Shock collars for dog training



Shock collars are valuable dog training tools that can help a dog or even save her life in certain situations.

I fostered a Pomeranian mix named Elli who was terrified of being alone in the car. Whenever I opened or closed a car door she would go into a complete panic attack and bark, scream and pant.

I spent hours and hours using positive reinforcement dog training techniques to help Elli with no success.

Every day I put her in the car and practiced hundreds of repetitions of opening and closing the car door, getting into and out of the car and leaving her in the car for a few seconds. I provided her with a secure kennel to ride in and loaded it with all kinds of goodies. I remained as calm as possible.

We made no progress.

One way to stop a dog from barking in the car is to completely ignore her until she is quiet, but this only works if you are dealing with a dog with low or mild anxiety.

Elli was an extreme case and was never able to quiet down for even a second. If I got out anyway and ignored her, she would bark until I returned. I tried standing with my back to the car for a half-hour. I tried walking out of sight but where I could still hear her. Her barking always escalated the longer I was away because she was in a panicked state of mind.

To keep putting her through this kind of stress was starting to seem abusive.

Elli’s case is one example where a shock collar (also called an e-collar) can be an effective dog training tool to teach the dog self-control. I never actually used one with her because she was adopted before I asked the rescue if this would be OK.

I was worried about little Elli and her frantic anxiety and wanted a second opinion from someone I trusted. My friend Ty Brown who offers dog training in Salt Lake City summed it up nicely when he said that dogs need to learn the skill of “turning off the switch.”

If there is no outside pressure on the dog to change her behavior, there is no need for her to grow as an individual and develop self-control, Ty said. Dogs usually aren’t creative enough to think of behaviors to make themselves feel better other than the ones they are currently doing.

“Few individuals ever gain self-control without an outside and compelling force that inspires them to action,” he said. “Pressure and stress are often viewed as four letter words but in reality they are essential to growth.”

Reasons to use a dog shock collar

Shock collars are not the answer to every dog behavior issue. If a dog is getting too many corrections for all kinds of different behaviors, she could easily become confused, stressed or scared. Just like a choke or prong collar, the shock collar must be used properly.

Using a shock collar is actually very similar to using a clicker for training because the vibration must be given at the precise moment the dog does the behavior. They are great for teaching a dog physical boundaries or to stop jumping or barking.

Here are just a few reasons to use a shock collar for dog training:

1. Being ignored is usually not enough motivation for the dog to stop a behavior.

Elli was just one example of a dog that needed some outside pressure in order to change her behavior. She was an extreme case, but I see less intense examples all the time where the dog keeps on jumping or barking simply because she’s having fun! Who cares if her person ignores her, she’ll just keep on barking because barking itself is a reward!

2. Shock collars correct the dog at the exact moment she does the behavior.

Dogs need to be corrected the instant they are doing the unwanted behavior. There is no quicker or clearer way to correct a dog then to push on a button triggering a vibration. Shock collars allow you to correct the dog as she is barking or crying or jumping. “Leash pops” are not always effective if the handler has the timing or the intensity off.

3. Shock collars help a dog understand physical boundaries.

Because I used a shock collar to teach my mutt Ace the boundaries of my parents’ large yard, he now gets to have full range on their property every time we visit. I spent under 30 minutes teaching him where the boundaries were and in three years he has received two vibrations. I now trust him 100 percent to stay in the yard no matter what, even without the shock collar. My dog will not even chase a tennis ball across “the line.”

4. Shock collars speed up the training process.

It is very possible to train a dog to walk on a loose leash or to stop jumping or barking without a shock collar, but a shock collar speeds up the process. Some people spend the dog’s entire lifetime trying to get her to walk on a loose leash by constantly pulling back or stopping every time she pulls. Usually after 10 years the dog still pulls.

I could’ve spent months teaching Ace to “get back” when he got to the edge of the property through repetitions and rewards. But in reality I don’t have that kind of time, and I would’ve never trusted him 100 percent without the shock collar.

5. Shock collars allow the dog to experience more.

Some dogs would never get to run off leash if it weren’t for the freedom given to them by the shock collar. There is a reason so many hunters use them for their sporting breeds. It would be unfortunate if a dog had to spend her life behind a fence or on a long rope simply because her owner thought a shock collar was inhumane. Think of it as learning to ride a bike. The kid is going to fall and scrape her knees once or twice, but after that she gets to experience more freedom and adventures.

