"Can I just buy a 'shock' collar?" : Canine 101
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"Can I just buy a 'shock' collar?"

by Konnie Hein on 07/21/16

As a professional dog trainer, one of the most common frustrations expressed to me by dog owners is that their dog does not pay attention to them off-leash, or will even run away if not on a leash. This can be a dangerous problem. 

Many times these folks will ask me about a "shock collar," with the assumption that it is something you can just put on your dog, push a button, and the dog will immediately know how to respond. I also have clients who have tried to use these collars in this way (before calling me!), but with terrible results. Sometimes the use of the collar was their idea, and sometimes it was recommended by a trainer with little to no knowledge of how to use this training tool the right way. When dogs experience this new and strange stimulation without a proper introduction to it, they are often confused. If used at too low of a level, they will ignore it, and if used at too high of a level, they will often try to run to escape it or even associate the discomfort with a nearby object. This is exactly the OPPOSITE of what we want them to do when training for off-leash reliability!

The first thing I tell people is that the label of "shock collar" isn't accurate. I prefer to call them Remote Training Collars because the best, modern electronic training collars are designed to be used at low levels and as a way to communicate with your dog when he/she is off-leash. Modern remote training collars are NOT designed to be introduced in a sharp, traumatic, or intimidating way. When my clients feel the stimulation of the collar in their own hand, they often describe it as a "tickle," "tingle," or "tap," at levels much higher than we would ever use with their dog. With proper training, these collars can be used to improve off-leash reliability and communication with even the most stubborn or most sensitive of dogs!

I also describe to people the training process required to teach the dog how to respond to the stimulation from the remote training collar. A dog MUST be properly shown how to respond to the collar for the best off-leash training results. This is a process that should be done under the guidance of a professional trainer experienced in remote collar training. The collar should only be used at VERY LOW LEVELS during this training process. We also use treats or other rewards during training to motivate the dog to follow the commands we give. This method accelerates the dog's understanding of commands and ensures that he/she will respond better to commands, even when the rewards are not present.

If introduced to your dog the right way, the modern remote training collar can improve your relationship with your dog and assist in solving a number of difficult behavior problems. It can also give your dog freedom to run and play in a way that you never thought possible.

***Check out our videos page on our website for examples of dogs in training with remote training collars***

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