Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Remote Training Collars?

It’s remarkable the number of misconceptions and untruths there are concerning remote training collars.  They are a valuable training tool but people are hesitant to use them because of these harmful myths surrounding them.

The number one reason why people will not use a remote training collar is the belief that they are cruel, unsafe and inhumane.  This is not true.  Remote training equipment, as with many types of trainers, is safe and effective when used properly.  With a good understanding of the correct use and proper training program, the collars are effective and easy to use with no harm to the dog.  The training collar does not apply a painful jarring electrical charge as a lot of people think.  It’s not a shot of electro-convulsive therapy charge or even a wall socket/outlet kind of charge.  It’s more like a static charge you experience when you shuffle across the carpet and then touch something.  The idea is to make it uncomfortable for the dog, just enough to get his attention and communicate to him, not to cause pain.  When working your dog with the collar, you should always set the stimulation level at the lowest, just enough for the dog to feel it.  The stimulation level should produce a curious expression from your dog as if wondering what it is.  You should increase the level if there are distractions around such as a cat running across in front of him.  Chances are he won’t be paying much attention to you so you want to increase the stimulation just enough to get him to take notice.

Many people believe a remote training collar burns the skin on the dog’s neck.  Again, not true.  If the collar were set at its highest level for a long period of time, the stimulation output from the battery located inside isn’t high enough to physically burn.  If the collar isn’t fitted snug enough, it will rub back and forth wearing the hair away from the dog’s neck.  Hot spots develop if the collar is dirty and rubbing the dog’s neck creating sores which could be mistaken for a burn.  Infections can be caused by a loose collar or one which has been left on the dog too long.

Another misconception about training collars is they are stressful on the dog, that it is more humane to train dogs using traditional methods like a leash or choke chain.  Not necessarily.  The collars send a low-level of continuous stimulation to the dog until he correctly performs a certain behavior.  The stimulation stops when the dog responds to the training command.  This is quickly followed with a reward and a lot of praise.  It is important to keep the stimulation level low so as not to interfere with the dog’s concentration allowing him to think.  You want the dog to problem-solve, listen to commands and to learn what is needed to shut off the stimulation.  This technique is escape conditioning which puts the dog in control thus putting him through less stress.  Did I mention dogs learn faster as well?  If you feel intimidated using a training collar on your dog and feel they should only be used by professionals, relax.  Advanced collars and improved technology have made these systems easier to understand and use.  With 15 to 20 minutes of instruction, almost any dog owner will be able to operate and communicate with his dog.  However, thoroughly understand how to use the training collar before you put it on your dog.  If you don’t understand it, seek help from a professional.

Praise is important to your dog as it lets him know when he has done something right.  You will not progress on if you only let him know when he has done something wrong.  Some people mistakenly believe that traditional training aids such as cookies or clickers cannot be used when using a remote training collar.  Actually, praise can be used in all forms when training your dog with any method.

Remote training collars are unparalleled for speed, reliability and ease of use.  They are gentle, effective, and less forceful than a leash and collar.  Dogs need to be properly introduced to a collar as a language in order to develop good behavioral changes, which lead to reliability off the leash.  Improper use by the handler by over stimulating the dog can lead to aggressive behavior which is often redirected to the handler.  Remote training collars are the best training tool invented but in the hands of an abusive handler it can be the worst tool invented.  For those who love their dogs and take the time to learn and properly incorporate the collar into their training program will be rewarded with off leash compliance to obedience commands from their dog.