An electronic collar emits a vibration or an electric charge to a dog's neck when he engages in undesirable behavior. Also called E-collars or shock collars, these training aids are operated by a remote switch. Used as part of a positive training program, an E-collar can be a valuable asset in teaching a dog to obey, but care must be taken not to harm the dog. The stimulation pack on the collar may be adjusted to increase or decrease the level of the electric charge, depending upon the dog's sensitivity level.
Innotek, the manufacturer of a wide array of dog training equipment, suggests adjusting the collar snugly while leaving enough room to easily insert a finger between the strap and the dog's neck. Use the collar on clean fur and remove the collar when you are not actively training the dog, taking care not to leave it on your dog longer than 12 hours at one time. The probes on the collar may result in a rash or sores if the collar is too tight or if it is on the dog's neck too long. Remove any other collars before fitting your dog with an E-collar. Metal clasps and dog tags may interfere with the efficiency of the receiver.
Determine a behavioral goal and employ repetition during the training session. For instance, if your dog barks every time the doorbell rings, recruit an assistant to ring the bell a few times over a period of 15 minutes. When the doorbell rings and your dog barks, issue the command "Shush" and depress the transmitter briefly to reinforce your command. Begin with the lowest stimulation level on the collar and increase it slightly if your dog does not respond. Some dogs will tolerate a strong shock, while others will become agitated by a low level of stimulation. Avoid continuous stimulation; just a small shock will suffice. Continue the training sessions daily until your dog sits quietly when the doorbell rings. Along with the collar, use treats to reinforce positive behavior. Even if your dog barks when the doorbell rings, praise him when he becomes quiet and give him a treat.
Not all trainers approve of using E-collars because a dog may not understand why he is receiving the shock, and he may become anxious or fearful. Electronic collars should not be used as punishment. In addition, puppies under 6 months old may not be mature enough for this type of training. Verbal commands must always be used in conjunction with an E-collar.