The Best Electric Training Collars for Dogs

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Which are the best electric training collars for dogs?

Electric training collars, if used correctly can do wonders for your dog. However, it’s necessary to have a firm understanding of what training collars do and can’t do. They have their benefits, as well as their faults.

Below, we’ve hand-selected the best ten electric training collars for your dog, based on quality, range, size, durability, hunting, and other options.

The Best Training Collars for dogs are:

Brand of training collar Best for… TBI Pro Triple Mode / Your Voice Playback Affordability / Bark Detection Dogtra 200C Training Collar Long Range without GPS (our favorite) PetSafe Gentle Spray Bark Collar / Citronella Non-Shock (works by spray) DogRook Anti-Barking Vibration Collar Non-Shock (works by vibration) Garmin Astro 430/T GPS Bundle GPS Enabled (for miles away from home) Toy/Small Breed Giant/Large Breed Hunting Multiple Dogs Whistle 3 GPS Tracker and Activity Monitor Tracking and Activity Monitor

What do electric training collars do?

How do they influence your pet’s behavior? Electric dog training collars, sometimes referred to as e-collars, modify your dog’s behavior by providing an alert in the form of smell, vibration, shock or sound to your dog. These alerts are called a “correction stimulus”. The type of correction stimulus and its strength will depend on the type of collar.

E-collars and training collars can excel in situations where you can’t be in your pet’s environment due to work, travel or even distance from where you are and where your pet is misbehaving or simply running away. While positive reinforcement is a preferred method of dog training, training collars can work for you and your pet.

Quick note: In my personal experience, we’ve been able to modify the behavior of very large aggressive dogs that were given up by their owners because of their aggressive or destructive behaviors. These large, mixed breed dogs and pit bulls were in the range of 75-90 lbs and were aggressive towards both people and other dogs. One of these dogs used to chew and claw through wood doors.

Through positive reinforcement, treats (we used Osteo-Pet Joint Supplements for dogs as a treat) click training and a Dogtra brand 200C shock collar, we were able to get these dogs back on track and have them live well-behaved lives.

How does a training collar work?

The collars are made of either fabric, nylon, or sometimes rubber and are worn around your dog’s neck. They have a mechanism attached that is battery-powered. The collar ends are attached with Velcro, snaps or a buckle. The collars are adjustable to ensure the best fit. These collars usually run between 12 inches and 20 inches long.

They work automatically or by a remote control that you’ll manage. If you use a remote-based type, you’ll usually be able to increase or decrease the strength of the correction stimulus directly from your remote.

The four major types of training collars are:

1) Shock / e-collar - This style of collar is popular for large breeds and uses a safe yet uncomfortable shock to stimulate your dog. We’ve tested these shocks on ourselves to be sure of their pain level and safety.

At their highest levels, they are uncomfortable but aren’t painful and the effect fades immediately. It scares your dog more than hurts them. The collars are signaled from a remote control and reputable manufacturers are reliable.

The collar mechanism has two dull metal prongs that the collar holds against your dog’s neck. A small current runs between the two prongs, causing a shock. It’s annoying, but not painful. I’ve placed the Dogtra 200C on my skin at the highest level and pushed the button. It definitely gets your attention, but without pain.

2) Spray - Some people consider these types of collars more humane as they don’t shock your dog. They are sometimes called bark collars. These collars work by spraying Citronella, lemon juice, or other scents into your dogs face. This is an "adversive", meaning something that is unpleasant to your pet. We don’t recommend just using water as that might lead to your dog avoiding water in general.

Some collars work automatically, without a remote. When a microphone in the collar detects barking, it sprays the liquid scent, causing discomfort and discouraging the unwanted behavior. Your dog doesn’t like to be sprayed and stops barking or unwanted behavior.

Other dogs barking may set off the device, so we’ve reviewed several of these types of collars to be sure to they don’t randomly spray your dog if another dog barks.

Fortunately, the ones we’ve reviewed do work well. Testing by the Animal Behavioral Clinic at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine confers that “nuisance barking” dogs respond well to citronella spray collars. If you have a dog that barks, jumps or behaves aggressively, with some training and the collar, your dog can learn to behave in a proper fashion.

3) Sound - These collars use high-frequency sounds to discourage the behavior. When the dog barks, or displays inappropriate behavior, the collar emits a high-frequency sound that annoys the dog. Unfortunately, the technology doesn’t seem to be where it needs to be yet.

While the sounds are irritating and non-harmful, the mechanism doesn’t seem to work for a majority of the branded collars. The reviews for Ultrasonic Bark Control Collar and a large majority of similar collars aren’t encouraging. It seems many ambient sounds set them off. We don’t recommend them at this time.

4) Vibration - This option is best for small dogs that are extremely sensitive or owners who are concerned about the shock option. They work by alerting the dog and getting its attention. However, they aren’t highly effective if there is something competing for their concentration. Remember, it is a gentle vibration.

