Dog shock collars remain a controversial training tool but one that's still often utilized due to their benefits. While some countries are banning them, many American dog trainers (and trainers in other countries) find electric dog collars to be very effective; however, many pet owners are reluctant to use them because they are afraid that they might hurt their pets.
Table of Contents
- When You May Need an Electric Dog Collar?
- How Do Electronic Dog Collars Work?
- Different Types of Electric Dog Training Collars
- Different Stimulation Modes on Collars
- Safety Tips for Using Electric Collars with Dogs
- How to Choose the Best Electric Dog Collar
- The Best Electric Dog Collars of 2020
- 1 Dogtra 1900NCP Field Star Dog Shock Collar
- 2 SportDOG SD-425 Field Trainer Dog Collar
- 3 Bousnic Electric Training Collar for Dogs
- 4 DOG CARE Dog Training Collar
- 5 Dogtra 1900S Hands-Free Electric Dog Collar
- 6 IPETS 100% Waterproof Dog Shock Collar
- 7 PetSafe Elite Big Dog Remote Trainer
- 8 PetSpy P620 Dog Training Shock Collar
- 9 Pet Union Premium Dog Training Shock Collar
The International Association of Canine Professionals have a more rational approach to their use and published a statement, claiming they're against the ban of shock collars and other similar tools because there are ways to use them humanely. This is true, because when it comes to training stubborn dogs, this may be the only way to train them.
Nevertheless, there are good and bad sides to their use. And to avoid problems, there are two ways not to hurt a canine with a shock collar: (a) using precision and know exactly how to train a dog with a shock collar, and (b) buying a reliable, good electric collar that is less likely to malfunction. Moreover, the use of the actual electric shock does not have to be used often and, sometimes, even ever after a few uses.
Careful use is crucial no matter what. While using bad quality electric dog collars can inflict unnecessary pain to a dog, reliable dog shock collar will be perfectly safe in the hands of educated pet owner. Below we explain how electric collar for dogs work, what benefits they bring and review some of the best electric dog collars out there.
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When You May Need an Electric Dog Collar?
Electric dog collars are mainly used for training stubborn dogs. They should never be used as the first attempt for dog training because they carry more risk and requirements for proper use. But, they can also provide other benefits.
For example, a shock collar will ensure your dog’s safety by providing an invisible boundary when used as part of an invisible fence that prevents the dog from running away. These collars can administer painless shocks whenever your dog tries to cross a predetermined border, whether it is your backyard or something else.
You can also an electric dog collar to reduce excessive barking. Some training collars can, such as anti-barking ones, administer shocks when a dog starts to bark excessively, gradually increasing the intensity until the dog stops barking. You can also administer the stimulation manually whenever you feel the need for the dog to be corrected.
Shock collars can also be used to prevent other types of unwanted behaviors in dogs and to teach a stubborn, misbehaving or aggressive dog better manners around people or other animals. They can be used with behavioral issues like salivating, aggressive chewing or aggressive behavior when regular training appears to be ineffective.
How Do Electronic Dog Collars Work?
Electric dog collars allow users to send various kinds of remote signals to the collar on a dog's neck as a way of “correction.” Paired with training techniques, this teaches dogs a lesson and correct unwanted behavior. There are a few different types of stimulation you can use on the collar, such as electric shock (static), a vibration or a tone.
The best brands will often be highly adjustable. You should be able to set the intensity, duration and frequency of the stimulation using the collar remote. So, if you use the collar correctly, the dog will not experience pain, only mild discomfort for a second's time.
That said, studies also show that some dogs may find electric collars stressful and, therefore, they may not always be effective for correcting a dog's behavior. Ideally, you should consult with a certified dog trainer that's not against the use of shock collars for the best advice on their safe use. If you dedicate some time to train yourself on the proper and most effective use of shock collars, their use should be short-lived.
Different Types of Electric Dog Training Collars
Essentially, there are only two main types of electric collars for dogs: bark control collar and remote training collar (with the latter being sometimes part of an invisible fence kit).
Remote Training Collar
Remote training electric collars are designed to help you train your dog if they're stubborn and do not respond to standard dog training techniques. You should be able to teach the dog all the basic commands with the use of the collar, after which you will have a well-behaved dog and likely will not need to use the collar again.