6. Shock collars allow you to correct the dog from a great distance.

When my dog is barking outside and I am inside, there is no way for me to properly correct him without a shock collar. Sure, I could stand outside with him and verbally correct him or pop his collar every time he barks. I could also ignore the barking and give him food when he’s quiet. But in Ace’s case and for most dogs, this isn’t enough motivation to stop barking.

When not to use a shock collar

1. The collar should never be used as a punishment.

Think of the vibrations as instant corrections, not punishments. If your dog gets into the garbage while you are at work, it is too late to correct him when you get home. The dog must be corrected as he is getting into the garbage. The same concept applies with delivering corrections with a shock collar.

2. Never use a shock collar when you are angry.

Someone who has a short temper shouldn’t use a shock collar. If you are upset with your dog because she doesn’t understand something, stop the training session and think about how you can be more clear.

3. Do not use the shock collar with a highly sensitive dog.

Dogs that are very shy, skittish or easily freaked out by loud noises and new things will do better with positive reinforcement and desensitization.

Different kinds of e-collars for dogs

Elsie the golden retriever and Ace the black lab mix

1. Citronella collars

Citronella collars are anti-bark collars designed to spray an unpleasant blast of citronella into the dog’s face every time she barks. These kinds of collars are often used to teach a dog to stop barking. I’m not a big fan of these collars because I like to be able to have full control of when my dog gets corrections. Sometimes it’s OK for him to bark. I also don’t want him to get a correction if another dog near him barks. Another problem with these collars is that the spray needs to be refilled after about two hours or they don’t work. Dogs are smart enough to work around this.

2. Anti-bark collars

Some anti-bark collars come with a remote, but most vibrate when triggered by the dog’s barking. This isn’t so bad if you have one dog and want to train him to stop barking in his kennel. But I would be leery of these collars if you have multiple dogs or if you want to use the collar for training in situations where another dog or noise could trigger the collar.

3. Remote collars

Remote collars are my favorite because the remote gives me full control of when to correct my dog. I am able to set the vibration to the setting I want, and I can give my dog a verbal command first. The remote allows me to correct him at the exact moment necessary by pushing on a button. I don’t have to worry about my dog getting unnecessary corrections from out of nowhere.

Do you use a shock collar for training your dog? Why or why not?

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  1. Dawn on May 26, 2010

    Elli is definitely an extreme case. I don’t use shock collars on my dogs because I don’t need to. However, I can understand that if every other method of training doesn’t work, then try the shock collar… but only AFTER all other methods have been exhaused.

    Sometimes, compulsion training, such as a shock collar, can cause more stress, which can, in turn, lead to more anxiety and possibly even agression. So if you choose to use a shock collar, be sure to monitor your dog closely for signs of stress (excessive panting, eyes dialated, whining, trembling, cowering). If you see signs of stress, stop immediately. Lower the shock level and/or reduce the amount of time spent in training. And be sure to continue to include positive reinforcement for good behavior in your training with the shock collar.

  2. Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 26, 2010

    Thanks Dawn. Good point on the compulsion training. It’s easy to become obsessive and expect perfection from the dog no matter what training method or training tools you are using. This is only going to make the dog stressed and apprehensive about learning new things for fear of failing. Sounds stressful on the owner as well. Dogs are never going to be perfect!

  3. Amanda Steiner on May 26, 2010

    I am impressed that you posted this Lindsay, shock collars are very controversial among dog lovers! I bought one for my dog for 2 reasons 1) At the dog park, he would fence fight with other dogs and I could never stop him 2) When off leash he would run up to other dogs, no matter what. My friends and family could not get over the fact that I bought a shock collar for my dog! They think of me as a crazy animal lover, and before I owned my own dog I thought they were cruel punishment. Well…my opinions have changed! I do really want to stress that they aren’t a “fix all” tool, for instance, it has no effect on my dog’s excited whining in the car. I do really want to stress the importance of using it properly. I did a lot of research on the proper way to use shock collars before I got one, and if used right, it is just like a leash correction. I personally love how perfect the timing and intesity of the correction can be with it! The good news is, my dog no longer fence fights at the dog park or runs up to other dogs when off leash! I don’t put it on him as often as I used to, and now all he needs is the vibration to change his behavior. He even wags his tail and looks “happy” when I put it on because he knows we are going some where fun!

