What Pet Parents Need to Know About E-Collar Training

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As a pet parent, dealing with your dog’s bad behavior is never an easy thing. This is especially true if your pup continues to exhibit negative behavior despite all your efforts. In such instances, it is only natural to wonder if e-collar training can help you out.

This, by itself, is a loaded topic since there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding e-collars. Well, if you want to find out if such collars are a viable and helpful option, you have come to the right place. Here you will find all the information that you need to make your decision.

What Is E-Collar Training Based On?

The e-collar – and the resulting training – relies on the theory of operant conditioning. In this instance, whenever your dog exhibits an undesirable behavior, the electrical stimulation of the collar acts as
“positive punishment”
. The idea here is that your pup will learn to associate a certain behavior with punishment and to stop doing it after a while.

Types of E-Collars

E-collars have evolved quite a bit since they were first invented. For one thing, the electric current flowing through the collar is controlled a great deal more. For another, there are many similar kinds of collars as well. These days, you can find the following types of e-collars on the market:

  • Shock collar: produces brief electric shocks
  • Ultrasonic collar: emits a high-pitched frequency
  • Vibration collar: applies gentle electric pulses
  • Spray collar: releases undesirable odor like citronella

Modern collars tend to provide owners with the ability to choose from either ultrasonic, shock, or vibration modes with each collar. Therefore, you get to select which type of aversive condition is applied to the collar.

Most authority agencies, owners, and trainers agree that vibration and ultrasonic collars are the most humane options. The stimuli activated by these collars is very gentle and is unlikely to cause distress in most dogs. Such stimuli are also equally suitable for both little and big dogs.

How Are the E-Collars Activated?

Once again, there are a few different ways to activate these e-collars, once they have been placed on your dog.

  • Containment mechanism: the collar is activated when the dog crosses a buried wire or fencing
  • Remote activation: the owner controls the activation via remote control
  • Automatic activation: stimuli such as barking will trigger the collar to activate itself

The containment mechanism system is only used when owners want to keep their dogs from crossing a certain boundary in their yard. Automatic activation is also usually only used with dogs who have barking problems. Collars that are remotely activated, though, can manage a number of behavioral issues.

Is E-Collar Training Effective?

Of course, what most pet parents are curious about is whether or not e-collar training is actually effective. Well, there have been studies conducted on this subject. The general consensus is that yes, e-collar training can help to modify bad behavior.

A group of experts was able to prove that dogs do respond to e-collar training. So, by wearing them, dogs should be able to get rid of bad habits. At the same time, the professionals also discovered that most dogs wearing such collars don’t experience undue stress or fear.

That being said, there was some evidence that the dogs who wore the shock collars weren’t as outgoing as pups in other groups. Also, as you can imagine, the dogs that wore the collars were more likely to have an overall negative experience as well.

What the same study also picked up on, though, was that the dogs who received positive reinforcement were just as likely to respond to their training. The group that only received positive reinforcement also modified their behavior according to their trainers’ and owners’ wishes. The takeaway here is that e-collars are not more effective than standard training or positive reinforcement.

Is It Right for Your Pup?

Now that you know it is effective, the next question you may have is whether or not it is right for your dog. Well, this is where the answer becomes a little less clear-cut. See, the efficacy of e-collar training will depend on the following factors:

  • Your dog’s personality
  • How they are used
  • Time elapsed between bad behavior and positive punishment

What you should understand here is that e-collars can make certain behaviors worse, depending on your pup’s personality. For example, if your dog is aggressive, fearful, or suffers from anxiety, these issues may be magnified with e-collar training. This is because such dogs will not respond well to negative stimuli.

Before considering e-collar training, ask yourself what kind of behavior you are trying to correct. For instance, if you would like your pup to stop barking so much while you are away, these collars may be more effective. However, if you are trying to use them to “punish” your dog, it will not work for you.

Finally, e-collars are only useful if they are activated when your dog is doing something wrong. This is the only way they will associate the act with the shock or vibration. If too much time lapses between the time they commit the bad behavior and when the collar is activated, it is unlikely to have any effect on your pup.

What to Be Aware of When Opting for E-Collar Training

If you decide to go ahead with e-collar training, there are a few things to take into consideration. Keep in mind, e-collars will only be useful if they are used in the right way. Otherwise, you could end up doing more harm than good.

Always choose a high-end collar that has plenty of shock or stimuli settings to choose from. The more settings there are, the better. This way, you can start from the lowest level possible and avoid causing your pup any undue stress.

Also, make it a point to observe your pup’s behavior when the collar is activated. Remember, the stimuli should be very mild and shouldn’t cause your dog pain, distress, or any other kind of harm. If your dog seems genuinely upset, the settings on the collar are too high.

Last but certainly not least, you should never rely on e-collar training alone. Rather, you need to include positive reinforcement and treats to create a balanced training program. This is the only way that your pup will understand the difference between good and bad behavior.

This concludes what you need to know regarding e-collar training. Since you have this information at your disposal, you will now be better equipped to determine whether this is something you want to consider for your pup.