Introduction and Proper use of the Electric Training Collar:


The electronic collar is arguably the greatest tool a dog trainer can use. The electronic collar will be referred to in this article as the EC. The EC allows you to control your dog, with the proper training, anywhere anytime, and at great distances. Effective Collar ranges run from 200 yards to 1 mile. Which is really important, as a high percentage of places to train and hunt, border roads.
I use a beeper on my dog’s collar. It can be remotely turned off and on. I don’t like beepers, they annoy me. But when you are hunting in tall thick cover, they are necessary to keep track of your dog.
I haven’t been able to afford a GPS system yet. I would like to have one. Many times, I have been fooled by the wind and the beeping wasn’t coming from where I thought. Or the dog was too far away to hear the beeper.
Back to the subject of EC as a training tool. I put on a dummy EC on my pups when they are around four months of age. The pup wears the collar periodically for the next three months. Every day would be best for at least part of the day. Around seven months is when I start to collar condition the dog to a live EC.
Greta is a little over seven months old as I write this. She will be the subject dog since she is ready to be collar conditioned. I determined that she is ready, due to her maturity. And because she has no fear. The collar needs introduced for her safety at this point.

Collar Conditioning:

Tools needed are a portable kennel, an electronic training collar, and a check cord.
The live collar is put on the dog’s neck and the controller is set to the lowest level.  The proper way to place the collar on the neck is very high up, right behind the head. The collar needs to be tight enough to make good contact between the collar prongs and the skin on the neck. Then the nick button is pressed, and the dog is watched for a reaction.  It could be a perk of the ears or a twitch.  Move the level of stimulation up one level at a time until you can see a reaction.  Once you can get a small reaction stop moving the stimulation level up.   Dogs can really vary on how sensitive they are to the EC.  Female dogs tend to be less sensitive than the male dogs.

Now the dog needs to learn how to turn the stimulation off.   An easy and commonly used method is kenneling.  Apply the low-level stimulation with the constant button.  At the same time give the kennel command.  As soon as the dog enters the kennel remove the stimulus. If the dog balks at entering the kennel, shove it inside.  Make sure the dog is completely inside.   They only way this works is if the dog understands that entering the kennel turns off the stimulus.

Repeat several times, then take a break. Keep the time on the lesson short ten to fifteen minutes max. It depends on how quickly the dog catches on, as to how many lessons are needed. You know they get it when they run into the kennel. When they run into the kennel the dog is saying, I know it’s safe in here, and that tingling will go away. Once you turned off the EC after kennel entry, Never, ever hit you dog with the EC, while it is still inside the  kennel.  The kennel is its safe zone.  If it doesn’t want to come back out use the check cord to pull it out.

A couple of make sure lessons a day or two later and your pup should be ready to move on to a new lesson. They have to know compliance is the only way to make the stimulus go away. It is this fact once learned that will carry over to all sorts of training.

I once rescued a full-grown English Pointer approximately three years old from a shelter. He was not trained to do anything as far as I could tell. I could not get him to kennel. He fought hard but not aggressively to stay out of it. So, I put on the collar found his level of minimum stimulation and went up one-half level. After a few hard-fought pushes and the EC stimulation he was going right into the kennel. A few more lessons and kenneling was no longer a problem.

All future training with the EC should be at the minimum stimulation level for that particular dog. Just about everything that a dog can be trained to do can be made easier with an EC. The basic procedure for any training exercise using an EC goes like this. Give the command, immediately apply the stimulus, the dog obeys or you force compliance, immediately remove stimulus.

Conclusion: Once you are sure the dog knows what you have taught it, and it balks at compliance, then you can administer a correction stimulus.   Only use a correction stimulus when the dog has demonstrated a complete understanding of the task but refuses to comply with a given command.  This situation can occur for a variety of reasons.  One common reason is the dog has a certain number of times it will do a task but pass that number and it says: no way I’m not doing sit anymore.  Corrective stimulus is your counter; yes, you will sit one more time.   Corrections should be strong enough to get the dogs attention but not so strong as to make the dog cry in distress. My personal exception to the above rule is dangerous situations.   If the dog is chasing deer or some other animal or heading towards a road, I will use a very strong stimulus to break his concentration. The EC should be on the dog every time they go out to the field, do water exercises, retrieving, anything.   Routine use of the EC will prevent the dog from becoming collar wise.  Inconsistent use of the EC can cause a smart dog to get collar wise.  Collar wise being defined as a dog who complies when the collar is on, but not when the EC is off. If you are going to do hunt tests (where the dog cannot have an EC), then train with the EC to speed up the process.  Once the dog becomes so conditioned to routinely obeying your command stop using the stimulus but keep the collar on.    The EC becomes like a fire extinguisher at that point.   It’s there in case of emergencies.