Training Your Dog With an E-Collar - 101

Posted by Don Hesh on

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Electronic collars, or e-collars, are a method to train your dog's behaviour remotely. They've been around for a long time although the technology is continuously improving. This means they're more effective and efficient than ever at stopping excessive barking behaviours in your dog. E-collars used to be very limited in their design and were harsh the dog being trained. While effective, it was not the most humane way to treat a pet. 

Fortunately, we know that this level of intensity is not required to get great results. New e-collars utilise sound, citronella sprays and/or mild and human shock to deliver exceptional results. It is, however, still essential to educate yourself and always use all training methods correctly and as designed. When done so, e-collars can be immensely productive at helping you and your loved dog reach your goals. 

Why Should You Consider an E-Collar?

Some dogs can be easily trained with voice commands. Many dogs will never bark excessively. However, if you're reading this, that's probably not your dog. Perhaps you don't have the time to spend hours training your dog, while you do your best, it's not enough. Different breeds are harder to train, while others are more obedient. Maybe your situation has changed, and you're not home as often. 

Whatever the reason, e-collars can be useful in training your dog by discouraging bad behaviour, such as excessive barking. When you're not around, or busy with another task, the collar can do the conditioning for you. Many experts believe dogs are commonly over-talked and over-excited by trainers or their owners. E-collars allow for a less intrusive approach to help your dog learn 'good' from 'bad' behaviours. Ideally, your dog should already be trained in the basic commands, e-collars will not magically turn your pet into an obedient robot!

How to Get Started with E-Collars

So you've decided to use an e-collar as a training device for your dog. For the best success, you should take all the right steps to get started. 

Firstly, you should identify the electronic anti-bark collar that would suit your dog best. The most common stimuli used are ultrasonic sound, mild static shock and citronella spray. Each type has its benefits and disadvantages. You'll need to test each one to find what's most effective and well-tolerated by your little canine. The better e-collars will have multiple settings in one. 

Secondly, you should get your dog conditioned for the e-collar. This begins before you turn it on and start using it. Get your dog used to wearing the collar. You could make it a routine to put the e-collar on every morning, when you go out for a walk, or when you leave the house for the day. Make sure not to turn it on until your dog is comfortable wearing it - we want to link the collar with typical activities.

"Always start the stimulation on the lowest setting and work up"

Thirdly, make sure it's fitting correctly, and you use the right level of stimuli. For the collar to work its magic, the contact points need to be touching your dog's skin. This allows it to sense noise and vibrations correctly and only use stimuli when necessary. Aim to fit two fingers underneath the collar, but no more. Now you can set the right level of intensity. Always start the stimulation on the lowest setting and work up. Keep going until your furry friend seems like they are mildly annoyed by something - this is the level you want to start working with. If they appear in discomfort or yelp out, it's too high!

How NOT to Use E-Collars

It shouldn't need to be said but never abuse e-collars or any other electric stimulation to your dog. Each training collar is different, so make sure to read each manufacturers instructions carefully. In general, do not use for longer than recommended and do not use a harsher stimulation than is absolutely necessary. While it is unlikely your dog will be seriously harmed, we want the collar to produce a positive and productive outcome. If used excessively or otherwise incorrectly, it may make their behaviour, and wellbeing, worse.

If you're doing everything correctly and the e-collar is still not effective in behaviour change, for whatever reason, stop immediately. It's not necessary to risk annoyance to your dog when there is no reason too. Try another type of collar, training method or an alternative solution.

Aggressive dog? We'd recommend not using e-collars for dogs that are already aggressive responders to training without one. This may only aggravate them more, even at a low stimuli level. We'd suggest positive reinforcement methods or the help of a qualified training professional or to consult your vet.

Don't Use E-Collars as Your Only Training Tool

In addition to using anti-bark training collars as a tool, you should also use positive reinforcement methods for better results. Reward your dog for good behaviour using treats and kind, verbal queues. If there are any underlying issues for excessive barking, such as boredom, treating them should always be the first course of action.

We hope this helped you understand all the essential basics around using a training e-collar for your canine best friend. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with our friendly team here at Dog Gear.


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