Can you imagine, in the 1950s we did not have so much in electronic technology that we take for granted now! There were no cell phones. If there were computers at that time, they took up entire floors of large corporation, with huge spools of tape running all the time. Well, guess what, the electronic collar took the same journey in advancement that the rest of the electronic world took. When electronic collars were first produced, they were manufactured to be used as an aversive to stop the chasing of deer (especially the remote collars, which are discussed below) and the like. They would not have been able to be used gently as an obedience-training tool. First of all, you wouldn’t have had a choice in intensity to change it to. Later on in the early 90s or so, you could change the intensity, but only by changing the prongs on the collar. So you couldn’t change a remote collar’s intensity “on the fly”, you were stuck with the level that you attached to the collar. Now, you can have levels that go from 1 to 100, if you want that. Most humans and canines do not feel the lower levels. The technology of the remote electronic dog-training collar has greatly changed with time. It is now an effective and efficient tool that is used in obedience training, hunting, dog sports, and overall gift of fun and freedom for the dog. I will explain more the process for this later, for now; I just want to go over the equipment in summary.
REMOTE ELECTRONIC DOG TRAINING COLLARS (also known as shock collars, although this term is recognized more for the old fashioned ones, which are not sold anymore)
Some Pros: 1) Most dogs adapt well to the collar, especially when a foundation in training is put on first. 2) In my opinion, this is the perfect companion to positive training. I know, I hear the gasps from positive only trainers around the world too. However, I get many positively trained dogs that are just not reliable enough, and are able to use that training to make this a cue type of tool at the lowest levels for the dog. 3) Once trained, gets rid of the awkwardness of working with a long line. 4) Does not put a strain on the neck or back of the dog. 5) Improves timing of communication with the dog, thereby making training easier on most clients. 6) Rewards the dog quickly with increased freedom to do fun things with their owner. 7) Waterproof receiver (collar) on all quality models. Waterproof transmitters are available for additional cost from certain companies (Dogtra models for instance). 8) As long as you live outside the city, these can replace invisible fences as long as you supervise your dog when they are outside (which I always recommend no matter what). 9) Range of collar varies from ½ mile to 2 miles on the quality made remote collars.
Some Cons: 1) This is not the right collar for every dog, although it’s a small percentage that will not work on it, if the training is done correctly. 2) Like any equipment, in careless or abusive hands this collar could be abusive to the dog. 3) Like any training equipment, professional help is strongly suggested before venturing out and using it on it’s own. Why reinvent the wheel and stress out your dog? There are many trainers out there that can help you. 4) The good ones are from 180-240 for a one-dog model, and you want to get a good quality collar. So in other words, this is an expensive training collar. 5) Pressure sores can develop on the neck due to collar not being tight enough, collar going into water and not tightened or coat not dried, or movement of tight collar during play with other dogs. This is not often, and when it happens once it usually does not recur again.
Uses: 1) Once training is done correctly, this collar provides the safety of a leather leash without the leash attached to the collar. This makes for very enjoyable and safe off leash walking. 2) Many hunters do not want to loose their highly trained dogs. These collars let those dogs know when it’s time to look for their owners. 3) They can be used as an emergency measure to stop a dogfight, with a dog trained to know what the stim means.
Types/Brands: 1) Dogtra is made overseas (Korea, I think). They are the more affordable unit with 100 levels of stim (also known as shock). Dogtra can come with either a beeper or a pager (vibrate only) function. 2) Garmin (a solid brand) bought out Tri Tronics which used to be my other go to brand and 3) E-Collar Technologies is a newer company whose collars are quite good and affordable (since they are new, my experience with them only goes back a year or so at this point). These are the three I would tend to stick with.
INVISIBLE FENCE TYPE SYSTEMS:
Some Pros: 1) When done properly, safe way to keep dogs in a boundary area. 2) Allows people with a view, to keep their view without putting up a fence. 3) Generally cheaper than wooden fence systems, and some chain link systems (depends on the square footage). 4) Unlike other non-electronic fencing systems, your dog can’t dig out of it or open the gate to get out. 5) Portable non-fixed (i.e. movable boundary systems) can be brought with you to places like campsites. 6) Nice for city situations where houses are close together, and there is a busy street nearby.