  4. Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 26, 2010

    Thanks, Amanda. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. It is a touchy subject. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I had no idea Eli used to fight along fences! As you know, I’m also a crazy animal lover and also a vegetarian (mostly because of the way the animals are treated) and my dog is completely spoiled. But I don’t see a shock collar as cruel as long as it is used properly. It is actually more humane than constantly pulling back on the leash with a choke or prong collar.

  5. Ty Brown on May 27, 2010

    Great post. I am a firm believer that the e-collar, when used correctly, is the most humane way to train a dog. That’s why I don’t use it as a last resort, I like to use it first. It’s a great communicator, incredibly humane when used on low levels, and makes the training process easier and quicker for the dog. This is all based, of course, on proper use of the tool.

    In my years of training dogs I’ve presented the e-collar to hundreds of dog owners. I’ve had them all feel it on themselves. And in my years of doing this I have had a total of 1 person feel the collar on the levels that I use for training and still not be comfortable with using it. In fact they said, “Wow, that’s almost nothing. Still, though, I don’t want to use it.” Other than that, Every single person has seen the merits and been comfortable using it with their dog.

    Dawn makes a good point in that it needs to be coupled with heavy motivation.

    I always tell people that it’s a great finesse tool but a horrible power tool.

  6. Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 27, 2010

    Thanks, Ty! It is a good idea for people to feel the collar on themselves so they understand it is not painful for the dog.

  7. Shay on May 30, 2010

    Good timing on your post. Here is another reason to use a shock collar that we’ve just realized:

    You can correct one dog among a group, without it affecting any other dog.

    We just adopted our second dog (yay!). He’s a good boy, and he does seem like the right fit for our family. However, he’s still learning the rules of our house & some of his habits are not tolerable, whether he previously was allowed to do them or he’s simply testing the boundaries at a new place. He does listen to sharp verbal corrections. He’s responding positively and then getting praised for the good behavior after.

    However, the constant stream of “No,” “Off,” and “Hey,” which don’t distress him ARE stressing out our resident dog (who is a model canine citizen). For the most part, she seems to get that she’s not the one being corrected, even though we take care not to use the dog’s name when correcting him. Nonetheless, she’s been more anxious about his misbehavior and has been over the top in trying to please us in the meantime.

    I don’t think it’s going to take him very long to learn our rules in the grand scheme of things. With consistent reinforcements of the right kind (positive and negative), he’ll get it. He is food-motivated and he wants to please. But there is only so long we can keep stressing her out about it, and we see the shock collar as a decent solution to getting everyone settled together as smoothly as possible.

  8. Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 30, 2010

    That is a great point that I would’ve never thought of! I’m so happy to hear you adopted a second dog. Keep up the good work!

  9. Marcus on June 1, 2010

    It doesn’t sound like this collar is a bad thing for the dogs. But chock collars are illegal in Some countries. Is there a reason for this?

  10. Lindsay Stordahl Author on June 1, 2010

    Shock collars, choke collars and prong collars are illegal in many countries because people misunderstand the purpose of these collars and misuse them. You can abuse a dog with any kind of collar.

  11. Mo on June 2, 2010

    Hi there… I read your blog and find it very interesting. I use a shock and vibration collar on my English Shepherd who needs to run roughly 20 miles a day. He’s very scent-oriented. The training grounds I take him to run off-leash at are huge but are surrounded by large roads. A few dogs have gotten killed running after coyotes and into the street.

    My choices are limited. I can keep my pup on a leash during coyote season, walk him elsewhere on a leash, or use a remote collar to “snap him out of” his little coyote-induced moment of crazy.

    By now, he’s well-trained enough that all I ever need to use is the vibration unless he becomes extremely stimulated. At that moment, I really believe he feels way less, because I have to turn up the stim to a level I don’t really feel comfortable with. Hardly seems to bother him, though!

    I’d rather walk 5 miles a day with the dog running laps around me on a zap collar than trying to adequately leash-exercise a young herding breed dog.

    I have also found that many dogs train with very good recall on a vibration-only collar. I trained two dogs that way and both return even without the collars (unless coyotes are present :)

    Good blog!

    • Karin on July 6, 2012

      I am amazed you could use a shock collar on an English Shepherd, because I had one who was very sensitive and the other ones I’ve know were sensitive. Mine obeyed me even breaking midstride when chasing dogs though I doubt she’d have stopped when chasing a squirrel, so I get the coyote drive:) Glad it worked!