The collars can have multiple vibration patterns. There are buttons on the remote for a single vibration, double vibrations, and triple vibrations.

How do these training collars connect to the remote?

Most of the training collars use a radio frequency to transmit and receive. The more sophisticated models will have up to an 8-14 mile range and include GPS tracking and automatic boundary settings.

Some models charge a monthly fee for the GPS tracking service. The cost for connecting to the 3G broadband cellular network for large companies is pooled and less than $2 a month per device, so we try to recommend companies that charge approximately this price or have built it into the cost of the device.

So do training collars for dogs work? What can they do?

Training collars are usually used by pet parents who can’t be there at the exact second when your pet exhibits unwanted behavior.

These aggressive or destructive behaviors include but aren’t limited to: jumping on guests, nuisance barking, aggression, disobedience, eating poop or other actions that you are trying to discourage.

Some great examples of what training collars can do for your dogs are:

You’ve left the house for work, but your dog’s barking is non-stop and your neighbors have called you and complained multiple times. They’re furious and their call is to the police or animal control. You share their frustration and want your pet to control its self, but it doesn’t understand. An automatic spray collar has successfully stopped pets from barking around the clock and might be exactly what you need.

Your large dog is jumping on guests, chasing neighbors and using its weight to push people around. We’ve used a shock collar to remind pets not to jump on our visitors. It’s stopped our large dogs from jumping up and hurting people.

Dogs that are retrievers are trained to bring back birds from the field. Sometimes, they need a signal, noise or vibration, to alert them that they’ve strayed too far away from the hunt or that it’s time to come home.

One of the great joys of your dog’s life is being outside. An electric fence training collar allows yard training, so your pet can be outside, yet keeping close to you. As much as we like having our dogs outside, they would run away.

Before we learned about an electric fence, one of our pugs slipped out the front door and ran into the yard. She thought it was so much fun for us to chase her. She went into the street and was almost hit by three passing cars (us too). We immediately researched “best electric fences”, both in-ground wired and wireless radio systems and are happy to share our opinions on why we use the containment system we use today.

What factors did we consider when evaluating these training collars for your dog?

The factors we considered are the following:

1) Comfort - Are the collars comfortable? Do they chafe? Can smaller dogs slip out of them? Note: if the collar doesn’t fit correctly, it can’t work properly. Large dogs need a larger mechanism and therefore a thicker collar.

2) Reviews - Positive, online, verified reviews by consumers that have actually used the product are a good way to check the efficacy of the collar that you’re looking at buying. Sometimes consumers receive a broken product or the collar doesn’t work well for that particular breed of dog. We use our own experience as well. We check to see how the retailer or manufacturer deals with any issues.

3) Cost - Make sure that you don’t overpay, yet obtain the quality that your pet needs. We’ve worked to find the correct balance between cost, effectiveness, and longevity.

4) Durability and quality - One of the first collars that we bought was great, but after two years of regular use, the buckle broke. We found a replacement at Michaels, the craft store. After a lot of work, we were able to fix the collar. It’s lasted until this day.

We’ve been through many collars because we’ve cared for a lot of dogs in our lifetime. Some of the collars mechanical components have broken, but the brands we use have replaced them.

So, strong, durable components are vital. Also, waterproofing is different from water resistant. Some dogs jump in water versus others that might just run in the rain for a minute or two. You don’t want your investment to be ruined because your dog jumped in a body of water. Hunting dogs can retrieve a bird from a lake or pond, so their collars need better water protection.

The collars have ratings to them. An IPX7 rating means that the device will work after being submerged in less than three feet of water for less than 30 minutes. You shouldn’t need a rating higher than this because your dog won’t be in this situation. An IPX5 rating means that the collar can get wet, like being out in the rain, but not submerged in water. You should take off IPX5 collars when you bathe your dog.

Also, a great warranty is important as these devices receive a lot of wear and tear.

5) Battery Life - Some batteries are easy to replace and easy to purchase. Others, not so much. Some batteries are customized for the collars and you’ll need to buy that brand so the collar can continue to work.

Example: The Petsmart collars use a battery that has a waterproof top, so it can be screwed in directly to the collar. You use a coin or screwdriver to screw it in, but the replacement batteries always are sold by Petsmart.

Some collars have a rechargeable option, so you can plug the collar in at night and it will be ready by the next morning. Depending on the collar and functions, they can last anywhere from a couple of days or as long as 2-3 months on a single charge.

We like the collars that are rechargeable. If that option isn’t available, we opt for the battery powered ones that you can buy the battery anywhere.

6) Range - The majority of the remotes have a decent range, connecting up to ½ mile (880 yards), but some of the professional models have a 9-12 mile range and track your dog’s collar via GPS coordinates and a map. You can see where your dog is on the tracking remote.

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