It's one of the most controversial training tools a dog owner’s arsenal. Dog shock collars are viewed as a sort of harmful device that may cause the dog pain and aims to train them through negative reinforcement. This is certainly true and a number of studies have demonstrated this.
But the case for using shock collars is not that black and white. Many professional dog trainers explain how in some cases and for specific dogs, a shock collar is an essential tool that can also be used safely and without any harm done to the dog. This is similar to prong collars which are not needed for majority of canines, but are the only option in isolated cases.
The bottom line with the use of dog shock collars is that only high quality, precise and accurate devices must be used. And, pet owners must familiarize and educate themselves on how to use these electronic devices safely to avoid causing any harm to the dog.
Below is an extensive dog shock collar comparison and a guide on how to pick the best dog training collar for your pooch if you've decided that it's the only option left to try. After analyzing four major and most reliable dog shock collar brands on the market, here's what we found:
Dog Shock Collar Comparison
Dogtra vs SportDog vs Petsafe vs Educator
The Basics of Training with Shock Collars
Table of Contents
A dog shock collar works by discharging mild impulses into the dog’s necks. Shock collars are intended to work in conjunction with proper dog training methods. Your aim here is to teach the dog that the shock discharges from the collar coincide with your verbal warnings and with certain of the dog’s behaviors. No shock collars should be used indefinitely.
What trainers say is that when the process is done correctly, the dog will learn quickly that the mild shocks from the training collar are nothing more than a form of communication – a sort of physical pat on the neck. The goal with training dogs using shock collars is to use this device as little as possible. As soon as you have achieved your training goal, you should focus on continued training without the shock collar.
Know when the collar is useful, and when it's not. It may feel surprising for some, but shock collars are actually not advisable for problematic and aggressive dogs. If you are dealing with an aggressive or untrainable dog, you should consider contacting a professional dog trainer. Using a dog shock collar will likely only irritate and anger the animal, and you will only continue hurting the dog unnecessarily.
There are several steps to consider when training your dog with a shock collar:
The first step is to properly introduce the dog to the collar. Let the dog sniff it and take a good look at it. Then, put the collar on and take it off. Give your dog a treat. Repeat this process several times until the dog views the shock collar as just another thing that goes on his neck when it is time for a training session.
Once the dog is familiar with the shock collar, you can start training. It's important to use the shock collar only at the right moments – never use the shock collars after your dog has done something bad or it will view it as punishment. Instead, aim to use the shock collar when the dog has just done something wrong. Combine the shock collar with verbal warnings. It is vital for your verbal and shock warnings to be consistent both with each other and with the dog’s behavior.
Use reward based training. Because a shock collar is simply a tool, regular dog training principles still apply. Don’t forget to reward the dog whenever he does something right, or for any significant period of time when he hasn’t done anything wrong.
Put on the collar in advance. To make sure that your dog retains a positive view of the shock collar, put it on 20-30 minutes before the training and to take it off 20-30 minutes after the training. This way the pet won’t associate the training itself with the collar even though the discharges will be coming from the collar.
Top 4 Dog Shock Collars Compared
The only way to use a safe training session with the use of dog shock collar is to educate yourself on how to use them, and use only high quality devices. Currently, there are four major dog shock collar brands that have established themselves as reliable and accurate. Those are:
This is a company that has been around for over three decades with a dedication to dog training collars specifically. They are a member of ECMA (Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association) and PETT (Partnership for Electronic Training Technology). Their shock collars are one of the most popular among professional dog trainers.
A subsidiary of Radio Systems Corporation, SportDog brand has been around for about 15 years now. They have a team of experienced dog trainers, hunters and other experts to test and design their training collars, and this brand due to its affordable pricing is the most popular dog training collar among pet owners.
A very well-known company not for their dog shock collars but for offering a range of good quality dog supplies in almost every category. They've been around since the early 1990s and have since developed a good relationship with their customer base as a trusted brand, but do not have a dedicated training collars department.