      • Vic on December 11, 2012

        Another good way to wear down your dog would be to take a true pack walk. Mental stimulation is much more tiring than physical and it leaves your dog with a more peaceful state of mind. This is not a hate on shock collars, I have one for my lab and love it. Just another suggestion to get your dog to a happier place with less pent up energy. Watch videos of Cesar Milan to see how to do a pack walk.

  12. Lindsay Stordahl Author on June 4, 2010

    Great points, Mo. I don’t think the shock collar should be a substitute for training a dog to walk properly on the leash, but I do think it is a good tool to use in addition to leash training so the dog can get more exercise as you are doing. If my dog didn’t have such a great desire to stay close by, I would definitely be using an e-collar with him for the same reason. It’s important for dogs to get some good off-leash exercise. Especially a herding dog!

  13. Apryl on June 5, 2010

    I would not use one because of the “sensitive dog” reason. Gus is really emotional, has been through at least five families before I got him, and survived a major natural disaster as a puppy. Call me a big baby that spoils my dog but so be it!

    That said, I have been around dogs that had these and they still seemed like very happy, well-adjusted doggies.

  14. Lindsay Stordahl Author on June 5, 2010

    The e-collars are definitely not for every dog. I’m glad Gus has an owner who knows what’s best for him considering his background and personality.

  15. Canine Critic Blog on June 20, 2010

    I agree the shock collars are great but in the wrong hands are dangerous to a dog and can make behavior worse. Remember don’t use remote trainers for boundaries in your yard it won’t work.

  16. Lindsay Stordahl Author on June 20, 2010

    I disagree. Remote e-collars can work really well for teaching the boundaries of a yard. “Invisible” fences work, too, with the same concept.

    Of course, any collar can be dangerous when use incorrectly.

  17. Natalie Perzylo on June 29, 2010

    Can I suggest that you use TTouch with your dog before you start using another method that is on the side of punishment.

    I have used TTouch on numerous dogs, and the difference it makes is phenomenal. When you see it working, you are quite amazed at how simple, but how effective it is.

    I would have used a Thundershirt with your Pomeranian mix named Elli. Then I would have used TTouch around the mouth, and the tail… then you would have seen a difference. I don’t quite know how shocking an already stress out dog would help, but I do know that massage therapy is connect with your nervous system, and that is what you want to work with.

    http://www.ttouch.com Go for a weekend workshop. See what you can learn. Just do it. Money very well spent.

  18. Natalie Perzylo on June 29, 2010

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand why you wanted to try a shock collar on your Pomeranian mix named Elli, especially since you said the following statement:

    3. Do not use the shock collar with a highly sensitive dog.

    Dogs that are very shy, skittish or easily freaked out by loud noises and new things will do better with positive reinforcement and desensitization.

  19. Lindsay Stordahl Author on June 29, 2010

    Thanks for your comments and suggestions. I believe I explained it well in my post why a shock collar would be necessary to help Elli. I do agree with you that massage therapy can be very beneficial.

  20. Lejla on October 18, 2010

    I agree that shock collar can be good training tool and we have seen some new models that are greatly improved when it comes to the level of correction.

    However, I prefer citronella collars and they also have some models such as Spray Commander that can be activated remotely and based on some studies it seems that they are even more effective.

    No matter what training collar we use IMO the best results are achieved if combined with positive training methods and rewarding for good behaviors

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 18, 2010

      I agree. Positive training methods must be used in addition to an e-collar. I’m glad you pointed out that whether you are using a “shock” collar or a citronella collar, a remote is a good idea so that you can control the correction.

  21. Sara on May 2, 2011

    Well I’m not for shock collars in general for the main reason that too many people do not train themselves how to use them properly and abuse their proper application, hence being illegal in many countries. Fortunately, I have never with any of my dogs had to resort to shock collars, prong or pinch. They all can be lethal in the hands of angry people and become weapons of abuse to dogs. A shame about Elli. I will make a point of finding out more about Ttouch, as I have not heard of this.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 2, 2011

      Thanks for your comment. Any dog training tool can become abusive. I’ve seen a dog with a too-tight Gentle Leader that eventually cut into the dog’s skin, for example. Each tool must be used properly.