This type of e-collar comes with a remote that allows you to set the stimulation intensity as a “correction” to discourage the dog from engaging in bad practices which you were unable to correct with training techniques.
This is what a remote training collar kit looks like:
Bark Control Collar
This is a slightly more unique type of electric collar that is designed specifically to reduce excessive barking in dogs. While they can be used manually, they primarily work by detecting the sound and then delivering different levels of shock, vibration or stimulus to the dog when he starts to bark excessively and would not stop.
While some of them have remotes, most anti-bark collars will usually come without a remote and simply activate themselves automatically when the dog starts to bark too much. There are a few more expensive brands that include a remote and allow you to choose when to use certain stimulation remotely but this is not an essential feature.
This is what a bark collar kit looks like:
Different Stimulation Modes on Collars
One of the most important things for dog owners to know about using electric dog collars is the presence of different stimulation modes and how you can use them. It's crucial that you familiarize yourself with every single mode to avoid hurting your pet when training.
This mode allows you to deliver a short and quick static stimulation to the dog. The durability of the shock is pre-determined and won’t keep going even if you hold down your remote button.
This feature is good for less stubborn dogs that already know basic commands but you will still need to set the intensity level to suit your dog’s needs.
Unlike the previous training mode, this one allows you to send continuous static stimulation to a dog's collar from the remote. As long as you are pressing the push button on your remote, the stimulus will be coming. This is a more risky mode and pet owners must be very careful when using it.
Generally, this mode of shock stimulus is suitable for very stubborn dogs who are just learning basic commands. Fortunately, it comes with a built-in safety feature that turns the collar off after a certain amount of time has passed to prevent over-correcting and ensure safety of the dog and prevent remote malfunctions.
Some training dog collars have a vibration mode in addition to the standard electricity static stimulus. This is commonly used as a warning before the temporary or continuous static correction, and for many dogs, using vibration only is plenty without the need of going up into the shock territory. It's recommended to always begin with this mode first.
Just like vibration mode, this is another additional stimulation mode that some collars have which is also less risky as it does not emit any electric shock.
Unsurprisingly, most dog trainers and owners find that this tone is not as effective as vibration or static stimulation but it can be useful in some cases, especially early on as you try to get your dog used to the collar and stimulation practices.
Safety Tips for Using Electric Collars with Dogs
While electric dog collars are perfectly safe when used correctly and when having bought a top rated reliable brand, they can indeed harm the dog if you don’t use them the right way and leave burn marks, like it happened to this family.
But, according to Steven Lindsay and his book “Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training“, dog electric collars were unnecessarily vilified:
“…animal and human research supports the notion that competent shock [collar] training appears to promote positive social attachment, safety, and reward effects that may be provided and amplified via affectionate petting and reassuring praise. The preponderance of scientific evidence suggests that [electrical stimulation] escape/avoidance and pain reduction should promote long-term effects that are incompatible with fear and stress, making the trainer an object of significant extrinsic reward that actually enhances the dog's welfare via an improved capacity for social coping, learning, and adaptation.“
Still, remember to use the below safety tips, make sure you fully read and understand the dog shock collar manual and instructions, and if possible, consult with a dog trainer. This detailed PetSafe video is a good starting point on learning to use an electric collar.
Accurately Set the Contact Point
The first thing to do when you buy an electric dog collar is to make sure it properly fits on your dog’s neck. If the contact point is not set accurately, the collar won’t send the appropriate stimulation.
For example, if the contact point doesn’t touch the dog’s skin, you need to tighten it more. However, if the collar is too tight, your dog will feel uncomfortable and the stimulation may hurt him more than it should.
Start with Low Intensity
It is important to make your dog familiar with the use and training of shock collars, so the best thing to do is to start with the lowest intensity settings (tone or vibration if there is one) and gradually increase the intensity after each training session if necessary.
Never start with static stimulation; begin with tone or vibration mode first. Your dog should react positively after a few training sessions but some dogs may need more time to adjust to the new regime so be patient with your pooch.
