How to Train Your Dog to Obey with a Training Collar

Medium
2-4 Weeks
General

Introduction

A training collar, also referred to as an electronic or remote collar, can be a useful training tool to reinforce commands your dog knows, get your dogs attention if he has trouble focusing and is easily distracted, or keep your dog safe if he is engaging in dangerous behaviors, such as running out on a road or chasing other animals. 

In the past, training collars were limited in the ability to adjust the intensity of the electronic stimulus and were often referred to as shock collars, which gave them a negative reputation. Modern remote training collars feature a signal that can be used before electronic stimulation is applied, to alert the dog and act as a warning that a behavior such as 'stop' or 'sit and stay' is required before electronic stimulation will occur, and simulation itself is adjustable so that it can be tailored to each dog's minimum threshold for getting a response. If used correctly, training collars do not cause harm to your dog and can, in fact, result in less harm to the dog than if traditional negative reinforcement or punishment was used to stop or force a behavior. Also, if used to prevent a dangerous behavior such as running out into traffic, leaving the yard, or chasing livestock, it can be a life-saving device for a dog that cannot control his natural inclinations and may put himself in harm's way.

Defining Tasks

The advantage of a training collar is that your dog comes to associate the stimulus with the unwanted behavior he is engaged in. If your scent hound is not responding to verbal commands, ignoring his handler, signaling him and stimulating him to get attention becomes associated with not listening to his handler. A herding breed dog that will not stop harassing livestock and is stimulated when he chases animals, comes to associate the stimulus with the chasing behavior. This results in the behavior being suppressed even when the handler is not present, as the consequences are not associated with the handler, but with the activity. 

A training collar can be set to signal your dog and warn him that a correction is coming, allowing him to cease and correct behavior before receiving stimulation, which is a form of reinforcement, avoidance of a stimulus that is not delivered if the dog attends to commands or corrects their own behavior. This form of training can be very effective and is best used in conjunction with other training methods so that minimal stimulation is required. The stimulation delivered is adjustable, but is similar to a static electricity shock or can even be adjusted to provide a simple vibration to signal your dog and get attention. Training should be conducted at the lowest level of stimulation that elicits a response in your dog to be humane and effective, and to avoid negative side effects such as the development of aggression or anxiety, which can be associated with incorrect use.

Getting Started

Make sure you have a training collar that delivers a vibration only or an audible beep to warn your dog when stimulation is about to be delivered, to give your dog the opportunity to respond and avoid stimulation. It is suggested that you put the remote control for the collar in an inside or back pocket so your dog cannot see it.  You do not want your dog to associate you and the remote control with stimulation. Before training, figure out what the lowest setting is that will elicit a response from your dog and use the minimal setting. Whenever possible, use verbal or other directions to command your dog before using the training collar. Good obedience commands should be established prior to using the training collar and the collar should be used to reinforce commands or get attention for commands to be delivered, not as punishment for disobedience.

The Associate with Command Method

Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Avoid negative association
Put the training collar on your dog, and play with your dog before commencing training so your dog does not develop a negative association with the collar. Keep sessions short, and stop when progress is achieved so as not to frustrate or overtax your dog.
Step
2
Establish command
Teach the command you want to reinforce first such as 'come' or 'sit-stay' using traditional methods, verbal commands and positive reinforcement such as treats.
Step
3
Activate collar for attention
When your dog fails to respond to a command he knows, such as 'come', when off leash, alert the dog with a warning signal, then provide the stimulus on the minimal setting. Just enough to get your dogs attention.
Step
4
Repeat command
When the dog hesitates due to stimulation, provide verbal or physical direction so the dog learns what to do to stop the stimulation. At first, a dog can be confused and not focus on the command so some assistance may be required.
Step
5
Provide positive reinforcement
When your dog attends to the command, provide positive reinforcement such as a treat along with ceasing training collar stimulation, which also provides reinforcement.
Recommend training method?