The youngest company on this list that quickly rose to prominence among pet owners and trainers alike. The Educator team, however, is made up of experts with many years of experiencing designing electronic devices. They have also dedicated themselves to developing and inventing new technologies with their dog training collars, all of which are manufactured in the USA.
Here's what you should know about each of these brands and their dog shock collars.
Dogtra Shock Collar
(their collar lineup)
The new Dogtra shock remote training collars are a prime example of what Dogtra are capable of doing with their collars. The company is specifically known for their training collars and continues to invest in and reinvent their designs.
A slim, curved receiver that fits perfectly alongside the contour of the training collar and the dog’s neck. Most dog shock collars you’ll see have a block design that is much more uncomfortable for the dog and far more noticeable.
Two different forms of stimulation – “Nick” and “Constant”. The choice between the two options allows for a lot more versatility and control in the hands of the owner.
LCD screen that displays the remaining battery life and the amount of stimulation the collar is set on – for a mistake-free day in the park.
Waterproof design that will make training and walking completely problem-free, no matter the weather. Of course, swimming is not advisable, but the extra protection of the waterproof design is still very important.
Unique Rheostat Dial. Most dog shock collars may have only several different levels of stimulation, but most Dogtra training collars have exactly 127 different levels, allowing you to always find the exact mode that’s perfect for training.
Expandable system. With Dogtra training system you only need to get a second collar and you’ll be able to remote train several dogs with the same remote.
An excellent remote transmitter that is equipped with checkered grips that will make handling the remote much more comfortable and ensure that you won’t lose it by accident.
The range is also something that is quite impressive on the Dogtra training collars – up to three quarters of a mile of line of sight range (or ~1.2 km). This is excellent for dog owners that love to give more freedom to their dogs to run around in open spaces. Of course, you should keep in mind that variations in the terrain and the weather can affect the range of the device.
A vibration feature is also present in the Dogtra ARC, allowing you an additional way to get your dog’s attention without even the need of shock stimulation.
Two hour charge time allows for a quick recharge once the batteries are emptied.
No sound option. This is a shock collar and not a tone collar, but a tone option would go wonderfully with the vibration mode and give this device yet another option for owner-dog communication.
Toggle switches and a lack of a memory function in the remote. The presence of toggle switches on the remote makes them a bit clumsier to use and when training two dogs at once can lead to confusion and problems if the dog owner doesn’t pay attention.
Most Dogtra shock collars are suitable only for dogs of and above 15 lbs. For a dog that’s smaller than that, this collar would not be usable (but most training collars are not recommended for small breeds).
SportDog Shock Collars
(their collar lineup)
SportDog are known as one of the revolutionaries in shock collars. They were the first to design waterproof shock collars, as well as expandable shock collars. Just like Dogtra, the company focuses specifically on designing training collars and finding new ways to improve their effectiveness while keeping dogs safe and harm-free.
Great versatility. With most SportDog shock collars you can customize the system based on your needs. Their transmitters often have 13 different settings to choose from – Continuous, Momentary, Tone, Vibration, Low Continuous-High Continuous, Low Momentary-High Momentary, 3-dog Mode with one button for each dog (Continuous or Momentary based on the toggle switch), tone with stimulation delay, +2 jump level, and a programmable continuous hot button.
In addition to shock stimulation, the SD-1825 comes with the options for both vibration and tonal stimulation. This extra versatility allows for a much smarter dog training approach – you can use shock stimulation for one thing, vibration for another, and tone for something different.
The range is impressive on most SportDog shock collars – up to 2 and a half miles on open terrain and clear weather.
With additional collars you can add more dogs to the SportDog system, effectively training three dogs at the same time and with the same device.
The transmitter is small and comfortable in the hand. It is quite easy to operate with just one hand.
The dog shock collar itself is also waterproof, making it usable in any weather. Of course, being waterproof doesn’t mean you can let your dog jump in a lake.
