Electronic E Collars Include Many Types
E-collars are most commonly used for obedience training, working dogs, containment, location tracking, hunting, and nuisance barking. They are used to train and command working dogs and family pets.
Electronic (E) collars deliver a vibration, audible tone, squirt of citronella, or static shock. This delivery can be initiated by remote button or automatically via sensors in the collars, satellite control (geo tracking), or wirelessly (fence systems).
Technology has altered the landscape of our lives. We use technology to make life easier and safer. Yet some pet owners, dog professionals and European countries are opposed to using this advanced technology. So why are we dropping the ball on technology when it comes to our greatest companion, the dog?
Who is using E-Collars?
Pet owners, professional dog trainers, rescues, handlers, law enforcement, TSA, Border Patrol, wildlife conservation officers, service dog handlers, hunters, farmers, and rescue volunteers can use E-collars to train and command their dogs.
Dogs trained on E-collars may be a family pet or a working dog for service, police K9, tracking, explosive detection, narcotics detection, hunting, herding, security dog, or search and rescue (SAR) dog. They include dogs of all breeds and sizes.
Pet owners seek training to overcome problems that are causing stress within the family and even danger to the family or to the dog himself. The dog may be injuring children by scratching them, knocking down guests by jumping, barking 24/7 keeping neighbors awake, running out of the yard into traffic, or regularly ingesting foreign objects. Pet owners need a way to effectively and reliably command and control their dog to keep family members, guests, and their loved dog safe.
Most commonly I encounter pet owners who have trained their previous dog with an E-collar and grew to love the control, freedom and safety it provided. They return to E-collar training to provide the same opportunity for their new dog.
There are people out there with dogs that differ from yours and different dogs have different needs. Just as one family wishes to send their child to public or private school, another family may make tremendous sacrifice to homeschool their children. Neither family is wrong! The beauty of living in the United States of America is having freedom of choice. Freedom to choose what is best for your family; including your dog.
As a United States Navy Veteran, I take great pride in the freedoms we know and have today and, as a canine professional, I strive to preserve of the working role between human and dog; the very thing that fueled domestication of the dog (or the human!) 15,000+ years ago.
Why E Collars are Used Incorrectly
As a Professional Dog Trainer in the industry for over 20 years, the most common error with E-collars is inexperienced pet owners or trainers accidentally creating a negative association when they don’t fully understand how to use one.
I had been training dogs professionally for over 10 years before I learned how to use an E-collar at Highland Canine International School for Dog Trainers. Figuring out how to use an E-collar was complicated; no wonder the average pet owner or novice dog trainer can get it wrong!
The world is a good place and we are not overrun by horrible pet owners or mean dog trainers! Wether you are curious about the E-collar or despise it, learning more about it will make you a more educated pet owner and dog trainer.
Understanding how evolution of our working relationship with the domestic dog will help you to understand modern day working roles, including the most common canine job; the well-mannered family pet!
E-Collar Dog Training Done Right
The E-collar is a tool that will not help or train a dog in and of itself. This tool must be of high quality (no broken, outdated, or cheap equipment) and must be accompanied with a comprehensive training plan.
There is more than one way to train a dog! I am familiar with hundreds of professional trainers and their methods for training with an E-collar. The best E-collar training programs first teach the dog commands on the leash then introduce the E-collar training slowly over a period of time. Done right, the dog will not become fearful or anxious. There is some level of stress that is characteristic all novel learning experiences, including very basic leash training. Beyond the experience of learning something new, a good dog trainer or pet owner with a solid training plan will see positively remarkable improvements in the dog’s behavior and demeanor.
A skilled dog trainer will be able to demonstrate a dog’s increased confidence, decreased fear, reduced anxiety and improved environmental stability at completion of training. I have taken hundreds of scared, anxious dogs and watched them transform into confident, social, happy creatures in a matter of 6-8 weeks. Many of these dogs were saved from being euthanized as a direct result of the E-collar training I gave them to overcome aggressive behaviors. The dog’s mind can be changed dramatically when you have the skill and ability to transform them!
Life Without E-collars
Banning the E-collar in Europe will reduce (not eliminate!) unskilled pet owners and novice trainers from using them incorrectly.
Unfortunately, limiting information, banning E-collar training, and restricting access to quality dog training will not make dogs safer to live with, more enjoyable, or preserve long-held working roles. It will result in more dogs being re-homed or euthanized when things go wrong.
In the US and abroad, we can take action and reduce incorrect use of the E-collar by educating pet owners and encouraging pet professionals to learn more about the varied applications of the E-collar for training pets and working dogs. One does not need to be an advocate for E-collars to gain a more comprehensive understanding of safe, effective and humane training programs.
Dog trainers that have studied scholarly sources of learning theory and modern domestication of the dog can objectively review training information even in the presence of conflicting values against E-collar use.
Knowledge is power and no one person, pet owner or pet professional should be denied information, education, and freedom of choice when they are doing what is in the best interest of the dog.
How E-collars are Actually Used
E-collar training persists because of the varied applications of use and effectiveness it can provide. Many pet owners, rescues, dog trainers and working dog handlers rely on the ability to use the most innovative training techniques and tools (the E-collar) in order to accomplish more with their dog. This is an inclusive but not exhaustive list!
Dog trainers and Working Dog Handlers:
Preservation of the Family Pet and Working Dog
Utilizing training, training tools, and the implications of commanding and controlling dogs is necessary to preserve the primary purpose of the dog; work!
Modern working roles of most dogs are limited to the family pet, however this is still very much a job! The family pet needs to go on walks, tolerate crying children, navigate urban environments, and be socially acceptable in sometimes difficult and demanding situations.
Working dogs and well trained family pets are proof that E-collar training works and works well. Explosives Detection Dogs (ED’s), Narcotics Detection Dogs (Single purpose K9’s), and SAR Dogs (Search and Rescue) are just a few examples of ways we have altered the dog’s natural ability to hunt alongside the human, combing the scent abilities of the dog with the sight and planning abilities of the human. The two combined make a team superior to any other!
Working dogs and their handlers are honing in on natural and trained abilities to perform their work. If either the dog or handler is overly stressed, fearful, anxious or otherwise in a negative state neither can perform their jobs. There is absolutely no detection, search, service, or patrol dog that is forced into their job; the dog possess a natural drive to hunt/search/work and can only do so in a state of neutrality and confidence. Trainers and handlers do direct their working dog with commands and tasks but these requests (communicated with an E-collar) do not inflict fear or anxiety within the animal as that would end the dogs working ability and, ultimately, their career.
The dog’s role has changed drastically and continues to change at an even faster rate with technological advances of modern society. The roles dogs perform and their capabilities are just being discovered and developed.
Preserving and developing the modern working dog is dependent on research, education, training, and making advances within the understanding of domestication of the dog.
Education will reduce inappropriate use of the E-collar. You can help dogs by learning how an E-collar can be used appropriately and by observing the results of professional E-collar training. Find a local working dog handler and ask them how the E-collar helps them to do their job! Learn from the people who are using them as they have direct experience with the effects of using E-collars.
Prohibiting information and E-collar training will inhibit national security, local law enforcement capabilities, opportunities for the disabled, and will directly affect your comfort and safety at home and out in public.
As an American and canine expert, I respect your choice to not use an E-collar, but I do ask you to support the preservation of the domestic dog; work!
Author: Katie Weibel, April 30, 2023
Katie Weibel, Master Dog Trainer. Providing training for companion, service and working dogs, sharing knowledge and expertise.