How to Use Training Collars

Whether or not to use training collars when it comes to training your dog is definitely a contentious subject among dog owners and lovers and there are people on both sides of the fence. Some feel that the use of training collars is inhumane so they chose not to use them. Others feel that training collars are the best way to train your dog.

It’s true that there are times when the use of a training collar can be cruel but that is always because the owner took it too far, not because that was what the collar was intended to do. Training collars are meant to be used to get a dog’s attention, not to shock them into submission. In order to use them properly, you still have to spend just as much time training your dog as you would in any other situation. The purpose of training collars isn’t expediency but rather to have off leash control of your dog when appropriate. When implemented into your dog’s training routine properly, training collars can actually be much more useful than and just as humane as harnesses.

Using a training collar correctly takes a lot of patience which is where many people get into trouble. So many times, an owner will purchase a training collar and immediately put it on their dog and start pushing buttons to shock them. This technique may work if your goal is to confuse your dog, make him afraid of you and the collar, or cause him to only listen to you when he is wearing the collar. The key to using a training collar successfully and humanely is to take baby steps while being aware of what your dog is communicating with you.

Introducing your dog to the collar

How you introduce your dog to the collar is extremely important. If you pull the collar out of the box and immediately start using it on your dog, he will associate the shocking with the collar, not with his bad behavior. As a result, your dog may begin to fear wearing the collar or only listen to you when he has it on. This, obviously, is not what you had intended when you decided to implement the collar into his training.

Instead of fearing the collar and associating it with being shocked, you want your dog to associate it with something positive such as treats or play time. Before you even turn the collar on, put it on and take it off of your dog several times a day for a couple of days. When you put it on give him a small treat and do the same when you take it off. Always put the collar on him when you go out on walks or out to play one of his favorite games. By doing this, your dog will associate the dog with a fun activity or treats instead of a form of punishment. He will even begin to get excited whenever you pull the collar out.

Once your dog is comfortable wearing the collar you can slowly begin to start using it. That doesn’t mean you can turn the collar onto the highest setting and shock your dog whenever he does something you don’t like. Instead, you need to be patient and reteach him all of the commands that he already knows but use his training collar in conjunction with the lead rope that you usually train him with. When used properly, you will be able to completely replace your dog’s leash or lead rope with a training collar.

How to Determine Collar Settings

Most training collars come with multiple settings going from just a small stimulation to a large shock. Some even have a noise option. When you first start using the collar set it on the lowest setting possible because every dog’s threshold is different and you don’t want to go too far. I personally recommend starting with the noise option and then moving up from there.

When you activate the collar, your dog should respond to it like a minor nuisance or a twitch. If they don’t acknowledge it all feel free to adjust the collar up a level. If your dog ever verbally acknowledges the collar and lets out a yelp, that is your queue that you went up too high. Adjust the level down.

Pressure on/Pressure off

Leash training consists of applying pressure to move your dog in the direction you want and then releasing the pressure once he completes the command. You should employ the same techniques when using a training collar.

When you use your leash to have your dog sit, you generally pull up on the leash and might even push down on his back end with your hand. That is the pressure on part of the command and then once your dog sits you release the pressure, pressure off. The same basic idea applies when using a training collar. When you give a command, activate the collar but once your dog obeys the command, let off of the collar.

Never hold the shock button down once your dog has obeyed your command. Doing so will confuse your dog and make him question his basic training. Your dog needs to know that he has the ability to make the pressure or collar stop by obeying your commands. Over time, your dog will begin to do as you say without you needing to apply any sort of pressure at all because he will realize that he is in control of it. In this way, you will have complete control of your dog’s behaviour on and off leash.

Patience and Consistency

Training your dog isn’t the easiest thing for either you or your dog. Don’t spend more than five minutes at a time training a young dog or he will become frustrated. At the point where you become frustrated, take a time out and come back to your training other time. Frustration will only lead you to anger and anger won’t do you any good when it comes to training your dog.

By: Ron RutherfordRon Rutherford is a writer with a passion for nature and a soft spot for Thai food. He currently freelances for Havahart Wireless, which specializes in progressive and humane wireless dog fences.
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