Don’t Use Electric Collars as the Only Training Tool
There is a lot of evidence to support the claim that positive reinforcement is more effective than negative reinforcement when it comes to training dogs. With that in mind, electric collars shouldn’t be the only training tool you use to train your pooch.
Reward your dog with dog treats whenever your pet displays correct behavior, use verbal encouragement for positive behavior, use verbal commands to redirect negative behavior and use other similar standard dog training techniques as much as possible.
Use the electric collar only for certain behaviors, like leash aggression, excessive barking and other unwanted behaviors that can’t be corrected any other way.
How to Choose the Best Electric Dog Collar
With so many different options you can find online, it can be hard to choose the best electric dog collar for your stubborn pet and your training needs. There are a few important factors you need to consider before you buy a shock collar for your dog.
As have already been mentioned, there are different types of electric dog collars – remote training collars, anti-bark collars, fence containment collars, etc. Take the intended use into account when you make your decision.
The most important thing to consider when you buy a training collar is the availability of different stimulation modes and intensity levels. Most modern electric collars include different stimulation modes that I mentioned before – tone, vibration and static but not all of them provide all stimulation modes.
Also, there are collars that include a wide range of intensity levels, while others come with fewer of them. Most collars have at least 10 intensity levels, while others have 100 or even more levels.
While this may not be too important if you are buying an anti-bark collar, it is a significant factor to consider for training dog collars, particularly when training in large areas and fields. You should probably get a collar with a range of at least 1/2 mile since that should be enough to cover any training but that is entirely up to you and the environment you're training the dog.
Comfort and Safety
The collar that you purchase has to be the right fit for your pooch to ensure that he is comfortable or he may refuse to cooperate if he is feeling uncomfortable the entire time.
In addition to this, the collar has to be safe to use. If your electric collar malfunctions, it can have serious consequences on your dog’s health and lead to injuries on his neck. Make sure that the collar you buy comes from a reputable manufacturer and has good reviews.
Ease of Use
Some electric dog collars are too complicated and require a detailed read of the manual, while others are pretty straightforward and easy to use.
If you don’t have the time to go through the manual and deal with all the additional features, choose a simple and effective collar instead. However, if you have the time and like to deal with mechanical and technical aspects of products, a more challenging collar with more features and customizable options could be the right choice for you.
When you look for the best electric collar for dogs, take into account other features as well. For example, some collars are waterproof or water-resistant, which can be important if your pooch loves water.
Another important feature to consider is the collar’s battery, mainly the run time for a single charge, length of charge time, whether the batteries are replaceable, the low-battery warning system, etc. Other additional features include multiple remotes, multiple-sized prongs, automatic safety features, etc.
Now that you know all about the different types, safety usage of shock collars and what features are important to buy a good electric collar for dogs, below is a detailed review of some of the top rated electric dog collar brands available today.
The Best Electric Dog Collars of 2020
1 Dogtra 1900NCP Field Star Dog Shock Collar
This electric collar is one of the best on the market and we as well as many dog owners and dog trainers have a lot of praise for it. However, it is also one of the most expensive shock collar models available for purchase online.
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Made by the famous Dogtra company, this brand is durable and tough and comes with an LCD screen where you can see all the important information like vibration modes or battery status. The collar has rechargeable Ni-MH batteries, it covers a range of half a mile and both the receiver and transmitter are completely waterproof.
Dogtra electric dog collar has very precise stimulation levels, ranging from 0-27. It also has three different vibration modes – nick, constant and non-stimulating mode. However, in addition to the price, some users reported malfunctions after only weeks of use. These reviews are in minority and I didn’t have any problems but I did only try it out for a couple of weeks.
» PROS: Different Vibration Modes, Durable, Waterproof, LCD Screen, Rechargeable Batteries, Solid Battery Life, Great Range
« CONS: Very Expensive, Some Reports of Malfunction, Not for Multiple Dogs
2 SportDOG SD-425 Field Trainer Dog Collar
This electric collar is known to work best with large dog breeds, especially those often used in hunting or running, or other working breeds. However, it may not work with extremely stubborn dogs since it only has 7 levels of stimulation that range from low to medium.