The batteries of their systems are rapid charging Lithium Ion batteries that take only 2 hours to fully charge.
When training three dogs at once you are limited to just one mode of stimulation. Still, the remote is fairly easy to use even then.
The training collar device is bigger and clumsier compared to others, which makes it potentially uncomfortable for the dog and quite visible from the outside.
PetSafe Shock Collars
(their collar lineup)
PetSafe is another famous brand of dog supplies but the company isn't specifically focused on designed shock collars and it shows in their product. Their collars are cheaper than Dogtra or SportDog, but also less well-designed. However, their Yard & Park shock collar offers a different set of parameters which may be worth taking a look at.
Affordable. Among reputable brands, PetSafe dog shock collars offer one of the best prices with their most expensive item at $99.
Eight different shock stimulation settings for every situation. Better than most cheap dog training collars, but less than other reputable brands.
Two tone settings. For situations in training when you want to give your dog a non-shock signal, this collar also has two sound options.
The range of PetSafe training collar is 400 yards. Again, it is considerably lower than the range of the previous two devices, but it is perfectly satisfactory in almost any situation, unless you want to let your dog roam on a completely open terrain.
The system is also expandable to up to three dogs with the same device. You’ll need two more collars purchased separately, but you’ll be able to train three dogs at the same time with the same device.
Rapidly recharging batteries.
Unlike the above mentioned brands, PetSafe's best training collars have no vibration settings.
Serious lack of versatility and settings group.
Low number of available stimulation levels.
Variations in the terrain and weather significantly affect the range of their devices.
The collar is not suitable for dogs under 8 pounds of weight (although it's unadvisable to use even on dogs under 15 lbs, according to experts).
As a medium-priced dog training collar, it's clearly reflected in the device's quality and functions.
Educator Shock Collar
(their collar lineup)
Educator is the newest company of the four, but the one that quickly rose among dog trainers and pet owners alike due to their attention to detail and inventiveness when it comes to their shock collars.
The company is completely dedicated to training dog collars and it shows in their product design. As a now highly lauded manufacturer, Educator training collars have a ton of features to offer but they're also one of the most expensive brands on the market.
Arguably the most humane and safest dog shock collar among the major brands.
One mile range – this is the longest range among listed dog shock collars, which makes it excellent for dog owners that like to let their dogs run freely. Keep in mind that the nature of the terrain and the weather can affect the range of the device.
In addition to static stimulation, this shock collar also offers a tapping sensation that is similar to vibration but is more intense. This is an excellent additional option for various situations where you want to send a different type of signal to your dog.
The static stimulation levels are adjustable from 1 to 100. The boost stimulation levels are also adjustable from 1 to 60.
Rapidly recharging batteries.
Waterproof transmitter and collar for whenever the weather catches you by surprise. Of course, as a shock e-collar is not 100% waterproof thus it's still not suitable for swimming, but it will survive most water-related accidents.
A tracking light on the collar can help you track your dog if you lose him in the dark.
The Educator training collar is not suitable for small dogs – it can only work with dogs that weight 20 or more pounds (although most shock collars should not be used with small dogs regardless of what the manufacturer states).
No tone or vibration setting, which may be considered a con but there's a tapping setting which is a great substitute.
The Best Overall
It's difficult to pick one single dog training collar because of the features and pricing of these four major brands. Dogtra and SportDog are extremely similar in what they offer, with SportDog being slightly cheaper but Dogtra offering a few extra features. PetSafe is easily the most affordable dog shock collar here, but it also has the lowest number of features and lesser quality yet can still be a good option to consider. Educator is the most expensive dog shock collar on the list, but it's also the only that's feature-heavy including a few unique product design options that makes it an attractive purchase.
The bottom line is if you're looking for the cheapest option, PetSafe is a good purchase. If money is not a problem and quality with features are the first priority, then Educator training collar is the best one of the bunch. If you want something in between, then either Dogtra or SportDog shock collars are both something to consider.
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