The Good, Bad, and Ugly of the E-Collar. Part 1.


One could argue that the electronic collar has helped train retrievers more effectively and humanely than any other training aid. One could also say it has ruined more retrievers then any other training aid.

In the next two blogs, I will go into depth regarding the good, bad, and ugly about electronic collars as well as give some suggestions on how to use it correctly. I will also go over things to consider when purchasing an electronic collar.

An electronic collar can be thought of as an insurance policy or even a hearing aid. When used correctly, your dog will be corrected the instant it chooses to disobey, therefore greatly increasing the understanding of the correction and why. A correction timed closely to an offense helps the dog make the connection and associate the correction to the offense.

The Bad

Many people think of the collar as an all-in-one training tool or a quick-fix solution for behavior issues. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. If a dog misbehaves and you then strap a collar on them and give a correction, that is cruel and unfair.

The Ugly

A collar in the wrong hands can ruin a dog. It can take a happy confident dog and turn them into a shaking scared dog constantly wondering when they will be corrected. Kids should not be allowed to use electronic collars unless they are mature enough to know its purpose and responsible enough to use restraint. Teaching with an electronic collar requires understanding, patience, and correct timing.

The Good

As mentioned, when used correctly, a dog trained with and electronic collar will thrive and become better adjusted mentally.

Using the electronic collar correctly

First, I suggest you have your dog wear the collar during training for several weeks with no stimulation or correction. Companies sell “dummy collars” which are collars that are inactive and incapable of giving a shock. I prefer to use a working collar, but just have it turned off so there is no way you can correct the dog with it.

Start by putting the inactive collar on your dog every time you take them for a walk, train them or let them outside. It won’t be long before they will be anxious to get the collar on because they will associate it with fun.

At Otter Tail Kennels, starting at day-one of training, the retrievers have an electronic collar put on them. It is enjoyable to watch them jump out of the dog truck and come up to me and immediately sit, waiting with expectant eyes for the collar to be put on them. They know that once it is on the fun begins!

In the next blog I will talk about how to use the electronic collar correctly and give some suggestions on what to look for when purchasing one.

Until next time happy retrieving.

Steve Smith