The Two Solutions Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Teach 'come' and 'stay'
Teach your dog obedience commands for 'come' and 'stay', using traditional methods.
Step
2
Acclimatize to collar
Put on the training collar and leave it on while training. Do not take it on and off so the dog only learns to obey when the collar is on.
Step
3
Associate stimulus with 'come'
Apply the training collar stimulation on lowest setting and say "come". As soon as the dog takes a step towards you turn off the stimulation.
Step
4
Associate stimulus with 'stay'
Apply the training collar and say "stay". As soon as your dog sits and stays, cease training collar stimulation.
Step
5
Establish
Repeat so that your dog learns that when stimulated if he comes or stays as instructed, the stimulation will stop. This allows you to use the collar to control unwanted behavior such as running or chasing while off-leash.
Recommend training method?

The Reinforcing 'Come' Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Use flexi leash
'Come' is usually the solution for unwanted behavior, be it to achieve off-leash control or remove your dog from a dangerous situation or unwanted behavior. Start by putting a flexi leash on your dog.
Step
2
Command 'come' and stimulus
When your dog reaches the end of the flexi leash, say “come”, and provide stimulation from the training collar.
Step
3
Guide dog
The dog may do several different things when stimulated. Ignore them and instead guide your dog toward you with the flexi leash.
Step
4
Reinforce 'come'
When the dog steps toward you on the leash, release the remote stimulation button, ceasing stimulus and providing positive reinforcement. If dog continues towards you, reward. If he hesitates, use stimulus and guide again. Repeat until the dog understands. Walk away from your dog. Call your dog and press the button as soon as your dog walks towards you to stay with you, release the stimulation button.
Step
5
Provide distractions
Have an assistant provide distractions, like another dog, throwing toys etc. Practice calling your dog and depressing the stimulus button until your dog ignores distractions and comes to you when called.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Torres
English bull terrier
6 Years
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Question
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Torres
English bull terrier
6 Years

Torres is the white bull terrier. He has been peeing in the house when it rains, or when he just won’t go outside. He also pulls terribly on a walk

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
494 Dog owners recommended

Hello Christina, Does he use a doggie door? Or is let out into a fenced-in yard unaccompanied, or taken potty on a leash by you or someone else? There are a couple of ways to deal with the peeing in the house during rain. First, teach a "Go Potty" command. Every time you take him potty in general, command "Go Potty" and reward with a treat after he goes potty. If you normally don't go with him when he goes, you will need to go with him when he goes outside for a bit, until he learns the "Go Potty" command and will go quickly when you tell him to "Go Potty. Next, once he knows "Go Potty", when it's raining outside take him outside on a leash, tell him to "Go Potty" and walk him around slowly on a leash. Be prepared to get pretty wet during this - it could take a bit and persistence is key here! Don't let him come back inside until he goes potty. If he goes, praise enthusiastically, run him back inside where it's dry, then give treats. If he will not go after being outside in the rain for 45 minutes still, bring him back inside, put him in a crate, then try taking him back outside on a leash in thirty-minutes. After peeing outside during the rain several times and him seeing that he got to go back inside as soon as he did what you asked, he should figure out that the quickest way to get back inside is to go potty QUICKLY. Whenever it rains you will take to take him potty on a schedule though and not wait until he asks - he may never get to the point where he asks to go out, but he can learn to go potty out there when you take him and hold it in between potty trips while its raining. If the weather where you live has already gotten really cold (and during severe weather), you may not be able to do this until spring for safety reasons. If it's still warm enough (around 50 or above), then start right away so that he will be good at this before winter comes - at which point he needs to have learned that the quickest way to get back inside is to go potty quickly in the rain (not hold it until he is back inside and go then). A second option, is to also teach the "Go Potty" command but to set up a grass area somewhere out of the rain - like your garage or a covered patio. Use real grass for this. Look into real grass pads (not astroturf) and check out the article linked below on litter box training (and use a real grass pad set up somewhere covered instead of a litter box). I highly suggest setting up your real grass pad somewhere that moderately resembles outside still so pup doesn't start having accidents in the house - like your garage, patio, balcony, or a covered area you create outside. Real grass pad brands - also on Amazon: www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com www.porchpotty.com Training to use the grass pad: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Another thing that can help some dogs is weather protection. If pup dislikes the rain because they don't like being wet or its cold, a waterproof jacket that's cut so that it's still easy for pup to go potty while wearing it may help, but expect to still have to do some of the training mentioned above also at first. If pup is afraid of thunder, then work on desensitizing pup to the sound of it using thunder recordings on low volume paired with treats and lots of fun - gradually increase the volume as pup improves and seems unconcerned by the noise. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Gus
Great Dane
3 Years
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Question
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Gus
Great Dane
3 Years

