The Good, Bad, and Ugly of the E-Collar. Part 2

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In part one we covered the good, bad, and ugly areas of the electronic collar as well as an introduction into using the electronic collar correctly. Today I will go more in depth on how to use the electronic collar.

Remember, as previously discussed, you want your retriever wearing the e-collar as much as possible. You want them to be excited to get the collar on, so associate it with good things like going for a walk, going outside to play, etc.

We do not want the dog to become collar-wise. A collar-wise dog will only listen and obey when the collar is on and/or they are timid and frightened when wearing the collar. This happens when the collar is not introduced properly or is only used to discipline after an offense (i.e. your dog disobeys so you grab the collar and strap it on and use it to discipline).

When you begin using an e-collar you should start with the lowest setting possible and work up from there. Some dogs will respond to Level 1 while others may take a 4 or 5. Each dog is different.

The key to using an e-collar correctly is teaching the command first, without using the e-collar. The e-collar should never be the first form of pressure.

Use this type of progression:

  • teach dog SIT by pushing down on their behind and pulling up on the lead,

  • move to more pressure using a healing stick and tapping them on the behind if they don’t SIT on command.

  • Once the dog understands the command and pressure, then, and only then, can you move to using the e-collar for enforcement.

All commands should be taught and enforced with manual pressure (i.e your hand or lead) before moving to enforcement with the e-collar. I cannot stress this point enough.

There are many articles, videos, and DVDs covering the topic of using the electronic collar. One that is aimed specifically at retrievers is Mike Lardy’s E-Collar Conditioning DVD and manual. You can find some snippets on YouTube.

Next week we will discuss the ins and outs of buying an electronic collar.

Until next time happy retrieving.

Steve Smith