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Similar to Dogtra, SportDOG is very famous in this field, and have a range of reliable products, including collars. In addition to static stimulation, you can also use vibration and tone stimulation modes. The collar covers 500 yards of range, which is solid but not as high as some other collars that go up to 800 yards or more. Meanwhile, this collar allows you to train up to 3 dogs with the same remote if you purchase additional receivers.
The battery in this SportDOG electric dog collar is rechargeable and lasts up to 70 hours per charge. Both the receiver and remote are waterproof and submersible to 25 feet. This collar is also on the expensive end but the price is mostly justified. That being said, I did have some problems with the collar since my dog didn’t react to the low vibration. Also, some reviews pointed out that the remote is not as durable as they expected.
» PROS: Different Stimulation Modes, Durable, Easy to Use, Waterproof, Rechargeable Batteries, Long Battery Life, Solid Range, Remote Can Be Used on Multiple Dogs
« CONS: Expensive, No High Stimulation Levels, Potential Remote Durability Issues
3 Bousnic Electric Training Collar for Dogs
If you are looking for a reliable dog training collar, Bousnic electric collar fits the bill despite the few obvious flaws, like the low range of only 330 yards. The collar has customizable static and vibration modes, with the static stimulation range of 16 intensity levels and the vibration mode being available in 8 intensity levels.
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Bousnic dog collar also includes the standard tone mode. The collar is made of nylon and it is made adjustable to fit neck sizes between 8 to 26 inches. The remote is easy to use and comes with the ability to train two dogs at the same time. This collar is also fully waterproof and can be used in water if your dog wants to go for a swim.
The batteries are rechargeable and have a long life. And while the majority of reviews for this collar are great, some users reported that the shock levels were inconsistent. There were also some reports of durability issues, which is not something that I noticed since I have only used this product for a couple of weeks.
» PROS: Different Stimulation Modes, Easy to Use, Waterproof, Rechargeable Batteries, Long Battery Life, Remote Can Be Used on Multiple Dogs
« CONS: Low Range, Potential Durability Issues, Potential Intensity Inconsistence, Not Many Intensity Levels
4 DOG CARE Dog Training Collar
This training collar has many great features but the range is not one of them. With the range of 330 yards, it is in the lower-end of ranges for the most popular electric dog collars, but it's also cheaper.
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One thing about this shock dog collar that is very unique compared to other brands: the remote allows you to train up to 9 dogs with additional receivers. The collar has three different training modes – static, vibration and tone.
There are 99 different intensity levels for static stimulation, so you can use this collar to train dogs of all sizes, especially since the receiver is made adjustable to cover different neck sizes.
This product is fully waterproof and comes with rechargeable batteries. However, the batteries being faulty is a common complaint I have read in reviews. Although I didn’t have any problems with the batteries, it is something to keep in mind when you think about this collar.
» PROS: Affordable, Different Stimulation Modes, Durable, Easy to Use, Waterproof, Rechargeable Batteries, Remote Can Be Used on Multiple Dogs
« CONS: Low Range, Potential Battery Issues
5 Dogtra 1900S Hands-Free Electric Dog Collar
This is one of the least affordable electric collars on the market. This new Dogtra version is reliable and has been highly praised in the industry. The shock collar comes with a variety of training modes including static, vibration and tone.
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All the modes of the collar come with 100 different levels of intensity, so you should be able to find the right intensity for your pet. One of the main drawbacks of this product is the relatively small range of 330 yards, which is in the lower end when it comes to electric dog collars on our list. This may not be suitable for hunting but if you plan to use it to train your pooch at home, in your yard, it is more than enough.
The collar is rainproof, so it’s not completely waterproof and shouldn’t be submerged under water. This collar is suitable for dogs of all sizes and you can also adjust the neck size in the range between 14 and 24 inches. Also, both the transmitter and remote are rechargeable and can even be charged simultaneously, which is not always the case.
» PROS: Very Affordable, Different Stimulation Modes, Durable, Easy to Use, Rainproof, Rechargeable Batteries
« CONS: Small Range, Not Fully Waterproof, Not for Multiple Dogs
6 IPETS 100% Waterproof Dog Shock Collar
This training dog collar comes with the smallest range on our list – only 220 yards. While this is rather disappointing and a deal-breaker for many potential buyers, this product does have other great features and it can be a good choice if the range is not the most important thing for you.