  22. Gyorgia on June 15, 2011

    I would agree with the others that the citronella collar is the way to go. I spent a year studying learning and memory and the sense of smell is very powerful when it comes to forming an association.

  23. Lindsay Stordahl Author on June 15, 2011

    I would maybe use one for getting a dog to quiet down in a kennel, but that’s about it.

  24. Jessi on July 19, 2011

    I absolutely agree with {almost} everything in the post and comments. I have a great dane who knows all of the important commands; stay, come, sit, no etc… But when he was about 1 we moved and the dog next door was allowed to run the neighborhood. Canon, my dane, ran into the road a few times chasing him and came so close to getting hit by a car! I was terrified! We got an e collar, worked with the stay command with it, and positive training, He hasn’t ran in the road since. It worked wonders. I also have a boxer pit mix that is an amazingly well behaved boy, the e collar isn’t needed for him but when the kids walk him he has a tendancy to pull, or chace cats, so we use a pincer collar. All of my kids can walk the dogs and that’s the point of having family dogs. The whole family needs to feel safe walking them. I researched how to use the e collar and the couple times a week it gets put on him, I rarely have to actually “shock” him. The beep is almost always enough. That all being said, I’m being taken to court because the people across the street call these methods “cruel” and got animal control involved. These are both legal in my count, as far as I know, I’m still looking for some kind of law. They are both sold here. I’m furious at being taken to court for animal cruelty. It’s incredibly offensive. I LOVE my dogs and spoil them rotten. My dane gets to go on “doggy dates” with me! They are also well trained because they are big and powerful and they have to be safe and well balanced with 4 kids around. Thanks for letting me vent and write a novel!

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on July 19, 2011

      It’s too bad when people waste their time going after loving dog owners like you just because they have a different opinion than you do on training. There are a lot of dogs out there that really are suffering. It’s a shame the time isn’t being spent to help those dogs.

  25. Jessi on July 20, 2011

    I agree. I mentioned that to her and she didn’t seem to be bothered by it at all. Court is Next wed so we’ll see…

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on July 20, 2011

      I can’t believe the court is wasting time on this … sorry you have to deal with that!

  26. SusanK on September 12, 2011

    Lindsay, I am curious if you’ve ever tried the shock collar on yourself to see what it felt like?

  27. Lindsay Stordahl Author on September 12, 2011

    No. I haven’t.

  28. Jessi on October 3, 2011

    I have tried the shock collar on myself. 3 of my kids were curious to see what it felt like and tried it too. I’ve gone up to 5 and I rarely go over 2 on the dog. It’s generally on 1.

    Anyhow, I just wanted to update {and vent} since my last comment! I turned down a no contest plea and I’m going to a jury trial! It’s such a mess and I “could” lose my dog, spend 3 months in jail and pay a $2000 fine. They have NO PROOF or EVIDENCE! Because It never happened. I’m hoping when the judge sees it, it will get dismissed. My baby is so loved and spoiled and it’s so devastating having to go through this. :( Thanks for listening!

  29. Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 3, 2011

    Well let’s hope the people on the jury have some commonsense and you should be fine. You haven’t done anything illegal. If you are being charged for animal “cruelty,” then I guess I should also be charged since I also use pinch collars and e-collars.

  30. Kelly on October 31, 2011

    I’ve never used a shock collar and am not that thrilled by the idea but my dog likes to run off and have adventures. She thinks it’s a fun game of chase. She absolutely cannot be trusted off leash and we have to be very careful near doors. She’s pretty well trained other than this and if we tell her to stay she’s pretty good about it. She runs when you aren’t paying attention. I want her to have more freedom and be able to be off leash. I want her to be safe and running off definitely isn’t. You said shock collars are good for establishing physical boundaries, what is the best way to do this with a shock collar?

  31. Lindsay Stordahl Author on November 1, 2011

    It depends on your goal. Do you want your dog to come when called? Or do you want your dog to stay within certain boundaries of your yard?

