Electronic Collars

Electronic Collars have become more popular in recent years. There is a stigma that is attached to them because of problems with some of the original models and concerns about shocks. However, improved features and new versions have led to safer and more effective collars.

The Basics

Electronic Collars come in a number of styles, however they all correct a dog’s behavior through some sort of electronically administered stimulus. The main types of electronic collars are Shock Collars, Citronella Collars, and Ultrasonic Collars.

* Some trainers have advocated against the use of Electric Collars because of a potential for injury to dogs. Some do not recommend the use of shock collars specifically, because the shock can be painful. However, other trainers still recommend their use and contend that when used safely and correctly, they can be a valuable teaching tool. These collars should never be used as a substitute for actual training and are merely a tool to supplement the work you do with your dog. The decision on whether or not to use this particular collar will ultimately come down to you, the owner, but it is important to consider the potential safety concerns when deciding how to train your dog and what equipment you will need.

Shock Collars

Shock collars are the original electronic training collar. They correct a dog’s behavior by administering a small unpleasant electric shock to the dog. The shock can be administered in two ways. One version of the shock collar automatically shocks a dog in order to stop him or her from barking. Another type of shock collar, is the remote-training collar. These collars have a remote transmitter from which the owner can administer a shock to the dog in order to correct his or her behavior from farther away.

* Shock Collars are also used as part of an invisible fence system. Dogs are shocked if they wander outside of the established perimeter. The shock is designed to teach the dog to stay in their yard and to prevent escape. Invisible fencing systems and shock collars allow dogs more freedom than a tie out.

While older versions of these collars were unreliable and had only one shock level, newer models have different settings and can be adjusted so that it is less painful and potentially damaging to a dog. Trainers who recommend the use of shock collars suggest using a collar that has a wide range of settings and then taking the time to find the right setting that will allow you to safely correct your dog’s behavior without causing injury.

Trainers agree that when using this type of collar, it is important to teach the dog how to avoid receiving a shock and which behaviors will prevent the shock from occurring. If you don’t teach your dog what will lead to shocks, they can become aggressive at what they perceive to be random shocks.

Pros

- Easy way to control a dog’s barking and prevent escape

Cons

- Shocks can be harmful and need to be set at the appropriate level for your dog

Citronella Collars

Citronella Collars are also used to correct a dog’s behavior, but instead of an electric shock, they automatically administer a spray of citronella when a dog barks. Dogs find the smell of citronella unpleasant and will learn to not bark in order to prevent the odor in the future. The Citronella collar is safer to use than the shock collar, as the smell is not harmful to the dog, it is merely unpleasant.

Pros

- Easy way to control a dog’s barking

- Safer and less harmful than the shock collar

Cons

- Some dogs are not bothered by the smell of Citronella

- Can worsen barking problem if barking is a result of anxiety

Ultrasonic Collars

Ultrasonic Collars work the same as the other electronic collars, however instead of a small electric shock or an unpleasant smell, they emit a high frequency sound. This sound is very high pitched and will startle the dog, but it is inaudible to the human ear. Ultrasonic Collars, like the Citronella Collar, are a safer alternative to the shock collar.

* Some versions also feature a positive sound which can be used to reinforce good behavior. This allows a trainer to both punish bad behavior and reinforce proper behavior.

There are two types of Ultrasonic Collars, an automatic version designed to stop a dog from barking and a remote activated version. The automatic versions are set to emit the high frequency sound when the dog begins barking. The sound will then annoy the dog and they were learn to not bark in order to avoid hearing the sound in the future. The remote-activated Ultrasonic trainer allows the owner to administer the high frequency sound to correct the dog’s behavior from a distance. When a dog misbehaves, the owner can choose to emit the sound in order to punish the dog. The dog will then learn to avoid that behavior in order to stop receiving the punishment.

Pros

- Easy way to control a dog’s barking

- Safer and less harmful than the shock collar

Cons

- Can worsen barking problem if barking is result of anxiety

Fitting the Collars

Electronic Collars are fitted and attached like the Buckle Collars. Measure the dogs neck and then add an inch for a good estimate of how long you will need. Make sure that you can fit two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck. The collar needs to fit tight enough so that it doesn’t slip off but also loose enough so the dog does not choke. Different versions have specific instructions for how the collar needs to be worn and so it is important to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer in order to ensure the safest use.

How they are Used

Electronic Collars are used as part of a behavior correction training method. The collar administers an unpleasant stimulus to the dog, either a shock, citronella smell, or sound, in order to correct the dog’s behavior. These collars work because the dog will avoid these incorrect behaviors in order to stop the annoying stimuli in the future.

They can work either automatically or can be remote activated. The automatic versions are used primarily to prevent barking while the remote activated versions are used in all sorts of training, especially training at long distances. There are also special remote training collars used for hunting and other more specialized types of training.

When to Use

These collars can be a useful tool when other training methods have failed. Some versions of electronic collars, shock, citronella, or ultra-sonic models, are made specifically to stop dogs from barking. They can be a valuable tool for an owner who has trouble controlling his or her dog’s constant barking. It is important to note that these collars should not be used if a dog’s constant barking is a result of an anxiety problem, these collars can intensify the barking and make the problem worse.

It is not recommended for new owners to use remote-shock training collars. It is important to have the right size collar, right shock level, and good timing in order to use the collar safely and effectively. With some inexperienced owners, there is a tendency to let the electronic collar work and try and rely on it to teach your dog. These collars should only be used to supplement the work you are already doing with your dog.

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