will not be injured. Invest some time learning the best way to use it and watch your dog carefully for his reaction. The pain of electric shock makes some dogs aggressive, even towards you.
Do it quickly and use it consistently
Make the shock last as short as possible. Even the briefest burst is enough to get your dog’s attention. If the stimulation level is adjustable, choose the lowest level that works.
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Use the collar regularly. Don’t randomly shock your dog. Choose one behavior you want to correct, whether it’s continuing to run after you tell him to stop or some other bad behavior, and only use the collar for that. Inconsistent use of the collar will prolong the workout beyond a reasonable point, which could have negative consequences.
Use a reputable and trustworthy brand
In addition to using the collar correctly, make sure you choose a reputable brand that is not likely to malfunction. A faulty dog collar can continue to shock your dog after you stop it, possibly to the point of causing nerve damage. It can also cause burns so severe that they create deep lacerations in your dog’s neck and cause serious damage, not only physical but also emotional.
Recommended Dog Products
Some of the top rated brands you might want to try are Dogwidgets, SportDOG, and PetSafe.
Dog Widgets offers a collar that emits a strong vibration rather than an actual electric shock. Although still unpleasant, it does not cause the discomfort of an electric shock.
It is important to use the collar correctly, and collars SportDOG and PetSafe are recommended due to their simplicity and ease of use.
Although there are differing opinions on training collars, as we said above, if you are informed, careful and humane, you could be successful in eliminating unwanted behavior.