    Does your dog know what “come” means? Have you worked on this with a leash and treats and progressed to a rope? If not, I would do that, first. Make sure to reward her with her favorite treats. Never tell her to “come!” unless you can reinforce it. And never give the “come!” command more than once. Make her obey after the first command. Here are my tips for teaching a dog to come when called: http://www.thatmutt.com/2008/05/09/10-ways-to-get-your-dog-to-come-when-called/

    If you have been working on the above, and she still won’t come, you can use the shock collar to correct her when she does not come. You would still want to keep her on a rope when you are first teaching this. Give a single “come!” command. Reward her with treats and praise if she comes. NEVER correct her while she is running to you or after she approaches you, even if you are upset with her for not coming to you fast enough. If she does not come, then instantly give a correction, and then “reel” her in. Give her tons and tons of praise and treats for coming, even if you had to give her a correction first. Coming to you should always be a positive experience. Start with mild distractions of course and progress from there.

    If you are trying to teach the boundaries of your yard, then you would teach her to stay in the yard as though you have one of those invisible electronic fences. Put up something to mark the boundaries such as flags or a rope. Put her on a leash. Walk up to the boundaries with her and when you are a few feet from the boundaries, give a warning beep with the collar (not a correction), tell her “get back!” and then take her a few steps back and praise and treat. Walk along the boundaries and do this several times until she seems to get the hang of it. Then, unfortunately, to get the dog to fully understand, she is going to have to experience a correction. Don’t try to force her to walk to the boundary, but if she does, give an actual correction, say “get back!” and give her lots of praise. Usually it only takes one correction for the dog to understand as long as there is a visible boundary like white flags. After a few weeks, you can start removing some of the flags and eventually remove all the flags.

  32. fewtrell on November 5, 2011

    hi there would the shock collar be suitable for stopping a dog running onto the road?

    thanks x
    :)

  33. Lindsay Stordahl Author on November 5, 2011

    Yes. My comment directly above yours has some tips for teaching a dog to come when called and also for teaching physical boundaries.

  34. Sarah on January 9, 2012

    Thank for putting something POSITIVE about the collars up. I have a dog who enjoys walking himself after he climbs the fence. When I started looking for a collar…. wow! I’ve been called every name in the book and accused of everything including animal cruelty.

    My situation is my dog has no sense of where the boundaries are and he’ll CLIMB the 6 ft fence to escape. Then once he’s out, his nose takes over and there is just no stopping him. Last night he was almost hit by a Mini Van and I can’t have that happening. Its a hard situation when you have to make a choice to use something that most people don’t understand and constantly get hounded by those uneducated people or to let the dog get hit by a car. I personally see there being no choice, but most people seem to think you are doing something wrong when you resort to a Collar.

    The biggest issue is, most people seem to see these collars as the older ones that could cause BURNS to the dog, not to current ones on the market. I personally have used every tool I use on my dogs on myself first, and I can say those collars get your attention, but they don’t hurt. Same as Pinch or Prong Collars, used properly they put a stop to being drug down the street.

    My 13 month old Cyote Shepherd is a good boy, but bad for trying to do the walking. Its a great tool and it works well. For my other dog though, I need to correct him at a distance. HE KNOWS IF HE’S WEARING A ROPE, so that is no good for when he takes off.

    Its good to see someone who knows what they are doing and has posted it for the world to see. Enough is enough, my dog won’t be getting hit because no one can train him to stay in the yard. We’ve gone through 10 trainers, offering them a grand each if they can stop him from taking off, not one succeeded. The Collar is our last resort and best friend. Thanks again.

    Sarah

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on January 9, 2012

      People are quick to judge about “shock” collars without knowing how they work. I’m glad you’ve found something that will keep your dog safe. Thanks for your comment.

  35. Tara on January 20, 2012

    My situation is with my Lab x – Albie. He is a great dog at home, but when we take him out, to the beach for example and let him off the leash, he will run back to the car. We’ve tried different areas e.g parks or someone elses house, and he will plead tempory deafness and return to the car.

    I’ve recently been in contact with his previous owner, and they have said that on a walk across the paddock surrounding the house, he would always get half way across – then run home.

    Would an e-collar help this? I want to be able to take him out and have him around me without a leash, but at this stage, its too dangerous to do, as running back to the car in on the road is dangerous as he could be hit!

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on January 20, 2012

      No I don’t think an e-collar is a good idea in this situation. It sounds like your dog is insecure and just wants to be back in the car where he is “safe.” I don’t think he should be off leash. Instead, work on building his confidence and doing fun things in new situations. The correction from the e-collar will just make him want to go to the car even more or if you correct him for going to the actual car, then he might bolt elsewhere. Try a long rope (20 or 30 feet or more) and use that to keep him within range. Try to keep his attention with highly valued treats like pieces of real meat.