Some Cons: 1) The general public does not understand that this system requires a boundary-training program for the dog in order for it to be efficient and effective (and not abusive). 2) While this keeps your dog inside an area with the proper training, it does not keep loose dogs or other critters outside the area. 3) Dogs should be supervised at all times whether inside a wooden, chain link, or electronic fence for their own safety. 4) In addition to the boundary training, dogs should be trained so as not to alarm the general public walking by their house (as a trainer, I consider this a pro, but the public at large does not understand this). 5) If the electricity goes out, so does your fence (in one type of system, it will cause the collar to activate). However, if your dog has known the boundary for a significant period of time, they aren’t likely to test it. 6) The non-fixed fence system (it has movable boundaries) can cause some duress to your dog, as the boundary is movable even by accident. 7) It hurts, as it’s meant to completely dissuade your dog from crossing the line. However, if training is done properly, your dog may only try it once (after proper boundary training has been done) to find out. Flags and the audible warning also help with this.
Uses: 1) To contain dogs in a defined area outside. 2) Sometimes used to keep a dog outside of defined areas inside (i.e. the kitchen or dining room).
Types/Brands: 1) Fixed wire underground system. This is one in which a shallow trench is dug around your yard where the wire is laid. The collar going over or a specified distance near the wire first causes an audible warning, and then a shock warning. The key is here though that the signal from the wire turns on the collar, as opposed to the movable boundary collar. 2) Systems that have a movable boundary. These are hard if not impossible to set up with the flags, and often have a circular area. They also have warnings of an audible nature, before the dog walks into the shock. However, the signal sent out for the boundary, keeps the collar OFF. So that means, if the electricity shuts off, the collar is turned on to shock the dog. I am not sure, but I believe there is an emergency shut off in these collars.
I won’t go into these much here, as I have never used them. I use the command quiet (with a metal training or electronic, and I haven’t yet had a dog that was so resistant that I felt the need). That being said, some people summer or live in campgrounds where your dog barking is not going to make you a welcome guest. Many people use this type of collar for those packed in situations. However, I can’t go into much personal detail, never having used the equipment myself.
These types of electronic collars that work on a trigger (such as the vibration of the throat). Some dog figure out how to either move the boxes so they can bark or bark at the lowest level that doesn’t trigger it. I have heard from some people that these work for them.
VIBRATION ONLY REMOTE COLLARS:
I tried one made by Unleashed Technologies. I like the concept, and wish the collar was made in a quality way. However, this company did not take the advice of many dog trainers who were curious and ordered it. Some of the features are automatic, and can not be fully controlled by the handler if the dog is doing the correct thing or incorrect thing. The vibration is sketchy and inconsistent. I find the Dogtra receiver or E-Collar Technologies put on backwards is a fine tool right now, if you don't want any chance that the electronic stim button might be pressed (or if you take the prongs of, it probably works just as well). This is what I use on dogs that need only vibration as a remote signal.
Since I wrote this article along time ago, I recently used another vibration collar that was good quality. The thing is though more dogs blow off the vibration (if not at first, eventually) and not the stim (unless a very high stimulation activity is occurring like a dog fight). You might as well just train to a standard to use your verbal rather than the vibration only. I do use vibration on my dogs that were already taught what the stim means. I just have not figured out the most efficient and effective way of using vibration only technology yet (in specific). In a deaf dog, vibration only works instead of verbal or to get the dogs attention to give them a hand signal after much training.
GPS Tracking Collars:
I have no experience with these, but they are a neat tool Hunters usually use this technology so they can find their hunting dogs if they have not returned. Garmin has always been a giant in the field of this technology (as far as I know, anyone can correct me on this).
Since I have very severely limited knowledge about using this collar, I will leave this article link here on how a GSP dog collar works.
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