I just rescued Gus. He's 3 and knows nothing.. Not even his name. My other 2 dogs are very well trained and generally off leash. Gus can't be off leash, as he has no recall, but also is horrible to walk on a leash! How do I use the collar to begin training? I've never used a collar before but I feel like he needs a little extra...

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
494 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Check out James Penrith from TaketheLeadDogTraining on YouTube. He is an obedience trainer who specializes in e-collar training and off-leash reliability. He has a lot of videos talking about e-collar training. Good e-collar training is something that is incorporated into Intermediate Obedience and perfected with advanced obedience finally. Pup needs to be taught Basic Obedience without the e-collar, on leash in a calmer environment first, so that pup understands what a command means before the e-collar is added and the training proofed around distractions. Most basic obedience training is taught using mostly positive reinforcement because the point of basic obedience is just to build motivation, teach a dog what a word means, and increase the dogs general focus on you. During Intermediate obedience a dog is taught to obey those same commands around distractions also and eventually off leash during advanced obedience . An e-collar can be a useful tool for enforcing pup's known commands around distractions even when you are not right next to your dog. For a large dog like a Great Dane it can make training safer if used correctly because you are not fighting your dog's strength - but it needs to be added to existing training and combined with positive reinforcement to avoid many of the pitfalls of using the tool incorrectly. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Boaz
Rottweiler Mix
1 Year
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Question
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Boaz
Rottweiler Mix
1 Year

He chirps in his kennel. He is familiar with the quiet command but doesn’t seem to remember it when he is in the kennel when we get his food ready. Would an e-collar help with this? What is the best way to do that?

