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When to use a dog shock collar

5 uses for a dog shock collar

Treats and clickers are the norm in dog training these days, at least for your average pet dog trainer. This is absolutely fine. Most dogs thrive on praise and rewards. They don’t necessarily need a “leash pop” correction, although it certainly wouldn’t hurt them, either.

I prefer to be open to a variety of training methods. Not only is every dog different, but every situation is different. You bet I’m going to scream, “Hey! Knock it off!” at my dog a few times per year. I’m absolutely going to step in front of him to “body block” him from going after a burrito on the ground. I’m going to look him straight in the eyes so he knows I’m serious when I tell him “no” or “wait” or “quiet.”

Dog shock collars for training

While I’m generous with praise, treats, toys and doting on my dog, I have no problem using choke, prong or shock collars (also called e-collars or electronic collars) in certain situations. I’m not all “positive.” Of course, no one is.

OH MY GAWD, shock collars?! If this is your reaction, then this post is not for you. This post is also not a guide on how to use a shock collar. If you need help with that, I recommend you work with a professional trainer in your area.

This post is simply meant to show dog owners that there are a variety of training tools available – Gentle Leaders, bark collars, no-pull harnesses – and there are situations where all of these tools can be extremely helpful to the right dog/owner pair. I wish that dog owners would not be personally attacked just for mentioning a shock collar. I wish that people could stop being emotional over a valuable tool and focus on the real task – training the dog. We all know what is best for our own unique dogs.

5 possible scenarios where a shock collar could help with dog training

1. Teaching a dog physical boundaries.

My parents’ dogs (pictured) have always been trained with dog shock collars to remain within the boundaries of their yard. The dogs initially received a few weeks of training where they learned the boundaries and literally received one or two corrections. Not bad when you consider the years of off-leash freedom the dogs have had since then.

A physical fence is just not always financially realistic or visibly attractive if you want your dogs to have access of the whole yard, especially on a lakefront, tree-filled property.

When I first brought Ace to my parents’ house, we decided to use a shock collar to teach him the boundaries as well. That way, when my parents took care of him for weeks at a time, they could feel comfortable leaving him outside with their dogs. While Ace is one of those dogs who chooses to remain close, you just never know what could cause any dog to bolt from the yard and into the street.

My dog received a single shock during his initial training and one shock or two after that. Now, almost seven years later, he still remembers the boundaries when we visit my parents’ house. I have absolutely no regrets using a shock collar to teach him where he can and can’t wander. It’s made his life more fulfilling, and it’s increased our bond because we’re able to spend more time together.

2. Teaching a dog not to bark.

I don’t recommend a shock collar as the first option to stop a dog’s barking. First, I recommend the owner makes sure the dog is receiving adequate exercise and interaction. The dog should also receive obedience training so the owner can call the dog when necessary and put him in a down/stay position, for example. Obedience training will also help give the dog some structure, so hopefully the barking will naturally decrease.

Of course, there are situations where an anti-bark collar might be the best or the only option. It’s unfortunate when people rule them out or start judging dog owners for using these tools. For example, what if the dog’s owner is facing eviction warnings due to the dog barking at every single noise when left alone? Leaving a dog in a kennel or crate won’t always quiet him down. Hiring a dog walker or taking the dog to dog daycare is not always an option. These services are expensive. Using a citronella spray collar is a possibility, but these are much milder deterrents and won’t always work.

Dogtra dog shock collars to stop a dog's barking

3. Teaching a dog to stop chasing something dangerous.

Again, it helps to think of all possible scenarios. For some situations, a shock collar is not appropriate. If a dog is attempting to chase cars, for example, maybe it’s best for that particular dog to remain on a leash at all times. On the other hand, what if that dog happens to slip through its collar or bolt out the door? Wouldn’t it be better if the dog has already been trained not to chase cars?

Or, what if your newly adopted dog just can’t seem to stop staring at or chasing your cat? It might be best to re-home one of them. Or, perhaps a correction or two along with some positive reinforcement to reward the right behavior is all the dog needs to learn the cat is not for chasing. Sure, you could spend months and months using treats and praise. Or, you could use a shock collar and possibly train the dog much faster. It’s not for all dogs, but it’s one possibility.

4. Controlling a dog from a distance.

Hunting dogs and other types of working dogs are often trained on dog shock collars. Some of these dogs need to do their jobs several yards ahead of their owners – flushing, retrieving, searching, etc. –  and their owners need to be able to communicate with them. They don’t all use shock collars, but these collars are one possible training tool.

5. Stopping unwanted behaviors.

There are just certain behaviors that can’t be stopped without some type of correction. A friend emailed me earlier this year asking if I had any suggestions on how to train a dog to stop eating its own poop. This dog’s owners were at their wits end, and nothing seemed to be working. Maybe they hadn’t tried enough food options to find something the dog valued more than poop. But regardless, positive reinforcement just wasn’t working.

Why not try an e-collar with a remote? I asked. A few corrections would take care of the problem. The owners could even stand inside the house to watch the dog in the yard. That way, the dog would not associate the owners with the correction.

A few months later, I asked how the dog was doing. They had decided to use a shock collar, and it had worked to solve the problem.

As another example, you could use a shock collar with a remote to stop a dog from digging in the yard or to stop the dog from eating certain types of plants. I’m sorry, but all the positive reinforcement in the world is just not going to stop certain behaviors.

Safety tips to keep in mind when using a dog shock collar


  • As with any training tool, you need to make sure to use a shock collar properly. Don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional.
  • There are often other training methods that can be just as effective as a shock collar. Try to use the tool that is best for the situation.
  • You only want to use the shock collar to train one behavior/concept at a time. You don’t want the dog to be receiving corrections for barking, jumping, stealing garbage and leaving the yard, for example. That would be very confusing and stressful! Work on one concept at a time.
  • All training tools should only be used when the owner is calm. No training collar should be used when the owner is angry, frustrated or afraid.


Have you used a shock collar to train your dog?

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