  36. Kev on March 14, 2012

    I always thought shock collars were inhumane. My dog, however, tends to chase cars and can never be called back. Then when he comes i struggle so hard to not get mad because hey! He came back! So that actually makes me happy. Im just having quite the hard time trying to train him to not chase the cars, for his safety! He also like to pounce on children (in a playful way….he would never bite or attack) but that can be terrifying for someone. I jus tpurchased a remote shock collar to teach him boundaries and to “stick with us” when we are at parks etc. I hope Im right about this. Does anyone have advice, I rather like this article on shock collars.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on March 24, 2012

      When you are first training him with the e-collar, I would also keep him on a long rope so you have more control. That way you can “reel him in” if he is chasing something and does not respond to the e-collar correction.

      Also remember to reward with treats when he does the behavior you want.

  37. Shaun Koblum on June 2, 2012

    Excellent article

    Like many here, I tried many different methods for training. I was reluctant to use a shock collar. We have very large yard appox. 6 acres with very well defined borders not a fence but easy to see where the edge is. We tried countless methods of trying to train our dogs (weimaraner and beagle) to stay in their yard but the second either could get a chance they would run and not recall so they were relegated to life in a kennel if they wanted to be outside even when we were out because we could not trust them. This spring our beagle got loose and ran away, wolves killed her. The shock collar decision was made and we got one for the weimaraner before we lost another beloved family pet. It took 2 shocks and a walk around the edge of the property and that was it, we now have a dog that can be outside with us, that can run free in her yard and is safe. If used properly they can be an effective training tool that protects your dog from danger.

  38. Karin on July 6, 2012

    I am coming into this conversation late, but wow what a help this has been! Thank you for posting.

    I have been struggling with some, I guess it’s called fence fighting. I have a corner lot in a suburban neighborhood where everybody and their grandmothers have one to three dogs. I fenced the yard when I first moved here and had little dogs that were not at all interested in what happened outside the fence. Since then I have gotten a cocker spaniel who consistently chases people who are walking dogs down the side walks. I have worked really hard with positive methods and actually he will no longer go after people who are walking without dogs (he used to chase and bark at them too). He comes and stands near me and watches them quietly and get rewarded now and again. But come a dog walker and the whole thing falls apart. If he is really wound up I run up and hold him physically away from the fence. A couple of weeks ago I rescued a dachshund mix. He has been a real good learner for basic commands, but not only joins the Cocker in chasing and attacking at the fence, he also chases and pins my cats in the house. The use of a lead has not stopped him when he is off lead.

    So. Do you think using an e-collar would be appropriate for these dogs. I have one that is 10 years old that works on two dogs. I have tried it and it feels sort of like a tingly bug bite at level 2. How do I let the dogs know what the expected behavior is when I want them to stop chasing at the fence or chasing my cats? I can see that they would startle at the correction, but then what?

  39. Brian on July 8, 2012

    I just adopted a 9 mos. belgian malinois X from our local shelter, although he seems to be somewhat trained, but is very stubborn, often he will not respond to my 1st, 2nd and sometimes 3rd command, he barks while in the yard when the neighbors are out and also he will bark when no one is out for no apparent reason at all. I purchased a barking collar and it works great. For training purposes I was considering a e collar to help with training.

  40. Ryan on July 20, 2012

    While it is true that aversive techniques such as shock collars, prong collars, and choke collars can work in some situations, the reality is that the vast majority of owners and trainers do not have the skill or the timing to use them effectively. If they are just for training, when is training over?

    If you look at science based behaviorists (Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell, Sophia Yin) you will see that they are all against the use of these collars and in fact think that they are inhumane. In the case of Elli, perhaps trying medication would have been a better alternative to a shock collar. Since dogs learn by association, you may have stopped the barking but not really changed the underlying cause–further increasing Elli’s anxiety at being left alone in the car (I don’t know where you live but there is a ton of information out there about how quickly cars can heat up and cause serious injury to dogs left inside even with the windows cracked). It may seem like you have fixed the problem, but Elli may be experiencing what is known as learned helplessness, which is really a sad state for a dog to live in.

    I applaud your devotion to dogs and rescue organizations, but I also encourage you to read what PhD Behaviorists have written about these collars and reconsider your use of them. This column explains the science behind the shock collar and how it actually ends up making things worse rather than better: http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/simply-wrong

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