Also, he knows the leave it command but continues to eat the poop of our other older dog. Again, Would an e-collar help with this? What is the best way to do that?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
494 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sarah, Both of those issues could use an e-collar. For the kennel barking, first make sure that you aren't feeding him until he is quiet - move toward him with the food when quiet, turn around when he chirps. To use an e-collar you need to spend a lot of time learning how to properly use them. They are great tools when used effectively, but they require correct use, fitting, settings, and training - you can't just put one on and correct on any level without the right training methods or you can create behavior issues. When first using the e-collar, put the e-collar on him while he is standing and relaxed. Let him wear the collar around for a few days with it turned off to get used to the feel before using it. To learn how to put the collar on him, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI After a few days, spend some time finding his "working level" - which is the lowest level pup will respond to on the collar. While he is simply hanging out, standing and calm inside or in your yard, turn the collar (via remote) to it's lowest level and push the stimulation button twice. See if he responds to the collar at all. Look for subtle signs such as turning his head, moving his ears, biting his fur, moving away from where he was, or changing his expression. If he does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when he is standing and relaxed, push the stimulation button again twice. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing his reaction at that level until he indicates a little bit that he can feel the collar. Here is a video showing how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM The lowest level he indicates he can feel the collar on is his working level - which is the level you will keep the collar on for training - you can go up slightly if he is ignoring the collar when highly aroused after he has already been trained what to do and do, but start on the working level always in each situation. A high quality collar should have at least sixty levels - such as those used for hunting dogs. Don't use a cheaply made collar - knock off brands online can be dangerous. Check out SportDog, Dogtra, E-collar technologies, and Garmin for a few high quality brands. Don't use citronella - it can actually be harsher than a properly used e-collar because of how sensitive a dog's nose is and how long the scent can linger for. You can try vibration first though - some dogs find that more adverse then low level stimulation but others find it more gentle - most of the collar brands mentioned above will also have a vibration option on them. With that said, I would practice pup's quiet at other times in situations where he may bark - like having someone ring your doorbell. Command Quiet. If pup obeys, give a treat. If he disobeys, then correct with the e-collar on pup's working level while saying "Ah Ah" or "No" calmly. Obedience to a known command = reward. Disobedience to something he knows = correction. Practice this until pup can obey reliably in that situation out of the crate. Next, practice the entire thing in the crate where he tends to chirp. Break his meal into portions so that he is getting fed several times while practicing. Whenever he stays quiet - add more food. Whenever he chirps after being told Quiet - correct with e-collar. Its very important that the corrections are on the right level, he understands that the corrections are for barking because you have already practiced in another setting, and he is also rewarded with additional food for being quiet. The combination of those things decreases pups stress during training surrounding meal time while also dealing with the unwanted behavior - you want to keep stress lower whenever it involves meals to avoid creating any food possessiveness. For the poop eating, practice a Leave It command, then practice walking past the poop with pup on leash and commanding leave it. Leave It method to teach that command first: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite When you know that pup understands leave it well, use a long leash and let pup wander away from you toward the poop. If pup goes toward the poop to eat the poop, command Leave It. If he obeys and walks away - reward. If he disobeys, correct with the e-collar quickly and start reeling him in with the leash BEFORE he gets it in his mouth. Stop the e-collar correction as soon as he moves away from the poop. Practice this around poop until pup will leave poop alone when you are present. At this point, hide somewhere where pup doesn't see or smell you but you can watch pup - like inside at a window, and let pup into the yard. Create visuals for yourself of where the poop is in the yard, like a stick poking out of the ground by the poop so that you can tell when pup goes near the poop. Try to make the visual something that's not too obvious to pup though. Watch pup from inside and whenever pup starts to bother the poop, correct with the collar on a slightly higher level than pups normal level. Repeat this until pup also leaves poop alone when they think you aren't present. It's also super important to keep your other dogs poop cleaned up at all times when you are not specifically booby trapping poop for training purposes - you don't want pup to eat the poop when you weren't ready, then get corrected at other times - the inconsistency will interfere with your training efforts. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Pepper
Old tyme English bulldog
10 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Pepper
Old tyme English bulldog
10 Months

Ok so everytime I let her out she will see a neighbor in their own yard. I give her the vibration saying NO Pepper. She totally ignores that. Starts running over there I hit her with the shock. And holler again right before I’d have pressed it and she still ignores it. Then when I go get her she will run opposite way. And I buzz her again saying pepper come and she will run away instead of what I’m asking.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
494 Dog owners recommended

Hello Rebekah, It sounds like you have skipped the training part of training collars. Check out James Penrith from Take the Lead Dog Training on YouTube and watch several of the videos on his channel on teaching Come using e-collars. James Penrith's Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtJxSXu4rfs&t=537s Start, by going back to the basics with her, using the Reel in Method from the article linked below. Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Once she can respond to Come using the Reel in method, add the e-coll on top of that - but with the leash still on her. When she doesn't come, you will apply the vibration and then stimulation while at the same time reeling her in with the leash - she has to be shown with the leash what she is supposed to do when she feels the sensation of the collar. If you skip that step, many dogs will run even further because all they know is that they are feeling discomfort and they want to get away from it - they haven't been properly taught that to get away from it they should come to you - the long leash and lot of repetition at her "Working level" needs to be done first. Also, be sure that you have spent time finding her working level for the collar - which is the correct, lowest level that she indicates she can feel the collar at - this is different for different dogs. Fitting an e-collar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Finding the Working Level: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Teaching Come using the E-collar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98dt9Uqu-Ds&t=104s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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