How To Introduce Your Dog to An E-Collar

I personally think that the e-collar is single-handedly like the best dog training tool that has come out. A lot of the advancements that we have now with the e-collar like the gps trackers, vibrate modes, and tone modes, we can create Pavillonian effects and it has really given us more options and versatility when it comes to training a dog off-leash.

I created this dog training video so you could watch me during the first e-collar training session with a dog I have never worked with before. If you are interested in training your dog off-leash with an e-collar, this is a great place to start!

How to Properly Put On an E-Collar

The first step in teaching your dog how to respond to an e-collar is to make sure it is on correctly. You want to make sure the prongs on the e-collar are touching your dog’s skin. If it is too loose, your dog will move a certain way and the contact points would not connect. You also don’t want the collar too tight where it can become uncomfortable to the dog. When fitted correctly, the e-collar should be able to be worn for multiple hours and be completely fine. 

Introducing the E-Collar

Ideally you’d want the dog to know almost all the commands really really well before you teach him the e-collar. This means your dog should be able to sit, stay, heel, and place without being bribed with food. The dog on the video is kind of on the verge, but that is OK because we can still play with it a bit.

This particular e-collar has 100 levels. Humans don’t even feel it until about 20 something on
our wrists. We usually train dogs on levels between a 4 and a 7. What an e-collar does is allow you to communicate with a dog off-leash. Basically it is a new form of communication and you have to layer it into your training properly. If you don’t the dog will either hate the e-collar.

To train a dog correctly to the e-collar you want to associate your verbal commands, which your dog should already know, with the association or stimulation of the e-collar. So every time I ask her to do something I am going to be tapping the e-collar. If I ask her to sit, I tap the e-collar until she sits, then I shut it off. This way it becomes a form of escape training. What that means is the dog is escaping the pressure through compliance.

It is important when training your dog to the e-collar to always hit the button when asking for a command. So many owners will come and tell me, “but I didn’t have to use the collar to get the response.” But really you want to use it. The more you use it the better your dog will understand what the collar means. It is like learning a new language. If you keep reverting back to English, you will never learn the new language.

Differences Between E-Collars and Shock Collars

Unfortunately a lot of people are stuck in the past and are ignorant about training tools and the progressional stuff with dogs. They will look at an e-collar and say “shock collars are inhumane”, and I would agree with them, but that is absolutely not what we are using here. It is important to know the difference. There is a significant difference between an e-collar and a shock collar. A shock collar has only a few levels- ouch, oucher, and ouchest. E-collars have a spectrum of 0 to 100 or 130, depending on which e-collar you are using. Humans don’t feel an e-collar on their face until about 11. We train dogs on a 4 or 5. 

Could an e-collar be harmful? Sure it could be, the e-collar was in the wrong hands and turned all the way up, but that is like saying a chair could be a weapon or you can sit in it. The e-collar, like a chair, is a tool and will only cause harm if you make it. 

Teaching a Dog to Recall Using an E-Collar

An e-collar is a great tool, allowing you to get your dog’s attention without a leash. It is very useful  in many applications. For instance, say you see oncoming traffic, and you want to recall your dog back to you and safety. It is also useful if you hike with your dog. Say your dog spots a deer and starts running after it, with the e-collar you can get their attention and recall them back to you before they get lost. 

To teach a dog recall using the e-collar you want to start them on a longline. You turn them loose then when you say come, hit the button. When the dog looks at you, you give them a reward. Give them all the positive reinforcement so that they know that when they turn and look and come to you, this annoying thing shuts off. It is a very beautiful, non aversive concept. 

To keep things positive it is important to not overdue the training too much. When you get a few good responses, quit on that positive note and pick up where you left off another day. You don’t want to try and drill the dog to the point where they get tired and confused or  annoyed. Keep it fun and positive. 

E-Collar Training

I hope you have found this video helpful. If you liked it, be sure to like the video, and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more dog training tips. If you are interested in working with a professional to develop good off-leash habits with your dog, we are more than happy to help! We offer off-leash training at our facility in Clifton Park, NY or you can book an online training session with me.