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One clear advantage is the price, which is very affordable. Also, the collar has a unique intensity dial feature that gives you a better sense of control and provides better precision when it comes to the intensity of stimulation. There are 100 levels for static and vibration modes, as well as beep mode to make it more complete.
The collar is fully waterproof, the remote is water-resistant but both of them come with rechargeable batteries that can be charged simultaneously. The remote is easy to operate and you can use it to train two dogs with an additional collar.
» PROS: Different Stimulation Modes, Affordable, Easy to Use, Waterproof, Rechargeable Batteries, Remote Can Be Used on Multiple Dogs
« CONS: Poor Range, Potential Durability Issues
7 PetSafe Elite Big Dog Remote Trainer
This product comes in two different versions – for small and big dogs. I will focus on the collar designed for big dogs, which comes with a 1000 yards range and 15 static stimulation levels.
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PetSafe is a reliable and well-known brand in itself, but their products tend to fall into “average” or even cheap ranges. They're the affordable version of such professional dog shock collar companies like Dogtra or SportDOG. However, for anybody looking for a cheap electronic dog collar, this is one of the more trusted options.
In addition to this brand's mentioned featured, there is also tone stimulation available, but unfortunately no vibration mode. The remote can be used to train two dogs at the same time if you get an additional collar. You can control and use the remote quite easily since it is very simple and straightforward. The collar is completely waterproof as well.
Both the collar and the remote have rechargeable batteries but some users reported problems with the batteries after a few weeks of use. I have used the collar for a couple of weeks without any problems with the charger but it’s safe to say based on reviews that the batteries in this product are not that durable.
» PROS: Different Stimulation Modes, Easy to Use, Waterproof, Rechargeable Batteries, Good Range, Remote Can Be Used on Multiple Dogs
« CONS: No High Stimulation Levels, No Vibration Mode, Only 15 Static Levels, Potential Durability Issues
8 PetSpy P620 Dog Training Shock Collar
This collar has three different stimulation modes – static, vibration and tone. The static stimulation is available in 16 different intensity levels, so you should be able to find the right intensity for your furry friend.
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The range of this device is set at 650 yards, which is somewhere in the middle when it comes to the best electric dog collars. The collar is also fully waterproof and comes with rechargeable batteries that should have a solid life. However, I have experienced problems with the battery after using this product for a week since the batteries in the collar wouldn’t stay charged for longer than a couple of hours.
Meanwhile, one of the main benefits of this collar is the lifetime warranty that allows you to get a new device whenever the one you have breaks down.
» PROS: Different Stimulation Modes, Easy to Use, Waterproof, Rechargeable Batteries, Remote Can Be Used on Multiple Dogs, Lifetime Warranty
« CONS: Potential Durability Issues, Potential Battery Issues, Not Many Intensity Levels
9 Pet Union Premium Dog Training Shock Collar
If you are looking for a collar with the best range, you will struggle to find one with a better range than 1200 yards, which is the range of Pet Union PT0Z1. In addition to the great range, this collar is also fully waterproof and comes at an affordable price.
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This item has 4 different training modes – shock, light, vibration and tone. Both the static and vibration modes have 100 intensity levels, so this collar can work on dogs of all sizes. The battery is rechargeable and has a long life.
The one thing that bothered me is the fact that the materials used are not the best quality and not very durable. Considering the price, this wasn’t a huge surprise. However, this is more a nuisance than an unfixable problem since this item comes with a lifetime warranty and you can easily replace it when it breaks.
» PROS: Different Vibration Modes, Waterproof, Rechargeable Batteries, Solid Battery Life, Great Range, Lifetime Warranty, Affordable
« CONS: Not Very Durable, Not for Multiple Dogs, A Bit Complicated to Use
Despite being controversial, electric collars for dogs can be a very useful training tool that if used correctly and safely, will not harm the dog. But it is imperative to find high-quality products to prevent any potential dangers that come with using defective electronic dog collars, or their misuse.