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Electronic dog collars, shock collars or e-collars for dogs have formed a bad reputation over the years due to the fact that some people believe that they harm the dog and provide negative rather than positive reinforcement. However, an e-collar can be a highly effective training tool if it is used correctly.
Follow these 8 simple steps to ensure that you are using this tool in the best way to achieve the greatest success:
Step 1 – Buying the Right Collar
There is a wide range of electronic dog collars available on the market, each that have some similarities and differences. It is important to choose a quality collar from a reputable manufacturer. K9 Electronics, Dogtra, and SportDog FieldTrainer are all manufacturer’s of top e-collars.
The type of collar that you choose should be largely dependent on the purpose that you have in mind. Is the collar aimed at correcting behavioral issues or as a professional training tool? It is highly recommended to read and familiarize yourself with the instruction manual for use of the collar as well as any dog training guides that are provided with your purchase.
Out late at night? A light-up LED collar might be the right choice.
Step 2 – Testing the Collar
Electronic collars provide a pulse or electric vibration to the neck of the dog, generally through two prongs that are situated inside the collar. This pulse can vary in strength and most collars allow you to select the strength of the vibration. It is recommended to test the strength of each pulse setting on yourself.
This will allow you to know exactly what your dog is feeling when you are using the collar. It will also give you the knowledge that you aren’t hurting your dog or causing pain which will allow you to use the collar with confidence. Safety is of primary importance and it is crucial to ensure that the collar is functioning correctly before using it on your dog.
Step 3 – Fitting the Collar
It is important that the collar fits the dog correctly and is placed optimally in order to work effectively. Ideally, placement should be high on the neck, nearer to the ears. The collar should fit snugly allowing the electric prongs to make contact with the neck. Do not test to ensure the correct placement but rather wait until you are ready to proceed with the next step and allow your dog to become comfortable with the collar and training area first.
Step 4 – Setting the Intensity Level
Every dog is different and will respond differently to varying intensity levels of stimulation. Start by placing the collar on the lowest setting. Send a short pulse and monitor your dog’s response. If the dog does not respond or show any signs of noticing the pulse, slowly increase the level of intensity.
You will know when the correct level of stimulation has been reached when your dog suddenly lifts his head, picks up his ears or shows some other physical response that is repeated when the stimulation button is pressed again.
Step 5 – Precautions
Using the collar incorrectly can result in the tool becoming ineffective. It is highly recommended to only use it according to the instructions and only when needed for training purposes. If the collar is overused or used out of context, it will just confuse the dog and will not have a successful outcome.
Step 6 – Unwanted Behavior
Electronic collars are ideally suited to eliminating unwanted behaviors in dogs. For example, chewing, barking, digging and even biting your feet can all be effectively eliminated using the collar. But with regards to biting, most likely the dog bites your feet for reasons unrelated to bad behavior. Now start by placing the dog in the area where he is most likely to or routinely presents with the unwanted behavior.
It is advisable to be out of sight of the dog as you do not want him to associate you with the stimulation. If he sees you and relates the stimulation to you, he will continue with the behavior when you are not around.
Wait for the dog to begin the behavior and immediately press the stimulation button. The dog should respond by stopping the behavior. If he does not, it may be necessary to increase the stimulation intensity. Repeat the process for as long as he repeats the behavior. The dog should get that his behavior is associated with the pulse and stop.
Step 7 – Positive Reinforcement
An electronic dog collar is not generally used to train a dog to follow commands such as sit, stay, go, etc. However, it can be used to reinforce a command in a dog who is not following instructions. Simply press the button when the dog does not follow a command and he should start performing the wanted behavior consistently.
The e-collar is a tool that can be used effectively to eliminate bad behaviors or reinforce good behaviors if and when it is used correctly.